In our human reckoning another year has come to a close. A year of tumult. War in every camp; death on every doorstep, sick institutions coughing up their tainted spittle. Not a pretty picture, but a realistic portrayal of evil, cosmic evil, the certain outcome of human viewpoint rejecting the only truth that can solve man’s problems.
Ah! Do not despair. The Sovereign Lord has a plan that is relentlessly moving to His ultimate conclusion. What a marvelous time to be alive. To think that God has put us where we are, at this very time, to accomplish His purposes through us. We have the privilege of representing the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of Satan-inspired chaos. Our God has entrusted us with the high honor of being ambassadors for Christ. My God shall supply all your needs through His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. What have I to fear, what have I to dread, leaning on the everlasting arms.
Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is your refuge, And underneath are the everlasting arms; He will thrust out the enemy from before you, And will say, `Destroy!'
The coming year may well prove to be one of sorrow, horrors, and suffering. We can’t change the world, we can’t control circumstances, but we can, through reliance on God and His Word, through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, bring glory to the One who loved us and gave Himself for us. May we remember why we are here.
God has not called us to comfort and ease. He has not called us to success and prosperity. He has called us to faithfulness. So as the apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians:
Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
Shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.
I give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has called us into ministry. We give thanks to the Father for His mercies which are new every morning. We give thanks to the Father for each of you for standing with us so generously and faithfully this past year.
Ukraine is not much in the news of late, and yet, hundreds are dying every day. The death toll is staggering, the suffering of millions is immeasurable. Please do not stop praying for peace in that land. Below is a letter from a young man who was trained in our ministry. He is not Ukrainian but was living there when the war started. He has been faithfully serving the Lord with his family, ministering to refugees, launching an online ministry to give out the gospel of grace, and teaching in several churches. He has written such a poignant letter that I wanted to share it with you. I have withheld his name because authorities in his home country are looking for him to conscript him into the armed force to fight against Ukraine.
I never thought that the events described in history books would occur in my life. But this year has changed everything. A bloody, cruel, ruthless year revealing the whole essence of human cruelty and sin. Russia has become a clear demonstration of what is happening to humanity when it rejects God's rules of morality and humanity. Killings, robbery, violence and other horrible acts have become common for the 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 ceased to be considered something unusual and horrible. What is more terrifying than this is the excuse of this horror by people who, so called Christians, are supposed to condemn rather than approve of it, trying to cover it up with scripture. A bloody year saturated with suffering!
But in the midst of all this horror and suffering, there is a light that shines brightly in this world. For millions of people, it has become clear that confronting evil is real. That the evil that many people in the world can meet resistance. From the example of Ukraine, the world saw that freedom, peace, love and independence can be defended. The world is watching the Ukrainian people, who stand shoulder to shoulder in defense of their independence, in defense of their children, wives, parents. To defend one’s land. We see hundreds of thousands of people willing to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of others. And we see thousands of true Christians stating their convictions loudly and in these trying times show that the Scripture with its highest moral principles is reality to them and not an empty tradition.
This year has shown me the faithfulness of God in whom I believe. I have seen His hand in my life under the sounds of Russian missile explosions, I squeezed 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. We live for him. And no matter where 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 be held responsible for their every action, for He is just and faithful.
We want the coming year to be a year of freedom for the Ukrainian people, so that they get what they are fighting so bravely for.
We pray and believe for Ukraine. Our heart stayed there!
Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Rev 2:10).
All by grace,
God rest you merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay.
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.
The world has rejected the good news that God has done something about our sins. This is the essence of the gospel, the greatest good news of all human history. More than 40 times in the Gospel of John the fact is emphasized that God sent His Son. What an astounding thought! The God of the universe, the creator of all, sent His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. Thanks be to God for His ineffable gift!
Another astounding fact is that Jesus deigned to become a man, humbling Himself by taking on true humanity, becoming obedient to the Father’s plan to provide salvation for the entire human race. For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men (Titus 3:5). How can anyone not be overwhelmed by these facts?
It has been our passion to take this good news to a lost and dying world. During this past year we have had the privilege of teaching the grace of God in seven different countries. We have had the joy of seeing people come to faith in Christ and the joy of seeing people growing in their spiritual lives. As our friend, Ron Minton, says: “Why do we do what we do? Because we have nothing better to do! Why don’t we have anything better to do? Because there is nothing better to do!”
We have been blessed by God to be able to carry on our work. We have enjoyed good health and praise Him for His grace and mercy and abundant provision. We look forward to another year of labor in the Lord’s field. Already our calendar is filling up with teaching opportunities in many places with conferences scheduled in Europe, Africa, South America, and the South Pacific, plus numerous speaking engagements in the USA as well. Our greatest desire is that the Most High God will be magnified and glorified through this.
We thank you for your prayers, your encouragement, your faithful support. You have been used of God to supply our needs so that we are able to do what we do. May this coming year be one in which you shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. That is why we are here.
