Category: Monthly Updates

Update from the States

Jacoby & Lera’s plans in the States

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Back in Ukraine

 

Serving in Ukraine the last four years has been an experience you couldn’t put a price on. We learned so many things about missions, practical logistics of ministry, ourselves, and God’s direction for our ministry. 2014 became of season of many open doors, spiritual doors, new partnerships, and lots of work.

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For some time we’ve been preparing to come to the States for the task we are upon now. Just before it was time to fly around the world we asked ourselves if we should just stay put and continue serving in Odessa being as things were going so well.

 

Here in the States

 

The plan here in the States is basically to spend some quality time here building relationships with pastors and friends for something greater in the future concerning effectively and strategically impacting the city of Odessa with the Gospel.

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It was our hope when we first arrived in the U.S. to spend some time fishing in Alaska to clear us of the debt we have, get us set up financially for initial investments in our new non-profit start up MIA: Mission Impact Alliance, and possibly by a car, which we will need for the upcoming transient itinerary. However, fishing is a feast or famine type job and always a risk. Although the past few years it has been pretty good, it is looking like this time around may turn out to be mediocre at best. So, we press on in faith continuing forward knowing that we lean on a sovereign and perfectly able God – not trusting in a job. Lord willing, the hope is this will be the last time ever we are forced to supplement our missionary salary and ministry expenses through commercial fishing.

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While here in the States we continue to provide material and lessons for our English Club outreach in Odessa. Missionary friends of ours are heading it up while we are away. Our work is being sent to them by email. We have always believed that if it is God’s work and not ours He will maintain it and provide the help we need to keep things rolling. He has done just that.

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Encouraging news is being sent back about this years summer English Camp through our church. Last year after we just started English club ministry we had very few people coming to camp with us. It was just about 4 people coming from English club and the camp itself was very small. Over the year God blessed us and multiplied the amount of people in English club. This year 44 people went to summer English camp mostly from the English club. Most of those people showed interest in coming to church and/or Bible studies. Praise the Lord!

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The Vision and Mission

 

The vision of MIA is to start a few recreation centers throughout the city of Odessa. In the States we will be vision casting, recruiting new team members to join us abroad, forming new partnerships with churches who can send over help and join with us prayerfully and financially. Additionally Lera will be studying Biblical Counseling and I will be studying the Russian language.

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Mission Impact Alliance has been formed legally as of June 1st, 2015 and will soon be awaiting 501(c)3 status approval from the IRS. Legally we can now begin receiving financial contributions which are all retroactively tax deductible upon approval. Our chances of approval are very good being as the accountant helping us says they have a 100% approval rate to date.

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We cannot say how long we will be in the States but we plan to be here until God has blessed us with the needed funds and the team to return to Ukraine and get things under way. We have set aside 3 years for full time fundraising and recruiting with summer trips to Ukraine for outreach and camps. Goals may be achieved sooner or later than this.

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With all our hearts we believe this is what God has called us to and that He will provide the means and the people. We believe that setting aside the work abroad for a season will bring about greater fruit for the future. Thus far the missions methods we have employed have reaped very encouraging results and we have every reason to believe these plans will succeed to the glory of God as we commit them to the Lord and He blesses us. Ultimately, if it is God’s will, we will return home to Odessa and continue the work for many years.

 

Your Part

 

Those who are currently our financial partners will be asked sometime in August or September to begin sending their donations to Mission Impact Alliance and all transactions through SOImpact will be discontinued.

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We are writing so those who continue to support us understand the vision and the mission and what they are getting behind. While we are currently in the States the work being done now is laying a foundation (as we have been doing together for four years now) for something much greater in the future. It is a big step of faith for us. Would you stand with us on this journey of faith?

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Soon we will be in touch with all of our friends and pastors we know to begin setting up times we can come and cast our vision for your church or home group. We would love to come and see you. Please be in touch and let us know if you would like us to come and share. This mission is not ours, it is God’s and it is all of ours and we can only accomplish it with you.

 

In faith, by grace, with love,

Jacoby & Lera

Luke 14:23

 

(Fishing hasn’t turned out that well this year as it has in previous years.  We have a need for a car but probably can’t afford one.  Just putting it out there to pray for or perhaps you know someone who could bless us in this way.  We are happy to drive anything however old.  Good gas mileage is very helpful though!)

How You Can Pray for this Ministry in Ukraine ~ April Update 2015

For this update, just after arriving in the U.S for some tent making and furlough time we thought we would fill everyone in on some specific friends in Ukraine they can be praying for.  If you are one to pray you can pray for one, some or all of the people below as you are led.  We and our friends in Ukraine are deeply thankful for your prayers!

