May 29, 2023 News Update
We are back. This time we were in Romania and Ukraine. In the past two weeks I logged almost 40 hours of teaching in four different churches in three different cities. The bulk of our time was in a small village of about 500 people named Rikhta, not far from the town of Kamyanets Padilskiy. This was after a long weekend in Chudei. I am quite sure that you have never heard of these places, but the Lord knows them. In each place we found believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and local churches where they worship God Most High. They have not had sound Bible teaching but the people are open to the Word of God and willing to sit for hours to listen to Bible lessons.
One church was interesting because of its background. It is now in Ukraine, but it had been part of Romania before World War II. The name on the church building and the Bible verses on the walls inside are in Romanian language. Many of their songs are still sung in Ukrainian. But I taught in English and it was translated into Ukrainian. At different times in their history they have been under the domination of Germany, Russia, Poland, Lithuania and Romania.
In some of the churches they meet daily to pray about the war, praying for victory, for peace and safety, for protection for those in the military, for refugees, for families that are separated because of the war. Most everyone has an app on his phone which signals an alert any time that Russian-launched missiles are detected. It was really interesting to be in Bible class when suddenly 25 telephones all began to chirrup loudly. People immediately looked at their phones and then shut them off. The missile was headed for a different part of the country.
The wave of refugees through that part of the country has abated considerably since the beginning of the war, although one pastor reported that they had hosted 15 refugees in the past week, giving them warm showers, hot meals, a place to sleep and a place to do laundry. They stay for a day or two and then travel on to other destinations.
Our time there was rich, a gratifying and rewarding experience as we met Christians living in truly out of the way places. But we were also blessed to have several people who drove all the way from Kyiv to spend a few days with us. There were long lines of cars at the border crossings, and unbelievably long lines of 18-wheelers waiting to cross. The last time we crossed the border into Poland we had to wait about 6 hours in the car. This time, however, we had a driver who took us up to the border. We got out and walked across to meet someone else on the other side. This took us only 10 minutes to cover the 200 yards and go through the check-points of the two countries.
We will be in the U.S. until August when we will go to Brazil for a month of teaching there. In June and July I will be doing pulpit fill. When we left Ukraine 15 months ago we had no idea as to what we would be doing. We are so grateful for the wonderful opportunities the Lord has been giving us. Thank you for standing with us in prayer and support.
All by grace,
May 2, 2023 News Update
2 May 2023
The trip to Zambia this year was the most exciting and gratifying of all the times I have been to Africa. I taught six hours a day for a week in Livingstone (pictures above). Most of the participants were newcomers to our conferences, and they were so enthusiastic about the teaching. There were 15 pastors there who had never been exposed to sound Bible teaching before. They were absolutely amazed as doctrinal truths were revealed to them. The attendance never slacked off, even though we started at 9:00 in the morning and went to 4:00 in the afternoon, with a break for lunch. They were clamoring for more and insisted that I come back as soon as possible.
After we finished there I flew to Lusaka and then went by car to the city of Kabwe (pictures below). Although I have been there before, we met in a different venue and had a great turnout. Again, the response was overwhelming. One pastor from a Pentecostal Holiness church exclaimed that his life had been changed and that his teaching would make drastic changes from now on. We kept the same schedule there as we had the week before. It was exhausting teaching like that day after day, but, oh, so rewarding.
We finished up there on a Friday and drove to the village of Chipembi. This is the place I had my first exposure to Africa, back in 2021, when I was invited by Gene Cunningham to go on a trip with him. The church there has a sound pastor who has been under our teaching ever since that first time. There were a few pastors from neighboring villages who came to hear us. They were just enthralled by what they were hearing. In fact, on a Saturday night at 9:00 they came to my room with a long list of questions. Even though I was tired after a long day of teaching, it was such a joy to stay up late and open the Bible with them. The Sunday service was wonderful and I got to preach for an hour and a half. After the service we had a Q&A which lasted another hour.
I am so blessed to be able to travel to these places and to teach the Word of God. To see spiritual advance is most rewarding -- I praise God for the opportunities that He continues to provide, and, of course, praise for the spiritual gift He has given me, as well as sustaining my strength to be able to keep on keeping on.
We also give thanks to God for all of you who pray for us, encourage us, and support us so faithfully. Without you we would not be able to pursue these things.
All by grace,
April 13, 2023 News Update
We returned last week from two weeks in Ukraine and Poland. What a joy to go back to our home in the village (no damage to it at all), and to sleep in our own bed. We rejoice that I was able to preach in person to Word of God Church in Kyiv and to see our loved ones there. Lots of hugs all around.
After a week there we went to Poland where I had the opportunity to teach for 8 straight days in 3 different churches, two hours per night. The response was positive and enthusiastic, and they clamored for our soon return.
Today I leave for a 3-week trip to Zambia where I will be teaching in Livingstone, Kabwe and Chipembi. These seminars are quite demanding because they are typically 6 hours of teaching per day. I will have a little help from Pastors Charles, Benjamin and Justin – men I have worked with for many years.
The war continues in Ukraine. We tend to forget about it because it is not much in the news any more, but it is very real and very brutal. Several of the men we have trained over the years are either serving in the military or are ministering the gospel and spiritual food to the soldiers. Please do keep them in your prayers. You may have heard on the news, from some ill-informed reporters, that the Ukrainian government is anti-Christian and seeks to shut down churches. The fact of the matter is that there are numerous Orthodox churches which are very pro-Russia and are caching weapons, reporting on military activities to the Russian military, and spouting anti-Ukrainian propaganda in their churches. Not only that, but in reality, it is the Russians who are anti-Christian. Below is a link to a recent article which gives a realistic assessment of the situation:
We so much appreciate your prayers, your letters of encouragement, and your faithful support.
