May 6, 2020
Greetings from Ukraine. We are alive and well and enjoying good health. The country has been shut down for months now, but the government has announced that it will begin to ease some of the restrictions next week, but continue the quarantine for at least two more weeks.
The US Embassy here has been very good about sending out notices of changes made by Ukrainian government concerning regulations that have been put into effect. They even held a virtual town hall meeting last week with the Charge d’affaires and Counsel General addressing the regulations and policies of both the US and Ukrainian governments.
The Corona virus has not been too serious here. As of 5/6/2020 there have been some 325 deaths attributed to COVID-19. The economic impact, however, is tremendous because so many small businesses have been shut down. Restaurants have been closed, but they will be allowed to serve take-outs starting next week. Quite a few of our people have not been able to work for more than 2 months now, and this has put a real strain on them.
We hope that by the end of the month we will be able to resume normal meetings for the church. During this quarantine period we have been holding church from our living room via the internet. We have also been having Bible classes every night of the week from our home. It seems that people are willing to get online every night for Bible study and some social interaction with others in the church. What is interesting to me is that we have more people watching online than we have ever had in church. We even have people from several other countries joining us regularly. We pray that this will be a time of spiritual growth as people realize that God is the sovereign in control of all things, and that we are totally dependent on Him.
I had to cancel my annual pastors’ conferences in Zambia and Brazil due to travel restrictions. A couple of other conferences planned for Ukraine were also shut down because of regulations concerning the number of people who could congregate.
Our Bible college has continued with all of the classes being taught online. This has required some modifications since many of our classes are taught by Americans. The time difference between here and America is 6-10 hours, depending on the time zones. So, our students have classes in the evening while it is morning in the US. But we are glad for the technology that makes the distance learning possible.
We pray that the Lord will sustain you and keep you during this time of trouble, but most of all that He will continue to work in you, that you might fulfill His purpose for you at this time, and that He will be glorified through you.
By grace alone,
Deuteronomy 33:27, “The eternal God is your refuge, And underneath are the everlasting arms.”
Psalm 46:1-2, “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear …”
We are back in Ukraine after a two-month tour in southern US states. It was a blessed time for us as we were able to spend Christmas with all of our kids and grandkids for the first time in 15 years. After that we went on the road, traveling through 8 states and visiting 14 churches. It was a wonderful trip, seeing many old friends; but also we visited a number of churches we had not known before, making many new friends.
But back in Ukraine now things are really heating up for Bible teaching. Mark Musser is not only teaching a course at the Bible college but is conducting conferences in three different churches during two weeks. During this time I will be teaching a seminar at a church recently planted by one of our graduates. Then, I will be teaching a module at the college during the last two weeks of the month.
April will also be a busy schedule. I will travel to Eastern Ukraine to teach a two-week course at a Bible college the first part of the month and then fly to Zambia for conferences in three different cities. Of course, all of this requires a lot of preparation and organization before the teaching ever begins.
Many people ask about the political situation in Ukraine. Whatever is going on here has not affected our ministry at all. There is still conflict in the eastern part of the country, and in spite of a “cease fire” agreement, there are still occasions of shooting and shelling between Ukrainian and Russian-backed forces. We get frequent warnings from the embassy to avoid certain sectors and cities because they are dangerous and some people have been taken hostage and held for ransom. Obviously, we stay out of those places
We praise the Lord for His abundant mercies, giving us the health, strength and provision to be able to carry on such a rigorous schedule. We ask for your prayers for our continued health and safety, especially as we travel to other countries.
We also thank God for your participation in this ministry. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
By His lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Phyllis and I will celebrate our 51st wedding anniversary next week. It has gone by so very quickly, but has been such a tremendous blessing all the way. Still in love and loving each other more with every passing day. The Lord has blessed us with two wonderful children and four grandchildren. We are going to spend Christmas with all of them this year for the first time in 15 years. That will be a special time for us. We do love our work on the mission field, but we do miss being able to spend more time with family.
Before we return to the USA at Christmas we still have work to do here. I will be returning to Armenia to teach a spiritual life course with Mark Musser. The people in a couple of the churches there had such a positive response to the Word of God when we were there last month that they have asked for more teaching. It is really exciting to find Christians who want to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As soon as I get back from Armenia I will teach a survey of the Major Prophets at Word of God Bible College in Kiev.
When we get back to the US we will be visiting churches in the South and Southeast. Here is our schedule. If you are able to come to any of these churches we would love to see you or hear from you. Jim’s mobile number is 256 655-1908.
Please check out our calendar to see our travel plans while in the USA. We may be coming to a church near you and would love to see you!
By Grace alone,
Jim and Phyllis
October 1, 2019
What a great month we had in September. The first two weeks I taught Soteriology at Word of God Bible College. We studied redemption, reconciliation, imputation, justification, faith and the gospel of grace. Our new students were very excited to learn these essential truths.
