God is good! Despite all the challenges we face because of the winter roads, quarantine restrictions, economic pressures, political troubles, and even military threats, He never stops providing opportunities for the Kingdom’s work! Most of the training, teaching, and preaching was held online through group communication tools (Zoom, Google Meet, Skype) and various social media platforms. Since our ministry’s main focus is not fishing but the nets-makers training, we do not often see our work’s final fruits. However, in these times of limitations, people on multiple occasions told us how much they were inspired, encouraged, and equipped through our projects and resources for spreading the Christ message with the most effective methods and strategies. May the Lord be praised!
The very blessed event of the month was a mission trip to the city of Khmelnytskyi in the southwest of the country. Among various visits, preaching and fellowship, it included two special projects. The first one was the Theology of Marriage course at the Marriage School. The couples came from all over the country to be trained to lead marriage seminars and groups in their cities. It was a joyful time of exploring together God’s plan for marriage and how we can know Him better through a proper understanding of the relationships He designed (see the pictures attached). Now they are back homes to share with others, according to 2 Timothy 2:2, what they learned for the healthy Christian families development as strong evidence to the fallen world of God’s amazing grace revealed through the homes of the faithful. May the Lord guide them in this ministry!
The second project was a seminar for the city’s youth on Science and the Bible relationships. We very much enjoyed the depth of the questions the audience came up with! It is exciting to see the generation raised at the church after communism collapsed. I believe these boys and girls are going to impact the country in the name of Jesus in many ways. Our purpose is to share with them the resources and experience we got in the best way we can! Please join our prayers for the rich fruits of this trip!
This year we have launched two new monthly projects we need prayers for. The first one is the Reasonable Answers to Uncomfortable Questions online program.
Our partners from Upstream youth ministry collect the challenging issues young believers wonder about a biblical view of, then we openly discuss them at their studio (see the pictures attached). The January program got more than 170k views and 3800 comments. We have recorded the February one already and are collecting the uncomfortable questions for the March one. Please pray with us for the vast impact of the project for the Kingdom’s greater glory!
Another project is the relaunch of Reliable Foundations online apologetics club in a new format from our new facilities. The first meeting is scheduled for February 26th and will review the evidence for God’s existence. The format will depend on many factors, including quarantine restrictions and the ways of military conflict development. Please pray with us also for the mild winter ending and early spring, so we could start the Apologetic Center facilities outdoor renovation soon, as well as for the resources to do it. Pray for peace in our part of the world.
No doubt it was a year of wonders! Hard to believe how many answers to the prayers we got in such a short time! After seven years of silence, we were able to sell our property in Crimea (house, office, training center) within a couple of months! The funds were safely passed to the mainland. We got an excellent building for Eurasian Apologetics Center headquarters, practically completed its indoor renovation, and moved in successfully right before the first snowfall (see the pictures attached). May the Lord be praised!
The outdoor renovation is postponed till the spring. Please join our prayers about the resources for it as well as for the early warmth.
However, this is not the end of the story, as the year was extremely fruitful in many other ways. The Eurasian Apologetics Society movement grew like never before. About 80 new members sign up every month, and the total number is close to 2000 now. 65 new persons subscribe to our YouTube channel monthly. We printed 10 new books, including one by the national author, as well as arranged about 20+ training courses and seminars despite the quarantine restrictions. Users from 128 countries visited our website(see the map attached). Oh, yes! May the Lord be praised!
Despite the ado around the renovation completion and moving the stuff and paraphernalia to the new place, the two last months of the year were all about intensive teaching and training. Most of it was done in the hybrid format that allowed us to combine meeting the quarantine restrictions and the dynamics of actual in-class fellowship. Some low-risk students were present in class, while the rest followed online.
Most of the training took place as a retreat at the Ukrainian Evangelical Seminary campus (see the pictures attached). We had interesting seminars on the New Testament historical veracity, the biblical view of evil and suffering in the world, historical ideas shaping modern thinking, and harmonization of the Gospels resurrection accounts. As usual, the most interactive part of the retreat was a round table fellowship, where everyone was free to ask or share on the most burning issues of the ministry and church life. All the events were video recorded, and a media version of the seminars will be issued eventually. Please keep this product in your prayers.
Among other events were the church ministries, the Theology of Marriage seminar at the School of Family retreat at Voronkiv, Biblical Anthropology master course at the Ezra Academy (see the picture attached). I was thrilled to learn that Ezra Academy is starting a library ministry with a small collection of the best books for shaping one’s worldview. And you know what? About half of the collection is our publications! (See the picture attached of Dmitry, the Academy dean with the books collection). Isn’t this a great sign of recognition as well as an encouragement? May the Lord be praised!
