Tag: Pray

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!

Giving!

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

One beautiful woman!

Friends in the Foxhole

There is a striking contrast between those living a peaceful, routine, Disneylandish sort of life at home and those who must face tragic realities of war or oppression as a normal part of life. There are many accurate parralels which can be made between war and our spiritual lives as Christians, as the Church. The Christian life will not survive lived as passive business, nor is it always fun, nor should it be reduced to a pursuit of all American good times. Often we live our lives completely oblivious to the warlike spiritual realities all around us. The Christian life cannot be passive, nor can we afford to live on cruise mode. Those of us who wish to end all struggle as God’s blessings effortlessly overflow into our lives, as we relax and enjoy the ride, will find that this only sinks us deeper and deeper into spiritual stagnation and defeat. In the Christian life, if we are not moving forward, if we are not fighting the war, we will find very quickly that we will be forced to pick up our gear and charge into battle. The forces of our sinful nature, the world, and the devil and his legion are forceful and strong. The battle has been won in Christ…which means we must fight to enter into His rest (i.e. the Gospel)!

All of us, as Christians, are soldiers. Some have different positions and differing assignments. If we could cross this analogy over into the mission field, I’d like us to consider a couple things. Missionaries abroad could be considered, if you will, to be on the front lines of the war. Meanwhile, many are stationed back home at headquarters, and some of those, not all mind you, have dodged the draft. Many are back home learning Greek, examining in depth studies on apologetics and theology. Others are raising families or building businesses. All of these things are good, to note, given the right context. People who are deciding on a church to attend may consider things like the children’s program, the preacher’s personality or the music style, others are more concerned with the mission statement, how missional minded the church is, or the structure of church government, or any combination of these sorts of things. The reasons we have different types of churches which, all things considered, have the same Gospel, are endless. I am not saying these things aren’t important or that people shouldn’t study Greek. I will say, that some people are using studying as a backdoor out the house of serving. And, “what”, you ask, “is my point?”

What is the ultimate overarching divine assignment of the Church? It is that God would be glorified as we enjoy Him! Then, that the world might see Him as we have, and glorify Him. So, as the Church, our ultimate overarching objective is that all the world would worship God, which has been Sovereignly designed to be their perfect and greatest best. Our war mission is this, nothing less, and each of our individual commands is unique. Some of us are called to be going to the front lines, some communicating with the front lines and reporting to headquarters, some are calling for recruits, some send resources and others cry out to God. The goers cannot go without the strategic support of those back home. Why do I say strategic?

God has been strategically working since before time began. He created a world where He could be most glorified in His work of redemption. Some believe He created the perfect world. He was strategic when and how He sent His Son, and strategic in how He prepared for His arrival through the ages before. He was strategic in how the Gospel spread through persecution and the Roman trade routes, the Koine Greek lingua franca, and the Jewish merchants. He was strategic in choosing Paul as an Apostle and He is strategic in His plans for you and I. All He does is with intention and strategy originating in a mind full of schemes of infinite wisdom. As a logical and ordered being His war strategies are numerous and intertwined, and we know, according to His word, the gates of Hell shall not prevail against them.

As full time (most often overtime :)) missionaries in Ukraine, my wife and I, and others we work with, have a team of financial and prayer soldiers who consist of baptists, presbyterians, charismatics, Calvary Chapelers, Sovereign Gracers, non-denominationalists, inter-denominationalists, etc., etc. and differing shades within these Evangelical camps. When you are on the front lines of war, the denominational lines begin to blur. I am not saying they aren’t important, or that I don’t understand the sense behind some of them. What I am saying is that we are at war and we have victory in the Gospel! In Ukraine, in the foxhole so to speak, we are planning and preparing to, by God’s grace, plant a church in the future and are gearing up and training now. God is assembling a special forces unit to plant a new church in Odessa. It is very important for those on this team to have like-mindedness in our beliefs, especially in our understanding of the Gospel. However, in the foxhole, a place where resources and mega churches and Christian sub-cultures are few, we are thankful for the people God brings to us. As long as we have the same Gospel and that is thoroughly understood and we agree on the large majority of the implications of that Gospel, then we can work together. When you meet a friend in the foxhole with bullets wizzing above you, things which were heavy concerns back home begin to seem more trivial in light of present threats of destruction.

