Tag: english club

Project Odessa Life | Monthly Ministry/Prayer Update | August 2012

Did you know?

Ukraine is considered to be 79.01% Christian by Operation World.

According to Wikipedia a survey from 2006 indicates:

Eastern Orthodox – 26.8%
Catholic – 5.9%
Protestants – 0.9%
Jewish – 0.1%
other – 3.8%
no affiliation/not aware – 62.5%

The Orthodox and the Catholics do not believe the Gospel means Jesus + nothing = everything. They add components to the Gospel which do not belong or they do not teach the Gospel clearly at all.

According to the Joshua Project,

1.1% of the population is unreached
20.5% is nominally reached
78.4% is established (established means it’s at least 2% evangelical)

Over 90% of those unreached people are Muslims.

Also, from Wikipedia,

“Today the largest Protestant groups in Ukraine include Baptists (All-Ukrainian Union of the Association of Evangelical Baptists), Pentecostals (All-Ukrainian Union of Christians of the Evangelical Faith-Pentecostals) and Seventh-day Adventists (Ukrainian Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists). Of note is Hillsong Church in Kiev. One of the most prominent Protestants in modern Ukraine is the practicing baptist pastor Oleksandr Turchynov, former head of the SBU, Ukraine’s successor to the KGB, and a former acting Prime Minister. Despite the rapid growth, today Protestants in Ukraine remain a small minority in a largely Orthodox Christian country.”

How is it possible that 78.4% of Ukraine is established if less than 1% is considered Protestant?

Did you know?

We need help in Ukraine.

Most missionaries quit before one year on mission?

We are not quitting.

Ministry Highlights

The months of August and September have been extremely eventful for us, so eventful in fact, I am behind on this update over a week. We’ll show you some pictures for an overview. Also you can check out some blog work if you like:

A video of me sharing about my personal prayer life and reviewing Steven Furtick’s “Faith Confessions video.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PtTEdxdIYE?rel=0&w=640&h=480]

My good friend from South Africa, Gert Plotties van Rooyen’s, response was similar to mine:

“So I watched the video and it seems that he’s trying to mix self help ideas with a deeper understanding of what God says. I don’t like the idea that he has a ritual that he believes in before he preaches in the sense that he depends on having done that for God to work. I think he says frames it in the way that he’s preparing himself for the responsibility of speaking Gods word, but it seems like in effect he will just end up trusting in his ritual.

More than that his faith statement could be helpful in so far as reminding ourselves of objective truths secured by Gods saving grace remind us not to trust in ourselves or to depend on our own ability to hold on to God but rather to trust that He is gracious and sovereign and that he will keep us. But his statements seem to be attempting to create the reality which they claim in the name it and claim it tradition of our faith being the thing with secures Gods owing us all our desires. Which is nonsense.

In general I think it is good to pray and to use Gods word even when we struggle believe the things which it says. As we spend time in his word and the Spirit makes it alive in us and grows our understanding and faith that’s awesome. But to say things to activate our faith as if it is dependent entirely on our effort seems like a dangerous idea. My heart already wants to constantly find ways to not need the grace of God but to trust in my own efforts. I need to be reminded to look away from myself and my ability activate anything and to look to Jesus Christ and depend fully on Him because of the objective truth of His death and resurrection being sufficient, and only that being sufficient for me to be welcomed by God. The less it’s about me and my activation techniques the more my life is actually transformed to trust fully in God working in and through me despite my failings and inability so that I can only ascribe the glory to Him. “

A Blog about how important it is for the evangelicals to be united on mission despite denominational differences. Friends in the Foxhole.

A blog post listing the most memorable sermons I’ve heard from the last decade. Most Memorable Messages

Family English Camp!

Please pray for Alla and her little girl. They began coming to church after camp and are hoping they will stay faithfully in fellowship with us.

This is Kristina! A great girl witha really terrific attitude. Please pray for her and her family as they made a decision to follow Christ at camp but we haven’t seen them.

Please pray for Helen and her family. Helen is a super nice lady who was in my advanced Englsih learning class. She needs Jesus!

Pray for Dima, Tolik, Alina, Gera, Elusha, and Gleb.

Family English Camp! An awesome ministry opportunity.

More pictures from camp can be seen here.

You may want to consider being involved in one of these next summer!

Follow up and meetings with new friends after camp.