Right after these two weeks Phyllis and I flew to Yerevan, Armenia. We were hosted by Mark and Caren Musser who are now living and ministering in Armenia. I taught every day for two weeks. The Bethlehem Evangelical Church provided the venue for Ron Minton’s International Baptist Bible College. There were students from several different area churches. I taught a course on dispensations and covenants. This was new information for these people who have not been exposed to serious Bible study. The distinctions between the Old Testament life under the Law and the New Testament life under grace were brand new concepts for them. There was confusion about Old Testament salvation and whether we in the Church had to keep parts of the Law. Many of them were so glad to hear about the tremendous blessings that stem from our union with Christ. The teaching of spirituality vs. carnality was a new doctrine to them. So many of them expressed joy when they came to understand how to walk by the Spirit. It was a great pleasure to teach there. They were unanimous in urging us to come back and to teach them again.
I was also able to preach at another church on Sunday. I spoke on the warning passages from the book of Hebrews. In Hebrews chapters 5-6 there is a warning about being lazy or unmotivated about learning and applying Bible doctrine to our lives. There is a command to not be spiritual babies, but to go on to spiritual maturity. I was pleasantly surprised the next day when the pastor called me to tell me that the church talked about the lesson and declared that they didn’t want to remain babies and only drink milk, but wanted to grow up in their spiritual lives. What a positive response!
We were also able to visit a number of sites in and around Yerevan. We went to a museum of ancient Armenian documents. This was interesting because Armenia was the first country to declare itself a Christian nation back in the 3rd Century. A missionary who went there in the early part of the Church Age discovered that they had no written language, so he invented an alphabet for them, still used today, and the first book ever written in their language was a translation of the Bible.
We went to see some ancient churches and monasteries which indicate the influence of Christianity. Even though they repudiated the Council of Chalcedon, which clearly states the doctrine of the Hypostatic Union, nevertheless, the gospel was prevalent in that country since the early days of the Church.
It was also a treat to be able to see Mt. Ararat every day from Yerevan. It is certainly an impressive mountain, reaching almost 17,000 feet, with glaciers on the top which are hundreds of feet deep. The closest we got to the mountain was on the border of Turkey. Mt. Ararat is almost always engulfed in a haze, we did have a couple of days when we got a rather clear view. We went to a museum where they claim to have some items which were made of wood taken from the Ark. I have my doubts about this since they also claim to have a thorn from the crown that was put on Jesus at the cross, as well as the head of the spear the pierced Jesus’ side. Highly unlikely!
We are back in Ukraine now and busy preparing for teaching upcoming courses this fall. We are so grateful for the health and strength which the Lord has graciously provided for us that we can continue to work here. We thank you for your prayers and support which enable us to preach the gospel and to teach the Bible in so many places.
All by grace,
We rejoice in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the multitude of His tender mercies. The past four months have been packed with so many opportunities to teach the Word of God.
In February I filled the pulpit every week at a local church in Kiev while also teaching at Word of God Church. In addition to this I worked with Mark Musser in two other churches to put on DM2 workshops in Romans and Colossians. Altogether this amounted to more than 30 hours of teaching. But this would pale in comparison with the next three months.
In March I made my annual journey to Brazil, putting on conferences over a span of three weeks in four different cities, often teaching 4-6 hours a day.
After returning to Ukraine I had just a few days to rest before going to western Ukraine for a two-week course at a Bible college. I returned to Kiev for a wonderful celebration of our Lord’s resurrection, then left a few days later to go to Southern Africa. We had conferences in three different cities in Zambia and then went to Malawi for another week of teaching there. I travelled with three Zambian pastors I have been training for several years. It is a great joy to see how these men have matured in the faith and who are now able to help with the teaching.
While in Africa I had an allergic reaction to something and developed a rash that covered my entire body. Along with that I got some kind of infection that required a course in antibiotics to get rid of once I returned to Ukraine. But I thank God that He enabled me to complete the teaching in spite of the maladies.
Upon my return I taught a two-week module at Word of God Bible College. In the middle of that we had an ordination service for Oleg Lozinski. Oleg, who has been with us for 15 years, serves as director of the Bible College and as pastor of Word of God Church. Bob Bolender, pastor of Austin Bible Church, along with his wife Sharon, came to Kiev for the ordination. Mark Musser, long-time associate with our ministry, now living and working in Armenia, also came to participate in the ordination. It is so gratifying to see people, such as Oleg, that we have trained, actively involved in ministry.
Then on the last day of May we had a graduation ceremony at Word of God College. We graduated six students this year, and already several of them are slated to begin ministries in their home churches.
We will be in the States for two months to take care of business matters, get medical checkups and travel to several states to visit churches. It would be wonderful if we could visit all of you, but there just isn’t enough time.
How we praise God for giving us such a wonderful ministry as well as the health and stamina to do it. We know that this is all a matter of grace. We are also thankful for all of you who pray for us. We are confident that through your faithful prayers we have been sustained. Your faithful support is so much appreciated. Thank you.