(Click on the pics to enlarge)

PLEASE PRAY FOR:

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Misha right

MISHA

Misha began attending our English Clubs last year. He became a regular attendant and pursued spending time with us and other American friends to practice his English. He also came to summer camp. We all had many good conversations with him and He put his faith in Christ early last fall. A few months later he went out to work at sea for 6 months as he is training to be a seaman electrician. Recently he returned and his experiences with certain people at sea were very challenging but he maintained a good witness and held on to his faith eager to get back to church and see his Christian friends again!

Pray for his roots in Christ to grow deep and strong. Pray for his future job prospects.

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Artyom right

ARTYOM

Artyom was the first new student I met last semester at the Christian University. As I was setting up for my first day of teaching he came in, introduced himself and offered to help me. Artyom had come to the Lord less than a year before in another city. He began attending our Theology nights at the pub, a little later he visited English Club and then church. He began attending our church regularly and became one of our most faithful helpers at English Club. He has grown a lot in his faith in the last year.

Pray for his roots in Christ to grow deep and strong. Artyom quit attending the University and is looking at other options. He wishes to be in politics someday and for now is looking for a job.

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Vova

VOVA

Vova is Artyom’s roommate and best friend from his hometown. He’s often very busy with his law school studies but comes around now and then and recently began coming to English Club and helped us pack all our stuff before we returned to the States. He was born again awhile ago but more recently was struggling in his walk due to poor quality fellowship. He says he is doing much better now.

Pray for his roots in Christ to grow deep and strong.

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Andrii right

ANDRII

Andrii is a good friend. I met him a couple years ago when I went on a hiking trip with Campus Crusade. He is a really good guy but was very skeptical of Christian claims to truth. I stayed in touch with him and he would come to our poker nights and later the Thursday night theology nights. He also became one of our best translators at English Club. For a year or maybe more he was asking lots of questions, mostly apologetic in nature. He said he didn’t want to accept Christ and then later find out it was wrong. I worked hard to give him satisfying answers to all his questions and a couple months ago he received Christ at a Campus retreat.

 

Pray for his roots in Christ to grow deep and strong.

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Igor standing

IGOR

Igor is a big tall guy who doesn’t eat meat, is really into organic foods, is very pro-Ukrainian, and has lots of interesting questions. I initially met him at English Club and his mom is a member at the central church. On a few occasions him and I have met and he has asked me a number of spiritual questions being very open yet skeptical at the same time. I praise God and was very encouraged to hear him say that I was able to give him more satisfying answers than anyone else he had spoken to, yet he has still to place his faith in Christ.

Please pray for a radical and sincere conversion.

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Kostya right

KOSTYA

Kostya is a port worker in distribution and logistics and a very good friend who has helped us out practically on many occasions in many ways. Two summers ago he began attending our church from a very non-religious, or “orthodox” background. His friends are very opposed to the Protestant church especially after he became a member a couple months ago. He and I have had many spiritual conversations and I am not just thankful to have been able to influence his life for Christ but for the influence he has made on mine as well. He is a servant.

Pray for his roots in Christ to grow deep and strong. Pray for favor on his job.

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Andrey, Nina, & Timur on the right

ANDREY & NINA

Andrey is another seaman and a good friend. He has been under our pastor for quite a few years but working at sea is not easy on a person’s spiritual life. With a new child he feels the pressure of making money to find a flat for his family, and leaving his last job after a promotion to 3rd mate to find a new one hasn’t made things easier. Andrey wants to grow closer to God but there are many temptations and challenges he is facing.

Pray for his roots in Christ to grow deep and strong. Pray for faithfulness and favor in finding the right job.

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Nik to my left

NIK

I met Nik early on last semester teaching at the Christian University. He became a regular at our Thursday night theology night, a big help at English Club translating and coming early to help set up and even began coming to church. He had come to Odessa from Eastern Ukraine to get away from the chaos over there and had a difficult time finding a stable place to live or getting a good full time job. Shortly before our return to the States he began choosing a different crowd and eventually began going another direction expressing his disappointment with Christians. Many of his frustrations were of his own making but he refused to accept that.

Please pray for a radical and sincere conversion.

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Vova left

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Natalia right

VOVA & NATALIA

Vova is a friend who helps out at English Club (as does his mother Natalia) by playing guitar, when he is in town. He is also a seaman and as a Christian faces things daily which don’t actually help a person grow strong spiritually. He has more or less grown up in the church and he is a member at the central church where we hold our English Clubs.