When I was in the U.S. recruiting a financial team, many churches allowed me to come speak although I wasn’t apart of their “denomination”. Others did not. Many will only support missionaries from their congregation or denomination. I understand that and I understand why. But, it seems the emphasis has been placed on peripheral doctrines which are not aiding our, the Churches, war strategy. I do not mean that because some doctrines are considered “non-essentials” that they are unimportant, the question is, how important should they be in light of the war we are in? So, we have to strategically decide how we can pool our resources to be more effective war strategists, and I am not talking mere finances. When we plant a church we will have a team which is in agreement on the key issues. Don’t get me wrong, the vision, eschatology, soteriology, ecclesiology, liturgy, homoletic structure, and the mission strategy are all very important. But there comes a time when we must ask if it’s more important I have all these things 110% understood, or that I’m giving my time to people and discipleship? Strategically, when should I stop hiding in a closet learning and blogging, and begin serving and going? Our leadership team will be in agreement on our essential beliefs and particular “non-essentials”, which may be considered non-essential for church membership, but not for leadership, and these things are to be determined. But, don’t you think it’s great that we can go plant a church without a denominational stamp and understand the Gospel, and the breadth and power and scope of it, and harp on it ’til we die, and have that church thrive and work? Striving for unity around the Gospel to have as many friends as possible with us, in the foxhole.

For those of you who are curious, I would gladly disclose my views on any or each of these doctrinal topics, in detail, some of them being tentative. I will also say on any of them I could be wrong. Whichever camp on each of these issues you would find me in, by default, you would find there are people fighting in the foxhole with me, who I disagree with. This does not mean however that we are not wearing the same uniform and firing at the same enemy. So, wherever I fall, I cannot please everyone. Which as much as I want to be in harmony with all my fellow soldiers, my priority is to be faithful to God, to pursue truth in a passionate and worshipful manner as I believe He commands us to do, and to divide His Word, without dividing the body. This will mean there are things we disagree on, but it does not mean we can’t love each other. Please, stop backbiting your brothers and sisters and strategically deploy yourselves into battle, together united around the Gospel as much as possible. I don’t want to have a church which carries a label, and along with that many misunderstandings from those who have been trained by a biased mindset or culture. I want to center around the Gospel and the person of Jesus, love people and teach the Scriptures as they word it and let the truth be it’s own defense. Disclosing theological buzz words and controversies creates an atmosphere where many opportunites to love and disciple people can be lost. So, our war strategy is to work hard, to dot the “i’s” and cross the “t’s” of our theology, so much so that we know which hills are worth dying on, and in such a way that we don’t impend advancing into enemy territory. Love never fails! The aim of deepening our theology is to help ourselves and others find an increasingly profounder doxology!

For so long I strongly desired and worked tirelessly to get more Bible training. I believe preaching is the greatest privilege a man could have and an enormous responsibility…to give an account for overseeing men’s souls is a frightening thought! So, with much care and humility, a man called should be given to diligence in preparation. I desired to learn the biblical languages and read 100’s of books before even attempting to open my mouth.

Then, I came to Ukraine. I came to where bombs were being dropped and shrapnel was flying and saw the immense need for the Gospel. Suddenly, it seemed far less important whether or not I could read the Greek New Testament or quote all the church fathers (of course for some of us this is our calling and we need you guys and thank you so much for defending the Gospel, and for all your hard work!). Now, what mattered was practical hands on picking up an AK-47 and pulling a wounded soldier out of harm’s way. And what mattered wasn’t that I was an expert, but that I knew the Gospel, and understood the Scripture enough to teach it in a meaningful way. There is a thin line where we must decide when learning should become going. For each of us we must decide this time strategically. For me, it seems God has called me to begin full time service, however hard or uncomfortable that is, and set aside my theological, what could be proud, aspirations. And, as we fight this battle, the education continues, but the strategic emphasis is practical ministry where theology is learned and applied in the context of doing.

When I say we must strategize, I do not mean at all to be hardened in any way to the leading of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit guides our planning through biblical principles. All our plans must be subjected to being given to God’s glory and the worship of Him by all nations! All our plans must include, biblically, and therefore being led by the Holy Spirit, death to selfish ambition, redeeming the time, etc. However, there are many ways where we are falling short.

When at war, we must be conservative on how we use our resources and winning the war becomes a top priority where serious sacrifices are made, sometimes our very lives. If we are at war, and if winning a war requires strategy, which involves stewardship towards effectiveness, then we must look at how to win the war. The war is over when all the nations are worshiping Christ! This is our aim. It is not that injustices would be corrected, or that the starving would be fed, and people would have clean water. If people are worshiping Jesus this will happen, and doing these things can be a strategic means to that goal. However, we cannot leave these acts void of the Gospel or our strategy is weakened. We must be strategic in all of life’s decisions. I am pleading for all of you to spend a day, a week, a year, to sit down and look over everything prayerfully. To seriously consider these things, we probably just need to put on the breaks and pull over.