I feel uncomfortable that most of the pictures in our newsletters have my face, like if I do all this work myself. Actually, I am honored to be a clapper in that bell. But the bell, not the clapper, spreads the message. All these fruits are the outcome of the great team of coworkers and volunteers who do all the jobs of content development, media production, translations, editing, planning, management, logistics, finances, etc. As well as this is the result of your faithful care, prayers, and support. We are so thankful to be together with you as a part of this glorious work of the Lord! While this year of wonders is coming to an end, more wonders are waiting ahead! And all of them are just a shadow of the good things that are coming!
We were pretty prepared for the new wave of pandemic restrictions by developing a hybrid approach for Joint School of Christian Apologetics courses. Through the year of quarantine, we learned all the strengths and weaknesses of in-class and online teaching and combined two models for the best result. On the one hand, it allows keeping on the dynamics of actual in-class fellowship. On the other hand, people from any part of the world can join.
Thus, during the Master’s Apologetics and Evangelism Strategy course, we had ten persons in class (see the pictures attached) and 30 students online, even from such remote places like Udmurtia at the Urals and Khabarovsk at Far East Russia. Otherwise, they would not be able to join the program at all because of the distance and the war between the countries!
Here is some feedback we received from the online students:
“I got ignited for evangelism in a very new way because of the course! Some kind of renewed daring has come!!! How precious is the ministry that God has entrusted to you!! I can’t wait to start the work!” – Irina Draya, Kherson.
“Thank you for the course. Attending it was a great blessing. Sorting everything out will take some time now, and I want to continue learning from you!! I live in Moscow. We have no teaching like this in our churches. Christians hardly ever preach about it. My heart breaks for the younger generation – there is no one here to teach them evangelism and apologetics. Train me, and I will train them! No matter how naive it may sound, I believe our Lord will change the hearts of people in Russia through the Good News of Christ” – Daniel Gavrilov, Moscow
We continue to experience a season of enormous grace that came after the seven thin years. At the prayer time of the course, I shared with the students how the Lord blesses our ministry. One of them, Yury has approached me during the break with a very specific question: does your new Center have a proper classroom? The question was very up to a point. The facilities we got have space for everything we ever dreamed of having except that one thing – a place for public lectures and seminars easily accessible by public transportation. After all, this shortage was not a big deal since several schools in Ukraine are glad to offer us their classrooms for use, though they are pretty far from the Center.
“Well, – Yury said, – first time I attended your seminars about 20 years ago as a new believer. That drastically challenged my understanding of the church, evangelism, and mission, impacted the rest of my life! I am a pastor now, and our church has recently built a new sanctuary right at the next neighborhood from your Center and near the public bus stop at the main road. Feel free to use it for any of your programs – we will be honored by the partnership with you.” Isn’t this amazing? May the Lord be praised!
The confirmation for the need for the Reliable Foundations Media Club restarting has come almost immediately! Someone, out of the blue, sent me a video clip – some men are relaxing at the campfire after a day of hike in the woods in the middle of nowhere (attached). What do you think they are doing? They listen to the RFMP seminar on the biblical view of life and death! May the Lord be praised!
The shift of the public schools for the distant learning became due to great opportunity for us! Our materials for children help them learn better, shape their worldview, and make them missionaries to their peers and their teachers! Attached are the pictures one pastor sent. His daughter uses our books for doing her school assignment on science. I am sure her teacher will find many good points to think about while reading that notebook! Please pray with us for all God’s youngest witnesses!
The Eurasian Apologetics Center facilities remodeling goes on. By God’s grace, we have raised 59% of the estimated cost and completed the essential indoor works (you can see the progress pictures here). The most important issue, for now, is getting the kitchen completed and installed. We plan to move into the facilities in a week to be able to maintain the place while the first frosts come. Thank you very much for your care and prayers!
Despite the lot of our time and efforts the remodeling takes, we do not slow down the pace of the ministry. We keep all the commitments we made to introduce the Truth to skeptics, strengthen the saints in their confidence in the Truth, and equip God’s people to proclaim God’s Word effectively. We just choose a proper format of the approach to practice according to the situation. For instance, a Doctorate course on Biblical Anthropology at the Ukrainian Evangelical Theological University (Kiev) was made in the hybrid format (few students are in the class, the rest are online – the pictures attached), while some of its parts for the Bachelor level students at Ukrainian Biblical Theological Seminary (Lviv) were provided in the media format at the same time. The same hybrid approach was used for the schoolteachers’ seminar on incorporating the biblical worldview and understanding of science into the government-controlled school curricula, while the youth conference on the Bible veracity was more purposeful to do as an actual gathering (see the pictures attached). Please pray with us for the fruits of all these events! I believe somebody who attended them will come someday and say: my heart for Jesus, for evangelism, for ministry, for missions was impacted there!