Mary and Olga are in the upper left. This is after church and Zhenya and I were helping them with some Bible questions. They are young believers, so please pray for them. In the upper middle is Kate. She gave her life to Jesus at camp and has been a faithful friend since. She came over for breakfast and we had Greek iced coffe and homemade Greek yogurt (the morning after the Greek style wedding we attended). We were going through the book of Matthew with her. Please keep her in your prayers as well. Upper right is Jullian sitting to the left. He is a very talented drawer who has had a very rough life. Please pray for his salvation! Zhenya in the middle has been meeting with me once or twice a week and we are helping to improve his English by reading theough Wayne Grudems “20 Basics Every Christian Should Know”. Lower left is Sasha. We are reading through the Gospel of John together. He is very busy with school now so pray we can make time to continue these meetings. On the lower right is Dima. We are reading through a book I have about Jewish culture and practice. He only reads the Torah so we decided this would be a good way for us to improve his English. We also love to play Chess when we meet!

Anton is a Bible College graduate who works in construction and has recently gone back to school. We have been meeting and reading a paragraph of Colossions at a time. After completing a paragraph, we examine the text together and ask 7 Questions:

What does this passage tell me about God?
What does this passage tell me about man? (or myself)
What from this passage really stands out?
What questions do I have about this passage?
What can I apply to my life from this passage?
How is this passage connected to Jesus?
How is this passage connected to the Gospel?
Afterwards, we play chess. :)

More English Clubs Of Course!

Greek Style Wedding of our friends who now live in Romania.

The wedding was ambushed by the rains gods! We were drenched and had to climb up a steep clay hill. It was a disaster! :)

Visit to Dnepropetrovsk for a Pastor’s Conference

Lera and I went to Dnepropetrovsk to a pastor’s conference we were invited to. We got to make some great new friends with Sovereign Grace guys from Dnepro and Germany, Christian book publishers Grace Publishing and In Lumine, and some really great Campus Crusaders.

The Ark (“Kovcheg”) Church released their second Sovereign Grace worship album in Russian!

At the tail end of the conference several pastors from around Ukraine sat for a few hours discussing how to advance the Gospel in Ukraine!

The trip was a tremendous blessing and we were extrememly blessed and encouraged by the people we met. Also, there were two American missionaries preaching in Russian which was a huge encouragement for me as they both learned without any formal classes.

Prayer Needs!

Please pray for the people you see in the pictures!

Please pray fopr a mighty work of God and spread of the Gospel in Odessa and Ukraine!

Ministry Projects you can pray for:

I wrote a tract about the differing theories on who Jesus is. It will be translated into Russian and published. We need a gifted illustrator for the artwork.

We are having personal meetings with heads of outreaches, organizations, and a couple politicians about the future plans for the Discipleship/Recreation Center “Opus Dei”!

Tuesday Night Bible Study! We are almost done going through the Redemption Book on Tuesday nights. We are planning lessons through this book to begin visiting different rehab centers once a week and taking through a ten week counseling program. We are still praying for funding for the translation of the book into Russian and have some possibilities pending.

Pray for our homeless friends Alla and Natasha. Lera met them yesterday while I was with the guys. It was our first contact with them since camp and they are not doing well.

Pray for my learning Russian and the next season coming after our internship. We may begin meeting next spring with a core church plant team and praying together.

Thank you so much!


To share in the reward of this work of God with us, follow this link!

One beautiful woman!

If You Only Read One….Make It This One!

Monthly Ministry/Prayer Update

The last couple weeks at camp has been one of the most fruitful and worthwhile things I have ever been involved in! To hear more just follow the link to the NEW VIDEO UPDATE. If you only ever watched just one of my video updates, please make it THIS ONE. :)


Click on this sentence to read why some short term missions might be a waste of time when they are not relational.

To read up on our current prayer needs simply scroll to the bottom, just above the “People” pics.


Just Before Camp the Ladies Had a Craft Day at Our Place


The ladies figured the first step in sparking a Jesus Movement in Ukraine would be to turn everyone into hippies. :)

…and Mexican Food for the Guys!


What’s a better way to get the guys together than to invite them over for scrumptious burritos. We were happy to have a couple Muslim friends over and had a great discussion over a quote from C.S. Lewis book “Miracles” comparing men to Limpets when trying to describe God.

The Team Prepares for Camp


After the team from South Africa flys in, we head to the camp for some training and preparation time. We had servant leaders from many countries working together! South Africa, Ukraine, Nigeria, Conga, U.S., & Canada!

Campers Arrive


After the campers arrive and we help them with their bags.

English Assessment Tests


Very soon after the campers arrive they go through an exam for placement in their English classes. This is for a lot of us and them, our first contact with them.