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Zhenya

ZHENYA

Zhenya was in my small discussion group at summer camp with our old church 3 summers ago.  We have stayed in touch ever since then, become good friends, and had many good conversations about life in general and spiritual things.  He always comes around for poker night and once in awhile drops in at English Club or for theology night.  As open as he is he still has yet to make Christ Lord and Savior.

Pray for his roots in Christ to grow deep and strong.

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Sasha 4th from the right

SASHA

Sasha’s sister Nadia began coming to our English Club shortly before summer last year and then wound up going to our English Camp. We later met him through her and as he is a great translator would translate on occasion for us. Sasha is a great guy with a good outlook on life, unfortunately it is religion and morality based and Christless. It would be really great to see him take that step toward God as he seems to be so close.

Please pray for a radical and sincere conversion. Pray that he would find the job he needs.

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Nadia & Marina to my right & left

NADIA & MARINA

These two girls came to our summer English Camp and have stuck with us since coming to English Club and the ladies Bible study on Thursday nights. Perhaps they haven’t fully placed their trust in Christ alone but they are very open and it seems something that could very likely happen should God open their eyes.

Please pray for a radical and sincere conversion.

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Dima

DIMA

Dima is another guy I met on the hiking trip with Campus. Later he came here and there on Thursday night, poker night, English Club and even taught me how to roller blade. He’s a great guy who recently visited church for the first time.

Please pray for a radical and sincere conversion.

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Galia right of Lera

GALIA

Galia is the backbone of our English Club. As a Native Ukrainian she helps us with many aspects of the English Club ministry including but not limited to setting up coffee/tea/cookies, making copies, sending out a weekly mass SMS, clean up, registration, keeping track of everyone’s E-bucks, contacting people with important questions, etc. Galia has been a church member for a while and is very happy to serve God and help us in any way she can. She truly sees it as a privilege and not a burden.

Pray for her roots in Christ to grow deep and strong.

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Olga right

OLGA

Olga is another good friend who lives with Galia and helps us out at English Club with set up/tear down and many things. She is a nice quiet girl who began attending church about 2 years ago.

Pray for her roots in Christ to grow deep and strong.

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Alyona right

ALYONA

Alyona is a childhood friend of Lera’s who is a member at the central church. She is a helpful hand at English Club and other outreaches. Alyona has a sickness which effect her nerves and they are not communicating with her hands or feet properly. Recently Lera was working with her on some personal spiritual issues and both were blessed to grow through the process.

Pray for her roots in Christ to grow deep and strong. Pray for her physical health and strength.

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Nastya left

NASTYA

Nastya began coming to English Club, along with many new comers, at the beginning of last semester after we went out to University Campuses the first week of classes and gave out free drinks and handed out English Club flyers. She studies English, Chinese and I believe German and eventually began translating at our English Club and her language skills are impressive for someone her age. She tends to shy away from spiritual conversations but last time I was at English Club told a story about how she went to church when she was sick and prayed and was cured of her sickness.

Please pray for a radical and sincere conversion.

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Sveta

SVETA

Sveta began coming to English Club around the same time Nastya did and recently we started adding her to the translation rotation. She heard about the English Club by word of mouth through Lera’s grandma. She’s a bit shy but we know that our English Club has been a tremendous encouragement to her, a place where she has made new friends.

Please pray for a radical and sincere conversion.

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The Twins

KATYA & LENA

Katya and Lena are a pair of twins from a charismatic church who began coming to English Club 3 or 4 months ago. They are always eager to help whenever we need it and we were told that after we left they began coming early to help set up. They have brought a good number of friends from their church to our English Club. They also attend the ladies Thursday night Bible study.

Pray for her roots in Christ to grow deep and strong. Pray for doctrinal discernment and maturity in their lives.

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Natalia in black

NATALIA

Natalie is a great girl with a good attitude who I met through Campus Crusade when I visited there. She later ended up coming to our English Club a lot and really seems to love it. As nice as she is she has never come to Bible study or any of our spiritual events although we would love to see that happen.

Please pray for a radical and sincere conversion.

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Marina left, Anna right

ANNA AND MARINA

Anna and Marina are two University students who attend classes nearby and have come to ELEVATE since it first began. We have become friends over time but have not had the privilege of introducing them to Christ as they tend to avoid that conversation or so it seems.

Please pray for a radical and sincere conversion.