The most exciting moments we experience whenever we come to a new place (in Ukraine, in Russia, in Uzbekistan, in Belarus – elsewhere) are when somebody approaches us with the same words: “You do not know me, but I know you! I constantly watch the videos, follow the social media posts, read the books you produce!» The rest of the speech may vary.
For instance, one can say: “I was strongly indoctrinated against the Bible and the church, but your materials made me change my mind.”
Or: “I was doubting about giving myself to Jesus, but your materials helped me to make the right decision!”
Or: “I was brought up in a family of believers but lost the faith because of the education I got. Nevertheless, your materials restored it and made it stronger than ever before!”
Or: “I hesitated to share my faith with others, but your materials laid a solid foundation for it and have helped me to become a bold proclaimer of the message!”
Or: “When my kids went to school, I was afraid it would seriously challenge their beliefs. But your materials made them the Lord’s witnesses to their classmates and even to their teachers!”
Or: “I never even considered anything like ministry or missions. But your materials inspired me to accept the calling!”
All these encouraging testimonies are the fruits of God’s work through your faithful care and prayers that encourage, inspire, and equip our team and us for the sake of the Kingdom’s greater glory! May the Lord be praised!
This time the new place we added to our short missions’ geography was the city of Hust in Transcarpathia (Subcarpathian Ruthenia). We took an extra day to cross the mountains away from the noisy highways (see the pictures attached) and then went down to the valley. We enjoyed the last warm days of the year alongside the everlasting warmth of fraternal fellowship with God’s children we never met before and will never forget now.
The key project of the trip was teaching the “Bible and Logic” course in the Master’s program of the Transcarpathian Christian Institute. It was a great joy we shared with the regional church leaders to explore the ways of spreading the Gospel message “nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth” as well as exposing the tricks of false teachers and opponents of the faith. The rest was a precious time of fellowship with brethren and teaching at the local church (see the pictures attached). May the Lord multiply the fruits of this trip abundantly for His glory alone!
Another great event of the month was the presentation of our books at the International Book Forum publishers’ fair at Lviv (see the pictures attached). Could we imagine a decade ago that Christian books would be represented at events like this in the former Soviet Union without any limitations and discrimination? People came to the Forum from other cities and even from other countries – Russia, Belarus, Moldova. Some came specially to buy our books! They were asking the publisher to pass on their appreciation and the words of gratitude and encouragement – like, for instance, this unknown man in the picture. Please join our prayers for the seeds planted through the printed word!
We celebrate 30 years of the former Soviet Union nations’ great exodus from the Egypt of communism into the desert of secular democracy. The Church of the Exodus Generation existed despite the oppressions and persecutions. Participation in any event from street evangelism to youth camp was a danger of facing serious problems, even imprisonment. There were very few opportunities. Nevertheless, our older brothers and sisters boldly did everything they could. Fighting the good fight, completing the race, they kept the faith and passed it on to us, the Generation of the Desert.
Our generation received everything at once – without sacrifice, without risk, without hard work. Brothers from other countries joyfully and sacrificially shared with us their resources, experience, knowledge, programs, strategies, methods, approaches, etc. All this was available for taking without considering whether it is relevant to our context. Being a Christian was often a self-sufficient occupation “for internal consumption” – building the Kingdom from 9 am till 5 pm with a lunch break. Why should we, believers, go into, say, science? Or economics? Or politics? Or education system? Or business? All the people are of great size there, we are like grasshoppers in our own eyes! It is so safe here, in our comfortable church ghetto!
I am exaggerating, of course. There were many heroes of the faith, people who were not indifferent and challenged both the world and the stagnant tendencies within the Body of Christ. But this multitude, alas, was a minority. As in the old days, for each Caleb, there were half a dozen “grasshoppers in their own eyes.” Indifference to what was going on outside the church walls has been a common feature of our generation. Moreover, whether one “did care” became the main criterion in recruitment for our own projects. We decided to train the called rather than trying calling the trained.
But time has passed, and a new generation has grown up – young people thirsting for fellowship, learning, devoting themselves to the work of the Kingdom. They do care! They do not want to be “grasshoppers in their own eyes” but yearn for change, proclaiming: “We should go up and take the land, for we can certainly do it! The Lord is with us! Do not be afraid!”
I believe that the Generation of Joshua that follows us will become the city on a hill and the lamp on its stand, so people may see their good works and glorify the Father, which is in heaven! And the best what we, people of the desert, can do now, is to invest ourselves in them. We shall provide them with the necessary resources and share all the knowledge and experience we’ve gained so that they do not need to waste time and effort repeating the mistakes we have already made. And so that they too could entrust the things they have heard from us to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others in their turn (2 Timothy 2: 2).
