Ukraine Mission Trip 2019: Daily Report #3
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1: 8
Dear Prayer Warriors,
Slava Bog from Ukraine! We are approximately 6000 miles from Beaumont, Texas but God is never ever limited by time or distance. He is always at work around the clock and around the globe. His Word reminds us that He never slumbers nor sleeps (Ps. 121: 4). Psalm 113: 3 says From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised! Our God is the One who has called and empowered us to be His witnesses. He is accomplishing His plan to reach the nations through you and me wherever we are at any moment. Yes, He is always at work and His name is being proclaimed from dawn to the setting sun. “Thank You, Jesus for the power of Your love, the power of Your cross, the power of Your resurrection and the power of Your Spirit and Word that never ceases. Amen!”
Your Ukraine Team is one of countless teams and individuals (including all of you) who are sharing the gospel around the world. Calvary started their first day of VBS in Beaumont and Lumberton as well as did your Ukraine Team in Zhytomyr. Many of you are having divine appointments with people whom God has or is going to place in your path. We are all so grateful to join Him in the ministry of reconciliation.
Today was our team’s first day of VBS Camp at Compass Church. We are so happy to report that God not only gave us a beautiful day but He also brought 40 precious young children and even 10 of the moms today! Shari shared that a mother and daughter, whom we had invited as we passed out VBS flyers yesterday, came today. Slava Bog! In addition, a lady who had only attended Compass the previous two Sundays came and brought her daughter to VBS. This young mother has not yet repented, but she told Pastor Vasily how great and blessed she was to bring her daughter and how much they both enjoyed the camp. Though we don’t know their names at this time, God does. Please join us in praying that all the children and moms who attend will be impacted by God’s love through VBS.
As you know, the Lord called 7 of us to come and spread the gospel here in Ukraine. Even though our team is smaller in number compared with other years, we know and believe that God had the very ones He intended to be here for such a time as this. (Of course, we want to ask you to begin praying about joining us next year. You will never be the same when you heed His call to spread His message of salvation through an International mission trip. We’d love to have you go to Ukraine with us as He leads!) We thank the Lord that He called and equipped our 3 ladies (Shari, Rhonda and Hannah) to lead VBS camp along with several of our interpreters and some additional Compass Church servants. He is indeed so faithful! He knew our team needed extra hands and feet and so He gave us these wonderful co-laborers in Christ: Pasha, Jane, Sveta, Dasha and Katarina. Please thank the Lord for these humble servants of God and please pray for them as they serve alongside our team.
Again, we are so thankful for the 40 children and moms who came today to VBS.
They were led in praise and sang “Bog Dahv Nahm Den” (This is the Day) and “Allelu” (where you stand up/sit down in groups and sing it faster and faster…”Allelu, Allelu, Allelu, Alleuia, Slav-teh Kristah!” They loved learning and singing these songs of praise!
During the lesson today, Shari told the children how the Bible is God’s letter to us and how that everything in it is true. She shared from Genesis about God creating everything in 6 days and how He rested on the 7th day. The most important part of the lesson that the children heard was that before He created anything, He loved them so much! Aren’t you so thankful that God had you and me and all of mankind on His heart? Thank You, Jesus!
The children continued on with their day in VBS by working on crafts (about Creation) and having some fun time at recreation. Pasha is a father of 3 but he is the biggest kid for a 30 something. We love Pasha! Towards the end of VBS today, the children participated in a review game where the boys and girls competed against each other to see who could remember the lesson they were taught about God’s creation. You might want to know that the boys won! And as the children left they were given some delicious snacks and also challenged to bring more friends tomorrow. Please pray that God will bring many more children tomorrow to hear about His Son, Jesus Christ!
While our VBS team was in the middle of the first day of VBS camp, Will, Mark, Byron and I and two of our interpreters, Juila and Marina, and our driver, Dennis traveled an hour away from Zhytomyr to Piatyhrka to invite people to our evangelistic service at 4 p.m. Piatyhrka is a small village of about 700 people which has a small Baptist Church led by Pastor Sergei who is a friend of Pastor Vasily. Pastor Sergei’s church, Born Again Baptist Church, has about 17 plus regular attenders and they have been faithfully reaching out to the people in this village with God’s love. Our team was so delighted to assist them in their efforts and their desire to reach their village for Christ.
When we met Pastor Sergei, he shared the journey Jesus had brought him on to start Born Again Baptist Church. Fifteen years ago, Pastor Sergei was on a cross country bicycle tour and when he came to this village, God stirred his heart to start a church here. He and his wife, Yelena (Helen) who live in a nearby city began a Bible Study in a home in this village. As God began to move and grow their Bible Study with new converts, He provided and enabled them to secure a building 3 years ago to become a “House of Prayer” (Church). What is so amazing and causes us all to rejoice is that this two story building that God gave to this small band of believers used to house a museum dedicated to Lenin on the second floor. Now, Jesus is being freely preached and worshipped and His light is being shined in this village for those needing His saving power! Slava Bog!
Pastor Sergei and his wife and family want to soon move from the city to this village and live on the second floor of the church. They are praying for provisions to make it into an apartment. The bottom floor is where their church meets for worship and bible study and has a small kitchen. Pastor Sergei, who is most likely Bi-Vocational, wants to live in this village which will give Him greater opportunity to lead his congregation in reaching more people for Jesus Christ.
