IRAQ MISSION – DECEMBER 2022
We had a great time visiting with the Peshmerga Army in Kurdistan as well as with many government officials.
Our team from St. Louis was Pastor Ben Tzeng and Central’s new Mission director, Pete Johnson. It was their first time in the Middle East and they had a great time. This was likely my final visit after 15 years in the MIddle East! We ministered alongside our missionary, Jamal.
We visited in the Refugee camps and shared fellowship with many who live there. We also shared in some area churches in music and the Word.
Baptisms, the Army and friends!
Music and fellowship and even a visit to the Jordan River!
Santa visited with the kids and we had a great time giving gifts and singing!
The ladies graduation from sewing classes and lunch with the Sheik!
Above: Randy Mayfield sings for the Thanksgiving Day Festival in Kiev, Ukraine
Central Presbyterian Church has been ministering in the country of Ukraine since 1991. We have helped the local church with children and youth camps, trained pastors, planted new churches, provided encouragement and aid to those in need.
The September 2019 trip was focused on evangelism and outreach as pastor Randy joined with local Ukrainian musicians in outreach events in areas where people are really hurting due to the ongoing border war with Russia. Hundreds came to listen to the music and message, and many gave their lives to Christ. We did similar events in churches, town squares, and parks, and at every occasion, there were many who came forward to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Randy also had the opportunity to perform in the annual Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving in downtown Kiev where over 100,000 people packed the main street, Khreshchatyk, to hear music, sermons and experience a time of worship.
Click here to view video of Randy performing with the Ukraine Gospel Orchestra.
Shots around Kiev, Ukraine — Thanksgiving Day Festival on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019
The Orchestra was excellent and Randy enjoyed rehearsing and performing with them! A crowd of over 100,000 people gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving Day and pray for Ukraine. Leaders from many Protestant Churches shared in music and the Word.
Beautiful Kiev… or KYIV as they now call it!
Randy and his band, “The All Star Band,” traveled with a team to Kenya, Africa in June of 2019. Their primary goal was to use music to reach and encourage the young people of Kapenguria, West Pokot, Kenya.
During their 10 day tour, they performed in a number of local high schools to more than 2,000 students and they were well received. Randy sang in English, Kiswahili and their native tribal language of Kalengin. They especially enjoyed the Kalengin as they rarely hear a visitor speak or sing in their tribal tongue! (Kinda an Acts. Chapter 2 in the Bible!)
OK, this may not be suitable for everyone. It’s PG-13 and if you don’t like to talk about bodily odors, then skip to the next article…but after several recent trips around the world on airplanes, I have to speak up! Flying stinks! Literally, it stinks! But, I have a bit of a cure thanks to my brilliant bride, so keep reading to the end!
Yes, flying stinks! On a recent trip to a large continent, I was flying alongside several nationals. Yes, I know that our cultures are different and I do appreciate how all of us are different and we should revel in our differences… to a point. But when it comes to smell, it’s often hard to adjust. The dear man who sat down next to me had a obvious aversion to deodorant, body spray, cologne and perhaps bathing…. Hey, don’t judge me, I said that I understand cultural differences, but unfortunately, my nose does not! 🙂 It was hard for me to bear the funky fragrance and by the grace of God, an aisle seat became available nearby and I quickly took advantage of it. (I didn’t make it obvious, just that I wanted an aisle seat!) I could still smell the lingering odor of my friend down the aisle, but it wasn’t quite as pungent a few rows away. Fortunately, the lady who was sitting on the other side of him was sleeping, or perhaps she had fainted, I’m not sure!
Then, as on all flights, there’s the issue of pressure and it’s unfortunate result on the human body. One of the top pet peeves for every flight attendant is, yes, you guessed it… flatulence! Yes my friend, gas-passing, the cutting of the cheese, farting… whatever you may call it. I was recently returning from another international flight and about an hour into the flight, I thought someone had passed away. They certainly passed something all right. It was truly tear jerking! Seriously folks, get up and head to the head! Wow! Really! And it went on for the next hour. While I couldn’t hone in on the exact location of the potent putridity, though I think it was the loud, large lady in front of me, it was certainly nearby. (And like most of us, we just hope that no one else on the plane thinks it’s you!) Anyway, the flight attendant walked by with quite a bit of perfume on and it helped a lot. She may have even inconspicuously sprayed something, I don’t know.