With this in mind, we were doing our best to come with masterclasses, seminars, training programs, etc., for every youth camp and festival we were invited to! We were going from one side of the country to another all the time (see the pictures attached). The spectrum of the topics discussed was so broad! Effective evangelism, God’s existence, faith and science, mercy and suffering, the role of Christians in civil society, dinosaurs, keeping the truth in the confusing world, use of media for the Kingdom, biblical leadership, etc. Our direct involvement was amplified by the online seminars as well as the media ministry of young people, trained and equipped in previous years. Please pray with us for all these young warriors of Christ!
The summer was an extremely exciting experience that inspired us incredibly! We do know: those who follow us are better than us! They must become greater, and we must become less.
Training and equipping key capable and called young people is and always will be our top priority. Having the Apologetics Center facilities as a permanent base will make this task much easier for us now.
The Center remodeling goes on. By the Lord’s provision, we collected 57,64% of the estimated cost already. The electrical works (including reserve autonomous power generator) are done already, as well as most of the flooring. Most of the appliances and furniture are ordered as well. We still hope to move into the facilities by winter. Please keep this goal in your prayers!
We praise the Lord for your care, prayers, and help! By His grace and through your sacrificial partnership, we have 51% of the Eurasian Apologetics Center building renovation estimated cost either donated or committed already! We have started the construction works already and are hoping to complete the renovation and move in by winter. Please continue to pray with us about this plan!
Another reason for the praise was the long-waited opportunity to hold an offline master-level course Bible and Logic and record the video version (see the pictures attached). We planned to do it a year ago but had to cancel it due to the quarantine restrictions. The lockdown demonstrated the effectiveness of our strategy to produce video versions of the courses for training and equipping the Kingdom workers in restricted regions. When the pandemic made almost every region a restricted area, all of our courses were in great demand by many Christian schools and seminaries. The logic course was the only one we did not have a video version of yet.
Nevertheless, the year of waiting was not in vain, however. We have enhanced the course with many new ideas and illustrations. As the main improvement, we updated it with the special block on the Critical Thinking Foundations presented by Andrey Goryainov (see the pictures attached). Andrei is a man of many talents: he has degrees in music, civil engineering, biblical studies, and education.
He has been a member of our team since his student days. For a while, Andrei was either a part-timer or a volunteer involved in video production, publication design, book writing (his “Physics of God’s Creation” is among our best books!), children ’s camps, etc. Since his escape from Crimea, he has been with us full time and stepped into the position of ministry administrative director recently. The classes on critical thinking were his first teaching experience at the master level, and he did a great job. Please keep Andrei, the faithful worker of the Kingdom, in your prayers.
The most exciting experience of the month was a short-term mission trip to Kryvyi Rih, a very special place. Despite the population of 600,000 and dimensions of almost 100 km, Kryvyi Rih is just a provincial town according to the official administrative status.
“Stability” could reasonably be the second name of the city. Not much changed there in recent decades. Private owners of the mines and metallurgical plants replaced the communist party leaders, but the life of the townspeople is mostly the same – get out of the mine, have some beer, watch TV, have some sleep, and go back to the mine. The level of wellbeing is extremely low: many people live below the poverty line, many children are deprived of parental care, alcoholism and drug abuse are serious problems, especially among young people.
Yet, an amazing thing happened in such a gloomy setting. Christians of all kinds, usually divided by the doctrinal issues, tradition, hierarchy, etc., got united by the same concern: “while the authorities do nothing about the situation, we should do the best we can about it!” Protestants and Evangelicals of all sorts, Roman and Greek Catholics, Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox – all came together and established the local Council of Churches to work for a change despite all the differences and in the name of Jesus alone. That Body has invited us to do a day-long forum for its leaders on the biblical view of God’s people’s role in civil society.
Should the citizens of the heavenly Kingdom care about the fallen Babylon they live in? The Scripture says: of course, they should! “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (NIV Jeremiah 29:7). The forum was an exciting time to explore together the biblical principles on how to be the light and the salt even in the darkest and decaying places (see the pictures attached). A lot of biblical and historical men of God were mentioned as examples.
On the way, I was invited to preach the churches’ sermons series “Traps in Nomadland.” The sermons challenged the issues of pride, ingratitude, unforgiveness, despondency, loss of focus, and other ones we should be aware of as aliens and strangers on earth. After the forum, I was invited to take part in the “God and the City” program at the local TV channel discussing the role of Christians in society with the Russian Orthodox Church (the most numerous one in the region) influential priest Cyril Hovorun (see the pictures attached). Please pray with us for the fruits of this trip and this great movement. It is an outstanding example of the unity of the Body revealing the love of Jesus to the world by feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, healing the sick, and preaching the lives to the dying!