All by grace,
Jim and Phyllis
We continue to rejoice in the blessings of serving the Lord. It is a joy to meet other believers in Jesus who love Him and want to please Him with their lives. We are in Kenya right now teaching at Crossroads Bible College in Vipingo, which is about an hour north of Mombasa in eastern Africa. On this trip we have enjoyed meeting the Windells, Greg and Michelle, who have worked here for more than 20 years. They have endured many hardships in their ministry, but they just accept them willingly as part of the job. I salute them for their tenacious attitude and their ministry, but especially for their orientation to the grace of God and desire to communicate sound doctrine to the people here.
We have had our own adventures on this trip. First of all, when we went to the airport in Houston to fly to Kenya, they didn’t allow us to board the plane because of problems with our visas. So we had to go back home, contact the embassy, and jump through a number of bureaucratic hoops. The Lord answered our prayers and eventually we got everything straightened out. We got a flight out and after more than 24 hours of travel, including layovers, we landed in Mombasa at 1:00 in the morning. By the time we got to our lodging it was after 2:00. We fell into bed exhausted, but we had to get up at 6:00 a.m. for it would take an hour to drive to the Bible institute where I would be teaching. Then I taught 8 hours. An hour drive back, supper, sleep, jet lag with a nine-hour diferential.
Since I had missed a week of teaching because of the visa snafu, they wanted me to double up on the classes and try to do everything in one week instead of two. This meant for long days in the classroom. The classroom was not air-conditioned, and Kenya is right on the equator – so it was hot and humid. The heat seemed to suck the strength out of the body while the humidity took the starch out so that I felt limp like spaghetti in a boiling pot. After three days of this the rains began. Hard rains. They weren’t of biblical proportions, but they were torrential. The road to the school was difficult, full of pot holes and detours to begin with, not to mention being extremely crowded with cars, trucks, three-wheeled jitneys and motorcycles. But with the rains flooding the roads we wondered if we would make it or get stranded along the way. Friday was the last day of their school year. I had planned to teach all day and give the final exam; however, we never made it to the school. We tried valiantly for three hours, sometimes with water over the bumper. The exhaust from the tailpipes in the cars ahead of us were under water and produced bubbles and gas that looked strange. People walking along the road in the downpour were in water up to their knees. We reached a point at which we could progress no further. Three men on a motorcycle offered to tie a plastic bag over our exhaust pipe and push us through the water. But it was at least a quarter mile across that stretch of flooded road and we did not deem it prudent to try that. So we turned around and headed back to where we were staying. I am sure the students were thanking God for the providence that caused their final exam to be canceled. When we got back the electricity went out, but after a short while the generator kicked in and we just kicked back and enjoyed a down day.
We thank God for the opportunity to teach here. The account above is not at all a complaint, but a brief description of the experience. Perhaps it will stimulate your prayers for missionaries on the field. We are truly grateful for all of you who have held us up before the throne of grace. Know that our Father has been pleased to answer your prayers on our behalf. We are safe and sound and rejoicing in His mercy and grace to us.
Today we are scheduled to fly back to Houston. We really don’t like adventures in travel. Give me a really boring trip!
All by grace,
We are on hiatus right now, in between teaching trips. In November we will go to the east coast of Africa to teach two courses for the International Baptist Bible College: (1) Dispensations, and (2) Man, Sin, and Salvation. In December we will make a short trip to northern Brazil for a pastors’ conference, which will entail more than 20 hours of teaching on Romans 9–16.
Phyllis and I just returned from a month-long trip to Brazil. This was our first journey there since the COVID pandemic, so it was a real joy for us to go back. Phyllis spoke at a women’s conference where she detailed our departure from Ukraine when the war broke out, and then spoke about the providence of God in times of suffering, which she deals with in her booklet titled “Why Me?” You can download this booklet from our website: jfmministries.org
During our four weeks in Brazil we ministered in nine different venues, speaking about 60 hours on such varied subjects as the Minor Prophets, the Books of Hebrews and Titus, how to know the will of God, and world missions, and evangelism. People were really excited about the teaching and have already scheduled us to return next March. When I told them that I could come for two weeks next year, the reply was, “Two weeks will not be enough to meet the demand because three new churches have put their names on the list for you to come to teach.” Also several other churches which we couldn’t fit into our itinerary this trip want us to come. There has been great interest for Bible teaching in the evangelical churches. So we will return there this December as well as next spring
Along the way we had the opportunity to visit one of the most beautiful places on earth – Iguazu Falls – where three countries meet: Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. It is the world’s largest waterfall complex with more than 300 waterfalls. Here is a link to a short YouTube video. I don’t know if there will be waterfalls in Heaven, but we certainly enjoyed this portion of God’s creation.
Looking forward to 2024 is also exciting for us as our calendar is already filling up with trips planned for Zambia, Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Brazil, and French Polynesia. A couple of other places are pending confirmation. I must admit that the travel can be exhausting, but, oh, the tremendous privilege of working in the Lord’s field.
Please continue to pray for our health, stamina, and ability to communicate clearly the Word of God.
Thank you for your prayers, your encouragement, your support.
All by grace,
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,
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,
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,
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,
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,
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
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
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.
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
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.”