By grace alone,
Jim and Phyllis
“1 Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! 2 Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. 3 Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. 4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. 5 For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.” (Psalm 100)
What a wonderful privilege to serve our Creator God and our Savior, Jesus Christ. The ministry here has been fruitful and the source of much joy as we see the Word of God at work in the lives of so many people here in Ukraine.
The Word of God Bible College in Kiev continues to be the primary focus of our work here. We have a dozen students this year, and this is one of the finest groups we have ever had. They are serious about learning the Bible and applying it. We anticipate that they will have significant ministries when they have finished their studies with us. Some of them have already been approached about pastoral work when they graduate next spring.
Word of God Bible College 2018–2019
One of the greatest joys is seeing our graduates serving the Lord. In two DM2 conferences that Mark Musser put on in Ukraine we had six former students involved in the teaching. Vasya Munko, one of our first graduates, pastors Grace Bible Church in Lviv. He taught some of the DM2 modules, interpreted for me at a seminary course I taught in Western Ukraine recently, and will teach a course at the college in December. Igor Smolyar, another graduate is currently teaching a course in the pastoral epistles at the college. Sasha and Ira, husband and wife team who graduated last year from the Bible college are heading up the youth group at the church and doing an outstanding job. Zhenya Savchenko, our first college graduate, pastors Living Water Church in the nearby town of Baryshivka. His church hosted one of the recent DM2 conferences. Oleg Lozinski, director of the Bible college, is currently teaching a Bible college course in Armenia.
I have taught more than 80 hours of Bible and theology in the past two months, not including teaching on Sundays at Word of God Church, and pulpit fill in other churches. In December I will teach another 32 hours at the college. We praise the Lord that He has given us grace to be able to carry on such a demanding schedule.
Another cause for celebration: Phyllis and I will be celebrating our Golden Wedding Anniversary on the 30th of November. Fifty years! A wonderful marriage.
We are so grateful for all of you who pray for us and support this ministry. Thank you. May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and blessed Christmas.
By grace alone,
Below I have also included a letter from Mark Musser who has labored intensively in our ministry here and in other places as well. Please keep him and his family in your prayers.
A GROWING, MATURING MINISTRY IN KIEV
I just returned to Yerevan, Armenia after spending a very fruitful two weeks in Ukraine. It was such a pleasure to arrive in Kiev after a mere 2-½ hour flight, and then be able to get quickly into the ministry there with no jet lag! Since 2004, I have traveled to Kiev almost 30 times from the Pacific Northwest and the long flight does takes its toll on the body – but this fall – it was a hop, skip, and a jump over Turkey and the Black Sea to Ukraine.
Over the years, I have done a lot of teaching at the Word of God Bible College in Kiev, which continues to be blessed with serious students. While the Bible college is not large, usually comprised of 10–15 students, it is an intensive two-year program that even includes Greek and Hebrew studies.
We have several new students this year at the Bible college, one of them used to live in Yerevan!. Several of them are from the Lviv area in western Ukraine and are mature believers. Four of them, two couples are even now being petitioned/recruited to help serve in other churches in the country after they graduate. Please pray for future ministries and good decision-making on the part of Vasya and Larisa Chaplaev and also for Yuri and Nadia Chugai. They have been such a pleasure to teach and their enthusiasm for God’s word is very high.
This time around, I taught New Testament Survey, which was well received by the students. I will return in early spring to teach Romans, and then again in late May to teach a survey on Daniel-Revelation. In addition to teaching at the Bible college, I helped lead two DM2 workshops that included a number of different teachers, including Jim Myers, two other Americans and seven Ukrainians – six of whom are graduates from our Bible college. This is a really good sign of how the ministry is maturing in Ukraine as we are starting to see more Ukrainians involved in teaching the Bible. These DM2 workshops are not easy to do, involve many hours of teaching, discipleship, and study for everyone involved. They have proven to be very effective in giving hands-on teaching experience to our former students. This fall, we taught the book of Galatians in Kiev, and then the book of Colossians in Baryshivka.
Andy Stacy, who has taken the pastoral reins of Grace Redeemer Bible Church in Olympia, also joined us with great enthusiasm for the second year in a row as he helped teach both Galatians and Colossians. When it was time for Andy to go back home, he had a hard time leaving as he really enjoyed the Bible workshops and getting to know the people better.
Bob Bolender III, yet another graduate of our Bible college also joined us and helped us teach! Bob is increasingly becoming interested in the pastoral ministry. He is married to Elvira, another graduate of the Bible college in Kiev! Elvira joined in the work by doing some of the translation. Elvira is Russian, but came to Kiev through the ministry of the Ryabchenko’s who have been serving as missionaries in Turkey ever since they graduated from the Bible college a number of years ago now. Elvira moved to Turkey and met the Ryabchenko’s, who then encouraged her to go to the Bible college.