You already know the main news of the recent weeks: we are no more hostages of the property in the territory occupied by Russia! We have experienced the fulfillment of the promise “I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten” (Joel 2:25). The long-waited relief came so unexpectedly! Not only did we sell our Apologetics Center we were not able to use, but also despite the enormous real estate cost difference between Crimea “gray zone” and Kyiv metropolitan area, we managed to purchase the facilities of the same worth (see the pictures attached). It was mainly because the new facility requires an interior renovation and needs the furniture and appliances. Otherwise, it would be twice more expensive! The building has everything we need: a gathering hall (for the training courses, retreats, fellowships, media production, etc.), conference room, office space, study room, a guest room for visiting partners, separate storage chambers for the books, equipment and food supply, a large garage, a two-bedroom residential area and even half an acre of land for the outdoor activities. May the Lord be praised! We hope to be able to complete the renovation and move into the facilities by winter. Please join our prayers for the necessary resources.
We carried on with the ongoing ministry in the quarantine formats for most of the month – teaching and preaching online, developing media resources for YouTube, and publications for various social media platforms. We also used any opportunity to visit the IDPs living in a village we mentor.
The month’s climax was the softening of the quarantine restrictions right before our long-planned mission to Kremenchuk. The trip’s main focus was the very final session of the Christian Leadership Master program at Kremenchuk Evangelical Seminary (see the pictures attached). We dreamed and prayed about doing it offline, and it actually happened! It was a joyful time of exploring God’s guidance in developing the next generations of faithful servants of the Lord. Second Timothy 2:2 approach in action: “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also”! Please pray with us for the multiplication of the workers at the field of the Lord in our part of the world!
The students of the course are involved with international missions as well as various ministries across the country, including the foster families’ movement. We were so glad to supply such familieswith the Christian textbooks on science that shape the worldview according to the instruction: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 21:6 – see the picture attached ). May these children abandoned by their physical parents rejoice in the arms of their heavenly Father because of His faithful servants who care about every one of them!
Finally, we had a very fruitful online round table with the Christian Master programs deans on the current challenges of Christian education in the former Soviet Union countries (see the pictures attached). It was an extremely productive exchange of ideas and experiences. Thanks to the Lord!
The month in total was so full of exciting news, events, emotions, and praises! Hard to express all of them with words! Thank you so much for your constant, faithful care and prayers!
Due to another round of lockdown, our focus has been on online ministry development. We focused on posting the everyday messages to the most locally relevant social networks and channels (Facebook, Telegram, Instagram, Vkontakte) and our regular YouTube content. Since the beginning of the year, users from 117 countries have visited our website (see the map attached)! The previous record was 76 countries through the entire year 2020. May the Lord be praised!
We continue to teach and preach online at the maximum-security prison through our partners in the prison ministry in Lviv. Everyone at the general block is able to attend the meetings.
The prisoners in the life sentence block even arranged a worship room there (I apologize for the quality of the pictures attached – it depends on the resolution provided online; the names of the places and persons are blurred for security reasons). Please pray for these people who have found Jesus while serving their sentences. May they become His light for others in that place of darkness! May those who are going to be released eventually become the Kingdom witnesses to their former inmates!
The youth conference at Kyiv on the Veracity of Scripture was online as well.
Only those who are in direct fellowship with us anyway were present at the venue. The rest of the participants followed the discussion via Zoom. Nevertheless, it was very engaging (see the pictures attached). Please join our prayers for these young leaders of the next generation. May they become new Calebs and Joshuas of the nation that experienced the exodus from the Egypt of communism to the desert of secularism!
Media is the key to reaching young people, and it is crucial to reach them in their native language. As Ukrainian schools switch their teaching to the national language, more and more young people in the country prefer to speak, read, listen, and watch in Ukrainian rather than in Russian. Spoken by 33 million people (mostly – domestic, but also the diaspora communities in Canada, Australia, and the USA), Ukrainian belongs to the world’s top 50 most used languages (#44). Regretfully, there is little or no Christian media content available in Ukrainian.
That is why we are so excited to announce that our volunteers in the partnership with the content development group at Rivne (Western Ukraine) decided to start a team for producing and teaching others to produce native-language media content. We highly encourage them to go on with this project, supplying them with some essential equipment and providing intensive training on media production (see the pictures attached). Please pray with us for the development of this important initiative.
Finally, please join us in celebration of a very special milestone for the post-communist world apologetics ministry. The Joint School of Christian Apologetics has graduated the first students with an MA degree in Christian Apologetics (see the picture attached). May the Lord be praised! May these warriors of Him be faithful to the apostolic precept: “Take the teachings that you heard me proclaim in the presence of many witnesses, and entrust them to reliable people, who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2).
The new wave of COVID hit Ukraine. The case rate level is higher than ever before, and the death rate level has multiplied five times. We are now under strict quarantine restrictions again. Many of our partners get sick. Some passed away, young and old, and it is extremely painful – we could never prepare ourselves for this.