Finally, though not as bad as the previous two “stanks” is the tasteless but odiferous food that is served in coach. While most of the usual cheesy chicken and putrid pasta dishes taste terrible, their smell permeates the cabin for hours. And God forbid, as I had the privilege a few months ago, you are flying in India where Curry is King!
So, what’s the answer to this predicament aside from not flying at all? Well, my bride has a great idea that I need to follow more often and that I would commend to you. She carry’s one of those soft head rests that have a cloth cover that can be washed and… you can put a fabric softener sheet inside! Yes my friends, the life saving fragrance of the cuddly soft Snuggle bear, the beautiful bouquet of Bounce. It can save your life.
Why you say, would I devote an entire blog article to smelly planes?? You weren’t there!
com·pla·cen·cy: self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.
Yes, complacency is a feeling of self-satisfaction. Content with the status quo, organizations and individuals (and churches) that are complacent do not look for new opportunities or hazards on the horizon, instead they are almost always internally focused. They rarely initiate or lead, working at a constant speed even when circumstances call for fast action. We have all seen it, yet we underestimate its prevalence and its power.
Do you feel like you may have become complacent? What about the church? Are we primarily internally focused? Doing for ourselves at the expense of the “least of these?” I’m feeling this a lot recently and I’m saddened by it both personally and on behalf of the church. So what do we do about it?
May I suggest that we take seriously what the Lord has already said to us in His Word. (See some examples below and then take a few minutes to study this for yourself.) To look to the needs of others before taking care of ourselves is the key. Isn’t that what Jesus did. He was the one praying, healing, washing feet and loving people unconditionally. It seems that a lot of what I do day to day is very conditional… How will this benefit me personally? How will this make me look in the eyes of others? Will they think that I’m a wonderful guy and even a spiritual giant? “Look at how he loves others, how he gives to so many good causes, how he speaks so highly of his wife, what a beautiful voice, what an awesome blog, what a funny guy…” And here’s the one my bride really loves… “He must be so fun to live with!” Hey, there are moments!
But seriously… I’m not saying that we do everything just to gain praise, good stuff generally flows from good people, but what I am saying is that we need to be careful to deflect that praise to where it really belongs, to it’s rightful owner, Jesus! OK, there I go again, being spiritual… but I think you get my point. God loves it when we do good works to match our deep faith in Him, but he also loves us even when we fail. I just want to strive to be more like him and do more good (Godly) stuff. I know that this is not what gets me into Heaven, but I do know that when I love and serve others well, it pleases Him and I do want to make my Daddy happy.
And what about the church? Is the church self-focused as well? What are we striving to do from week to week? Are we trying to make ourselves more comfortable or make life better for the poor and the homeless? Do we only enjoy another “all you can eat” hot meal in the basement with our church friends or do we also take a hot meal to a shut-in or refugee who hasn’t had someone visit them in weeks or maybe months? Do we work to build another building for ourselves so we can “grow,” or do we also build a home for a family who has never had a place to call home? If I’m out of order here, please call me on it, I’m willing to learn and grow, but I’m also willing to speak when others are silent. Has it cost me to do so, yes, in some ways. Some don’t really want to hear what I have to say, others may just disagree and they think that I’m just being devisive, but how can we not speak up when injustice is being done or when we have taken our eyes off of the “Main Thing.”
Sorry I got a bit preachy. This is not meant to be a punch in the gut or slap to the face, it’s simply a reminder for me (that I’m also sharing with you) to remind us to be about our Father’s business and not just looking after ourselves and our own interests. Besides, He said that He’d take care of us anyway. Don’t we trust Him? We’ll have all that we need when we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness! Peace. RM
James 1:27 – Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Philippians 2:1-11 – So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, …
Proverbs 19:17 – Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.
Matthew 25:34-46 – Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? …When you did this for the least of these…