With such testimonies, when I think of our mission in Kiev, I often think of Acts 19 where the apostle Paul, after being forced to step away from the synagogue because of his strong emphasis upon the law-free grace gospel, started teaching in Ephesus by using what Luke calls “the school of Tyrannus” (Acts 19:9).
Right before I headed back “home” to Yerevan, we had also had an especially fruitful day on the last Sunday I was in Kiev. This included attending the church service in the morning, finishing up DM2 Galatians in the afternoon, and then finishing up with a baptism service in the evening. After Jim introduced the baptism service, Pastor Oleg Lozinsky then baptized three people, after which it was an honor for me to give a short sermon on the significance of baptism from the Scriptures. It was a special day indeed and very reflective of the maturing ministry in Kiev.
But this is not all – Oleg Lozinsky then got on the plane with me to travel to Yerevan as he was invited by Dr. Ron Minton to teach a course at International Baptist Bible College (IBBC). Dr. Minton, who lives in Kharkiv, Ukraine, is president of IBBC and has a number of different college branches in several cities in Ukraine and other international locales. He and Jim often teach at each other’s respective colleges. He recently opened up a new college branch in Yerevan, hosted by a church called the Bethlehem Church. When he found out I would be living in Yerevan, he asked me to teach my Christian Family course there. Now, however, it is Oleg’s turn.
Oleg, one of our first graduates at the Bible college, is now the pastor of the Word of God Church and also the dean of the Bible college. Oleg has matured in his faith, particularly over the last several years as Jim has given more and more responsibility over to him – which has made him thrive spiritually. It has been a pleasure to attend some of the sessions being taught by Oleg. He is having a great time teaching his course.
Oleg teaching at IBBC in Armenia
Oleg is receiving lots of good questions as they are hearing grace-orientated truths for the very first time. After classes, some linger and discuss with him many theological, spiritual, and biblical questions – for up to 2 hours!
May 1, 2018
Fast and furious! That sums up the first four months of 2018 for us, and there is more to come in May. Teaching at Word of God Bible College in January and February, then a month of almost non-stop teaching in Brazil and two weeks in Zambia has filled our calendar – not to mention the hours of prep time and travel. In Brazil I spoke in nine different cities, usually two hours a day, but sometimes four and even eight hours in a day!
Conference at Camp Betel, Sousas, Brazil
After returning from Brazil I went to Lviv in western Ukraine for a two-day conference with Mark Musser where I spoke about the biblical roots of the holocaust.
A week later I headed to Zambia from April 7-23 for two weeks of teaching in Livingstone, Lusaka, and the village of Chipembi. Typically, the conferences there are six hours a day. We packed a lot of teaching into our time in these three places.
Recently discharged Army Ranger Captain, Tyler Beck, joined me there and did some of the teaching. He is a young man with a heart for missions who wanted to get a first-hand look at a mission field. It thrills me that there are Americans in the generation of young adults who are doctrinally oriented who want to serve the Lord. After returning to his home in Houston he wrote:
Having never personally observed missionary work, I am very grateful for the opportunity to watch, listen, and participate. Especially relieving to me was the confirmation that many missionaries and pastor-teachers stay mission focused, not allowing themselves to be distracted by the worldly needs of their audiences or themselves. I was thrilled to see the 100% focus of you and your fellow soldiers on the accurate communication and clarification of Biblical truths, rather than focusing on changing Zambians’ worldly circumstances. We know that wherever there is yearning to understand the Mind of Christ, there will be sound Bible teaching. The Lord is utilizing your sacrifice to build up the faith of many Zambians. I distinctly observed this while meeting many of their church leaders and witnessing the eagerness of the renewal of their thinking with regards to some specific issues…. I could tell, by their frequent applause in some cases, that they were very ready to finally hear sound teaching on those issues.
Teaching in Lusaka, Zambia
Back in Ukraine I will teach a two-week course at the Bible College and then an all-day conference at Word of God Church. Then we will wrap up the school year and head to the States for our summer ministries. Phyllis has been working hard to coordinate all of our travels and speaking engagements.
Mark Musser, board member for JFM Ministries since its inception, has been doing a lot of work here recently. Mark worked with us in Belarus for a year and then was with us for six years in Kiev. After planting and pastoring a church in Olympia, WA for 10 years, he and Caren and their son Paul will be moving to Yerevan, Armenia at the end of summer. Caren will be teaching at an international school and Mark is hoping to establish a beach head for ministry there. Also, because of its proximity to Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia, he will be able to work even more closely with our ministry.
He finished two weeks of teaching at the Bible College here in Kiev and then went to Belarus to minister to the church we there many years ago. If that were not enough, he also led a Discipleship Makers conference in a town not far from Kiev and headed up a two-day conference in Lviv, Ukraine. His wife and daughter joined him here and taught women’s conferences. Amazing family!