However, what we were prepared for during this new wave is shifting our teaching, preaching, studies, and fellowship to online format again. We are well equipped and much more experienced compared to a year ago when the pandemic just started. The Kingdom’s work never stops!
Nevertheless, the month of March provided a brief window between the two lockdowns, and we did our best to get the most of it for the ministry. The biggest project of that period was a short-term trip to the city of Kherson. It included meetings with regional leaders, a seminar for youth leaders of the town, and a South Ukraine youth conference.
The seminar was in a format of interactive fellowship on the biblical principles of leadership development for the church and missions (see the picture attached). The conference’s theme was the evidence for God’s existence provided by the Bible, science, history, philosophy, experience, etc. Based on the experience of last month’s conference at Rivne (Western Ukraine), we have already planned it for 200 people, rather than 50 as it was our mistake last time. And we were wrong again! 250 young men and women signed up for it in advance, and some more showed up at the last moment. It was a great joyful time celebrating the love and wisdom of the Lord together. The participants were excited about our books for equipping themselves and others for the ministry work (see the pictures attached). The video report from the conference will be available soon. Please join our prayers for these children of God who are to pass the baton of solid biblical faith to the church’s next generations!
We had to cancel most of the offline projects scheduled for the month (like teaching at Transcarpathia and seminars at Ternopil). Nevertheless, we decided that the public schools’ Christian teachers’ conference on shaping children’s worldview is too strategically important to cancel it (new restrictions were announced just the day before it). We changed its format. Though the conference was initially for teachers from many regions, we limited the attendance to only the local ones who are in contact anyway (see the pictures attached). The rest joined it online – the on-demand video is now also available. We used those days of softer restrictions in the best way. The quarantine restrictions became much tougher two days later. All the schools are closed now till at least mid-April. Please pray with us for God’s guidance, wisdom, and protection for our teachers.
Another great news: we got the first university-level textbook on Christian doctrine published in the Ukrainian language (see the picture attached). Due to the partnership with Tavriysky Christian Institute, it is approved for use at colleges and Universities of the country. Even students in secular schools will now be able to study the foundational issues of Christian faith by the book produced by Christians, not by atheists like it was before. May the Lord be praised!
The fraternal fellowship with the Ukrainian Evangelical Seminary administration (see the picture attached) complemented the joy of the month. We evaluated what the Lord teaches us during times of uncertainty, shared the experience we got, discussed the possibilities the future may provide. The partnership’s upcoming plan is to video-record the Bible and Logic course at the end of April. It will be used for the combined training format we practice (offering the lectures’ videos followed up by online discussion afterward). The format of the recording itself will depend on the epidemic situation. Please keep these plans in your prayers.
Please pray for our country, for all our partners’ health and safety, for the opportunities to reveal God’s greater glory through the challenges we face.
I have learned a new folk saying: “Weed Andreeya do Yordahnah ukrayeenska ramadahnah” (“The Ukrainian Ramadan is from Andrew to Jordan.”) It means that the holiday season in Ukrainian culture lasts from St. Andrew’s Day (November 30th) to the day of Jesus’ Baptism (January 19th). Although the saying sounds funny, the businesses and services activity is pretty low during this period. This year it was next to zero, of course, due to the quarantine restrictions. But the work of the Kingdom never stops!
Youth leaders’ development is our special focus. As you are reminded, not many of those who experienced Exodus entered the Promised Land. A new generation with new leaders had to come into being. Most Christians in our part of the world, who experienced Exodus from the Egypt of communism to the desert of secularism, are first-generation believers. We had had a late start after spending a big part of our life in the slavery of sin, not knowing Jesus. Now we have a lot to catch up on, helping others to enjoy the Kingdom’s glory from our younger days. Yet, so often we try to reach the people of the 21st century by telling them about the problems of the 20th century in the language of the 19th century! We often forget that Jesus is not only the Truth! He is also the Way and the Life. Life does not stand still, however, and the youth is in the front lines of church life now!
But how can we cross the cultural gap between generations? The Scripture provides a model in Paul’s strategy. Wherever he arrived in a town, he would first find a synagogue and preach there – a place where the listeners would understand his message. However, the Jews were not his target audience (they often rejected his message), but the God-fearing locals were. They could adapt the message to their own culture and then reach their people more effectively than foreigners could.
Young Christians are not only those who will pass God’s Word to future generations but also those who are already “infecting” everyone with the “virus” of the living faith. Admittedly, they are doing it much more efficiently than those who are older. While the “old guard” discusses the problems of generations (“X”, “Y” and “Z”), the representatives of these generations, for whom the 21st century is their “natural habitat,” bring the Good News of salvation to their peers in the very language they understand and in the very context of the challenges they face.