All by grace,
March 15, 2023 News Update
The war in Ukraine continues unabated. Death and destruction rain down daily. It is difficult for us who live in relative peace and safety to comprehend the fear, guilt, and depression suffered by those who live with war every day. Please pray for Ukraine. Pray especially for God to be glorified in His children, that their faith would be strong and their witness effective. Pray that many unbelievers, as they face their own mortality, will be confronted with the saving message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Phyllis and I will be flying out today [Wednesday] for a trip to Ukraine. Assuming that all goes as planned, I will be able to preach in our home church in Kyiv next Sunday. It will be a joyous reunion for us and our loved ones there. After that I will be teaching a six-day conference in Poland. We anticipate seeing some of our Ukrainian friends there.
The next few months will be full tilt. In April I will travel to Zambia for three weeks, teaching in three different cities. In May we will return to Ukraine to teach a two-week seminary course. In June I will be filling the pulpit in a stateside church. In July we will be traveling in the US. Then in August we will be returning to Brazil for an entire month of teaching in several cities.
We praise the Lord for His abundant supply that makes it possible for us to minister in all these places where people are hungry for the Word of God. We give thanks daily for the health and strength from His marvelous grace.
We thank you for all your prayers, your notes of encouragement, and your support. You have blessed us greatly.
By grace alone,
February 24, 2023 News Update
Today is the one-year anniversary of the unprovoked Russian attack on Ukraine. We are grieved by the death and destruction inflicted on the Ukrainian people. Tens of thousands have been killed, millions have been displaced, and entire cities have been reduced to rubble. And there is no end in sight.
There is so much talk in our media about the US involvement in this conflict. The divide over this issue is great. Many agree with our financial support and supply of weapons to Ukraine. Others believe that we have no responsibility to help the Ukrainians and that we should not be spending so much to help a country so far away. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, let me try to give a different perspective, a spiritual perspective.
We, as individuals, cannot change the politics of any of this. We may be vociferous in stating our position, but there is little we can do about it, except to write to our representatives in Congress. But we can do something in the spiritual realm. We can pray for the people in Ukraine. We can intercede at the throne of grace for the Christians there who are suffering. We can pray for their protection, for the supply of material things that are in desperately small supply in many areas. We can pray for believers to stand firm in their faith which is being tested severely.
Many of our people are taking this trial of their faith as an intensified opportunity to serve the Lord. Some of our pastors make trips to the front lines to take food, clothing, and other material things to help the brave men who are fighting for their homeland, for their wives, children, and parents. They are taking the gospel to the soldiers who are not saved, and they are teaching the Word of God to believers who need to be strengthened in their faith.
Other Christians are ministering to refugees in different ways. They provide spiritual food along with physical food. They give comfort through Scripture. They demonstrate the love of God to total strangers who are fearful, bewildered, and suffering. We get reports of those who are ministering to those who have just become widows, or who have lost their fathers, brothers, sons, and friends.
We must focus on the spiritual. Pray that many will be brought to faith in Christ in this time of tribulation. God could have prevented this war; He could bring it to an immediate end. But while He allows it to continue, let us not forget that we can minister to our brothers and sisters in Christ through prayer and through material means.
Our God is able to make all things work together for good. There is no political solution, only spiritual solutions. May we seek to glorify God in our lives here, even as fellow members of the family of God seek to glorify God in Ukraine. Pray, too, for the Russian soldiers, that they can find the salvation that has been provided through our Lord Jesus Christ.
All by grace,
December 31, 2022 News Update
New Year’s Eve 2022
I just received the letter below from Dennis and his wife Albina. They are from Belarus but went to Kyiv in 2020 to study at Word of God Bible College. Dennis is one of the finest students I have ever had the privilege of teaching. His love for the Word is intense and His desire to serve the Lord is impressive. I am really eager to see how the Lord is going to use this young couple. They left Ukraine after the war started and went to Poland. During the past nine months he has completed his studies at Word of God College and has been faithful in ministering to Ukrainian people in the church in Poland. I was very impressed with his letter and wanted to share it with you. As we move into 2023 let us keep our eye on the goal of being pleasing to our heavenly Father.
Dennis and Albina with their son Luke
Year 2022... Back in school, I would never have thought that the events described in history books would become a reality in my life. But this year changed everything, a bloody, cruel, merciless year exposing the very essence of human cruelty and sin. Russia has become a clear demonstration of what happens to humanity when it rejects the God-established rules of morality and humanity. Murder, robbery, violence and other heinous acts have become commonplace for a Russian soldier and for those Russian citizens who support the army destroying the sovereign state. The death of children, the suffering of people, the destruction of the lives of millions has ceased to be considered unusual and terrible. What is more terrifying is the justification of this horror by those so called Christians who should condemn this horror, not approve, trying to cover it up with scripture. A bloody year full of suffering!
But amidst all this horror and suffering, there's a light that brightened this world. It has become clear to millions of people that confronting evil is real. That the evil that terrifies many people in the world can meet resistance. Following the example of Ukraine, the world saw that freedom, peace, love and independence can be defended. The world is watching the Ukrainian people, who stood shoulder to shoulder in defense of their independence, in defense of their children, wives, parents. In defense of ONE'S land. We see hundreds of thousands of people willing to sacrifice for the greater good of others. And we see thousands of real Christians loudly stating their beliefs and, in these trying times, show in practice that Scripture, with its highest moral principles, is reality to them, and not mere tradition.
This year has shown me the faithfulness of God in whom I stand. I saw His hand upon my life To the sounds of explosions of Russian missiles, I shook my wife's hand and, hugging my son, prayed to God for protection and help. And He, my loving Father, has shown His faithfulness. We belong to Him. For Him we live. And wherever we are, we will carry His principles, His love, His compassion and grace.
Evil will be defeated, truth will prevail. Sooner or later, everyone who sows destruction, violence and pain will pay for his actions. For God is just and faithful. We want the coming year to be a year of freedom for the Ukrainian people, to get that for which they so bravely fight.
Praying for Ukraine and believing. Our hearts were left there!