We are so grateful for your prayers and your support. We are privileged to serve the Lord in these different areas where we have opportunities to teach the Word of God. But we know that we are merely part of a much larger team, and we could not do this without you. Thank you.
Finally, I will share an urgent prayer request. Please read the following article and remember to pray for Ukraine. https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/12228/ukraine-russia-invasion
By grace alone,
We bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people, for unto us a child has been born, and unto a Son has been given. His name was called Jesus, for He saves His people from their sins. So we proclaim the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. That light is the light of men, the true light that lights every man coming into the world. Thanks be to God for His ineffable gift.
The year’s end is upon us. How the past 12 months have rushed by. Of course, time isn’t going any faster and perhaps we are all going slower, but one thing is certain, our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. Our time is a gift from the Lord to be used wisely to accomplish His purposes and we are commanded to redeem time. As stated in the epigram:
Only one life, ‘twill so be past
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Whatever time the Lord gives us in the future, may it be spent to accomplish His purpose. This will, indeed, make it a happy and blessed new year.
But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD; I say, “You are my God. My times are in Your hand” (Psalm 31:14–15).
Upon our return to Ukraine from our summer tour in the US, we immediately immersed ourselves in the work. We opened the new school term at Word of God Bible College with my teaching a course on soteriology, the doctrines of salvation. In October I taught a survey of the 12 Old Testament historical books. Right after that I worked with Mark Musser and his team in teaching Galatians and Life of Christ modules of DM2 material. Then it was off to the east of Ukraine (five and a half hours on the express train) to the city of Kharkiv to teach a two-week course, “Man, Sin, and Salvation” at Ron Minton’s International Baptist Bible College.
Phyllis and I went to Israel for two weeks to attend a Christian Leaders conference held at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. This was a 50-hour conference designed to educate Christian leaders about the Jewish holocaust that took place under Adolph Hitler. This was a very sobering conference as it presented facts about the slaughter of more than 6 million Jews as well as prevailing attitudes among Europeans at the time who knew what was going on and either approved of it or chose to ignore it. The anti-Semitism seen in Hitler was also widely held among many other nations in Europe. In fact, more than one fourth of the Jews were murdered, not by the Nazis but by groups and individuals living in countries occupied by the Germans and who were sympathetic to their philosophies.
The single driving force behind Hitler’s schemes was his long-held hatred of Jews and an intense desire to rid the world of every single one of them. In his book “Mein Kampf” (My Struggle) he declared that he believed he was doing the work of the Lord in seeking to destroy the Jews. Just before he committed suicide he wrote in his last will and testament:
“… But before everything else I call upon the leadership of the nation and those who follow it to observe the racial laws most carefully, to fight mercilessly against the poisoners of all the peoples of the world, international Jewry.”
Set down in Berlin, April 29, 1945, 4:00 o’clock
We see anti-Semitism rising again in Europe, and, indeed, around the world as evidenced by the recent vote in the UN against America’s declaration that it would move its embassy to Jerusalem. Ultimately this is a statement of rejection of God and His choice of Israel. Yet, it is through Israel that the world is to be blessed, for the Savior of mankind came into the world a descendent of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David.
May the Son of Abraham, the Son of David, whose birth we celebrate at this time of year, bring you peace and joy, confidence and stability, and purpose of life in the coming year.
One chilly and rainy evening while we were walking back to the hotel in Jerusalem, I noticed a long line of media vans with satellite dishes sprouting from the roofs. I commented to Phyllis that something was going to happen. Then we were surprised to see the American flag being projected onto the walls of old Jerusalem, followed by images of the Israeli flag, and then both together. We didn’t know what was happening at the time, but it was thrilling to see it, nevertheless. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me to get a photo. When we got to our room we turned on the news and watched President Trump make his announcement of moving the American embassy to Jerusalem. We did get a couple of pictures the next day which express the attitude of so many in Israel.
Our schedule for the coming spring is ambitious, with two courses to be taught at Word of God College, three weeks of teaching in Brazil and two weeks in Zambia. What a privilege we have to teach the Word, and what mercy the Father has bestowed on us in giving us the health and the stamina to continue serving Him.
We thank all of you for your prayers, your encouragement, and your support.
Only by grace,
Jim and Phyllis
We have begun our 25th year as missionaries in eastern Europe. We have been so blessed over the years as we have had the privilege of serving the Lord in this part of the world. The greatest joy is in seeing people come to faith in Christ, growing in their spiritual lives, and then going on to serve the Lord in their own ministries, both in Ukraine and in other countries.
We are back home in Ukraine after a summer of ministry in the US. We visited 24 churches in 12 western states in 2 months. I drove the entire circuit (about 10,000 miles) except for a flight to Ohio. The Lord provided us with a good vehicle that performed beautifully, even in the 118 degree temperatures in Phoenix, and the high mountains in Utah and Colorado.