Conversations Over Meal Time


One of the greatest things about the camp was all the one on one conversations we had. Meal time was a good time to meet new people. As all of the leadership was very intentional about talking to new people I don’t think I sat by the same group twice the entire week.

Morning Meetings


Every morning was kicked off with some silly song that got our blood flowing. Then we’d have announcements and a trivia game where throughout the day the campers would have to approach the leaders to find out if they matched the trivia question. This gave us more opportunities for intersting conversations.

Bible Reading and Discussion Time


To start off the day we’d have a group come together for a time of Bible reading and discussion. For many, this became their favorite part of camp!

The same group would meet in the afternoon for another discussion time about other topics where we focused on getting to know people and helping people practice their English.

English Class


Gert & I were the teachers for the Advanced English Class, so we had the translators as well. The trick was finding words they didn’t know but would be useful for them. We had a great time and I was very impressed by their learning abilities! Poor Sergey, he was the only guy in the class.

Evening Meetings


In the evenings we met for some worship in song and a teaching from the Word. Each night focused on a different attribute of God. We spoke about God as creator, God as perfect, God as a just judge which was the night I spoke, God is love, God is Father, and finally a Gospel call night.

Bible Teaching


It was a great opportunity to show the youth that the cross is the best display of where God’s justice and love meet!



All the different conversations we had with the campers was what it was all about. We were very relationship focused and is my favorite thing about these camps! From the first day to the last we worked hard to connect with those God opened up. Many were open and we were surprised at their openess. They saw our sincerity and let us know how much we were appreciated!

Optional Discussion Times


The afternoons were open for free time but many of the campers joined us for an optional discussion time. I did a knot tying lesson one day and on another did an intro to the Bible talk. We also talked about God and suffering, had a first aid class, and a premarital talk all of which went very well.

Crafts & Tea Time


Various crafts and tea time were prepared for the ladies in the afternoons as well. We are not sure how some ladies actually made it through the door undetected.



The evenings were always filled with a different fun, competitive, and challenging activity where we had to work hard to work as a team to win.

Many of the campers also stayed up late playing all kinds of different games.

Skit Night


Our discusiion groups each had to plan and perform a skit together on skit night. You’d be surprised at how creative some of these guys and girls are!

Gospel Night ~ Decisions


On the final evening Arkadiy gave an invitaion for those who wanted to repent or had questions regarding it. I was very happy about the way we went about it, not using emotionalism or some kind of spontaneous decision tactic to get people to say a prayer.

I believe for the first time I saw a sound model for how to do an “altar call”.



Of course none of this could have been done without the help of the translators! Thank you thank you thank you translators!

Banquet & Certificates


Back in the City


After camp, we are not done yet! We spend more time with the campers at church, the catacombs on a guided tour, seeing the city center where Daria and myself guided a tour for the group, some time at the beach, walking through 411 WWII park and ice cream at the church where the campers say their goodbyes to the team heading home.


After Camp


After camp is over it doesn’t mean our work is over. The people at our church are very intentional about relationships and discipleship and go the extra mile to stay in touch with as many as we possibly can. New friendships have been forged and a large handful made decisions to turn over their lives to Jesus!

We’re already planning another mexican food and movie night after we finish the second camp.


Prayer Requests


Please pray for the second camp, the family camp which begins this weekend.
Please pray for those who made a decision and for those whioch are seriously thinking about spiritual things.
Please pray against legalism and empty traditions and for clarity of the Gospel both at these camps and in Ukriane as a whole!
Please pray for the team as we need an extra measure of strength to get through these camps.
Please pray about whether or not God would have you or your church to be involved somehow!
Please pray for Odessa!
Please pray for Ukraine!

Missions exist because worship doesn’t!



Get Involved


Some ways you can be involved:

Prayerfully. If you would like us to send you a prayer card to remind you to pray for us we would be happy to! Just let us know.
Last month a few individuals were extraordinarily generous and we are unspeakably grateful! We are still in need of month to month supporters! Please pray about being involved as a sender of meaningful missions. To give, CLICK HERE!
Let us know if you would like to come in the future on a construction crew, to help with one of these awesome English Camps, or to give away your life so that God would be worshiped by more Ukrainians! Pray about full time missions in Ukraine! It’s worth it!
To send us some socks and underwear (or clothes) for the homeless, CLICK HERE!


For More Info on the Camp, watch this video:


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nydAyemH0Is?rel=0&w=640&h=480]

Click on this sentence to read why some short term missions might be a waste of time when they are not relational.



Camp Pics


Many more great pics from camp can be viewed HERE.

Valeriia's Update ~ March 2012

How do you know that you are doing something right?