Countries at war strategize to win and do what it takes to execute their strategies. If, to win the war, it is for every unreached people group on earth to worhip Christ, for those in my neighborhood to worship Christ, my family, the atheists and the religions who have distorted the Gospel, what is your role in the grand scheme of this? Are you a goer or a sender? How does your life plans, big and small, support this single assignment to win the war whether you are a baker or a doctor? How have you rearranged your time and finances to be as effective as possible toward this aim?

How has your life been strategically arranged to help us win the war together? Are there friends who belong in your foxhole but you’ve asked to leave?

Take some extended time to pray about these questions. How have you been strategic and Spirit led:
With your primary career choice or education towards this single aim?
With God’s finances He’s entrusted to your stewardship?
With your weekly schedule, priorities, and time?
With spiritual disciplines and prayer?
In planning practical service and building relationships with others?

In encouraging others to be strategic?
In where you send missionaries?
In where you are planning to go as a missionary?
In your local missional involvement now?
In helping your church to think more globally? Or even locally for that matter?
In where missionaries are you are supporting, if you are supporting any, and in what they are doing?
What type of short term missions you support or are involved in?

Are you a goer or a sender? If you are a sender, what does that look like?

In light of the present war, which doctrines are essential for:

Salvation?
Discipleship?
Church membership?
Church leadership?
Partnering with or sending missionaries?
Working with missionaries?
Fighting in the foxhole?
Dividing over? :)

Is it more strategically beneficial for the Kingdom for you to enter the mission field on short term trips or for life?

Are you giving as much of your income and time to Kingdom building as is strategically wise and fruitful?

If you have decided to go into missions, what is your preparation plan?

Jonathan Edwards used to be strategic in planning his meals so he could be as effective as possible in life, which for him was always ministry. His time isolated with God was planned so that he could be more spiritually present to people when he was with them. There is a balance all of us must strategize. I would suggest for many of us, we have too much people time which isn’t fruitful at all. It would be greatly beneficial if the Church had a handbook which gave many examples of strategic outreaches, strategic schedules, strategic ways to use different careers, strategic places to send missionaries, strategic ways of cutting back on self indulging habits, strategic ways to be involved from home, or on the front lines, and strategic ways to save, invest, and give money towards the war efforts depending on various incomes, etc. I would love to write this book. Strategically however, I’ve currently decided to write a blog, pray for all the readers, and get back down in the foxhole with my friends.

If you can agree with this GOSPEL CENTERED CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT why not jump in the foxhole with us? To help us strategize towards the worship of God in Ukraine, click to JOIN OUR TEAM.

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!

Conversations

 

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.

Activities

 

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”.

Translators!

 

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!

THANK YOU!

 

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.

 

People

Camp Pics

 

Many more great pics from camp can be viewed HERE.

Project Odessa Life | Have We Failed? | Monthly Ministry/Prayer Update | May 2012

 
Has Project Odessa Life utterly failed before we’ve barely gotten underway?
 
For the past three months it’s been an intense geographic journey down the West Coast and an intense spiritual journey as well. We had no idea how things would turn out when we stepped out in faith to build a financial and prayer team working with us on God’s mission. Sometimes we faced disappointments, let downs, and even harsh criticisms. However, at the end of the day, frankly, what I remember most is all the encouraging responses, all the great new people God brought into my life, the amazing ways He continues to provide, and the lessons I’ve learned about trust.

It’s amazing to think about the amount of people praying for us! What a humbling thing that so many of God’s people would gladly join us in the battle in prayer. Who are we to receive such support? We serve a great God!

Throughout my Christian life there have been many lessons in trust for me as God has taught me more and more what it means to rest in His sovereignty, love, and infinite wisdom. Now, it’s in a whole other degree, as though someone learning to swim was just dropped in the water. Spiritually, in trusting God, it’s time to sink or swim. Ultimately, whether we are “successful” or not is in God’s hands. Whether or not God brings in the financial support we need is His problem, not ours, this is His work, not ours, and God will fund His work and cannot fail. So we continue forward, with the end goal being worship of Jesus among the nations, and God’s name being hallowed, famed, and made great among the Ukrainian people.