Dennis and Albina and Luke
December 28, 2022 News Update
December 28, 2022
The year 2022 is almost gone. In thinking over the events of the past 12 months the word “momentous” came to mind. Being one who loves words, I was compelled to look it up.
Momentous—adjective: significant, important, serious, vital, critical, crucial, grave, historic, decisive, pivotal, weighty, consequential, earth-shaking.
Antonym: trivial, trifling, insignificant, unimportant, inconsequential.
A momentous year! It was certainly filled with unexpected, historic and significant events, giving rise to contemplation of what is significant and what is not. So many thoughts flood my mind. The new year started without fanfare, although we did set off a few fireworks from the deck of our home in Ukraine. Little did we know that those little rockets and subsequent bangs were but harbingers of what would soon ensue.
On February 24 we were wakened by the sound of bombs exploding close to Kyiv. We left almost everything behind as we embarked on a three-day evacuation with only a small carryon suitcase. It has now been more than 300 days since the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by Russia. We are thankful for Project Dynamo and their work of getting Americans out of Ukraine. We also are grateful for wonderful friends who met us in Romania and bought us first-class tickets to America.
Upon arriving in the US we had no idea what the Lord had in store for us. But we were immediately overwhelmed by grace as we were afforded a place to live, a car to drive, and even a wardrobe for each of us.
Since last March we have traveled to some 30 states, speaking in many churches, telling not only of our exodus under the mercies of God which are new every morning, but also teaching the Word, some were single events, some were conferences. In addition to those opportunities, we returned to Europe to carry on ministries. We were in Poland for a six-day conference and even visited loved ones in Ukraine for a few days. We flew into Yerevan, Armenia, for two weeks of teaching there.
After a few weeks back in the States we went to Zambia for two weeks of teaching there. We went to two cities where we had not taught before, and the response was really enthusiastic. They asked us to come back soon, so we have already scheduled conferences for next April.
That is the quick review of our year. Even though the Bible college in Ukraine is on hiatus during the war, the Lord has still given us many open doors to teach the Word of God. What a joy!
The Word of God Church in Kyiv still meets in spite of the war. The majority of the congregation has fled the city, some to western Ukraine, others to countries in Europe and some even to the US. Those who can’t attend in person continue to meet online under the very capable leadership of Pastor Oleg Lozinski. They also meet for prayer online every morning and evening.
Below is a letter we just received and I thought you would enjoy reading about the fruit our ministry has borne:
Dear Pastor Jim Myers and Phyllis,
A year ago at this time our circumstances were completely different from what we are experiencing now. We were in Ukraine and as a newly formed church we were all so excited to celebrate the birth of our savior.
No one knew that a war would begin in two months. Today, we are in the 10th month of being away from Ukraine. We have seen so many of God’s wonders on the way unto here to UK. We are in the season of Christmas to celebrate the birth of the One who came into the world to finally redeem people from the slavery of sin by going onto the cross to offer himself as the substitutional sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins.
Let me say Merry Christmas to you and to your family and to your church. What we know about the meaning of Christmas and Christ as its center is due to the fellowship we had with you all through these last more than two decades. I and my family are so grateful to the Lord for you being in our life, walking with us in our Christian journey, praying for us and standing with us in all the seasons of life. Thanks for being a star for Jesus in this dark world and being in our life with the good news of Jesus Christ. We desire a wonderful Christmas time for you. Please know that you are remarkable in our life. THANK YOU for what you have done in our life and in the life of others in this world.
Ali, Tanya and Ramin
Phyllis wrote a short book titled Why Me? This was in response to many people who were asking, not “why did this happened to me?” But “why did I survive?” It gives answers to both believers and unbelievers. It is intended to give comfort and encouragement for believers and to let the unbeliever know that God has spared them to give them an opportunity to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. It is available in English, Russian, Ukrainian, and you can download it from our webpage.Please print it out or forward it to those you think would benefit from it.
We give thanks to the Father for all of you who have had a part in our ministry. Know that our gracious Father has been pleased to answer your prayers on our behalf. Your letters of encouragement and your faithful support have been a tremendous blessing for us. May the Lord continue to work in you and through you in this coming year. May you shine as lights in the darkness of a perverse and crooked generation.
All by grace,
P.S.: I received many queries about Ukraine, especially in light of very negative remarks made by some in the media lately. I will give you my perspective in my next letter. [Note: this letter was sent Dec 23rd, 2022 and can be viewed here.
December 23, 2022 News Update
December 23, 2022
I have had many queries concerning a number of troubling reports concerning Ukraine. Some are in response to a recent diatribe by Tucker Carlson on FoxNews. https://youtu.be/PbUZurUIcfI
Others questions relate to various articles on different news sites on the Internet. I do not claim to be an expert on Ukrainian politics, or US politics for that matter. But I hope that my perspective might help to clarify a few issues.
First, let me say that I neither appreciate nor agree with Tucker Carlson’s assessment of what is going on in Ukraine. His view, in my opinion, is short-sighted and ill-informed in several respects. The first clue to this can be seen in his criticism of the manner in which President Zelensky of Ukraine was dressed for his address to a joint session of Congress, characterizing it as something that might be worn by a strip-club manager. In the same rant, he also made a snarky remark about older members of Congress wearing orthopedic shoes. This certainly adds no credibility to his assertions.
Next, let me address the issue about Zelensky being anti-Christian and that he is trying to shut down churches. Zelensky is quoted as saying, “Personal economic and restrictive sanctions will be applied to any Christian caught worshiping in unapproved ways.” There is no doubt that this was said, but what does it mean
The religious culture in Ukraine is rather complicated; some of this is a historical problem which has existed for centuries, and some of it is contemporary. You can do an Internet search for Ukrainian Orthodox Church if you want to get the historical background. The current situation in a nutshell is this: There is a Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchy and there is a Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Kyiv Patriarchy. Those under the Moscow patriarchy are tied to Russia. The Ukrainian government inspected several locations and gave notice to several clergy, believing that some of those churches were promoting Russia in its war against Ukraine, were transmitting military information to Russian leaders about the location of Ukrainian troops and materiel, and were hiding caches of weapons and saboteurs in their church buildings and monasteries. The Security Service of Ukraine stated that it was investigating allegations that church property was being used “to hide sabotage and intelligence groups, foreign citizens, storing weapons.” As of last month, officials said 33 priests had been arrested for assisting Russia since it invaded in February, most of them charged with gathering intelligence and feeding it to Moscow’s forces.