We started out in Texas, visiting several churches and also getting to spend a little time with our son and his family. Then we headed west, going through New Mexico, Arizona, California (where we spent some time with our daughter and her family), Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, and finally back to Houston. It was wonderful seeing so many friends along the way, as well as being introduced to some churches we had not visited before.
We had a wonderful visit with Ukrainian friends who are now living in Vancouver, Canada. At the end of tour I flew up to Ohio to attend the 55th reunion of my high school class. So many of them have gotten to be old folks. I, on the other hand . . .
We got out of Houston just as the hurricane Harvey was coming in. I am grateful we were able to change our tickets and get a flight out before they closed the airports. There were some hitches along the way, and some of our luggage got lost for about a week, but we are so glad to be back in Kiev and working in the ministry here.
Our Bible college has started. I have already taught the first two-week module. We have six new students who all are very enthusiastic about studying with us. This is going to be another very full teaching schedule for me. I will be teaching six different courses at the college this year, plus a course at another seminary. In addition I will be doing some teaching with Mark Musser in DM2 conferences here in Ukraine. In addition, in November, Phyllis and I will be taking a 10-day course for Christian leaders being conducted by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. I am planning to go to Zambia in the spring, as usual, and to Brazil if we can work out the schedule.
Word of God Church is flourishing under Ukrainian leadership. I still teach some classes, but most of the teaching is now being done by Ukrainian men who were trained in the ministry here. They are doing a wonderful job in administration and leading the church in evangelism, prayer and ministries.
We give thanks to our heavenly Father for all of you. We are so grateful for your prayers, your encouragement, and support. You make it possible for us to carry on this work.
By grace alone,
Jim and Phyllis
May 31, 2017
We are almost finished with our spring semester. It has been a whirlwind of activity since the first of the year. I taught two courses at Word of God Bible College, and two courses for the International Baptist Bible College. One course was in western Ukraine and the other in the far east of Ukraine. I wrote earlier about our trip to Brazil (April News Update), and after that I spent two weeks in Zambia and Malawi.
It was my first time to go to Malawi, a small country just to the east of Zambia. A couple of pastors had attended our conference in Lusaka, Zambia last year and invited me to come to their country. I flew into Lilongwe and took a six-hour bus ride to Blantyre, after waiting at the bus station for four hours. Needless to say, I was rather travel weary when I arrived. After a night’s rest I got up the next day and taught 8 hours. The next day was a bit of a breather with only 4 hours. The response was really positive and they clamored for more. I hope that I can return next year. In Zambia I did two week-long conferences, one in Livingstone and the other in Lusaka. I taught a survey of the Old Testament. Most of the people knew nothing about the Old Testament except for a few stories, such as the flood, David and Goliath, and Daniel in the lion’s den. They were really excited to learn about Israel, the divided kingdom, the captivities, and the reason why the prophets wrote their books. They asked for a New Testament survey for next year.
I just returned from my trip to Lysychansk in eastern Ukraine. This is one of the cities where there was fighting with Russian-backed separatists a couple of years ago when Russia took control of the Crimea and invaded eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainians have control of the city now, but it is only about 10 miles from occupied territory. There were numerous military check points along the road, and my train was two hours late getting in because we had to wait on sidings a couple of times due to military trains taking precedence on the railway.
The pastor of the church where we held the conference had an interesting story. When the fighting was taking place, he sent his family to Kiev. He stayed behind to be with the people of his church. One night he had gone to the church to be on watch. He got a call in the middle of the night that his house had been shelled and was completely destroyed. Had he stayed home, he might have been killed in the shelling. The church building was never attacked, but a school building not far away was taken over by the Russians. This became the site of a short but fierce fight between the two armies. The Ukrainians prevailed and the insurgents were defeated. What has not been widely reported in the news is that the conflict continues. Just in this month there have been at least 27 deaths and several hundred wounded. Since the conflict began there have been close to 3,000 deaths and more than 20,000 wounded.
Below is a photo of the school building. To my right is the pastor of the church. The other two men are pastors from western Ukraine.
In Lysychansk I taught eight hours a day for three days in a row, and finished up with four hours on Saturday. That is a bit of a challenge, but I was so pleased with the students who endured to the end. The response was enthusiastic and they want to know when I can come again.
Word of God Bible College will end the school year this week. We will have graduation ceremonies on Friday, our annual banquet, and then a special service at Word of God Church on Sunday.
Phyllis and I will fly to the US on June 5th and start our summer schedule. This year we will be visiting churches in the western part of the US, going to churches in Texas, New Mexico, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Colorado and Oklahoma. We are going to squeeze in a short vacation and see our children and grandchildren along the way.
We praise the Lord for His mercy and grace that allows us to serve Him. We have been blessed with the health and strength to carry on. We are so grateful to all of you, for your prayers, encouragement and support. Thank you.
By grace alone,
Jim & Phyllis
April 27, 2017
What a joy to serve our Lord Jesus Christ! We have been privileged to teach the Word of God in Ukraine and other places. I taught at Word of God Bible College in December, January, and February. In addition, we have hosted a monthly class for newlyweds and put on a family life conference for Word of God Church.