 

“Whether or not God brings in the financial support we need is His problem, not ours, this is His work, not ours…”

 

At one of our final meeting times in Phoenix a friend asked me, “How will you gage your measure of success on the mission field in Ukraine?” I answered, “I believe it was Francis Chan who said, ‘Don’t be afraid of failure! Be afraid of succeeding at things that really don’t matter!’” I would rather fail at missions in Odessa than succeed at many other life plan options! I do not believe we will “fail” and I am very excited about the things to come in Odessa, Ukraine. However, if we were to completely fail, theoretically speaking, we would still not fail. Our job is to live out and preach the Gospel in word and deed. The rest is up to God. I suppose another question you could ask might be, “Can God fail!”

Jesus saves from the American dream! The further I get from that, the more successful I can be considered. Do we want to see lots of fruit and growth among the people in Ukraine? Absolutely, and we will keep you all updated on God’s happenings. But, as of now, I am content and feel successful in that by God’s amazing grace we have defeated the temptation and deception of the American dream!

Thanks for teaming up with us to further the Gospel — the answer, which has the power to transform lives, communities, cities, and Ukraine!

 

“Jesus saves from the American dream! The further I get from that, the more successful I can be considered.”

 

THANKS EVERYONE!

 

I want to express a very sincere thanks to everyone who was so encouraging, supportive, generous, and hospitable on this trip! Thank you all so very much and please be sure to keep in touch here and there! Say hello and remind us to lift you up in prayer.

For an official and public thanks to everyone who helped make this trip possible and unforgetably amazing, CLICK RIGHT HERE!

To read Lera’s official personal thank you to everyone, CLICK RIGHT HERE!

 

PRAYER REQUESTS

 

1. Please pray for the organization and planning of our upcoming summer English Camp and other services.

2. Please pray for our marriage and celebrate one year of marriage with us since April 23rd!

3. Please pray for more opportunities to meet with friends for one on one discipleship, both discipling and being discipled.

4. Please pray for our vision to have a recreation center with other facilities built in Odessa!

 

FUTURE BUILDING PROJECT!

 

In Odessa there are no community recreation centers and there are over 4,000 homeless kids in the city, not to mention all the other kids. Sex trafficking is also a major problem in Odessa. Poverty, years of oppression, corruption, sin in and the effects of it can be seen everywhere. God has put it on my heart to pray for the funding of a large center called Opus Dei (Work of God). We will need legal permission of course so you can be in prayer for that. We would like to have a large recreation center and other ministry facilities!

We have friends who are construction workers, roofers, painters, tile layers, framers, concrete masons, an architect and many other skilled workers. It would be great to begin thinking about planning a future trip to Ukraine perhaps two or three years out.

If you are interested in helping towards the funding of this project by talking to my friend who works with Thrivent financial, a full service financial advising company, the only company in the fortune 500 with a AA+ ethical rating,

 

call my Christian friend Matthew Burnias at

1-562-217-5391

 

For more info on Thrivent Financial building projects CLICK HERE!

 

“In Odessa there are no community recreation centers and there are over 4,000 homeless kids in the city.”

 

For each person who uses his financial advising services, more money can be given toward the project!

Funding from this company will be helpful but not enough for this vision. There may be other means of financing this work as well. If anyone has any ideas, please let us know ASAP!

  

Monthly Ministry/Prayer Update | March 2012

“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

1 Corinthians 9:27

*To see our SPECIFIC PRAYER REQUESTS, scroll to the bottom. Thank you for praying!

There was a man full of the Spirit who went to preach. He prayed and prepared and studied and prayed and he was ready. As he stood to preach, he looked across the room and there was only one person who had come to hear his message – one. Returning home after delivering his message he reflected on all the hard work he had put into preparing the message. Throughout the course of his life God had strengthened him many times and brought him through many hard trials. He knew that to be a pastor he would have to endure many let downs, and many pains, he knew he would have to have the hide of a rhinoceros and the heart of a dove, he knew that though there was only one person in the crowd, he could not allow the numbers to deter him from doing God’s work. He had to remain faithful and he had to continue trusting in the goodness of God. He told his heart to put its hope in God, although he couldn’t help but wonder why only one person would show up to hear him speak. Finally, he returned home and went to sleep. The next morning he rose early to feed his cow. As he stood feeding his cow, the Lord spoke to him, “here you have just one cow, and do you not rise every day to feed it?”