Therefore, our priority is to share the experience and knowledge the Lord gave us with the younger ones in accordance with the apostolic principle of 2 Timothy 2:2: “Take the teachings that you heard me proclaim in the presence of many witnesses and entrust them to reliable people, who will be able to teach others also.” “But train up a child in the way he should go” shows that he is just a reserve of the church (even if it is a “strategic reserve”), and when he is older, he will not cease from being just a reserve. Our youth are not a reserve, but a vanguard of God’s people!
With this in mind, we were planning to hold a youth leaders’ conference on the biblical foundations of sharing a Christian worldview in Rivne. We had expected it to be a modest event with two dozen participants. However, while the word about it was spreading, people from other places in North-Western Ukraine started to sign up – from Lutsk, Dubno, Ostroh, and smaller towns. It is not our custom to refuse those who desire to be the agents of change for the greater glory of the Kingdom, and so, eventually, we had a list of about 200 people! We are so thankful to the biggest church in the city for allowing us to use their facilities! It was really a joyful time for exploring God’s guidance together! (See pictures attached.) May the Lord be praised!
We are planning now, God willing, and unless the quarantine gets in the way, to hold similar conferences in other parts of the country – in Kherson (South-Eastern Ukraine) in mid-March and in Ternopil (South-West) at the end of March. Please keep those events in your prayers: pray for our safe travel, participants’ health, and, above all, for the Lord’s continuing guidance.
The holiday season makes many people wonder about the historical veracity of the Christmas story. A rich heritage of traditional symbolism behind it causes some to confuse traditions with the pure message of the Gospels and even makes it sound like a myth to others. That is why the seminar “The Historicity of Christmas” was a great challenge for doubters and an encouragement for the faithful (see pictures attached). It was a real joy to explore together step by step what exactly the text says and where other ideas had come from! Please pray with us for the seeds planted during the seminar to grow!
At the same time, we continue to provide courses of the combined format at seminaries. The combined approach(where the students watch a media version of the course at the time of their choosing and gather online later for discussions and questions/answers sessions) offers many advantages. It allows us to teach at several schools at the same time; provides a flexible schedule for the students, and reduces the “Zoom fatigue” effect. All that makes the online sessions real fun, whether it is an intriguing course like “Biblical Anthropology” or such a “dry” one like “Bible and Logic” at the Slavic Evangelical Seminary. At the same time, I am learning new ways to teach as well. For instance, when I was teaching “Systematic Apologetics” to the Kremenchuk Evangelical Seminary” I used Google Class and Meet for the first time (see pictures attached).
Regretfully, we had to once again cancel the opening of the offline Master’s program in Moldova due to uncertainties created by the pandemic. The prospect of getting somewhere in the post-Soviet “frozen conflict” zone of Transnistria stuck for two weeks of quarantine doesn’t sound attractive at all. So, we will provide “Practical Christian Ethics” (the first course of the program) in the combined format again in early March. Please pray with us for the course and for the program development in general.
Since we moved to Kyiv we have had many opportunities to partner with other ministries located in the city and region, like organizing talks for the Hope TV programs(see the pictures attached). On the other hand, the experience that the Lord has granted to us throughout the years of our ministry is the result of His enabling, not ours. That is why we have to share it with everyone who is likely to find it helpful. That is why we get involved occasionally in projects that are beyond the scope of our ministry. As an example of that, we can mention a workshop on managing church finances (see picture attached). May it be for the glory of the Lord!
Walking with the Lord is a great adventure! We did not plan anything specific for the last month of the year – a common routine only. But the Lord has blessed us with two great unplanned opportunities!
Our ministry to the public schools teachers gaining a snowball effect! School teachers’ advanced training supervisor at another district of the country (Novograd-Volynsky – it is 1000 km / 14 hours Ukrainian roads drive away from us) found out about our August seminars from his colleague at Soomy and asked if we could visit them as well. As Russian proverb puts it – “forge iron while it still hot”. We agreed immediately before the person change his mind, and went off to present “Science and Religion” seminars to the schoolteachers of the region. “Religion” is a euphemism for Christianity at the public institutions. But we have an experience how to provoke proper questions, and when we are asked, we free to answer! The Lord kept us safe in the road as well as during the rich time there. Praise Him!
Novograd-Volynsky is a town with 50.000 habitants, but it has 11 public high schools because of several military bases with the officers’ families around it. Because of the recommendations school teachers’ advanced training supervisor got about our seminars, the teachers and the superviser himself were less suspicious then Soomy audience was and we got the opportunity to cover much more issues during the seminars. But the Lord has prepared even more for the questions/answers session. Several good questions became the serves that allowed preaching the Bible directly at the end!
