Rutherford Weekly

November 16, 2023

Rutherford Weekly - Shelby NC

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Joel and Irena Colon and their daughter, 13-month-old Esther, are back in Vilnius, Lithuania after a trip to the United States for a few months during the summer. While here they visited Joel's parents, Jim and Eileen Colon near Rutherfordton. While the family was in the country, they visited several friends including supporters of their ministry in the Ukraine that is still going on in the Ukraine despite the war. As much as the Colons enjoyed the trip back to the States, Joel said, "This trip (to US) has been hard in every way, physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc. It was wonderful to see everyone, but it was a lot of traveling, a lot of sharing with people and churches. It was hard to be a world away from the work of getting humanitarian aid into Ukraine and delivered to churches." In just the last few days, Joel returned back to Lithuania after working in the Ukraine for a short time. "Happy to have him back," Irena Colon said. "We are doing okay and are fi nally adjusting to the colder weather." The couple were missionaries in the Ukraine where they were operating a missionary training center that trains and sends out Ukrainian missionaries prior to the start of the War on February 24, 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine. Today the family is based in Lithuania until spring, unless there is a major change in the war, Joel said. He continues to travel into Ukraine regularly to handle paperwork and warehouse details he cannot do online and to visit with team members and other people the missionaries try to support and help. Because of the war, the couple's jobs now are primarily in the area of humanitarian aid and assisting churches as best they can. Joel operates most of the communication with foreign partners and he works with the logistics of getting the aid into Ukraine and distributed to churches. Irena maintains communication with lots of people and partners in Ukraine and keeps their support team in America up to date with how things are going and how people in Rutherford County and the United States can best be praying for them and Ukraine during this time. Just a day or so after returning to the area after being in Rutherford County, a missile strike occurred that killed hundreds of people. "Missile strikes happen every week and unfortunately people are killed all the time," Joel said. He said there are over 600,000 men fi ghting on the front lines and the number of deaths and funerals affect everyone in Ukrainian society. "Every time I go into Ukraine, I see fresh graves and funeral processions," Joel said. "In this war Ukraine is fi ghting to defend its freedom and way of life. Each death by Russian missiles, mines, or bullets makes Ukrainians more angry and more determined to win, no matter what it costs," Joel said. Joel said he and Irena and their baby are ready to go back to the Ukraine, but they can't because of the dangerous situations. "It is hard too, to have to explain the ongoing situation and war to people who don't always understand how vital it is for Ukraine to win this war" Joel said. "It is essential for churches to keep the freedoms they have and be able to share the Gospel without the Russian regime telling them what they are allowed to say, and closing churches who don't do as they are told." About half of Irena's immediate family are in the Ukraine at this time, Joel said. Joel and Irena have been living and working in Ukraine since 2005. Joel is an American and Irena is Ukrainian. Before going to Ukraine, Joel was living in Rutherfordton, near Pinnacle Elementary School. His parents, Jim and Eileen, still live in Rutherford County. Irena is from Kyiv where the couple met at a meeting about starting a new church in a region of Kyiv several years ago. They were married in 2008. The couple prayed for many years that the Lord would give them children. Last October, daughter Esther was born. As the couple had to move to Lithuania last year, they were concerned their baby might not survive all the continuing stresses of war and move, but she did. Today the couple asks for prayer for peace, safety for all the pastors and relief workers, they ask for wisdom and courage for Ukrainian President Zelensky and the Ukrainian leadership; they pray they will know how to act with all the different needs and that God would use this time of uncertainty and fear to move the hearts people and to recognize Christ as the only hope and Saviour. As it was imminent the war was starting in February 2022, Irena Colon told reporters she was awakened to her apartment's window shaking as bombs were going off in Kyiv. She received a telephone call from her father, a pastor in the Ukraine, that the war had started. Irena and Joel at that time packed up their two cats and their belongings to go to the outskirts of Kyiv. During a presentation at Florence Baptist Church in Forest City in October, Joel said as awful as the war is, the war has opened so many opportunities for witnessing about Jesus and they see how the hearts of the people have been moved in the midst of the awfulness of the war. "More and more people are turning to the Lord," he said. Joel and Irena are One Challenge (OC) missionaries and receive some fi nancial support and prayer support from people in the United States and the world. For Thanksgiving, Joel and Irena and Esther will have friends over for the traditional turkey and trimmings and a time of thankfulness. They will also have family and friends at their place for a traditional Christmas meal. ISSUE NO. 46 • November 16, 2023 ISSUE NO. 46 • November 16, 2023 • • • 828-248-1408 • 828-248-1408 To help support the the Ukrainians and the work of missionaries, donations may be made through: UKRAINE RELIEF FUND- or send a check payable to: OC International Write UKRAINE RELIEF FUND in the memo section of check and mail to: OC International • PO Box 36900 • Colorado Spr p ings g , , CO 80936-9600 1 1 3 W. C O U R T S T R E E T • R U T H E R FO R D TO N T I C K E T S $ 5 0 - S O L D I N A D VA N C E O N LY I N C L U D E D I N N E R , B E E R & W I N E D O O R S O P E N 6 : 0 0 P / D I N N E R 6 : 3 0 P / S H O W 7 : 3 0 P CA L L 70 4 . 2 1 4 . 97 9 9 FO R T I C K E T S O R M O R E I N FO Nov. 25 S A T U R D A Y with Dinner Show N.C. TRACTOR & FARM SUPPLY 299 Railroad Ave., Rutherfordton • 828-288-0395 Mobile: 828-429-5008 • SALES • SERVICE • PARTS 0% FINANCING FOR 72 MONTHS 0% FINANCING FOR 72 MONTHS --OR-- --OR-- $2,500 OFF CASH PURCHASE! $2,500 OFF CASH PURCHASE! PROUDLY SERVING RUTHERFORD, CLEVELAND, GASTON, LINCOLN, POLK COUNTIES AS THE AREAS HOMETOWN MASSEY FERGUSON DEALER. Great Selection Great Selection GC1723 • GC1725 GC1723 • GC1725 Our 31 st Year • Over 25,000 Weekly Readers Ukraine missionaries return Ukraine missionaries return after time in Rutherford County after time in Rutherford County SMALL TOWN FRIENDLY, BIG TIME RESULTS Article By Jean Gordon. Photos Contributed. Esther at age 13 months. Joel, Irena and Esther Colon. Joel's parents, Jim and Eileen Colon of Rutherfordton, packing Samaritan Purse shoeboxes last December in Boone. This Ukraine fl ag was presented to Florence Baptist by the Colons.

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