A few days ago an American team from Iowa came to Odessa to help us minister together. One of the goals that we had during this week was to do English club with people and in the same time to be able to tell them why we are doing what we are doing. A couple days ago I was thinking, “What I am doing here handing out invitations to people who don’t even look at it.” Why was I standing here at the time, when I could talk to someone and help with something doing something more productive. Will I even see these people again?

One episode from this work stuck to my mind. Standing on the street one Ukrainian man was listening to instructions of American man about how to get to a building where we will have English club, but the Ukrainian said the phrase that we didn’t expect him to say: “Americans go home!!!” After that he started cussing at us and chasing us. We walked a little further and continued giving invitations to people, but that man found us and started acting very aggressive. Even though I am not American he started going to me and Brad (Iowans missionary) saying very offensive words with the face of man who is going to beat us. All people around were watching it but didn’t do anything. It seemed like we would not be able to continue doing our work and we started walking away from that man before giving him a chance to injure us somehow. Walking away from him I understood that he is somewhere very close and this all may lead to something bad but I prayed and one thought came to my mind. That’s it, that’s the answer, “We are obviously doing something very right.“

“… you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake…”
Matthew 24:8-14


English Club

After that I turned and didn’t see that man anymore but two American girls running to us hoping that he doesn’t follow them. Everyone was a little shocked but it gave me desire to continue inviting people. In the evening of the same day there were about 20 new people in English club. The next day there were more new people and I even met someone who studies in the same university with me and who wants to visit club not only when Iowans are there but after it as well.

Do I ask myself now was it right to stand there doing what we were doing? No. I know that was right and obviously Satan didn’t like it at all and even tried to prevent us from doing our job.
Many of you know that I had to pass 20 examinations in January-February. It was so many because when I was in the Missionary Training Center I wasn’t able to go to university and do those exams. So it became more. Without all the details I will just say that I am doing distance studying but for exams I have to go to University. I had only 1 and a half months to get ready for exams and it took me a lot of trust that God will take care of this situation for His glory and He did. I passed all exams better then I ever did when it was just 10 before. Praise the Lord because I still don’t know how it happened. I would never do it without Him.

Girls' bible study at our apartment

Now I finally have enough time for doing ministry with kids, leading girls’ group and doing discipleship with them, taking part in worship team and translating. It was good to go back to these all that I didn’t even want to rest after exams.
Ministering to God and to people is such a blessing! I praise God for time He gives me so I can do my inductive bible studies and for opportunity talking to my husband which is in the USA raising support for the ministry that we are doing in Odessa, Ukraine.

Meeting in USA where my husband tells about Ukraine

Jacoby and I see how God teaches us to trust Him. Some days it seems that nothing moves but some days it seems that God loves us too much. I want to thank those people who support us in prayers and in a financial way.

A lot of work that we are doing here would not be possible without your encouragements and support.
I also would like to ask you, if you would continue support us praying for :

~ My husband while he is spending time in USA building a support base partners

~ People who came to English club, so that they would continue coming and would want to know our Lord

~ My trip to IM Conference which will be in Poland, for my successful way there and back, especially the way back because I will go home by trains by myself

~ Please Pray for the people in Odessa and Ukraine

Sunday School Children


Oksana is another girl with whom I started meetings recently

Thanksgiving 101

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZvG7jMUDwY&w=640&h=480]

Just a video version of a slide show I prepared for English Club last Saturday.  English Club is an outreach we do, teaching people from the city English for free.  Many of them return week after week allowing us to build relationships with them.  I was thankful for the topic of Thanksgiving which gave me an excellent excuse to put a little God in the presentation.  They don’t celebrate this holiday in Ukraine of course.  Check it out if you have time.  There is some interesting Thanksgiving history I learned and spent many hours researching actually.  (Note: once the slides have been converted to video the animations aren’t as fancy as the presentation itself and I couldn’t figure out how to loop the music or use more than one song.  Perhaps I will figure it out in time.)  Be blessed!  Oh, and give thanks!


Monthly Ministry Update ~ October 2011

“He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.” Pv 18:22

Last week the main teaching was on premarital counseling. Lera and I got some healthy review. It may come in handy when counseling others. Going over things like danger signs, love, expectations, finances, and communication. We were asked by our teacher Bob, “for what reasons would you be married?” These were our top 5:

1.  It is a beautiful picture of the Gospel. It is a continuing story of grace, patience, forgiveness, unconditional love, service, and sacrifice. Herein is God glorified!

2.  To love and be loved.

3.  A ministry team. Solomon in Ecclesiastes taught us that “two are better than one because they have more return for their labor.” Are you aware that for every life you touch, you play a part in every life that life touches?

