Greetings from beautiful Michigan! As we watch the transformation of the trees as fall colors appear, we are aware of our ongoing need for God’s transformation in our own hearts and lives.
It has been so long since our last update. Except for Roz’s updates on her father’s physical condition after his nearly fatal car wreck, news from the Sullivans has been little. Please forgive our lack of communication. The past 13 months have been a blur, to say the least! Our journey of re-adjusting to life in the US has been full of life’s ups and downs, as is to be expected, according to His perfect plan and for His purpose. We’ve been trusting Him to redeem it all for His glory in spite of our stumbling and failures.
The summer alone was a whirlwind with our ministry responsibilities and other activities. Among them, we had the great joy of hosting two of ' our ' Russian guys, Misha N. and Sasha R., for the summer. Also, Galya K., who was hosted by friends in Ohio, was able to spend several weeks with us at various times throughout the summer. We praise God for how we saw Him at work in the heart of Galya, Misha, and Sasha. The Lord mightily used Galya to minister to Misha by sharing her testimony and walk with the Lord and then Misha re-invested in Sasha’s life. It was wonderful to reminisce as well as make new memories. I had the privilege and joy of baptizing both Misha and Sasha as they individually realized their need to take the next step of obedience in their relationship with the Lord. They both shared their testimonies and publicly proclaimed before a cloud of witnesses to be a follower of Christ through believer’s baptism. Please pray for Galya, Misha, and Sasha as they have returned home to their mission field.
Another quick email that we sent out in July was regarding our surprise trip to NY with the Yankees as our hosts. As we wrote earlier, the purpose of the trip was to reunite Andrei with his childhood friend, John Lahutsky, also formerly a Russian orphan. John was nominated as one of the recipients of the Yankees HOPE week award. He had shared the only thing from his childhood that he thought about still was to be reunited with Andrei. The Yankees coordinated and hosted both John’s and our family (John-David, Misha, and Sasha included!) for a long weekend. It was full of surprises and we were thoroughly blessed by their generosity and warm hospitality. We trust the Lord was glorified as we were given opportunity to share the many miracles of Andrei’s adoption and life. We also had the joy of meeting John’s mom, Paula, and some of their close friends. The entire trip was truly a phenomenal gift from God.
Another highlight of the Sullivan summer was the visit of Arseni S. A week after the other three returned to Moscow, Arseni was able to come visit for a few weeks. It was great to have him with us to see and hear all God has been and is doing in his life. He took the baton from us regarding orphanage ministry when we left Moscow last fall. He continues to reach out the fatherless, being sensitive to the needs of ‘the least of these,’ all the while seeking the will of his heavenly Father. One of the opportunities he had prior to coming to the US was to spend about 3 weeks in ' ___stan ' ministering to fatherless Muslim children. He coordinated the Bible lessons and activities with a team of young people who were willing to use part of their summer break to minister to the needs of others. Arseni graduated from his university in June and is now seeking the Lord’s will for a job when he returns to Moscow later this month. His desire is to be able to work and also have the time to continue in ministry. Thanks for praying for God’s provision for him.
As most of you are aware, my Dad passed away in June and Roz’s father was in a serious automobile collision in July. In the midst of our activities, Pastor's Retreats, and family responsibilities, Roz and her two siblings have rotated their visits in caring for their Dad. Once released from the hospital, Don has continued with physical and occupational therapy 3 times a week. He hasn’t been given clearance to drive so his children have ministered to him and provided continual care during this time. We stand amazed at God’s hand upon him and his relatively quick and miraculous recovery thus far. Roz was recently there and is grateful to report that his brain surgeon was very pleased with his progress and doesn’t need to see him for another 6 months unless something changes. Please continue to pray for his healing. We are so grateful for those of you who have faithfully been praying for his recovery. God has certainly shown Himself ABLE and honored the many prayers lifted up on behalf of Don.
Since we are highlighting the summer, another big event was John-David returning home to live with us. He continues to seek full-time employment while working part-time. We are re-adjusting to being together as a family after about 10 years! We are pleased to have him with us and look forward to what the Lord is going to do in and through him. Please continue to pray for God’s provision for him through full-time employment.
Sarah is still working in Life Action Ministry’s offices, now as the Project Manager & Communications Coordinator for the Communications Group. She also continues to volunteer as a counselor at the Niles Pregnancy Care Center and babysits in her free time!
Andrei enjoyed his summer by working with the lawn care team with the ministry. Now that school has started, he is enjoying the challenges of studying again at a local community college. Since the NY trip, God has opened several doors of opportunity to share all that God has done in his life.
Our involvement with Life Action has been incredible. We have seen the move of God’s hand in so many ways. Our responsibilities at The Lodge have been behind the scenes for the most part. We are doing what He has been training us for over the years. Our Lord has given us a heart for hospitality. In our case, we are privileged to continue serving within a hospitality team whose heart is to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of those the Lord brings. I’ve included below just a few of the testimonies of Pastors and their wives, as well as other couples whom God has met, touched, and changed as a result of their visit and time spent with Him at The Lodge. We are grateful He has trusted us to be His vessels to express His love to the couples He continues to bring our way. Along with our ministry to our Russians, God blessed us with full retreats throughout the summer with more ahead through the end of November.
During the past year we have been very encouraged to hear of pockets of revival taking place around the country and even in Canada. As we watch and listen to hundreds of personal and corporate transformations through repentance, recommitment, and surrender, we stand in awe of the move of God. Desperate circumstances call for desperate measures of action. 2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” Are we as individual followers of Jesus Christ desperate enough to humble ourselves before God and man? Are we willing to repent of our religiosity and our man-made church practices and return to the path God has set before us through His Word? Are we courageous enough to recognize our wicked ways and turn from them? If so, God promises to heal marriages, heal broken relationships within our families and community, and restore us to Himself. There is nothing too difficult for Him!
We are grateful to those of you who continue to faithfully support us in prayer as well as financially. As we are so often reminded through our own frailties, without Him, we are nothing. We then realize when we are weak, He is made strong. We are ever mindful of God’s faithfulness to us through His people. May your heart be encouraged today as your ponder the testimonies of His hand at work.
'We came dry, discouraged, and disillusioned. This week offered us an opportunity to revive, restore and rest. We had "life" spoken into us and truth shared with us. We go back with a new perspective and a renewed passion.'
'God used this retreat to renew our spirits, our focus, and our passion for prayer and for His presence. Our marriage has been renewed spiritually. The friendship we built here will last well beyond this retreat time.'
'We were treated like royalty - meals, snacks, the Villalbas and Sullivans and Oswalds were so warm and welcoming. Over and over they were looking to our every need and comfort. Appreciate their availability and eagerness to know us, encourage us, and befriend us.'
We are thankful for the many opportunities He provides to serve and encourage His faithful messengers. The Apostle Paul urges us in 1 Thessalonians 5:12, concerning Pastors and church leaders, “to recognize those who labor among you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake”... Please pray for us to be discerning to the needs of the visiting Pastors and for us to be enabled to ’highly esteem them’ in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord.
Romans 12:9-13 “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.”
With grateful hearts and much love,
Tom, Roz, and family
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