The first good serve was a question about UFOs and aliens. It allowed starting a discourse on metaphysical realities. The second one was about global warming, and it initiated a discussion about atmosphere balance changes and involved issues of Noah’s flood, Ice Age, Ice Age civilizations and Genesis veracity in general, and it paved the ground for a Bible-based confidence. The very last question was “Why Christians believe men should rule over women?” (all teachers at the seminar were ladies), and it allowed to tell about God’s plan for human race, about marriage, about the fall, and, finally about the redemptive work of Jesus! And do not forget – all that was going on at the public institution! Our resources manager told me later: “I was scared you are going to make the altar call!” Believe me – that was my desire! But remembering the responsibilities to not frame people who recommended and invited us, as well as wanting to have the door still open, we planted the seeds in different way – supplied everyone with follow up literature as well as left a set of all our books and videos for the city department of education library (see the picture attached). Urok (The Lesson) video was specially accepted for showing teenagers in schools as a visual lesson on the issues of responsibility, trust, premarital sex, abortions, reconciliation and forgiveness.
The story goes on even more amazing way – the supervisor told that the framework we offer is the most important one for the school students’ proper ethics development, and we should present our approach to the Mayor of the town – that will give the educational department more freedom and authority. Reference that the program is approved by the mayor would be a good sign to the parents since the Mayor is much respected person in the town (not a common situation in our corrupted society). The meeting was arranged and we had very good positive discussion with the mayor (at the picture he is in the middle between me and Vadeem, the resources manager) and supplied a City Hall library with a set of books and videos as well. I still hardly believe what happened! Definitely the Lord has prepared the hearts of all those people according to the prayers! Please keep praying with us for the soil prepared and seeds planted will produce a harvest in the due time.
The last project of the month (and of the year) was “Basics of Christian Faith” and “Evangelism Strategy for Post-modern Audience” seminars at Kiev. A new online media ministry is about to be started there. They has involved a great bunch of young extremely gifted and motivated Christians, and doing several workshops (mostly – professional training) for them now. But one week they devoted to development of the team as a mission and invited us to run the seminars. That is a great opportunity to build a Bible-based worldview among those who reaches a multitude of youth audience!
Since the features of what is called “postmodern culture” are exactly the same Roman world had in the times of Jesus and His apostles, we had a great feast of exploring the Bible together (see the pictures attached). We arranged the seminars in a way we discussed the fundamentals of Christianity every morning and the application of them to the realities of today’s culture after the brake. No doubt we spend most of the time in the Book of Genesis since that is exactly where all important concepts are rooted in – even Jesus refer to it all the time, and who could be better model for us then Jesus Himself?
All our discussions were videotaped for the sake of the workers who are going to join the team in a future – for everyone to be at the same page on the strategically important issues. We left a complete set of our books and videos for the library of the ministry as well as supplied everyone with the follow-up materials. Please pray for the fruitful outcome from equipping that young gifted Christians for the effective spread of the Good News with the powerful media tools they have!
The key event of the month (if not of the year) was a mission trip to Uzbekistan. Thank you very much for your care and prayers – the trip was highly smooth and safe, as well as extremely successful and fruitful at the same time.
The first half of the trip goal was making the workshops at Uzbek Apologetics Association Summit. It was called “summit” as a gathering of top leaders of Uzbek national Apologetics / Creation Evangelism movement – ethnic Uzbeks, Koreans, Kazakhs, Russians, Ukrainians, Turkmen. Sorry, but I can share the picture with the participants from their backs only for the safety reason since several of them are professors at state universities and their involvement should not be exposed to the authorities. For the same reason no observers were invited, speakers only, but all workshops was videotaped and are available for others now.
Sharing the ways the Lord works through individual ministries helped all of us to encourage, edify and enrich one another as well as to see the big picture of the Kingdom spread in the country as well as to make some strategic decisions for the network, approaches and strategy further development. It was extremely exciting experience for everyone, as well as a great joy for us to see the first fruits in Uzbekistan produced by our strategy of finding, training and equipping local leaders in the regions we would never be able serve ourselves – both geographically and culturally. Praised be the Lord for His great work in post-communist part of the world!
The rest of the trip goal was international retreat of Eurasian Apologetics Society coordinators. Key Apologetics / Creation Evangelism movementleaders from Russia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan spend extremely valuable time together sharing the vision, experience, challenges, dreams, prayers and praises (see the picture attached). Making Uzbek Summit and International retreat back to back allowed the coordinators be involved and share their experience at the Summit at the one hand, and Uzbek national leaders be involved into the retreat to better see themselves as a part of the international movement on the other hand. The very first time we had at the retreat someone from Turkmenistan – the most closed country of Central Asia. While it is hard for a Western missionary to enter Uzbekistan where Ukrainians and Russians can go freely, Turkmenistan is closed even for the foreigners from former Soviet Union. But through devoted national Christians the Good News penetrates even that stronghold! Praised be the Lord!
Please join our praises for both Uzbek national Summit and international retreat and prayers for better fruits form everything there for the sake of the Kingdom!