Dear Praying Friends and Family,
I hope this prayer letter finds you all well in the Lord and rejoicing in His salvation and service!
The Quarantine:Almost everything is locked down here in Ukraine and we are housebound with the rest of the planet. There are 73 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in our region. Church services of more than ten people have been banned so we began broadcasting our services over the internet to our church members who gather into small groups. They also take turns attending in person, including a first time visitor inquiring about the Bible and salvation. There is no substitute for Christians assembling themselves together (Heb. 10:25), but we have had a lot of first-time viewers from all over Ukraine tuning in to listen to the preaching. Many of our members who migrated to Germany, Poland, and the USA for work are also tuning in.
The Bible Institute continues to keep me very busy in spite of the quarantine. It was very humbling to witness one of the students ride his bike for 2 ½ hours to get to classes because public transportation has stopped. We still hope to finish sometime this May by God’s grace. I am putting the finishing touches on the last bit of material for our archive, in Russian, for the future when we plan to train more men for ministry.
Salvation and Baptismal Service: We are very thankful to the Lord for giving us the blessing of seeing one man, Zhenya, saved in our services before the quarantine began. He came to our services for several weeks and just listened to the preaching. My brother-in-law, Pastor Samuel Witter, visited us and preached a great message that spoke to his heart. He responded to the invitation and trusted Christ as his Savior. He continued to come faithfully and his countenance visibly changed for the joy of the Lord. We were also very encouraged to witness four of our latest converts follow the Lord in believer’s baptism. It was a great blessing! Please pray that they all will continue to grow in the Lord.
Bittersweet February: The month of February was a good month and one of the worst…ever. It was just bittersweet. The month began with a big personal blow to my family. It is a private matter and I cannot go into details but it was like an emotional gut punch. This was followed two days later by a blow from a brother that I should have seen coming, but was too optimistic (and maybe naïve) to believe. It continues to take a toll on some of our members and we are still praying about how to deal with this convoluted mess. Your prayers are really needed. We also had a bit of a rollercoaster ride involving Sam and Miriam’s registrations. I left the country with them while Naomi stayed home with the rest of the kids and the above mentioned problems. Upon our arrival at the embassy we were informed that the whole process had changed. What we thought would be only a few days turned into a whole week and cost three times more than expected. Then my daughter contracted shingles and started having severe breathing problems due to an allergy reaction. It is amazing how humbling it is when you can’t find a drug store open at 11:00 p.m. and your daughter can’t breathe. I felt so helpless but the Lord is my helper and got us through that one too. It was just one of those periods when the enemy turns up the heat.
On the other hand, it was a good month. Souls were saved, new converts were baptized, men and women are preparing for ministry, my daughter is fine now, we did get our registrations, and I celebrated 31 years since rededicating my life to Jesus Christ! The Lord has been good to this saved sinner!
Sweet and sour March:March began great, mostly because February left such a bad taste in our mouths! We had some visiting preachers that month and a Sweetheart’s banquet which was a nice diversion from the problems and routine. Then things turned a bit sour when the quarantine hit. Brother Matt Welch and his wife were visiting and barely made it out before the borders were closed. He never did get a chance to preach to our congregation. What we have experienced is that the Lord is always sweet even during the bitter, sour times. The Lord is the Creator of taste and flavor. Salty, bitter, sour, spicy, or savory…they are all good for you and help you grow. 2 Peter 3:18 says, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”
Building Project/Fund Raising:We are happy to report that we are now at 25% of the needed funds to begin the building project. Our church members are giving and praying! There is still no movement on the part of the electric company to hook up our three phase lines and meter. Please pray with us about this important step in this ministry that will help this church better reach this town and region with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Thank you for taking the time to read our latest prayer letter. We pray for you all, especially you pastors, during these uncertain times. The Lord has gotten His people through worse and He will get us through this too. We want to thank you for all that you do for the Lord, giving us the privilege to serve Him in Ukraine. Until our next prayer letter or our meeting in the air!
That Ukraine May Know Him,