The church is doing well under Ukrainian leadership. The Bible College is also prospering and the students are being well taught by the men who come from the States to teach two-week modules, as well as the classes now being taught by former students.
At the end of March I flew to Brazil. When I arrived in Rio de Janeiro I was denied entry because I didn’t have my visa! I received a 10-year multi-entry visa three years ago, but it is in my old passport, which I forgot to take with me. The federal police in Brazil said that I could go to Venezuela and get a new visa at the consulate in Buenos Aires. This seemed to be a better option than returning to Ukraine to retrieve my old passport. Wrong! In Buenos Aires I found out that it would take at least a week to get a new visa because of a national holiday and the need to provide bank statements and other documents which I didn’t have with me. Not wanting to scrub the entire mission, we decided to have Phyllis fly to Argentina and bring my visa. Because of a storm near the coast of Buenos Aires, her plane was diverted to Monte Video, Uruguay. Oh, the adventures of travel. We finally got together and flew to Brazil, three days later than I planned.
The church that was hosting the conference in Miguel Pereira didn’t want to give up any teaching time, so I did five days of lessons in two days. It was demanding, but also exciting. The church was full to overflowing for all the sessions. From there we drove to Campinas where we had another five days of teaching, about four hours a day. I have taught there for at least 15 years, and this was the best-attended conference we have had there. We then went to Piracicaba for the weekend, teaching all day Saturday and three services on Sunday. The response to the teaching was so enthusiastic in every place we went, and several other churches have asked us to come to their areas next year. Already we are planning to add a week to our schedule for Brazil in 2018.
Back in Kiev spring has finally arrived. Trees are getting green, forsythias are in bloom and the tulips are open soon. The fruit trees are blossoming and the birds have returned from their winter resorts. The garden is shaping up, too.
The church went out on Sunday to do evangelism in the park. Even though it was a bit chilly, there were lots of people out enjoying the sunshine. We were able to speak to a lot of people, share the gospel, hand out tracts, and invite people to visit our church. Both adults and teens are getting experience in talking to people about the Lord and their need of salvation. That is exciting to watch.
On May 1st, I will leave for Zambia for two weeks, teaching in Livingstone and Lusaka, and then going to Malawi, a small country to the east of Zambia. This will be my first time to go there. The men who are organizing the conference there anticipate that several hundred pastors and church leaders will attend.
A few days after I get back from Africa I will take a 16-hour train ride to the eastern border of Ukraine to a city not far from Lugansk. They have me scheduled to teach 8 hours a day for 3 days. After I finish there we will have our college graduation in Kiev, and then Phyllis and I will return to the US for 10 weeks. We need to get our annual check-ups, visit kids and grandkids, and visit supporting churches. This summer we will be in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, and Colorado. I hope we will be able to connect with many of you.
I am so grateful to the Lord that He has not only opened up all these places for ministry, but that He has also given me the strength and ability to do these things. I know this is His grace. I am also convinced that your prayers play a very large role in all of this. Thank you for all that you do to make it possible for us to carry on this work.
By grace alone,
Thanksgiving Day 2016
Every day is thanksgiving for us, but we are just overflowing with gratitude this year. Our registration to live in Ukraine expired the first of this month. This was our mistake. Last year it expired at the end of the year, but they changed the date on our registration and we didn’t notice it until the last day, and then it was too late to do anything about it. On advice of counsel we remained in the country as illegal aliens until we could obtain a new letter of invitation, which took more than two weeks. We were told that if we left the country before we received that invitation we would not be permitted to re-enter the country for three months, but if we overstayed our registration date they would merely assess a fine.
As is it turned out, when we went out of the country they didn’t fine us, which could have been as much as $200 each. We flew to Warsaw to go to the Ukrainian embassy there to receive a new visa. They told us that this would probably take at least five days and perhaps more. But, amazingly, we got it the next day. We flew back to Ukraine this afternoon and are back home. Not only that, but an old friend from Arkansas is living in Warsaw and he hosted us for the time that we were there. All of this is a tremendous display of the grace of God. We are so thankful for all of this. We still have to go through the registration process here, which is more red tape, but we are not complaining but rejoicing in the love of God.
We have been most busy this fall. I have already taught four weeks at the Bible college and will start another two weeks of teaching next week. In addition to that I taught a seminary course at Ron Minton’s seminary in Vinnitsa in western Ukraine. I was supposed to teach a 10-hour seminar in southern Ukraine this past week, but that had to be postponed because of the visa situation. I will go there in December.
We started a new Bible study in our home for newly married couples. We had seven couples attend last Saturday. The plan is for this class to meet monthly until next June. The response to this class was so enthusiastic that all the married couples in the church want to be included. We are planning a couple's retreat for December to talk about Christian living in the home. It is truly exciting to see such response to the Word of God.
