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Greetings from Rolfe and friends in Novomoskovs'k..

Updated: May 16

by Rolfe Carawan


I wanted to update you as of Easter Sunday, May 4, 2024. Yes, they have the opportunity because of the Orthodox Churches to celebrate Easter twice but on different dates, obviously.


This past week has been rather uneventful as far as shelling has occurred. Which I am ok with! I have the pleasure of staying with the Bokoch family, seasoned veterans of hosting seemingly anyone and everyone. The only challenge is the one bathroom, but I will leave it at that.


I can’t imagine a more hospitable home where literally waves of people arrive for a meal, and we eat, sometimes, in shifts. All are welcome, and God always provides. It’s pretty amazing to be a participant. Though only two of the 20-something children speak English well enough to communicate, we find ourselves breaking out the Google Translate to understand one another. I am certainly grateful for the technology, so I don’t end up saying something stupid like, “Do you have salt for my coffee?” (I made that mistake before serving Pastor Jerry a big hot cup of steaming salt-filled coffee. Hey!  It looked like sugar.) So be careful if we have coffee together.


I was afforded the privilege of sharing at two different services this week: Wednesday evening and Easter service. To say that it is an honor is not a strong enough word.

You have to be able to look at their often-weathered faces and eyes that tell a story just by looking at them to appreciate their sweet faces. Many are etched with the deep care of a difficult life that now has to be concerned with near-daily, sometimes hourly, siren warnings of missiles or drones coming toward their location.

Never knowing if this is the one that strikes them or their home. After a while, you become deaf to the warnings as you go about your daily routines because of a sense of fatalism or resignation. Many live under a constant fear of death.


It is for this reason I shared from Hebrews 2:14-15, "Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, so that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives."


Fear is a powerful negative emotion that produces a type of death when gripped by its talons. It is just the opposite of life. Because of the war and the constant death, or maybe worse, occupation by Russia, fear is always lurking around. Because of the limited time to share, I focused on the fear of physical death and tried to make a distinction between our natural survival instinct and our fear of death, which is largely a fear of the unknown.


Some fear death because they believe there is nothing beyond this life. When you die, the lights are turned off, and that’s it. No more awareness. However, the vast majority of the world believes that there is an afterlife. And they are afraid to die because they don’t know what their afterlife will hold. Will it be wonderful, or will it be horrible? Will it be heaven or hell? If you don’t know the answer, you should be afraid. However, as Christians, we don’t have to be afraid!


As followers of Jesus, we know that it will be heaven. Why can we know this? Because of Easter. Easter is the celebration of Christ’s resurrection from the dead so that all who believe in Him (which is believing that He paid the penalty for our sins and that we are now in right standing with God) will enjoy heaven for eternity.


1 John 5:13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 


I closed by sharing some testimonies from those who have had Near Death Experiences, hoping to provide just a bit of comfort and to stimulate their imagination of the wonder that Jesus has prepared for those who trust Him and receive His gift of grace. Eternal life with Him, basking in the unconditional indescribable love that those who find themselves in His presence during their near-death experience try to describe.


Thank you for your many prayers, which are being answered in tangible ways daily. You are an integral part of this trip, and I sense you standing beside me as I preach, as I meet these precious people, and being that I am a hugger, you are with me when they come up for one of my patented bear hugs. I appreciate you more than mere words can convey. So, look out for a hug the next time you are in reach.


In Christ Love,


1 Comment

Thank you for sharing and thank you for your incredible dedication to the mission of being the hands and feet of Jesus in a hard place. The pictures are wonderful and the prayers for you and Jerry and all who you come into contact with are plentiful! In Christ there is no room for fear, praying that truth washes over hearts in ways beyond our explanation!!! 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼

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