886754_10152716152254096_2847446041090761493_oWe are praying that in the future God would bring more people to Odessa who are fully committed to the vision God has given us for evangelistic, discipleship geared, outreach in this city.  In short, the plan is to establish a center where different ministries can take place, both to meet felt and spiritual needs in the communities.  Our long term desire is to plant a doctrinally sound church with a missional emphasis.

Previously the plan was to build a large recreation center.  However, due to the constant state of uncertainty and flux that Ukraine is in, we are planning to rent out sections of preexisting buildings and altar them into smaller ministry centers.  This would provide for more efficient use of resources, considering the situation, and make us more mobile should we have to move.  In this way a nice building could not be taken over by any corrupt government entities, and any loss of financial investment would be kept to a minimum.  If things should change towards less corruption and more stability, with solid opportunities of foreign investment, then we may explore other options.

We are seeking people like-minded spiritually, who have a strong sense of Gospel centeredness.  Be sure to contact us if you are praying about joining our team.  Even if you are only partially drawn to the ministry at this time, we would love to chat with you!



–Helping us serve in a high caliber English Club outreach each week.  There are various ways to do this, but the best way is to be there consistently, forming relationships with the people who come.

–Help plan and host other extra curricular events.

–Meeting other felt needs in the city.

–There are opportunities for teaching Bible and theology in various capacities.

–Serving homeless through visits on the street or serving them from the center at designated times and days.  We would love to have a small kitchen and showers for them with washing machines and dryers.

–Serving with us through prayer and spending time with people in the city with a focus on discipleship.

–Being part of a core team for a future church plant.

–Biblical counseling and tutoring.

–Basketball, football and English camps.

–Weekly team meetings and accountability.

–My hope for the future is to have a 6 week discipleship bootcamp which trains people in the spiritual disciplines while practicing them.



1.  To have had a personal interview with us and have the backing of your pastor and local church leaders.  We need to find out if you are a fit for us and we are a fit for you!

2.  A passport.  You will also need a visa if you plan to stay for more than 90 days.  We have the resources and the people to help guide you in this should we cross that bridge.

3.  Enough money for a short term trip, or monthly support for long term service.

I have seen one way tickets range anywhere from $350-$1,200, depending on how far in advance they are purchased.  I usually purchase tickets on, however these are often non-refundable, so be prepared should something go wrong.  Sometimes you can find a flight on, then go directly to the airlines website and purchase the same ticket for a few bucks cheaper.  You may want to fish around for tickets on Polish Airlines, Ukrainian, Austrian, and Turkish.  Then check departures from different cities, comparing perhaps New York, Atlanta, and Chicago.  Also, be sure to check different days throughout the week.  Not always, but often, it makes a difference.  Russian airlines used to have the best prices and baggage policy, but we don’t go that route anymore.

One person, could fairly comfortably get by in Ukraine for about $1,200/month, excluding savings, health insurance, travel costs between countries and possible ministry related expenses.  You may want to have health insurance so you can be evacuated in case of an emergency.  Some people have a retirement plan.  We currently do not have insurance or retirement funds.

If you bring a debit card it will suffice for withdrawing money from an ATM machine.  Usually there is a 3% charge per transaction.  With my credit union I am blessed to have a 1% fee.  You may want to consider having two bank accounts, where one card is used for personal living expenses and another for ministry expenses.  This makes things tidy for calculating tax deductions at the years end.

Be aware that sometimes stores will ask you for your pin code with a credit card, especially if you charge over a certain amount.  Often I have had to explain that we don’t use pin codes with our credit cards, only debit cards.  However, if you did receive a pin code with your credit card, it might be a good idea to memorize it before coming to Ukraine!

4.  We highly recommend missionary training and missionary related reading before coming.  After an interview and some correspondence we can recommend a few options for this.

It’s also a really good idea to have your finances in order, tithing and giving regularly, and keep to a budget.  We HIGHLY recommend a course with Crown Financial and an ap called YNAB.  Check it out!

5.  A place.  If it is for a short term visit, that can be arranged easily for free.  If you plan to stay longer, we can help you find a place for rent.

6.  Accountability, on field coaching, and a non-profit status.  If you plan to stay long term we can begin discussing the steps necessary for you to join our non-profit missions agency, Impact.  We can also line you up with a great accountant for tax purposes.



Odessa Genius and Death in a City of Dreams by Charles King

This book will introduce you to the history and culture of Odessa in a pretty intriguing way!