We are so thankful for the opportunity to serve the Lord in this place. He has blessed us with ministry and the health and strength to carry it out. We also thank our Father for all of you who pray for us and support us so that we can do this work. We are so blessed.
By grace alone,
September 21, 2016
We have returned to Kiev on August 31 from our summer trip to the USA to start a new year. We think of this as a new year because we started our work on the foreign mission field in August of 1993, so this is the beginning of our 24th year. Immediately after arriving we jumped into the work, taking care of administrative details and getting everything set to start a new year at Word of God College. We have 11 students this year. We thought we would have a few more, but some chose not to come for one reason or another. But we are delighted with the ones we have. Please pray for them.
Our first course was Soteriology, the doctrine of salvation, which includes redemption, reconciliation, imputation, justification, faith, the gospel and others. In addition to their reading assignments the students were also required to memorize 25 verses related to the gospel and salvation.
I am again teaching on Sunday mornings at Word of God Church. The church is a Ukrainian church with national leaders who take care of all the ministries, teaching, and administration. But they ask me to teach during the Sunday worship, and of course I am more than happy to do that. During the summer the church did evangelism every Sunday afternoon in a park close to where we meet. It is really exciting to watch them present the gospel to both adults and children. They set up reproductions of famous paintings with Bible themes—birth of Christ, His crucifixion and resurrection, and others. People are curious about the display and come to view the pictures. They are given information about the painting such as the artist, date and the subject matter. Then it is easy to transition into a gospel presentation from each of the pictures. In addition they present the gospel to children using the EvangeCube, gospel bracelet and gospel magic. Gving the gospel has had a great impact on those who have participated.
I have also been filling the pulpit at the church of St. Paul. I have spoken there many times in the past and always get an enthusiastic response to the Word. They are hungry for the Word.
This week I am preparing to go to Vinnnitsa, a city about 4 hours away, to teach a two-week seminary course. There is no lack of opportunity here!
During the summer we had a break-in at the college. The thieves cut through the security bars on the window and stole the entire safe along with all its contents. We lost a substantial sum of money, plus financial records and other legal documents. We praise the Lord that He has graciously made up the loss of money through the gracious giving of people at home. His grace truly is amazing. We are working on getting the documents replaced. This is just a jumble of red tape that we must cut through, but we are working on it.
We thank God for all of you who pray for us, encourage us, and support us. May your eternal rewards but great.
We are back in Ukraine! The summer in the US seemed ever so long this year. We had so many details to take care of, largely due to the death of our dear friend, Dick Mills. He did a tremendous amount of work for our ministry, and all without remuneration. He considered it his ministry, and his contribution was great. The Lord has supplied abundantly for us to continue the work without interruption. Several wonderful servants of God have stepped in to take on the various responsibilities. How we praise the Lord for that.
As reported in our last letter, there was a break-in at the college office. The thieves cut through the security bars on the window, pried open the window, and took the safe and its contents. We have not recovered any of it. The legal documents that were stolen will have to be replaced, and it will take time to cut through the red tape. The financial records were pretty much up-to-date in the computer, but all the documentation, receipts, etc., are gone. A considerable sum of money was taken as well. But, the God of all grace, who supplied the funds initially has re-supplied that which was stolen. A number of grace-oriented believers contributed very generously and we have recouped everything that was lost!
We are eager to get back into the work here. On Sunday (9/4) we will worship with Word of God Church and break bread with our Ukrainian friends. The church people have been active in evangelism over the course of the summer, which has apparently had some positive results. We are looking forward to meeting the new believers and others who have come to be with us.
On Monday we will have orientation for Word of God Bible College. As we have done for several years, all the students will come to our house in the village. The orientation usually lasts about three hours. After that we will have a picnic on the deck and then play croquet, volleyball, basketball, badminton, and ping pong. It is a good way for the students to get to know each, and for us to meet them, too.
On Tuesday we begin classes at the college. We meet Tuesday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The first course of each year is Soteriology (the doctrine of salvation) which I teach. This covers atonement, redemption, regeneration, imputation, justification, sanctification, faith, security, the gospel and other doctrines crucial to understanding our salvation by grace. In October I will go to the city of Vinnitsa in western Ukraine to teach a course at a seminary there.
Please pray for continued peace in Ukraine. These are uncertain days with conflict in the eastern part of the country. It is somewhat muted right now, but there is much tension and things could change very rapidly. We ask that you also pray for our students that they will be able to learn quickly and get prepared for ministry. Pray also, please, for our graduates who are out doing ministry around the country and in some foreign countries as well. Phyllis and I need prayer, too: health, stamina, safety, courage, clarity of thinking, and a focus on the important things.
We are so grateful for all of you who have ministered with us and to us by your prayers, your encouragement, your support.
By grace alone,
A recent series of lessons on "The Greatness of God" can be viewed online. Click on this link:
Greatness of God