Ukraine Mission Trip 2019: Daily Report #5

    06.12.19 | Ukraine Mission Trip Daily Reports (2019) by John Griffin

    You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.  John 15: 16

    Dear Prayer Warriors,

    Do you marvel at God’s love for you?  Are you in awe of the fact that He chose you and adopted you into His family?  Does it overwhelm you to think that God Almighty delivered you from the power of darkness and brought you into His marvelous light and now shines in and through your heart and life?   How or why He poured out His mercy and grace upon us is beyond our comprehension.  The fact is we did nothing deserving of all He has bestowed upon us and entrusted to us as heirs and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.  Slava Bog!  He sought us, bought us and has given us His gift of salvation and forgiveness that we might worship Him and enjoy Him forever and be His hands and feet for those who need this same love.

    Day 5 of our mission journey here in Ukraine has been another demonstration of God’s Spirit overflowing out of your missionaries.  Slava Bog for all He did in and through them.

    VBS Camp, Day 3

    Day 3 of our VBS camp was a sweet encounter with Jesus as He showered His love in eternal ways.   We are so grateful to God for the 45 children and 5 mothers He brought today.  Every one of them is so precious in His sight and we believe that He faithfully conveyed His love for them in ways they could understand.  Our VBS team of American and Ukrainian brothers and sisters led the children and moms in praise of Him as they sang songs of worship and as His Word was brought to life.

    The children heard stories about how Jesus performed many miracles when He walked on this earth.  Oh, how wonderful it is that Jesus touched and healed many people during His earthly ministry.  How glorious it is that the children had the opportunity to hear how His greatest gift to them was Himself through His death and resurrection.   Our team shared how Jesus died on the cross and rose again and ascended to the Father for the sins of all people because of their need of His forgiveness and unmerited love.  Shari then presented the plan of salvation to not only the children but also to the moms who were with the children.  She carefully explained how one can receive Jesus as Savior and Lord.  Shari invited those who wanted Him as their Savior to pray a prayer in which she led.  After praying with them and asking for an indication from those who prayed the sinners prayer, 35 children raised their hands.  Hallelujah!  Slava Bog!  Shari also saw that several moms indicated a desire to receive Jesus but following the time of prayer that none of them raised their hands.  Please pray for these 3 moms who may still need His saving love.  We are so thankful to the Lord for all that He did and is doing in every one of the moms and all the children.

    The children were also taught of God’s love for them during Craft time.  Today the children used water colors, masking tape and paper to make a cross.  They had an  important truth revealed to them as they painted over the entire paper and cross and then peeled off the masking tape revealing a pure white cross.  Our team shared with the children that when they repent of their sins and ask Jesus to forgive them and to receive Him as their Savior, that their sins are wiped away…as the hymn says, “sin had a left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow”!  We love how God is, in so many ways, expressing His amazing grace to these children.

    Recreation time, led by none other Pasha, (a fun and funny servant who is one of our interpreters and a pastor) was a fun time as the children played games like “hot potato”, “duck, duck goose” and more!  What a blessing Pasha is to our team over the many years we have been coming to Ukraine!

    As with each day, the children have a game where they review the Bible truths and stories that they previously heard.  The game is between the girls and the boys and involves about 14 questions.  They love this time!   Once again, the boys won and the score is Boys 2, Girls 1…the girls have another opportunity to tie it all up tomorrow!  Come on girls!  Ha!

    How You Can Pray!

    • Please pray for the Lord to bring more children tomorrow (Thursday).
    • Please pray for clarity and the follow up process with the 35 children who indicated receiving Jesus as Savior and Lord today.
    • Pray for the moms who made an indication of wanting to repent and receive Jesus into their lives.
    • Pray for our team as they once again give an opportunity for more children to repent at Thursday’s VBS. 
    • Pray for Craft Time on Thursday as the children make salvation bracelets…may God use this activity to show them of His love and grace.

      VBS PICS-DAY 5

     Sharing Jesus in Ozerne

    With VBS camp going on, our Walking/Invite Team, (Mark, Will, Byron, myself and Marina, Julia, and Dennis) went to the military town of Ozerne (about 20 minutes from Zhytomyr).  Located within this town of about 6000 people is a Ukraine Airforce base.   We also joined up with Pastor Ivan (John and not the same Pastor Ivan from Bykivka).  There is no evangelical church in Ozerne and so Pastor Vasily and Pastor Ivan have been praying about planting a church in this town.  And so  our team was so delighted to go around this area and invite people to our evangelistic service at 7 p.m.

    We spoke with some soldiers, military wives and many non-military people throughout this area of the town.  Most people in this area around the base live in multi-storied apartments so it was wonderful being able to climb up and down the stairs and knocking on doors for Jesus Christ.  Yes, there were dogs in some of the apartments…they were so loud. Ha!  Oh, what a pure delight it was for our walking teams (4 in all) to cover as much territory as we could to invite many to join us for the service at 7 p.m. 

    We had one funny encounter with a lady (about 80 years old) who had previously received an invitation card from Byron Young and Marina.  When Illiya (Pastor Vasily’s teenaged son) and I knocked on this lady’s door, she greeted us and showed us the invite card.  She was very enthusiastic and full of energy.  There was something she was trying to tell us about meeting Byron…Illiya is almost 16 and is learning English (and is doing great at it) but he kept laughing by what the lady was saying.  The long and short of it was that this lady kept talking how she wished she could marry Byron but alas he is already married…at least this is what Illiya tried to convey to me!  Ha!  Well friends, you just never know what you will encounter when you come to Ukraine…regardless this lady was sweet and indicated she would be coming to our service.

