Ukraine Mission Trip 2019: Daily Report #6
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. II Corinthians 5: 17-21 ESV
Dear Prayer Warriors,
To be called an ambassador of Christ is both a great honor and a huge responsibility. In II Cor. 5: 19, the Apostle Paul reminds us that we have been “entrusted with the message of reconciliation.” You and I have been called by Jesus to carry and proclaim the greatest news ever given to man…the message of salvation in Him. There is no greater passion that we are to have than that of loving Him and loving others to Christ by sharing His gospel. This is why you and I are here at this moment in time…to lift up the Savior who draws all people to Himself. What person has Jesus placed on your heart who needs His saving love? Right now, pray for them! Before reading the rest of this update, take time to lift up the names of those you know who need Jesus Christ. As you pray, please listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and do the next thing He tells you. He may have you call or go see and share His love with them today. Jesus has already commissioned us as ambassadors. May we all be zealous and prompt as “active-duty” gospel-bearers!
Day 6 of our mission journey here in Ukraine was a special day of blessing as more people encountered the Agape love of Jesus. What a joy it is to share with you the wonderful news of this day.
VBS Camp, Day 4 (Final Day of VBS)
On Thursday, June 13, your Ukraine Missionaries had the joy of leading the final day of VBS at Compass Church. It has been such a wonderful time of seeing the light come on in many of these children as they heard of Jesus and His love for them.
We were so delighted that God brought about 60 children today. As you have seen pictures in previous updates, they are so sweet and full of energy and eagerness. They love to say “Hello” to the Americans…it’s so fun to hear them say it with their Ukrainian accent. “Hellooooh!”
Today’s lesson was about following Jesus and doing the things He asks us to do like being kind to others. Our team, along with the Compass team, acted out the story of The Good Samaritan. Having the adults act out this powerful story really captivated the attention of the children. Praise God for how He speaks through His Word and through this message of His love.
Our team also shared about how one comes to know Christ through repentance and faith. Shari went through the gospel presentation and also clarified to those who indicated a decision the previous day that receiving Jesus is a one time decision. Through this special time of sharing how they could know Jesus as their Savior and Lord, 9 additional children indicated that they had prayed the prayer of repentance and trust in Christ. Slava Bog!
During craft time, the children made salvation bracelets and heard the meaning of the color for each bead they added. Black-sin, Red-blood and love, White-purity, Blue-following Jesus in baptism, Green-growing in Christ, Yellow-heaven. How wonderful it is to have this additional and creative way of telling the gospel of Jesus Christ to these children. May God reinforce and remind them of His love as they wear these bracelets. Pray that He would use these children to tell their friends and family of what it means to know Jesus.
In addition, our team gave the children a powerful and wonderful Bible story book, “The Most Important Story”, written and created by David Hunt and translated in Ukrainian. Thank you, David, for expediting the printing of this great tool. Shari walked through each story of the book with the children which were the very same stories the children were taught throughout the week. This colorful children’s book will also reinforce all they learned at VBS as they read them in the days to come. Pray that they will share this book with their families and friends…that they might discover Christ’s love.
VBS Review Game
The Most Important Story (given to every child at VBS)
Friends, it has been a great week of VBS with many amazing ways of seeing God at work in the hearts and lives of all the children who came. Please continue to pray for Pastor Vasily and Compass Church as they follow up with them and that new connections with their parents will result in their salvation.
Village of Reya (Walking/Invite Team)
Our Walking/Invite Team was so blessed to travel about 30 minutes from Zhytomyr to the village of Reya (population 1000). When we arrived at Reya Baptist Church we met with Pastor Valentine (pronounced Valenteen-he’s so funny, he said every day for him is Valentine’s Day!) God is truly blessing and using this body of believers in not only their village but in the surrounding areas. They have a great children’s ministry and in fact they were having VBS when we arrived…about 80 children and 30 adults. They also have a great ministry to disabled children and their parents each week. I believe Pastor Valentine said that they are ministering to about 60 children with special needs.
Pastor Valentine told his story about God calling him to plant this church 15 years ago when he was 23. He bought and transformed the small barn into a house for his wife and their growing family. (Their transformed house is located on the existing church property.) He then started a nursery business to support his family and ministry while at the same time also starting a bible study in his home. He is very gifted in growing plants, flowers, etc as you will see in a video later. As more people were reached for Christ the need for more space arose and so they were able to purchase the old house next door to them. This house served as their House of Prayer until they were able to build a bigger church building in which they now have worship services. It seats about 100 people. As an aside, when they were having their first service in the new building they invited the village to come and attend, but the Orthodox priest went from house to house beforehand and telling people that if they attended the Baptist church that they would be excommunicated…so those who came just stood outside the church. Here’s an explanation from Jane:
Of course, it is indicative of many Orthodox members to not practice or even attend services. Pastor Valentine said that most Sundays that there will only be 10 ladies in attendance at the Orthodox church in Reya. These souls need Jesus and so this is why we go from door to door in these villages to invite them to our Evangelistic Service. God is doing a great work through Pastor Valentine and his congregation.