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Olyesa & Valeriia

OLYESA AND VALERIIA

Olyesa and Valeriia are two college girls who began coming to English Club and then after awhile began coming to Bible studies, our apologetics conference and church as well. Out of all the people we tried to reach through our week long EnglishUp! Event we saw the most immediate and visible fruit in these two girls who have been extremely thankful for the impact we have made in their lives. We are not sure if they have completely received Christ but they are very close with lots of good questions.

Please pray for a radical and sincere conversion. Pray for their roots in Christ to grow deep and strong.

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Burnhams

BOB, ANDREA & FAM

Bob and Andrea are two MTW missionaries in town who have become dear friends of ours. They have been an extremely big help at English Club and have now helped to head it up now that we are in the States. Bob and Andrea have a sincere desire to see Christ’s fame spread and have servants’ hearts.

Pray for their family and for their ministry in Ukraine.

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Robin right

ROBIN

Robin is another MTW missionary who was a regular help at the English Club and now helps head it up as well. Robin is a great friend with a lot of charisma and a lot of fun. They have just one more year in Odessa before they all go on furlough and then decided what city they will go to in Ukraine.

Pray for future guidance and provision for Robin.

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Gorik left

GORIK, SNEZHANA & FAM

Gorik is our pastor and a very faithful friend. They are praying, saving and working hard to find a church building in one area of the city while raising a family and pastoring a small church body.

Please pray for our church and for the new building.

ELEVATE

There are so many more people that could be listed above, especially all the different people we have met through English Club. We can’t possibly list them all, but if you would pray for the English Club in general and all the many unbelievers coming through there God will work through that for sure. We won’t be a part of the English Club now that we are in the States for awhile, other than preparing power point lessons, so please keep things in prayer that He would continue to provide everything needed there to continue building His Kingdom one piece at a time. It is His ministry after all, not ours.

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ELEVATE

 

Impact Odessa [Video Update] March 2015

A brief report on how our February EnglishUp! Week long outreach went:

 

What our plans are during furlough in the U.S.

 

*One important thing I forgot to mention in this video is that while Stateside we will still be putting together the English Club lessons, including slide presentations and handouts, so we will still be invested in the ministry while outside Ukraine.

 

A personal Note to our financial partners:

*Be encouraged in the fact that every sacrifice made for the furtherance of this ministry is an investment in your eternal ever increasing joy and God’s unending universal fame!

 

 

This is by far my favorite missions update to date! [VIDEO]

 

PLEASE PRAY FOR GOD’S WORK IN ODESSA, UKRAINE

 

We are very excited about this new video production. Friends of ours in Odessa blessed us with many gracious words regarding the work God is doing through this ministry. Please take the time to watch and set aside some time to pray for Odessa, Ukraine and how perhaps God would have you be involved Kingdom building with us. All of us are family acting out our small parts of His grand story!

 

We humbly ask that you would pray about the prospect of joining us oversees, short term or long term, or being a part of our sending team. We have planned a big outreach the final week of February and are stepping forward by faith, although we don’t currently have all the needed finances. Today would you make an eternal investment in God’s work in Ukraine?

 

We wish you all a Scripture filled and Gospel motivated year in 2015!!

 

Love,

Jacoby and Lera

projectodessalife.com

 

Questions asked in the video:

 

0:05    How do you like ELEVATE? (Elevate is the name of our weekly English Club Outreach)

 

3:13    How has this ministry been an encouragement to you?

 

5:32    Are we making a REAL difference in people’s lives?

 

9:29    What are your hopes for the future of Ukraine?

 

11:40  What would you say to someone considering missions in Ukraine?

 

(*This video project was an invaluable lesson for me in the value of quality lighting and position.)

Impact Odessa Update – An Update You’ll Actually Read! :)

10655461_10152840607074096_7607725676080279224_oApologies in advance for this brief update.

 

The last time I felt this much pressure from all the tasks at hand was when I took too many credit hours in Bible College.  However, this season of working in Ukraine will transition to a furlough in the States, Lord willing, sometime in the next six months.  This does not necessarily suggest a reduction in workload.  At that time we will be Kingdom building by visiting churches, conferences, corporations and individuals to cast our vision for the recreation center(s) in Odessa AND (a very important AND) recruit a team dedicated to working alongside us.

 

Before we leave Odessa, I wanted to go all out giving it everything I had before we left, so my plate is full at the moment.  After the New Year things will switch gears a bit.  I won’t be teaching at the University or helping out with this other English Class.  The focus will be the English Club outreach and a Thursday theology night I head up.  Other than that, time will be focused on learning Russian, any research or meetings needed for the planning of the recreation center along with gathering necessary details of the vision together, and any other needed preparations for leaving the country temporarily.