Well, Mark, Byron, Will and I divided into two teams and went with our interpreters along with Pastor Sergei’s son, Elisha (17 year old amazing godly young man). We had the joy of walking through the village inviting people to attend our service. We were warmly welcomed by nearly everyone in this village. Many of those we invited already knew about our service since Pastor Sergei put up posters with our picture on it, and the time and location. People in Ukraine, especially in the villages, are intrigued by Americans and in particular Texans. Whatever their reasons, we had a great time talking with many people and inviting them to our service at 4 pm. At one house, Byron and I had a special time with an elderly couple. The husband was somewhat disabled with arthritis and not able to walk very well. He said he wouldn’t be able to come to our service because of his physical challenges, but Byron was able to pray for him and his wife. It was a sweet time of ministering and lifting up this couple to the Lord. Thank you, Byron, for encouraging this sweet couple with your prayer for them!
As an aside, everyone in this village has a garden or a field for growing their crops, food, etc. They have cows, chickens and dogs…dogs who love to bark and bark to guard their master’s house. But the dogs are usually chained and so we are most often able to go through the gate and knock on the door without being attacked. So we are so glad those chains are strong! HA!
Well, after a time of inviting people to our service in the village, we had a douzhe smachnah lunch at the church. Pastor Segei’s wife, Yelena and some other sweet ladies in the church prepared a wonderful lunch for us. While we ate, we heard the amazing and glorious testimony of another member of the church, Sergei, (same name as Pastor) who had been delivered from alcoholism several years ago through Jesus Christ who became his Lord and Savior. We praise God for Pastor Sergei being an integral part of this man’s salvation. Slava Bog! We hope to post his testimony as soon as possible.
Around 3 pm our VBS team joined us in this village and we prepared for our service which was held in what is called the “House of Culture”. This building, which was built in 1957, is used for community events and no doubt was once used for communist propaganda meetings in the days of Communism. Today it was a house of praise unto the Lord! We praise God for the Lord opening the door for us to share His good news today. The Lord brought about 55 plus people including some children. We were so elated and Pastor Sergei was especially delighted with the number of people who attended. Our team sang our songs of praise to Jesus “Our God”, “Who You Say I Am”, “King of My Heart”, “Spirit of the Sovereign Lord”, “Tremble”, “Prayer for Ukraine” (which is like a national prayer song in Ukraine…powerful), “Jesus Only Jesus” and one that God always uses “Kyrie, Lord Have Mercy”. I’m so thankful to God for these singing servants whom He is clearly using for His glory! They are being His witnesses through His sweet anointing.
As the service progressed, it was so wonderful hearing Will Young share his testimony of how God brought him to salvation at camp when he was about 12 years old. Will told of how though he had been baptized at an earlier age, he didn’t fully comprehend the meaning behind his baptism. At church camp, however, God made it clear to Will that he needed a real and true relationships with the Lord! Slava Bog!
In addition to the wonderful worship of Jesus and Will’s testimony, Byron preached a wonderful sermon from Luke 8 on the Parable of the Sower. God clearly and powerfully spoke through Byron as he proclaimed the good news of Jesus Christ. Byron asked those in attendance about their own spiritual heart condition. Only those whose heart is fertile and receptive to Jesus and His substitutionary provision through His death and resurrection will live in eternity with Him. God truly used Byron for when Pastor Vasily gave the invitation for people to repent, approximately 4 people raised their hands indicating that they had prayed to receive Christ. Slava Bog! What a Savior!
Following the invitation, Pastor Sergei, invited the audience to attend their service at the church this Sunday. He also invited them to bring their children to VBS which will be sometime soon. Please pray for a ground swell of God’s Spirit to move in this village through what He did tonight and through the faithful brothers and sisters at Born Again Baptist Church.
We also want to share that after the service, our team gathered the children and shared the gospel through the salvation bracelet presentation. Shari said that 7 children indicated receiving Jesus as Savior. Slava Bog! We ask you to pray for Pastor Sergei as he follows up with these 11 plus people (including the children) who indicated a decision for Jesus Christ.
Well, it is very late but it’s hard not giving you the full report. We so depend upon your prayers and if by this email, God gives you a glimpse of our journey with Him and then prompts you to pray for us at various times in the night or day, then we are delighted to share with you as much as we can. Tomorrow will be Day 2 of VBS Camp and our team will also have two Evangelistic Services at 3 pm and 6:30 p.m. in Maryanivka and Bykivka. We will do a lot of walking and inviting so please pray for good weather and continued health. Please also pray for good weather in Zhytomyr for our VBS Camp.
We can’t express enough our deep appreciation to you for your prayer support and intercession. We know God is hearing your prayers and we know that without Him and without you going to His throne on our behalf, that we would be unable to be and do all He asks of us. We love you and praying for VBS at Calvary and for all of us to be alert to opportunities to shine and share the gospel with someone! As I’ve said often, “you and I will never be more focused than when we are living His mission by sharing Jesus with those needing Him!” Slava Bog!
Until tomorrow, blessings in Christ! (Dobry Neech) Goodnight! We love you all!
У любові Христової (In Christ’s Love)
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.” Jesus (John 17: 20 NLT)
Your Ukraine Missionaries,
Mary Brieden (Stateside), Sherry and Tommy Goth (Stateside), Emily Templeton (Stateside), John Griffin, Shari Griffin, Rhonda Mack, Hannah Stagg, Byron Young, Mark Young, Will Young