The actions on the part of Ukraine were carried out in a tiny fraction of Ukrainian Orthodox Churches of the Moscow Patriarchy. It was not an attack on Christianity or a particular denomination, rather it was a response to information that certain clergy were promoting support for Russia in this war, and that certain locations were being used for military purposes against Ukraine.
It should also be pointed out that those so critical of this so-called “anti-Christian” action have completely failed to note Russia’s bombing of numerous churches during this war. Churches that were housing refugees, many of them with children inside, were deliberately targeted by Russia. They have also been silent about Russia’s arrest of Ukrainian clergy, and in one well-known case, a Protestant clergyman and his son were taken prisoner, tortured, and murdered.
As one who has lived in the former Soviet Union for 30 years, my opinion is that Ukraine is a country that has had great religious freedom and tolerance. There is an openness to Christianity not seen in any other European country. Evangelical churches are proliferating throughout the country. Evangelical ministries have been pushed out of Russia, and non-Orthodox churches must be very careful about their activities. Many missionary organizations who left Russia set up operations in Ukraine. We have enjoyed many years of religious freedom in Ukraine and have seen much fruit from our work there.
Other questions being asked:
Why should America help Ukraine in this war?
To begin with, in 1994, America, along with the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and Northern Ireland signed what is known as the Budapest Memorandum. In this document, the US made commitments and gave assurances “to provide assistance to Ukraine … if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used.”
This was in connection with Ukraine giving up all of its nuclear weapons. America promised, in essence, to protect Ukraine against Russian aggression. But now people are saying that this was not a formal treaty, and that America has no legal responsibility to fulfill its promises, in spite of words in the documents such as “commitment,” “confirm,” and “will” (not “shall”). In other words, our assurances, our promises, or our words have no meaning. If that is the case, why would anyone ever believe anything we might say
Is Russia America’s enemy?
Well, they certainly are not our friend. Since World War II they have been working against us to weaken us and to bring us down. The implication in the question is that since Russia has not directly attacked us, they are not the enemy.
What is the goal of helping Ukraine?
Mitch McConnell said that helping Ukraine defeat Russia is our number one priority. While I think that there are much greater issues that America needs to address, I do think it is important to help Ukraine to keep Russia from asserting hegemony over neighboring countries, such as was experienced in the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslavakia, and Putin’s 1999 invasion of Chechnya, which resulted in its capital, Grozny, being declared by the UN to be the “most destroyed city on earth.” Putin made reference to Chechnya as a model for his invasion of Ukraine, stating that it was a war against terrorism. It would seem that he would like to destroy cities in Ukraine even as he did in Chechnya. It must be noted that Ukraine was invaded without provocation. Ukraine was not committing acts of terrorism against Russia or against Russian people, as Putin falsely claimed.
I have no answer as to what extent the US ought to help Ukraine in this war. I do know this: Putin has inflicted incredible suffering and damage in Ukraine. Many atrocities and barbaric cruelties against innocent Ukrainians have been documented. America has certainly made a lot of bad decisions about its involvement with other nations over the years, but I don’t think that helping Ukraine to maintain or regain its freedom is a bad decision. Thinking back to World War II, was it a bad decision for us to become involved in the war in Europe? Was Germany our enemy when they invaded Poland and France and began its attacks on Britain?
Some people are objecting to the amount of money that has been committed to this endeavor. And yet, the US has spent much more in helping countries that are sworn enemies of America. On balance, the amount that the US is pouring into Ukraine is a pittance when compared to the pork barrel and foreign aid spending. Of course, this is not a justification for any policy with regard to foreign aid. Decisions about the US supporting Ukraine will be made by the politicians. We can’t change that. But we can change what we are doing in the spiritual realm.
Whether or not you agree with the political stance taken by the US with regard to Ukraine, at the very least, we as Christians ought to be involved in ministering to the Ukrainian people. We need to be in much earnest prayer for these people who are suffering greatly. Pray that Christians there will stand firm in their faith, that it might be a testimony to the glory of God even in the midst of tribulation. Pray that they will use the suffering as an intensified opportunity to serve the Lord and to give the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to those who are lost. Pray, too, that the Lord will supply their material needs. No matter what the government might do, we can still show love, mercy, and compassion through the giving of material aid. The solution to man’s problems is ultimately spiritual, not political. What should we be doing for our brothers and sisters in Christ?
In previous letters, I have addressed questions about corruption and anti-Semitism in Ukraine. We are living in a sinful world, and we can’t solve that problem. Only God has the solution for that. Let’s keep our focus on the spiritual aspect.
May the Lord be glorified in you and through you as we celebrate the birth of the One who came to save us from our sins, and may the coming year be one in which you bear much fruit in your service for our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Thanks be to God for His indescribable Gift,
P.S. :Phyliss's booklet, “Why Me?” is now available for download in English, Ukrainian, and Russian. Click here to access the links to download the PDFs.
November 2022 News Update
What an amazing journey it has been since leaving Houston on October 7. We flew to Krakow, Poland. I spoke six days in a row, two hours each day, and in five different cities. The churches were all in the Brethren camp, having a grace gospel and a literal hermeneutic. The church leaders have a good doctrinal foundation, and I really enjoyed the fellowship. The response of the people was very enthusiastic, and I have been invited to come back to teach some courses in the not-too-distant future. The home which was our base in Poland was literally in the back yard of Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp. Since we were traveling to different cities each day to teach we didn’t visit there. I have been there some years ago and would like to see it again, but that will have to wait.