    BTW, here’s a one funny door bell we rang in the apartment building:

    Of course, not everyone is always receptive to our invitation.  Many of the doors we knocked on in these apartments have the Orthodox cross marked on or over their doors.  The Orthodox priest will (for a fee) come to the house and pray against evil spirits and draw their unique cross with chalk.

    It is very important to  note that the Russian Orthodox church does not believe in salvation by faith alone.  They teach that salvation must be earned and it is not secure unless you are working and storing up favor with God where the balance of your good deeds outweigh the negative ones.  Thus, the bottom cross beam symbolizes this teaching.  I am thankful, as I know you are, that salvation is not something we can earn or lose.  Salvation is a free gift (Eph. 2: 8-9) through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. 

    Oh dear friends, please pray for God to use our team and the ministry of all evangelicals here in Ukraine to shine Jesus’ light with those who have no relationship with Jesus Christ, whether they are religious or not!  It saddens me to remember a time when one elderly lady spit at my feet in a past Ukraine mission trip because she was Orthodox and, to her, we as evangelicals were not worthy (in her eyes) of salvation.  Of course this behavior is not common because quite frankly many of these Orthodox “Christians” do not practice their faith…which is not a true faith in Christ at all.  But we are to continue to faithfully love people to Christ who are of all persuasions.  May you and I see people as souls and faithfully share His love no matter their response.  Who can you pray for right now who needs Jesus and who needs you to tell them of His saving power?  Pray for them right now, call them, go see them and share Him!  Amen? 

    After several hours of inviting people in Ozerne our Walking/Invite team and VBS team met for lunch and had a short time to shop and then have a few hours of rest before our evening service.  What a welcome time it was to be able to go back to Compass Church and put our feet up and even sneak in a short nap.  “Thank You, Jesus, for spiritual and physical rest!”  Thank you, also, prayer warriors for praying for our strength and endurance…the days are long and tiring but God is using you to intercede and lift us up in prayer…we truly sense God’s blessings…He is our strength!

    Following a surprise ice cream snack from Pastor Vasily (you can’t believe how delicious Ukrainian ice cream is…and it is non-fattening…uh not really…HA!) our team loaded up and headed to Ozerne for a special evening of worship and sharing of God’s love and word.

    We praise the Lord for the 65 plus people who came to our Evangelistic Service.  Surely, we would have loved to have more people in attendance but one thing I shared with our team that is just as true for us as it is for those who attended… that God had specifically called all 7 of us to be in Ukraine for such a time as this…and this truth applied to everyone sitting in the audience.  God is so amazing because no matter the size of the audience, that if there is one soul needing Jesus then they are the reason He called us and brought us 6000 miles away from home!   Slava Bog!  The worth of one soul coming to faith in Jesus is immeasurable!  

    So our team gathered in prayer before the service and oh what a sweet time of prayer as Hannah prayed for Rhonda who would give her testimony and as Byron prayed for our team and the congregation.  He also prayed for Tommy Goth who had his biopsy yesterday…dear friends, please pause right now to pray for Tommy’s healing….Thank you… please continue to pray for his healing and pray for Sherry as she ministers to Tommy…they both need our earnest prayers!

    Our team glorified God and the Spirit of the Lord was so evident.  Again, thank you for interceding for us and even getting up in the middle of the night to lift us up to Jesus.  He is hearing and answering your prayers for us.  As the service continued on, Rhonda shared her story of how she came to Christ and how her father and mother were so instrumental in her life with her salvation.  Rhonda related and told her story so well with the audience because of the fact that she grew up and still lives on the farm that her dad and mom bought years ago.  Many, if not most, of those who were in the audience either grew up on a farm or still have a garden where they grow their own food.  As Rhonda shared about her mother and the many days and months of her illness two years ago, there was a tender time of reflection that impacted not only Rhonda but the entire audience.  God’s Spirit was transcending any language barriers because we all can identify with the difficulty of losing a loved one.  Thank you, Rhonda, for being God’s vessel…He touched us all by His Spirit through your faithful love for Him.

    Following the powerful song “Jesus Only Jesus” the Lord allowed me to once again share the message from Matthew 8: 23-27.  It is so humbling to preach the good news of Jesus and His desire to rescue those who need Him.  It is also  overwhelming to see Him open the eyes of the hearts of those who responded to His free gift of salvation.  We praise His awesome and glorious name for the approximately 20 people who indicated that they had prayed the prayer of repentance.  Slava Bog!  Oh what a Savior!  

    Friends, please pray for these new believers.  Pray that they and all who were in attendance will come to the Bible Study that Pastor Ivan will begin this Sunday at 3 pm.  Our prayer is that a new church will be birthed in this town (Ozerne) and that like a wildfire, God’s love of salvation will spread. 

    We had a wonderful day in Christ!  He is all-powerful and all-sufficient and so true to His Word…when He is lifted up, He will draw men unto Himself.  Let us praise Him that He was lifted up on a cross, died an atoning death and was raised again and now seated at the right hand of God…interceding for you and me and for those who will believe in His message through us all.  (John 17:20)

    Our team is ready for Day 6 and thank you in advance for your prayers for us as we have our last day of VBS and as we go into the village of Reya Thursday evening.   We love you and count all joy to serve alongside you in this sweet mission journey with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Slava Bog!

     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