The Beginnings of Ministry

Ministry and discipleship take on many different forms. In a real sense we began ministry the day we arrived in Kyiv and made the trek down to Kherson, hopefully encouraging fellow believers in their work. We have begun establishing relationships with other believers in Kherson and encouraging young men from the Joshua 
House, blessing them with some work that we need help with and having meaningful conversations about their walk with the Lord and plans for the future. We have shared children's Bibles with neighbors and with the milk woman's daughter, engaged in conversations with our neighbors and given brief testimonies about why we are here. Of course these are informal ministry efforts.

Then there are more formal ministry opportunities. Our church hosts a monthly evening prayer service. This is a service that lasts from 8pm until 1 or 2am, each month. The format is 15 minutes of speaking, 10-15 minutes of worship in song, and then 20-30 minutes of prayer, with a 5 minute break in between the hourly rotation. This is repeated 4-5 times for the evening. It was very encouraging to see so many people turn out for this event, both young and old and everywhere in between. They have been doing this event for the past year. Jeff was asked to teach during one of these 15 minute sessions.

It was such a blessing to teach God's Word and to put into practice the expositional teaching techniques that I have learned and observed over the years. Jeff was both excited and very nervous about this opportunity - wanting to make much of Jesus and the cross and preach in such a way to cause people to see Him more clearly or know something of Him more fully. Praise God this task was accomplished and the potential start to regular teaching opportunities has begun. Our pastor expressed thankfulness over Jeff's dedication to preaching just what the word of God says, what it means, and possible ways that each one might apply it. He expressed sincere appreciation for the fact that Jeff did not include any American cultural opinions or commentary regarding Biblical application, but rather focused on the text and its explanation. Jeff has been invited to speak regularly during the monthly evening prayer services, and was told that maybe in 4 to 6 weeks he should be prepared to preach on a Sunday morning. Jeff is humbled, grateful, and excited about the awesome responsibility to represent God's Word with clarity and power in this place. We pray to motivate our church to deeper love of Christ as a result, new opportunities for us to take on service to the poor and powerless orphan all around us, and unity in faith and love toward one another.

The garden at the church's doorsteps.

Jeff preaching.

Sergey translating.

From here we were invited to go with Agape Ministries to a baptism in Rovno (western Ukraine).  Our car is also arriving in Germany this week and is scheduled to be picked up and driven to the Poland border, just 2 hours from Rovno.  So Jeff is staying at the church which sponsors Agape while he waits for the van to arrive.  During this baptism event, Jeff was again asked to give a short testimony and encouragement to those being baptized in this church. 

It is a great responsibility to represent God's Word well.  As an American, people naturally want to hear about who we are, why we are here, and what we are planning to do.  It is always an excellent thing to take the spotlight off of ourselves and share with people that God is at the center of who we are, why we are here, and what we will do!!

The group of folks getting baptized.

Pastors praying before the baptism.

This woman is very old and has a very difficult time getting around.  She was determined to be baptized.  Such an encouragement to see her commitment to this step of obedience!

Climbing down into the pool.

The celebration feast they had for those baptized and their friends.

Wonderful food - and this was the appetizer. A main meal was served in addition to all this.

We are so excited to have these opportunities to represent the gospel!  There are more in our future.  The children have been invited to participate (Levi down to Caleb) and to serve (Jeffrey up to Alex) in a camp that a local church is hosting in our town of Zelenvoka.  The older kids are not quite looking forward to it yet, but we think its good to meet these workers of the gospel (from a different church than the one we attend), so that we can work along side them in our community during the week.  It will be a good chance to meet some of the children in our community and perhaps some parents too.  Jeff unfortunately will miss this as he waits in Rovno for the car - but the rest of the family will have good opportunity this week to share the love of Christ in Zelenovka.

Pray please for:
1. Successful passage of the car from Germany to Ukraine with minimal costs and delays along the way.
2. Older children's excitement to serve in the camp in our own back yard.
3. Younger children's positive participation in camp alongside other children their age.
4.  We are taking Russian lessons 3 times weekly, 1 hour each lesson - pray for continued language acquisition.
5.  Peace in Ukraine's eastern regions as the conflict continues on. 


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