Greetings from Cyprus isle in the Mediterranean Sea,
Orthodox Easter was an Encouragement that God is at work here
We were very moved in our spirits here on Good Friday evening in Cyprus, April 10, that not only the Orthodox Church leaders but also all the heads of state and all the various military guards showed great honor and respect— in a large regal procession from the church to the halls of national government— of the LORD Jesus, the Lamb of God, the Son of God. With full military honors, they carried a flowered empty bier with the Crown of the King of Kings on top, and the military band played beautiful songs of tribute to his sacrificial death. The archbishop minister of the LORD showed true sincerity of faith and humbleness as he spoke an epitaph of honor to the KING of Kings and LORD of lords. This morning, Saturday, the bells of the church rang out to signify the lifting of the veil and laurel wreaths were strewn around, ready for the coming forth of the Risen LORD and King.
Saturday, at 11:00 pm, every Orthodox church will have a Paschal Service to rejoice in the Resurrection of our LORD from the dead. The clergy will start with one candle brought lit from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. The one light comes forth in the darkness, which will quickly spread to everyone else’s candles until the light overtakes all the darkness. The people will move out of the sanctuary into the courtyard, where they will light a huge bonfire to shout praises to the LIGHT of the world who should be honored by all people. On Easter morning, Sunday April 12, the Vesper of Love service will begin with the reading in multiple languages the good news of the LIGHT coming to all nations.
Although this nation has been ruled by many ancient kingdoms, the nation has also lifted up the Son of God, Jesus Christ, first when the Roman Pro-Consul was converted under Barnabas and Paul and then when mass conversions happened publicly during the Byzantine Empire in the early 300s A.D. We found out something interesting about the early Church of the first century AD here in Larnaka—that Lazarus, who was dead and buried for 4 days and then raised to life again by Jesus, came to Larnaka, Cyprus, during the persecution of the church and stayed, making it his home and ministry. He became bishop of the church here in Larnaka. The church that he served in is still here, though rehabbed a bit, and is actively used for worship here. His bodily remains from his “later death” and remains of other early missionaries were in the Lazarus Church by the sea. What a heritage of the resurrection and hope in Christ Jesus!! It is very moving to see that public honor of the LORD Jesus Christ happen at the highest level of government and military here last evening.
We are so thankful that Greek Cyprus is still on the right track towards Him, even though not all here know him in an experiential way.
Need for Reconciliation and Unity
Yet, Many in Cyprus have bitterness from the many wars and especially from the civil war of 1974 when the Turkish military moved in to “permanently” divide this small island in what they called a Peace Operation.
There is a huge need for a breakthrough in forgiveness, reconciliation, and an opening of hearts towards the people of Islam on this island. Yet, after seeing this very public declaration of the nation as “belonging to the rule of the LORD Jesus,” we take heart that there can be true hope for that breakthrough.
That is why we are being sent to Cyprus— to intercede for them and to live our lives as examples of that love and spirit of unity.
Providential Passover Evening
Our hearts were also moved for the Jewish people of Cyprus, especially on Passover night when we were providentially included in a Seder in the Hebrew language in a large Chabad (synagogue) here in Larnaka. We were even given an invitation to ride in the car with Israeli young men who had come to be part of the rabbinical men here. It was a regular Chabad, who not yet aware of their Messiah. We were privileged to be allowed to see firsthand their families and community participate in the Seder and to intercede for them while it went on. We sat at table and ate with a Jewish family that spoke English, and we were able to speak into their lives in several ways that evening and to bless them with His word. God moves in mysterious ways and we are thankful for that opportunity.
We have also met with Refugee Services staff of the Oasis Project, overseen by an amazing consortium of five very distinct evangelical churches in Larnaka. Their project actively reaches out to refugees from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Balkan Ukraine. They have an Alpha course just finishing, where some stated faith in Jesus. The Orthodox church, however, does not yet want to involve itself in refugee assistance. They will have to relocate their facility of classrooms, clothing store, and coffee house because the home owner nearby has complained to the court and lodged a suit, citing noise, but it is largely due to fear.
Which part to locate in?
We are asking the Lord where we will be located in Cyprus. Is it to be on the Greek side, in Larnaka or another city in the South? Or is it to be in North Cyprus on the Turkish side?
Tomorrow, we drive up into the Troodus Mountains for two days and we will meet with Gateways Beyond, a mission training center and a worship and intercession ministry, focused especially on Israel and the Middle East.
Then in the middle of next week we will be in the TRNC, the North part of the island, in the partitioned side overseen by Turkey. We will visit a couple whose names were given to us by Jorge Parrott, as our contacts there.
We will then spend more time in the Living Stones House of Prayer back here in Larnaka next Thursday, the day before we leave, and we will meet further with their leaders. It is a lovely worship and prayer room, in a traditional Cyprus building with arches and wood rafters, with an adjoining courtyard garden, and it has much creative art that worshiping artists have done there. The Spirit of the LORD is present in this house of prayer.
Thank you for praying for us during this “scouting trip” to Cyprus. It will not be the green land Roslyn desired to be based in, as it is only greenish here during the short spring season. But we still feel a tug from the our LORD here.
Pray for us to see clearly and hear Him more fully about His plans for both sides of Cyprus as they involve us.