Another treat for us was to see our college student, Denis, along with his wife and son, who are now living in Poland. He drove to each of the places where I taught that week. He is a Belarusian citizen, but he does not want to return there for fear that he would be drafted and be required to fight against Ukraine. Because he is not Ukrainian, he was permitted to leave Ukraine after the war started. He has now obtained legal documents from the Polish government which allow him to live and to work in Poland. Denis was just a few months short of finishing his course requirements to graduate from Word of God College. He disciplined himself to take the remaining courses through videos and online correspondence. We are very proud of him; he is going to make a fine pastor-teacher. He and his wife are currently working among Ukrainian refugees who are attending a Polish church.
Following our week in Poland we had a truly wonderful time returning to Ukraine for a few days. We went to the western city of Lviv. This is a delightful old European city with cobblestone streets and many promenades. The leaves were turning gold, red, yellow, and brown, combining with those still green to paint a delightful landscape. But the greatest treat was reunion with many loved ones.
Vasya Munko is pastor of Word of God Church in Lviv, where he has ministered for more than 15 years. He was one of my earliest students in Ukraine, going back to the late 90s when I taught at Ukraine Bible Institute, and he was one of the first graduates of Word of God Bible College. After studying with us in Kyiv, he went to Mogilev, Belarus, where he worked with the church we had planted there. After a couple of years there he went to Lviv and started a church. He has done an outstanding job of verse-by-verse and categorical theological teaching to prepare his people to face the war and to minister to the thousands of refugees who have come into Lviv.
The facility where the church had been meeting is now being used as a shelter for refugees, mostly women with children, or some old folks who had to flee their homes. Mattresses line the floor in what had been the auditorium, and it is crowded. But at this point it is safe, warm, and dry. Another room is stacked with boxes of donated clothing and dry food stuffs. The church bought a washing machine and a dryer to take care of laundry. They have no kitchen in this place, but they have arranged for a nearby restaurant to cook the food for these refugees. We are so thankful for you have contributed to help supply these material needs. But the most important aspect of the ministry there is that the people are being provided with spiritual food on a daily basis as Vasya and others meet with them for prayer and Bible study.
On Sunday I had the joy of preaching at the church. Not only did we have a good turnout for face-to-face teaching, but there were even more who joined us online. Then we were overjoyed when a contingent of our loved ones from Kyiv drove to Lviv just to spend some time with us. Oleg Lozinsky, pastor of Word of God Church in Kyiv, came with his wife. Two other couples came as well, along with some of our young adults. It was a such a blessing for us to have a day with them. They are all doing well and standing firm in their faith.
Also, a young man currently serving on the front lines in the Ukrainian artillery had a few rest days and was able to join us. He left us spellbound with so many war stories, some of them were amazing testimonies of God’s grace in delivering him and his unit from immediate dangers, including being shot at by the enemy and having the bullets hit the dirt right in front of his feet. In other cases, his vehicle was actually strafed by hostile fire, but he and his team escaped with only minor injuries. One of the interesting points he made was that most of the Russian soldiers were continually drunk or getting high on drugs. Obviously, this is not a good strategy for effective warfare. Our man enlisted right after the war began in later February. He had no prior military experience and has received little training. However, he is a natural leader/administrator. He knows how to motivate people and how to get things done. Since he has proven to be conscientious, resourceful, and reliable, he has been appointed acting company commander. This is not something he wanted, but his superiors told him that they would tell him what to do, and that he needed to get it done. He has been a good testimony to his squad and platoon, witnessing to them, praying with them and for them. I believe God has plans to use him. For a couple of reasons I cannot give you his name at this time, but please do pray for him. He will also take with him “Bible Sticks” produced by the ministry, “Faith Comes by Hearing” located in Albuquerque, NM. These Bible Sticks, which are small MP3 players, have an audio Bible in the Ukrainian language. Along with each stick is a pair of earphones. This enables the soldiers to be able to listen to a reading of the Bible whenever they have opportunity. They also come with instructions on how they can download the Bible to their cell phones in virtually any language they want. We pray that these will be used by the Lord to comfort the Christian warriors in Ukraine and also to bring unsaved soldiers to faith in Christ.
Through the contacts we made in Poland we have been able to ship some sorely needed supplies into Ukraine. We have purchased some power generators for churches in areas where they have been without electricity for a long time. In addition we have been able to purchase food, which is being given to pastors to distribute among their congregations. In this way we know that the food is going to people who are truly in need.
After our brief visit to Ukraine we returned to Poland to get a flight to Zambia. The temperature was freezing in Krakow and it was necessary to de-ice the plane. When we arrived in Africa it was close to triple digits! It took us almost two days to get to Zambia because of layovers and changing airlines. But we arrived in Lusaka, the capital city, and drove out to the village of Chipembi. This was the first place I taught in Zambia back in the year 2001. I have gone back there every year since then, except for the time when Covid restrictions prevented me from doing so. The village is still without electricity, although they have been promised power for several years. They still lack running water as well. A number of years ago we raised money to drill a couple of wells in the area, but they have since gotten plugged up. So we funded a renovation of the wells in the village, and now they are enjoying fresh water again. The church there is strong, being pastored by Benjamin who has studied with us for the past 20 years. We had a great time in Chipembi, preaching to a church that was packed wall-to-wall and overflowing out the doors. Exciting!
On Monday we made a drive three hours north to Kabwe, the capital of the Central Province. This was our first time to hold a conference in that city. The response was very enthusiastic and they are eager to have us come back to teach them again. Our schedule started at 9:00 in the morning and went until 4:00 in the afternoon. Our venue was in a church building whose electricity came from a small generator outside. This did provide for lights and a sound system, but there was no air conditioning, and the temperature was close to 100 four days in a row. I was grateful to have help in teaching from Benjamin and from Charles, two Zambian pastors with whom I have worked for many years now, but I did the bulk of the teaching.