One month ago I flew into Oregon from Ukraine and I have to say things are going great. There are days when the thought to give up has crossed my mind. I considered throwing in the towel at moments when I just thought I didn’t have any emotional steam left, after preaching in a big room with just a few people, then having to pack up and hit another meeting right away. However, these feelings are fleeting and soon are discarded as the Lord strengthens me to continue on, even when I see no fruit. I’m having to learn more and more that I cannot put my trust in the word of man, but my confidence must be in my heavenly Father. When things looked defeating, my wife and I resolutely determined to continue giving sacrificially, as God would have us do. And from unexpected people and places God began pouring into our cup. Will it overflow?

MINISTRY HIGHLIGHTS

For the last month I have been going to Bible studies, churches, sending out invites and calling numerous people to invite to our missions presentation on Ukraine. I suppose I naively thought in preparation that missions work would be as much a thrill for people to hear about as going to a ballgame or the flea market. The turn outs to these meetings have overall been very poor. Sometimes I don’t raise one single small monthly supporter. However, somehow God has continued to bless the work through unexpected means, be individuals wishing to honor God with their finances who I’ve never met before, or by steadily growing promising financial partners.

One Saturday, after inviting many people to the meeting throughout the week, only one guy showed up. That one guy was a blessing to see. The next day I went to a church where more people wanted to support our ministry in one day then in the whole last month combined.

For a short season, February through April, my focus of ministry will be support raising, while Lera serves with the church in Odessa. Lord willing, by God’s grace, we will raise the needed missionary support in just three months. Many missionaries can spend up to two years doing this. Support Raising is a ministry because we provide an opportunity for people to examine how they are stewarding God’s money, which they’ve been entrusted with, and because it helps foster a missional vision in the church. It is a reminder that each of us should be as directly and radically involved in the great commission, as God is. In some way each of should be doing our part. In Revelation 5 and 7 we see people from every tribe and nation and language worshiping before Jesus. This happens through the work of missions. Missions exist because worship doesn’t!

I would love to ask everyone to sell their house, quit their job, get rid of most of their earthly possessions, leave behind their comforts and privileges of living in the United States and come help us spread the Gospel in Ukraine. Well, if everyone went, there’d be no one to send out and support the goers. All of us have our part.

Do you believe in what we’re doing in Ukraine? If you do, would you team up with us? As we give our lives completely over to furthering the Gospel in Ukraine, would you be a part of the sending team? If you believe in our vision would you join us with just 10 DOLLARS PER MONTH? If a relatively small number of people supported us faithfully with less than the price for two frappacinos a month, we will be full time, long term lifers in Ukraine, penetrating the sub cultures with the Gospel in a country which desperately needs the Gospel!

To worship God in this way and team up with a solid evangelical team, click HERE.

Please notify us if you have made this decision. As part of these ministry endeavors my wife and I would also like to recommend this financial course we took during missionary training in Odessa. You won’t regret it:

Crown Financial Ministries

We would also invite everyone to make a visit to Ukraine, or any other impoverished country for a time. It will forever change your entire perspective!

PICTURE GALLERY

Preparation, invites, and many many phone calls.

Home meetings!

Sharing Jesus, missions and testimonies in public Schools, a Christian school and an addiction Rehab home!

Old friends!

Great food and a fish fire pit! Mike is a great metal worker!

New friends!

Bible Studies!

For my Valentine!

Few people!

Lots o’ people!

Signing up for prayer support!

California Jesus!

Praying for Ukraine!

Staying connected to home and my lovely misses.

PRAYER REQUESTS

1. Pray for daily faithfulness on my end and the end of others involved in the ministry. That hearts would be fully committed to the work even when it’s hard or there is no immediate visible fruit.

2. Pray for Lera who will be taking a trip to Poland with some staff from church to a missions conference. She will have to return home alone as others stay and sight see and I would appreciate prayer for her safety.

3. Pray for the salvation of many souls in Ukraine.

4. Pray for me as I learn Russian. Pray for quick learning and fluency.

5. Pray for our future church plant and for the team God will bring us together with.

6. Pray for Lera as she looks for our next flat and that we get the right deal.

7. Pray for Katya and Marina in Uganda. They were having some difficulties with their situation such as not being treated too well in the house they are staying and the pastor were they are serving teaching that it is okay to have sex if you don’t have HIV.

8. Pray for funds for the Redemption book to be translated into Russian.

9. Pray for Christian rec centers in Ukraine.

10. Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into the field and for the government.

Thank you all so much. In this battle we truly need your prayers!

“And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, [the church] multiplied.”
Acts 9:31

Jacoby & Lera