Let the Nations be Glad by John Piper

Perspectives on the World Christian Movement by Ralph D. Winter & Steven C. Hawthorne

These two books will ground you in a solid missiology.  It’s a biblical basis for the theory behind the doing of missions.  The heart and head behind the hands and feet.

Radical by David Platt

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

These two books simply give perspective on living a truly sacrificial life without holding back.  Great thoughts for stewarding the one life we have, taking Jesus’ call seriously.

A list of other missions related books can be found at our online missions bookstore.

If you’d like to familiarize yourself with the “Orthodox” faith, I recommend you begin with Three Views on Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism, or Through Western Eyes by Robert Letham.



1.  People Raising by William P. Dillon

2.  Funding Your Ministry by Scott Morton

3.  The God Ask by Steve Shadrach

4.  Ask me how we did it (and still are).

These resources will give you a framework of biblical support for gaining financial partners, so that asking people for money actually becomes worship, obedience, faith filled, discipleship and an rewarding opportunity for all involved. These books contain lots of wise suggestions for doing this messy thing in a God honoring, Spirit motivated and fruitful way.



Of course speaking Russian will make you a much more versatile and effective missionary, especially if you do not have a wife as a personal translator.  However, it is very possible to serve here with a great deal of fruitfulness with minimal knowledge of Russian.  I have done it for 4 years now and I cannot say it has been a huge hang up.  There is definitely plenty to do for people who only speak English.  We definitely do encourage you to study Russian while here and maybe get started before you come.  Remember, learning a new language for missions is ministry!

I have some excellent learning materials which can help get you jump started and we can teach you some fundamental basics to get around the city.  Here is a list of the 1,000 most common Russian words.

I highly recommend these two books, Schaum’s Outline of Russian Grammar and English Grammar for Students of Russian.

We can also line you up with a personal tutor, classes, or you might want to check out if you enjoy learning online.  It’s personally my favorite way to study Russian.  Some people enjoy using Pimsleur.

If you are really ambitious, you might consider stateside training at the Institute of Strategic Languages and Cultures.



There is a missionary couple here with MTW who have been in Odessa for quite some time and most of the missionary kids I know attend school with them.  Teaching these kids is their full time ministry!  David and Jill, along with Bob and Andrea Burnham, also host a Sunday night worship meeting for English speakers.



*If you want to ship things ahead that you won’t have to carry on the plane, talk to us and we can inform you on the best way to do this.  You will use a company called Meest and shipping takes 2 months, so plan ahead.

Unlocked phone, which you own.  You will want to download an ap called 2 gis.  It will help you navigate around Odessa by public transit.  Once you are here you simply purchase a SIM card (CDMA or GSM), and pay to machines located on almost every street corner when you run out of minutes.  If you put $100, like you might in the States, that might pay your phone bill for, hmmm let’s say, the next year!

Laptop and a camera.

Plenty of socks and underwear.  The quality and style here may be slightly different then you are used to.

Spices for Mexican food and peanut butter are scarce in these parts.

Q tips – large quantity.  If you are a q-tip user the q-tips here are much more flimsy then the ones I am used to.

Books.  I recommend using a kindle or a tablet for reading, as digital books are much more portable and you can conveniently purchase them from anywhere.

Decongestant medicine, tums, airborne, Aleve, or any medicines you are used to having at home.  There are plenty of pharmacies here but you may want to have some things around you are familiar with.  Also stock up on vitamins if you take those.

If you take any kind of diet or nutritional supplements, you may want to ship over a stock.  They can be spendy here, or even occasionally fake.

Power converter if you have any devices which are not 220 volt and you must have.  Usually electronics work fine in 220 volt but I can say I destroyed a really nice iron.  You’ll just need as plug in adaptor.  They are easy to find here.  You may also want to purchase a voltage regulator and surge protectors which can be found in Odessa.  The electric currents here are kinda sketchy sometimes.  This is the transformer I have and so far it works great!

Small cultural gifts from America – bring as many as you are able.

It would be great to bring over Russian Gospel’s of John.  They are free although you may want to help their ministry out!  All you have to do is email them with an address, explain what you are using them for, and the boxes will show up at your doorstep!

A big berkey water filter to filter your water.  The charcoal filters last over 10 years.  A very worthwhile investment!

A camelback water bottle with a charcoal filter and refills.

You can also have filtered water delivered weekly to your door, which is what we do, then run it through our own filter again.  Filters which hook up to your sink can also be purchased in Ukraine.

One or two travel mugs.  No matter how long I manage to hold onto these, something always eventually happens to them.  I recommend Contigo!