On Saturday we drove back to Lusaka and got on the bus to go to Livingstone. It should be a pleasant seven-hour drive, but because of some things that came up it turned out to be a ten-hour journey and we didn’t get in until late at night. We got up the next morning and went to Charles’ church where I had the privilege of teaching for an hour and a half. One of the unique features of this church is that people bring hard copies of the Bible, and when you tell them to turn to a passage, the auditorium comes alive with the crepitations of turning pages. In addition to that, almost everyone in that congregation has a notebook and takes notes during the message.
From there we went to another city, new to me, named Kalomo, about 2 hours north of Livingstone. We had people from about a dozen different congregations in this city, representing several denominations. These people, although they have been saved for some time and are active in church, have never been exposed to sound doctrinal Bible teaching. Our schedule was as the previous week, starting at 9:00 in the morning and going until 4:00 in the afternoon, with an hour break for lunch. The temperature here was also in the mid to upper 90s with no A/C. It was demanding, but oh so rewarding. The people were super attentive and wanted more and more. At the end of each day they had lots and lots of questions. They begged us to come back soon to teach them more. So, already we have made tentative plans to return next April to do conferences in those two cities. It is also gratifying that they have invited the Zambian pastors Benjamin and Charles to come back to teach in their churches as well.
After all of that we flew to South Africa. We had the great joy of meeting Tom and Cheryl Molinar, missionaries in South Africa. We have known about them for years and have had some correspondence with them, but we had never met them. So this year we tacked a few days onto our itinerary so that we could finally meet them. They hosted us at Kruger National Park, which is a huge game preserve. We spent two fabulous days driving through a tiny fraction of the park, seeing so many animals that it was overwhelming. We saw large herds of elephants, all kinds of deer and antelope, leopards, cape buffalo, rhinos, crocodiles, warthogs, and many amazing birds that ranged from big vultures to tiny oxpeckers that piggy back on rhinos and giraffes. It was wonderful way to unwind after the vigorous schedule of the previous month. Thanks, Tom and Cheryl, for your most gracious hospitality.
Now we are headed back to Houston. I don’t know what we will be doing in the near future or in what place(s) we may being doing it, but “have Bible, will travel.”
We thank all of you who have been praying for us. The Father has certainly been faithful in answering your prayers.
All by grace,
October 10, 2022 News Update
October 10, 2022
We are in Poland, just a stone's throw away from Auschwitz. We began our 6 days of teaching here on Sunday in a Brethren Church. Wonderful service. We continued tonight and had a great response.
We have been without internet for 3 days and so we did not get the news about today's missile strikes against Ukraine until after the night's lessons. I called to talk with Oleg in Kyiv. He was very grim faced as he spoke about the bombing in Kyiv. A dozen people were reported to have been killed and several dozen wounded in the missile attacks that took place on civilian targets during rush hour. From our standpoint the good news is that all of our people are alive. Praise the Lord for His mercy and His wonderful works to the children of men.
Vasya Munko, pastor in Lviv, reportedly spent four hours in the basement of their home until the bombing was ended there. The power in the city has been knocked out, as well as the heating for homes. We are planning to go there on Saturday. Pray that we will be able to go there to see our loved ones, to take in some supplies, and to encourage the believers there.
Several other cities were also targets of the Russian missiles. These targets have absolutely no military value, but were just intended to create panic among the civilian population and demonstrate that Putin can throw a big tantrum. According to several sources the majority of the Russian missiles were shot down by Ukrainian air defense, although those that landed caused death and damage in several cities.
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”
October 7, 2022 News Update
7 October 2022
We are heartened by recent news of victories in Ukraine. They have retaken much territory that had been under Russian control. But the war continues and many people are being killed. The Russians continue to send missiles and artillery into many cities and villages. People are suffering.
Many Ukrainians struggle to get by each day after having fled their homes. There is high unemployment, which according to the National Bank reached more than 35%. Ukrainians who have gotten away from war zones – mostly women and children -- are often desperate to find work to support themselves.
Finding a job is not easy and the monthly social welfare for evacuees barely covers their expenses, The government is trying to help their people with financial support, but the monthly social welfare for refugees amounts to only $55 per month for an adult and $82 per child or person with disabilities. Prices have increased dramatically since the war began, making the problem more acute.
Added to this, there are still millions of people living in the war zones, and the infrastructure has almost been totally destroyed so that people do not have electricity, no running water, no natural gas for heating and cooking. For people living in high-rise apartments, they must climb many flights of stairs to get to their apartments. In many places access to the Internet is impossible, either because the capabilities of the providers have been destroyed or because the Russians are jamming the Internet.
With winter coming on, things will become more and more severe. Overnight low temperatures at this time of year are around 40. Without heat in the home, this becomes very uncomfortable. In another month the temperature will drop below freezing. Please continue to pray for victory in Ukraine and a quick end to this senseless war.
Reports from our loved ones in Ukraine continue to show the mercies of God day after day. Our men in the military have all been spared, even though they face constant danger. Our church members, most of whom have been displaced, continue to minister where they are. Pray that many will be brought to faith in Christ through the clear presentation of the gospel. Our heart is still in Ukraine, and we hope and pray that we will soon be able to return.
In the time that we have been out of Ukraine we have had many opportunities, traveling through 20 states and speaking in more than 30 churches. We have been very encouraged to see enthusiasm for sound Bible teaching and more emphasis on evangelism. Several churches we visited are seeing significant growth. We also had the joy of visiting many old friends and making lots of new ones.
Phyllis has written a short booklet about survivors of tragedy, titled “Why Me?” It gives reasons why God would keep a person alive while others have died. The intent is to orient believers to the fact that God has a plan for them and to get unbelievers to consider that God has kept them alive so that they have opportunity to receive eternal life through faith in Christ. The hope is that this will be an evangelistic tool as well as an encouragement for believers to get into a Bible-teaching church. If you would like to read this book, please click here to download it.