4.  A friend to share your life with.

5.  To do our part in outpopulating the global Muslim population. Just kidding! I mean to say, to have a family and leave a godly legacy passed down through your children. It will take a lot more than numbers to win the Muslims! Our fight is not against flesh and blood. It will take equipping our children spiritually as much as we are possibly able.

Do you have any of the same reasons for being married or desiring marriage? Feel free to check some highlights from last month or skip to the bottom for our SPECIFIC PRAYER REQUESTS. If you have any questions feel free to write back, we would love to talk to you.



Being reminded that we don’t have a need for “wants”. We really enjoyed personal time with retired accountant and Crown Financial teacher Dave! Lera worked extra hard in creating a budget spreadsheet which keeps all areas of our budget in check. Praise God for a wife so faithful in this area! For anyone interested, Crown is an excellent God-centered, biblically saturated budgeting course.


Pastor Don from Montana was a joy to have as we dug into one of my favorite subjects, Systematic Theology. With a new interest I began exploring a view on atonement I hadn’t before. I read some work by Bruce Ware on the subject and found his polemic to seem pretty solid. I’m still waiting for responses from a few friends to see if they can find any holes in it. I haven’t heard anything yet. If you’re interested, lemme know. I have an outline by Ware I can send you.  Don gave everyone wooden dice that read “PROV 16:33” which says, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”  They are to serve as reminders of God’s sovereignty.  I love them and like to roll through my hand as I read my online theological articles!  Thanks Don!


Usually we are in class every day from about 9-3. This week of STS training had us there ’til after 5 every day. We learned a lot and I don’t think we’ll forget it. Being as most of the world learns orally, telling the Bible in stories in a conversational and engaging way which encourages the audience to discover key spiritual observations on their own. I believe it will come in handy for many ministry opportunities and plan on using it when in the U.S. raising support. I believe it’s an excellent supplement to inductive study of the Bible. Let me encourage you to check out their website.



Every Monday for us is a day of rest, family, and worship. My lovely wife and I are excited about spending time in prayer together. We are currently underway memorizing the complete book of Romans together! We love it! For last weeks datenight we went to see Puss in Boots in Ukrainian. Not too much of it needed translation for me to follow. I’m thinking if I can find those giant beanstalk beans I won’t have to raise financial support anymore and I can fund teen challenges, prostitute safe homes, translation projects, and recreation centers for the Ukrainian kids! Ukraine has none of these things as far as I know.


Staying busy helping every week as a native English speaker. Two weeks ago a blog was posted on our English Club outreach ministry.









Every Friday night at our house is blessed by a group of spiritually hungry Ukrainian girls. They make lots of noise while I finish update letters in my study and recover from soar legs from friday Football.






A good part of my time lately is being spent working hard studying Eastern Orthodoxy. Some blog posts and such will be forthcoming as I regurgitate what I’m learning for everyone. As you can see here, head coverings are a must in their house. They aren’t really excited about the jeans on the ladies either.


Meeting the boys from church down at a nearby field to get mixed up with neighborhood kids and teenagers. A lot of these guys take football pretty seriously. I’m either gonna have to develop my skills to keep up or learn the skill of laughing at myself often. It’s a great way to be intentional about making contact.


~Learning and future fluency in Russian. The goal is not just communication, but eloquence.

~On Sunday I have a meeting with an Orthodox Priest to learn some things from the horses mouth instead of books alone. I want to be sure I am not writing against straw men before I begin to write.

~Discipleship: Please pray for two girls from English Club my wife has been encouraging to be in church. Please pray for their salvation. Their names are Masha and Deana. I am praying about whom to speak to about investing in with personal one on one time. You may pray for me in this. I have been going through the “Redemption” book in an early morning men’s group and their is a fellow I was told may benefit greatly from the material if I went through it with him. His name is Nick.

~Please pray for Lera’s health. Thank you.

~We have begun praying for God, in His time, to join us with a few couples who would share our vision for a church plant in Odessa.

~You can pray for me as I study, read, and pray hard for the maturation of my ministerial skills.

~Pray for Lera and I to grow together in the grace and knowledge of our LORD.

~Pray for lost souls in Odessa.

~Pray for Ukraine, that it would remain a democracy under the current pressures and would do what is necessary to sign on with the European Union. I recently blogged about this.

~Pray for our finacial supprt goals to be reached. Last month was our highest in giving so we are almost 1/5 of the way to our minimum monthly goal! It is encouraging to see it growing weekly!