November News Update
“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!