Dear Praying Friends and Family,
Apologies: First of all, I would like to thank each and every one of you who support and pray for our ministry in Ukraine. Our prayer letters are our lifeline to you back home who are “holding the ropes.” Many of you did not receive our last prayer letter until it was about six weeks overdue. The fault was mine. I wrote it in a timely manner and sent it to everyone on our e-mail mailing list and forgot to send it to our mission board. The oversight was called to my attention when a church contacted me to let me know that they had not heard from us in a while. Thank you for your patience and I’ll try to not be so scatterbrained in the future.
Upcoming short trip to the US: After much prayer it is clear to us that this is the right time to take Miriam back to the US. She will be attending PBI and working towards her bachelors of business administration (BBA) with the University of Northern Ohio, the latter of which she has been taking online classes for the last year. She has been such a blessing and help to us in our ministry here. It is very difficult to let her go. She loves God and has put His will first, waiting patiently for His guidance in this chapter of our family and ministry lives. Please pray for her as we take this journey together to get her settled in. We will be in the US for all of August and September. I would love to stay busy preaching and try to be a blessing while in the US. If anyone is interested in scheduling a meeting please contact me by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org by phone after August 1, at 513-376-1011.
Bible Club:This year marked our 18thanniversary of holding Children’s Bible Club. God obviously blessed this year with a lot of new older kids, many of whom received Christ as their Savior during the week. We averaged about seventy children with our highest day being eighty in attendance. This year’s theme was “Great Questions of the Bible!” They all received a lesson, then did crafts and memory work that fit the day’s lesson. Every day they were fed a small lunch and our youth group did a skit for them. There were plenty of prizes, fun, and games. They loved the sword drills and Bible songs. This year we began teaching them about the prayer altar. On the second day five older girls were dealt with and received Christ. They came the rest of the week and brought friends. On the last day we had eleven children respond to the invitation who had not yet received Christ after giving them an object lesson demonstrating the imputed righteousness of Christ to the believer and his sins being imputed to Christ on the cross. My friend Earl Wafford taught me how to do this years ago and we have used it in Bible Club every year since.
Youth Conference:Our youth attended the youth conference held in Limonski for the second year in a row. This year was a special blessing because my son, Benjamin, surrendered to God’s call on his life to serve in fulltime ministry. All of my older children are growing close to the Lord along with several others in our youth group. On the second day of camp, Sergei (Mowgli – see our last prayer letter for details), asked if he could skip youth camp to attend our midweek prayer meeting because he likes praying with us. He said that the first day of camp was fun but a little spiritually dry. I told him that he would have to enlist others to the task of praying for God’s blessing on the camp. They started praying together for over an hour at a time at night and God blessed it!
(Continued on the other side…. Church Update: The building program for the church is going slowly forward. We are still saving for the first phase before actually breaking ground. In the meantime we poured a new concrete porch and stairs for the entryway of the existing building. The old one was an eyesore which we tolerated thinking that it would be temporary. We also put a nice wide awning over the entry so that there is cover during the snow and rainy seasons.
We are very encouraged by the return of my old secretary who left after being offended at several people in the church. I dealt with her once about getting right with God but she didn’t budge and eventually turned all her bitterness against me since I didn’t repeatedly beg her to come back. She finally did return a changed woman…seven years later! She joined the church along with her new husband and they are doing great!
From time to time I’ll have a sister or two in the church complain that our church is too chauvinistic, that everything is for the men. I’ve assured them that there is no male conspiracy going on, just Bible-believing Christianity! Coincidently, those that complain are all divorced and still unmarried! Anyway, just to prove them wrong, we scheduled a women’s retreat where they had a great time of fellowship together with a fireside picnic in the country. Funny thing is that they requested that two men from the church help them with the fire and to be within calling distance should any wild boars show up! Other than the usual goings on we have a wedding in the works along with a baptismal service for several new converts.
Future Plans:Over the past year I’ve been waiting for several things to be accomplished before focusing our time and energy on beginning the work in Odessa. First, there is the trip to the US to help Miriam get settled in. We’ve been waiting on the Lord and now it is time. Knowing that we would have to leave for a month or two, I did not want to start something only to leave it for such a long time. The second thing was our full time Bible Institute. Over the past three plus years we have taught every class that is taught at PBI with the exception of Greek and Hebrew. There are several classes left that I will finish during the upcoming semester. With that accomplished I’ll have much more time for the work in Odessa. Lastly, there was the issue of giving time to instruct and prove my assistant for the pastorate. He is doing very well and will have his first dry run at the helm during our two months in the US. Please pray for him and his wife during this time.
Answered Prayer:We want to thank you all for praying for our various health needs over the past year. Since returning to Ukraine over four years ago, Naomi suffered through four miscarriages, the last of which almost killed her. We are only now learning how devastating the loss of blood is on a woman’s thyroid. She has been studying and working with functional doctors in the US and we are seeing great improvement. We are so thankful for the Lord’s mercies. My various health issues are getting back to normal. I haven’t felt very comfortable talking about it but I’ve had my own private battle with depression over the past ten years. The only time that I felt normal was when I was preaching. My blood work revealed that I had stage two stomach cancer, very low vitamin D levels, adrenal fatigue, and bad cortisol levels, among others I don’t care to mention. In short, I was a mess. My wife rolled up her sleeves and took on the task of doing the research to heal cancer naturally. I went on a total vegetarian diet and included several cancer healing protocols over the course of four months. I want to thank my God and Savior Jesus Christ for His mercies on me and my family. My cancer levels are now back to normal; the skin cancer on my arm is healed; and for the first time in a long time, I’m beginning to feel happy again. Also, thank you for praying for our vehicle situation. After two months in the shop, they were finally repaired.
We want to thank you all for your friendship, prayers, support, and all that you do for the Lord that gives us the privilege and opportunity to serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May the Lord bless you as you serve Him! Until our next prayer letter or our meeting in the air!
That Ukraine May Know Him,