Roma (Brother in Christ)
Meet my new friend and brother in Christ, Roma!
Roma is a member of Reya Baptist Church who repented 10 months ago and he and I walked in the village together and invited people to our service at 6 pm
Please watch his testimony (You will be blessed)
What is additionally awesome is that not only did Roma repent, but also his parents and grandparents came to Christ as a result of his conversion. Slava Bog!
God’s grace is truly amazing. Roma was into satanic activity, alcohol, drugs, fighting, active in the 2014 riots in Kiev against the government where many protesters were killed. Now God is using Roma to spread the love of Jesus Christ. He is now serving as a volunteer in the awesome ministry to disabled children at Reya Baptist Church. Slava Bog!
I love Roma’s zeal and heart. He loves people. Case in point, at the first farm house we went to, we met an elderly lady and started inviting her to our service. Unbeknownst to this sweet lady, she had a runny nose…as we were talking with her, without hesitation, Roma took out his bandana and wiped her nose and we just continued on with our discussion-such a loving act of kindness. As we were leaving, she hugged us both and was so appreciative of us inviting her. At another house, we met an elderly and feeble lady with a “walker” who was trembling and in obvious poor health. We knew that she would not be able to attend the service so Roma started praying for her. What a blessing it was to see the love of Christ expressed to this precious lady as Roma prayed for her.
Well, as walked along the way in the village, we talked about how time is so short and how we must tell as many people as possible about Jesus. He said, “believers in Jesus Christ need to get outside the walls of the church…many are comfortable and content to just attend church…they stay home watching TV…when there are so many who need Jesus.” Amen, Roma! You and I have been gloriously redeemed by the Lord but we must not be silent or complacent about sharing our Savior and His message of salvation with people. There’s someone he wants you to reach out to today or there’s a ministry He wants you to fulfill for His kingdom’s sake. Will you answer His call to go?
After walking in the village, our team headed back to Zhytomyr for lunch and for a few hours of much needed rest. As you can imagine, our days are filled with much ministry and outreach. We are only able to do all God has called to do with His strength and with Your fervent intercession. Thank you so much for lifting us up to Jesus. We feel your prayers!
Following our time of rest, we left for Reya to set up and get ready for the service at 6 pm. Each service, we sing about 8 songs in Ukrainian or Russian and so we always have a time to rehearse prior to the worship service. We are so grateful for Eugene and Illiya (Pastor Vasily’s son) from Compass Church who work so hard to set up the sound and projection system at our services. We always have the words to our songs (in Cyrillic) projected on a portable screen so that those in attendance can more fully participate and allow the Lord to speak to them through the powerful messages in these songs.
When our service was about to begin, there were approximately 20 people. It was raining and a few thunderstorms were in the area…but…God broke through and it stopped and soon the entire club was filled with people (approximately 75 in all). Slava Bog! (Please be sure to see the Reya Village pics and videos that are available.) What a joy it was to once again share Jesus Christ with people who needed Him. Byron Young shared his testimony and how God brought him to salvation through Jesus. He also spoke of the time where he, like many of us, strayed or didn’t take Jesus seriously as he (and we) should. Praise God that Jesus still pursues us and convicts us in those unfortunate times of disobedience and rebellion. May we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength each moment of life.
We were once again blessed to have Mark Young preach the Word of God and share the parable of the Prodigal Son. (A little of Mark’s sermon is in the Reya folder). God used Mark in a mighty way as he shared how our Heavenly Father longs and waits for sinners to “come home” through repentance. Amen! We thank the Lord for the approximate 20 people who indicated that they wanted Jesus to be their Savior at the time of invitation. Slava Bog!
Addtionally, there were 20 children who prayed to receive Jesus Christ following the service. As with other services, our team shared the gospel through the Salvation Bracelet presentation. We thank the Lord that His message is so clear and for the opportunity to present His gospel to many children this week. Please pray that all those who responded to Christ and even those that did not at this time will heed Pastor Valentine’s invitation to attend Reya Baptist Church this Sunday. Pray that their new found life in Christ or even their curiosity to know Him will produce spiritual fruit and growth in and through their lives.
Scenes, Pics, and Videos from Village of Reya
Thank you again for your faithful prayers for us here in Ukraine. It is Friday afternoon of Day 7 and we have already been out inviting people to our 7 pm service here in Zhytomyr. Wherever you live and whatever your time zone, please pray for God’s Spirit to clearly speak to every heart and life in attendance. Our service will be in a larger auditorium in downtown Zhytomyr where we could have 300 plus people. Since Compass Church is also downtown, we pray the Lord will use tonight’s service to not only introduce them to Christ but also to discover His love through this local bride of His.
We love you and thank you with all our hearts for your constant prayers. May you have a blessed day in Jesus as you faithfully live His mission. There is someone who is longing and ready for you to share His good news today! 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