December 2020 News Update
What a year this has been. I doubt anyone will forget 2020 with all of the tumultuous events, the chaos, confusion and panic: impeachment, riots, pandemic, and the election fiasco, lockdowns, quarantines, shuttered businesses, restrictions on church attendance, travel bans, etc., etc., etc.
What a great time to be alive! What a tremendous opportunity to manifest the grace of God, His provision to a lost world, and to give a reason for the hope that is in us. What a comfort to know that our sovereign Lord is ruling over all. The world is not spinning out of control but is moving in the exact direction that He has planned. In His book they all were written, the days fashioned for us when as yet there were none of them. He saw this year in eternity past and made perfect provision for His children to go through it with peace and joy, with confidence and assurance. He put you where you are at this very time for His own purposes. We have opportunity to shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. We do not despair. We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair (2 Corinthians 4:8).
In the midst of everything we had to make many alterations to our usual way of doing things. We had to cancel our annual trips to Africa and South America. I was scheduled to teach for two weeks in Estonia, but that had to be postponed. I was planning on teaching a course in eastern Ukraine, but that was scrapped at the last minute due to the Covid-19 panic. For several months our church could not meet face-to-face because of government restrictions. So we held services at our house with 10-15 people in person and the rest joined us live stream on the Internet.
Because people were confined to their homes for weeks on end, we started having Bible classes online every night of the week. This has abated somewhat so that we now have livestream classes four times a week, but the church is now able to meet in our usual place on Sundays.
I have been teaching a group of 15–20 people on Sunday evenings in a town about an hour and a half from our home. We are hoping that this will develop into a local church there. I had an interesting experience there the first Sunday in December. There were two teenagers, a brother and sister who wanted to be baptized. The man at whose house we meet has a small above- ground swimming pool. Even though the temperature was only 15 degrees, we had the baptism outside. I was delighted to do this, of course, but this is not an experience I look forward to repeating with any regularity.
Classes at the college continue unabated, although it has been necessary to conduct some of them online. This has required us to do some juggling in schedules, though, due to the time difference between Ukraine and the US. American professors would start teaching at 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning, which is 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon here. So, the students here finish at 8:00 or 9:00 in the evening. But this was really a minor inconvenience.
As we come to the close of this memorable year, we give thanks to our loving Lord who has enabled us to carry on the work. We have been blessed with good health and abundant provision. We also give thanks to all of you who have been so faithful in supporting us in prayer and with your financial support.
We do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:9-10).
All by grace,