We are very excited about the journey we are beginning on October 7th. We will fly to Poland where I will be teaching for six nights. After that we will go to Ukraine for a week where we will be able to see many of our loved ones and to teach the Word of God. After that we will fly to Zambia for two weeks of teaching in three different cities. When we finish there we are going to South Africa to spend a few days of relaxation with Tom and Cheryl Molinar who have been long-time missionaries there.
We are so blessed to be able to continue ministry in spite of the interruption of war. We give thanks to our heavenly Father for His grace in giving us health and strength and the resources to carry on. We thank you also for your effective fervent prayers, your encouragement, and your support.
By grace alone,
P.S. I thought you might like to see a list of churches we have visited since March of this year.
- Berachah Church – R.B. Thieme, III
- West Houston Bible Church – Robby Dean
- Chafer Seminary Conference
- Sugar Land Bible Church – Andy Woods
- Bethel Independent Presbyterian Church, Houston – Frank Jones
- Yerevan -- conference
- Grace Bible Church, Houston – David Dunn
- Pine Valley Bible Church, Houston – Bruce Bumgardner
- Red River Cowboy Church –Novice Northington
- Free Grace Church – John Brummet
- Fredericksburg Bible Church – Alex Garcia
- Cornerstone Bible Church – Steve Spurlin
- Spokane Bible Church – Jeremy Thomas
- Deary Bible Church – Jared Donigian
- Columbia Bible Church – Jonathan Smith
- Grace Bible Church – Brookings, OR – Virgil Frazier
- Manning Bible Church – Brad Congdon
- Portland Bible Church – Gary Glenney
- Bible Doctrine Church of Portland – video church – Bobby Thieme
- Life Bible Church – Paul Breckel
- Rome Bible Church – Jonathan Lee
- Meeting with pastors: John Eichman, Tanny Sisson, Jesse Acosta, Brad Congdon, Gary Glenney
- Grace Redeemer Bible Church – Andy Stacey
- Tacoma Grace Bible Church – E Dane Rogers
- Evergreen Baptist – Darren Kraus
- Country Bible Church – Mike Smith
- Tullahoma Bible Church – Clay Ward
- National Capital Bible Church – Dan Inghram
- Ed Mushka -- NJ
- Preston City Bible Church – David Roseland
- Russian Church – Greg Allen, University Park, PA
- Emmanuel Baptist Church, Starkville, MS -- Everett McKibben
- Yerevan, Armenia
September 13, 2022 News Update
12 September 2022
There is good news about the war in Ukraine. The Ukrainian armed forces have taken back a very large territory that had been under Russian control in eastern Ukraine. This has also resulted in thousands of Russian troops being taken prisoner – so many that the Ukrainian government has said that the number is so great that they don’t know where to put them all. In addition, it is reported that a large amount of Russian ammunition and a great number of military vehicles have been captured. The sad news is that a multitude of atrocities committed by Russian troops is also being uncovered in these liberated areas. Evidence of rape, torture and extreme brutality is undeniable.
While the victories of the past several days are significant, the fighting still continues, especially in the south. Missile and artillery barrages are constant and the senseless destruction of civilian targets continues. Many of the cities in that area are without water and power. There is much suffering. One of our soldiers reported that his unit has been able to go to a house at night to sleep. The house has no power and is very cold. He said that he awoke last night by something around his feet. When he turned on his flashlight he saw a rat nibbling on his socks. He said that with so few people in the area that the rodents are proliferating. He requested a dozen rat traps! That’s the first time I have heard of that in a soldier’s kit.
The Ukrainian soldiers that we know personally are all conducting themselves with great courage and honor. One man is piloting drones not far from the front. Another is an artillery commander. One man has been put in charge of a HIMARS unit. Their faith in God and in His plan for their lives gives them boldness and the determination to carry on in spite of extreme weariness, danger, and deprivations. They fight to protect their homeland, their wives and children. Please do not fail to pray for these brave warriors every day. There is no end in sight, but we have hope. Pray for victory in Ukraine, that peace might be found throughout that wonderful land.
In spite of the horrors of war, God’s grace is still to be seen. Believers are continuing to grow in their faith and there are many evangelistic efforts that are being launched among the soldiers and the refugees. Word of God Church continues to meet on Sundays, and this is also live-streamed to our displaced people throughout Ukraine and in several foreign countries. The church also meets online twice a day for prayer. It is wonderful that in spite of being widely dispersed we can still see one another and talk with one another, and pray together. I received a message today which said, “thank you for preparing us for this time. You didn’t know what we would face, but your Bible teaching makes it possible for us to understand what is happening and what we need to do in these circumstances.”
More good news: I am scheduled to teach a Bible conference for several churches in a small city close to Auschwitz in Poland next month. This will also be a wonderful opportunity to see some of our people who are now living in Poland. We also are planning to go into western Ukraine for a few days to encourage the church there. If it is possible, we also hope to make a trip to Zambia in November. We haven’t been able to go there for a couple of years, so we are really looking forward to returning.
We have been very busy here in the US. We have traveled to or through 20 different states, speaking in 30 different places. I also have 8 more dates on my calendar in September. We praise the Lord for His sustaining grace in giving us the health and strength to be able to do this. We know also that this is surely because you have prayed for us. Our Father has been pleased to hear and answer your prayers. Thank you for your encouragement and support. May the Lord be glorified in all of it.
By grace alone,
July 25, 2022 News Update
25 July 2022
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said yesterday that Moscow’s overarching goal is to topple the government of Ukrainian President Zelensky as Russian forces continue to pummel Ukraine with artillery barrages and airstrikes. He said that Moscow is determined to help Ukrainians “liberate themselves from the burden of this absolutely unacceptable regime.” “We will certainly help Ukrainian people to get rid of the regime, which is absolutely anti-people and anti-historical,” he said. This is pure propaganda. The Ukrainian people are certainly not being oppressed by the Zelensky government. My question would be, if Zelensky agreed to step down, would the Russians withdraw their troops and allow Ukraine to determine its own future? I doubt it.