If you are a big Starbucks coffee fan, you may want to bring some big Costco bags.  Otherwise, LaVazza or Illy are pretty good beans. Lviv makes some pretty great coffee too!

American measuring Cups for cooking, especially if you will be making recipes you know or using online recipes.

Personally I sometimes bring some of these items with me on the plane or ship it in a box: Zip-loc baggies, brown sugar, Taco seasoning, guacamole seasoning, Tabasco, Cholula Lime, Tapatio, powdered parmesan cheese, pancake syrup, tortillas, taco shells, garlic powder, onion powder, peanut butter, Reeses PB Cups, peanut butter chips and chocolate chips.  Oh, an Lera always asks me to bring Vanilla Extract for baking American recipes.



Phone Servive, Internet Service, Public Transit, Utilities, Movies, Insurance, Bottled Water, Energy Drinks, Bread, Wine, Beer, and Tobacco products.

There is also a Ukrainian version of Craiglist where you can find good deals sometimes.  It’s were I got my bike after the other one was stolen, check out OLX.


Vehicles, electronics, tortillas, avacados, tobacco sauce and imported name brand clothes.


Rent, clothes and Food (clothes can be cheap if you want to buy cheap stuff or shop at the second hand store for U.S. apparel, Humana)



Ukrainian cuisine, Georgian cuisine, Shawarmas, McDonald’s, Sushii, Pizza, etc is all here.

Best pizza delivery is  You’ve got to try the Super Deluxe!

Trip Advisor lists restaurants with reviews.  Restaurants to dine in or for home delivery are numerous.  We have many recommendations and a few warnings about where and where not to go.

Lera and I like:

Average Price Joints:

Puzata Hata for Ukrainian, Top Sandwhich for just about any kind of food, or Bisteka for steaks and burgers (if you go on a a sale day), Fujiyama for Sushii, and Pizza & Grill for burgers.  There’s also a great Georgian place on the other side of town and one on Arcadia Beach.  There are also a few Shawarma places in the center which we think serve safe meat and are delicious for a good price.  Most of these places deliver.

Lil’ Nicer Spots for the occasional Date Night:

Kumanets, The Dacha, Olio Pizza and Sofia’s.  Of all these, Sofia’s is our favorite.

Lera and I do not like:

The Steakhouse, Jardin, Kompot.  Kompot is ok, it’s a cozy place to sit, but the portions are pretty skimptified.  However, their Kompot and drinks are great!  Otherwise, these places are overrated!

If you are not driving, you can actually order food online from Tavria (a major grocery store chain) and they will deliver it to your door for a small delivery fee of about $2.  You may want to pick up produce at the market, where you can personally pick out what you want, although they do tend to bring stuff in pretty great condition.  This is a big time saver and beats lugging heavy bags down the street!



Odessa is home to one of the world’s most beautiful Opera theaters.  There are also a couple good theaters with interesting plays.

Odessa is home to 2 IMAX theaters.  Movies are shown in Ukrainian.  You can also get movies on iTunes, amazon, netflix (after using Hotspot Shield to hide your ip address), or buy them on hard copies for pretty cheap.  There are also a few sites which stream movies and TV series for free,,, kinogo, etc.

Odessa is home to a Dolphinarium called Nemo with a very impressive Dolphin show!

Outside of the city there are a couple different castles and a beautiful enormous park which is great to visit in the autumn.

Odessa’s historic city center is always enchanting for a nice stroll through the city.  There is plenty to see and the sites never seem to get old.  I would be more than glad to give you a tour!

411 is an old WWII museum park.  There is also a few other museums downtown, although they don’t call it downtown, they call it, “the center”.

There are lots of saunas to visit in Odessa, if that is something you enjoy.

Dentist appointments are a fraction of the price in the States.  If you come on a trip and would like to set up an appointment maybe we can line that up for you.

Other cities in Ukraine such as Kiev and Lviv have their own history, character and charm.  You’ll definitely want to see them at some point.

There is more, such as the beach in the summer, horseback riding, snorkeling, hiking in the mountains, etc etc.  There is also a great trail for running, biking, or rollerblading along the coast called The Road of Health, which I frequent every week.

For fitness enthusiasts there are also some gyms here.  The prices are not always great, but we know of a nice one with decent prices.  It just depends on where you are staying on if it will be convenient or not for you to get there.

For those of you who like to play basketball, I can take you along with me.  I play with some guys who rent out the Odessa pro league court.  If you play football (soccer), I can line you up with some guys!



In Christ, all for Him,

Jacoby & Lera