 

There is a lot happening in Ukraine and it’s anyone’s guess which direction things will go.  I tend to pull hard for Ukraine and I’m optimistic for the future.  However, Putin is a real threat.  Some say they may begin advancing further west after the winter.

 

We are not going anywhere and the worse things get, the greater the need for ministry!  In fact, we are inviting people to join us.  Don’t ask if we are going to retreat…come and join us on the front lines!  We invite you to prayerfully consider coming to Ukraine.  All the info you need is posted here at the blog to get you started in that direction!

 

http://projectodessalife.com/instructions-for-coming-to-odessa-as-a-shortlong-term-missionary/

 

Otherwise, would you prayerfully consider partnering with us financially?  All your financial investments are an investment in God’s work and your eternal joy!  The English Club has constant expenses and we have a trip coming up to the States.  We really need to raise our monthly support a few hundred dollars a month.  Would you pray about that?

 

All the info you need for that is here:

 

http://projectodessalife.com/give/

 

Finally, at the end of February I am planning a big week long English Bootcamp outreach!  Native Christian English Speakers would be awesome for us and for the students!  Whether you are an individual or a church team, if you could make it to Ukraine the last week of February, let us know, so we can begin discussing details.  It will not only be the experience of a lifetime for you, but may be the beginning of a long-term calling.

 

Please pray for Lera and I as we encounter lots of spiritual warfare and the enemy constantly seeks to discourage.  There is a sadness over me due to my own failings.

 

Pray for Ukraine and for peace here!

 

Pray for Misha, a friend who began attending English Club awhile back and prayed a prayer of repentance a couple months ago.  He is currently at sea working his first job as a seaman – and as a baby Christian.

 

Pray for Nick.  Nick recently came to Odessa from Donetsk and is one of my students at the University.  He helps us out translating with English Club, comes to the Thursday theology night and has recently called himself a “Christian”, looking to my example and friendship- in his words.

 

Pray for Artyom, another student of mine who comes to theology night and has recently visited our church a couple times.  He has been pursuing me to spend time with me.  He says he wants to spend time with quality people.  Don’t ask why he called me!  Artyom has been a believer for a little over a year and is like a sponge, just eager to learn and grow.  I perceive him as someone self-controlled, with strong character, and a potential future leader.

 

Pray for Kostya.  Kostya is my good friend who began attending church just over a year and a half ago.  He has been a faithful helper in a lot of areas and says lots of things are beginning to open up for him in his understanding of God. He was really thankful for a book of Spurgeon I gave him in Russian.

 

Pray for all my students at the University.  Most of them are not believers and they are getting a Christ centered Gospel saturated message every week.  Pray for their eyes to be opened!

 

Pray for all the people coming to the English Club.  So many of them need Jesus!  Pray for the people at our church to catch the vision to serve at the English Club sacrificially and form relationships in a community atmosphere.  Some people there seem to have a very critical, religious, and self-righteous spirit, not all of course, but some.

 

Pray for my friends Andre and Dima who visit theology night on occasion.  Andre translates frequently at our English Club.  I  hang out here and there with both these guys and they are great guys and pup Christians who came to Christ through the Campus Crusade ministry in the city.  Please pray for Kate also who is new on staff with Campus Crusade and is someone we support prayerfully and financially.

 

Pray for the guys I play basketball with.  They are an older group of guys, all of them seem to be non-Christians but I am waiting for doors to open in ways of reaching them.

 

Pray for Bob, Andrea, Robin, Randy, Deborah, David, and Jill, the MTW missionaries in town who help us out a lot and are a blessing in so many ways!

 

Pray for our small church body and the Pastor and his family, Gorik, Snezhana, Richard, and Kate.

 

Pray for the churches in Odessa and the missionaries.  That God would show them what they need to see when they are ready, so that healthy and strong churches might be formed in this city!  May God grant them repentance in any errors.

 

Pray for Galia and Olya, our good friends who are our main helpers at the English Club.  Pray for their encouragement and a deepening in Christ, as they come to know his love more and more!

 

Pray for Tatiana, a girl from English Club who is not a believer but has recently hung out a couple times and even attended the girls Bible Study.

 

Thank you!  We love you!  Be in touch!

 

Jacoby & Lera

Our Latest Ministry Pics on Facebook (worth more than a few thousand words):

 https://www.facebook.com/jacoby.nelson/media_set?set=a.2017840326979.122281.1272997810&type=3

 

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