The Russians agreed to allow Ukraine to resume exporting its massive grain exports, but then immediately began shelling the ports from which the grain would be shipped. You can't rely on the Russians to keep any of their promises. The Ukrainian forces continue to fight to defend their homeland. They have been courageous and relentless in their struggle for freedom. More than ten million Ukrainians have been displaced because of this war. Thousands have been killed, more have been wounded. The destruction of cities has been incredible.
Pray for Ukraine! Pray for victory, pray for peace, pray that the Lord will preserve this nation. Pray that God will be glorified through His people who are using this conflict as a platform for evangelism and Bible teaching, both at home and in the surrounding nations.
Here is a recent letter from Pastor Oleg in Kyiv:
We have no changes in our church life here. We have prayer meeting twice a day and Bible study twice a week, as well as Sunday morning service. The church meets in person for those who are still in the city, and online for the rest.
Luda is doing ministries in Warsaw serving Ukrainians. They did two camps for kids there. In addition to that, they ministered to the mothers afterward. She has very good ministry there. Lusya is in Czech Republic. She has started a ministry for a kids at her dormitory.
Olga, Lusya's sister is in Czceh Republic too, but in an another city. Their husbands are in Ukraine. Uliana had an incident at her school where she teaches. She fell and hurt her face which has left some scars, causing her distress.
Katya is in Germany looking for a job. Her husband, Kostya, is at home in Ukraine. He is working with the youth in their home city and keeps building a house. Ira has stayed in Ukraine with her husband. He is looking for work and Ira is doing some ministry for women.
Maxim, who was wounded in battle is back with his unit in the East. He was doing fine, but for the last ten days we haven't heard from him.
Vova had a concussion. He lost his ability to hear and see in his left eye and ear. He was at the hospital for two days and then they sent him back to his position. His condition is a little better but he hasn't recovered yet.
Denis recently met another man from Poland who was Paul Miles' student at the Word of Life college. That man said that Paul recommended that he listen to the courses from our Bible College, which he did. Now this man and another former student of the Word of Life college, who is pastor of a church, plan to start a Bible school at their location. They invited Denis to help them. I don't know any details yet but I will keep you informed about it.
Zhenya, pastor from Baryshivka has started a meeting for pastors, so we have a meeting on Monday, once a week just for fellowship and prayers.
Phyllis and I are back from our six-week trip to Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, where we visited 15 churches. It was a wonderful time to renew acquaintances and to also meet some pastors from churches that were new to us. It is so encouraging to know that there are men who are faithful in teaching sound doctrine and presenting a free-grace gospel. We also had the joy of spending a little time with Bible college graduates Robert and Elvira Bolender who are now living in Bellingham, WA.
We leave later this week for a journey to the east, going to Arkansas, Tennessee, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Connecticut. So we will be on the road until Labor Day. But we will keep you updated as we get news from Ukraine. We are so thankful for your prayers, your encouragement, your support.
All by grace,
July 10, 2022 News Update
10 July 2022
The war in Ukraine continues and people are being killed every day, both soldiers and civilians. But our merciful God has spared all of our loved ones to this point. I have no doubt that this is because of your fervent and faithful intercession for them. Thank you for that. Please don’t stop.
The good news is that the Lord continues to use the war to further His own purposes of bringing people to salvation and the build up the saints. Below are excerpts from recent letters
From Oleg, pastor of Word of God Church in Kyiv:
I talked with Andrey, pastor from Dnipro, this afternoon. He is fine, his family is about to come back to Ukraine. They have a lot of ministry to the needy and they do an evangelism with them. Lusya Ustinova started a Bible class for unbeliever kids. All the others from our church are still at the same places as before. Vova and his soldiers are all alive. His car was damaged by Russians twice. Right now it is in a car repair shop.
As for the church we are still having online prayer meetings twice a day and Bible study twice a week, and we have Sunday morning services. As for the war we expect a new attack from the north. The threat is real. Of course, our forces this time are better prepared. But we depend on the Lord’s protection.
From Luda in Poland:
I am grateful for your prayers because they have been supporting me all this time. During the past month I have been involved in ministry a lot. I met with many people, had many conversations, and served at a children’s camp. God is faithful and provides everything I need for my ministry, even when I run out of strength.
Next week there will be another camp near Warsaw. There at a place that provides lodging for about 200 Ukrainian refugees we will have a camp. A sports team from Ukraine will be leading them and we will be helping them. Please pray for opportunities to share the gospel with children and adults personally, and also for the physical and spiritual strength I will need for this work.
Thank you for your prayers and support! Seeing God work here is a blessing and a big encouragement for me. It helps me understand His power and greatness better. Of course, war is evil, but because of it so many people reexamine their life and look for hope in God. This is not just my ministry, but yours also! You are here with me through your prayers and gifts, and I am very grateful for that. Please let me know how I can pray for you.
From Dennis in Poland:
We are fine now in Poland, waiting until we can receive documents to legally live and work here. We decided not to return to Belarus for now because of the military, because I would have to fight against Ukraine.
Our church here is called the “Church of Free Christians.” We are small, but I am using the knowledge that I acquired in college as I preach in the church. Whenever possible I listen online to lectures from the college. I also try to prepare lessons in writing for our people.
My wife and I pray that the Lord will use us. We know that it is not the temporary earthly, but the eternal heavenly things that are important, and we want to live like this. For now we are doing what we can. The college has become an invaluable treasure for the beginning of our ministry for Christ. Thank you for that.
From Jim in the USA:
Phyllis and I are still on the road in the Pacific Northwest, with a really packed schedule for the next 10 days before we fly back to Houston. We give thanks to God the Father for His abundant provision and daily mercies for us. We praise Him for the grace given to us through your prayers, encouragement, and support.
Only by grace,