Well things lately have been boiling in Ukraine and while the pro-EU protesters in the capital city of Kiev cooled down quite a bit after Yanokovych signed with Russia for a $15 billion loan and a 1/3 decrease in gas prices for at least 5 years, it appears Yanokovych is just getting warmed up.
January 17th he signed with parliament 11 new laws, many of which are harsher than many dictatorial laws set forth by Russia and Belarussia. These laws set strict restrictions on freedom of speech and how people can protest, where they can pray, and even gives the government the right to monitor people through their SIM cards and even shut down the internet. You can also have them looking over your shoulder if you are a westerner providing any kind of funding to organizations or churches in Ukraine.
Please pray for Ukraine and that the Gospel would only be propelled further and people’s freedoms would be honored. You can read more about this here:
Does ‘Black Thursday’ Mark End Of Ukraine’s Democratic Decade?
Ukraine’s Harsh New Antiprotest Law Draws International Condemnation
Putin Pledges Billions, Cheaper Gas To Yanukovych
Last week I was speaking with one of our financial partners in Northern California on the phone. He shared something with me I found interesting. I visited his church a couple springs back and did a presentation on Ukraine and our missions work here. One girl there spoke to my friend later saying, “I need to apologize to you.” He said, “why is that?” She answered, “because for the first 15 minutes of Jacoby speaking all I could do was judge him for his tattoos and the way he was dressed (shortly before I was fresh off a greyhound bus). But after hearing the things he was saying I had to set that aside and I was really blessed and challenged.” My friend asked her lovingly, “so what does that tell you about your heart?” He went on to tell me that I have come up several times in their churches small group discussions as an example to them all of making a sacrifice for missions.
Now, I do not claim to have made any sacrifice and say with David Livingstone and Hudson Taylor, “I never made a sacrifice.” This conversation profoundly encouraged me. When you are working in the trenches in missions you are dealing with all kinds of spiritual attacks, things trying to distract you, discourage you, make you quit, until I realize the very things that make you feel like quitting are the very things which make you realize you need to stay. I was reminded that we don’t always see the fruit of our labor. Here and there God has allowed me to see glimpses of how he has used me in others lives, but I think he keeps it to a minimal I being such a proud man as I am. It is encouraging to know that in Redding, CA and other places people are being challenged and encouraged by our service in Ukraine. Praise God, I do know that he is definitely and clearly using us here in Odessa!
In no way do I claim to have a less judgmental heart than this girl. I am as guilty of judgment, and probably more so, than anyone. May God help me to become less and less judgmental of others. Having to do with my tattoos, let me say that most of them were intended to be God honoring. There are times when I feel like life would actually have been easier without them, however, they are now there so I cannot allow my heart to condemn me for long. I must choose to make the most of them for God, and whether I eat or drink do all to his glory, namely my tattoos being a head on frontal assault against legalism in the church and an incorrect understanding of the Word. May much fruit of it come for His Name!
When my friend shared this with me I saw several things:
1) People probably judge me for this far more than I realize, and that’s ok.
2) Many people will judge you for it and not have the repentant heart this girl had.
3) It isn’t necessarily going to make my life easier. I simply need to come to terms with the fact that though some will judge me for it and never say anything, or even repent of it — ever, that that’s just the way it is, and I can’t judge them for that.
4) God is using us in ways and places we don’t have any clue about. (I had no idea anyone there was even thinking about my tats).
5) If you can preach/teach with conviction about the things of God, in the long run (or short run) that’s what many will see.
What do people tend to judge you for? Can you use that very thing to glorify God? Show the world your sincere zeal and they will be encouraged by Christ in you.
This could be my life verse:
“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Last semester teaching at the Christian University I concluded the semester by teaching how the doctrine of the Trinity was directly connected to the cross and salvation. The Athanasian Creed actually says salvation comes only by a correct belief in the Trinity. In this video I tried to spell that out for my students. Some of the info for this lesson was taken from a book which is now one of my top recommended books, Delighting in the Trinity.
Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith (Kindle) Amazing book!!
View my Trinitarian lesson here: (remember, English is their 2nd language)
<iframe width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/GxBAE5nN-xU?list=UUw-IAhUcvM_8HhqraPXcWrw” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>
Some of Lera’s main ministries include translation, (for me when we visit the homeless, the new English Club outreach we are beginning in Feb, American missionaries preaching at church, in my theology class to 1st year students, and for American missionary friend Robin at a women’s Thur night Bible Study), meeting with young ladies to read the Bible, and helping with the worship team at church. Our pastor just asked us to begin planning events and/or Bible studies for the young adults at church, so we will be praying and thinking about exactly how we will go about that.
You may remember also a homeless lady, Ira, we were ministering to and helping with food and other needs. Well, the government provided her and her boys, which were released from the orphanage, with a temporary place to live until she gets her money from the government. Our pastor Gorik, and his wife Snezhana went to her recently with their two kids to play with her 4 boys. It is a bit of a trip out of town but she will be back in the city soon. Other church members are now beginning to get involved in helping them too which is great!
If you will also recall, in my theology classes I also had a couple Mormons and a Muslim in my classes. Many of the students are nominally Christian, if Christian at all, and the three ladies running the office are Orthodox who only visit church on the holidays. So, as you can tell it is a great opportunity for me to be teaching there. Next semester, beginning the first week of Feb, I will be teaching them lots of practical tools for reading their Bible’s and being discerning readers. Please keep this semester in prayer!
One other thing you can pray for, if you remember the meeting I had with the Mormon’s. Well I ended up having a couple meetings with them and I promised them I would read the Book of Mormon, then we could meet again. As if I don’t have a lot to read already, please pray I get this done soon. The plan is to get them to read the New Testament.
Some pictures of highlights from Impact Odessa can be seen here:
During the Cyber Monday deals in November I ran across a post by Tim Challies reviewing the budgeting software he uses. It’s called YNAB, and for cyber Monday it was 1/2 off. I took a peak at it because we try to honor God with our finances by stewarding them well. We always put receipts in a jar and then tally up what we are spending on a spread sheet Lera created. We also like to use an envelope system where whatever money is set aside for certain budgets is kept in certain envelopes to keep us from going over. One is for tithe but we usually split the monthly tithe up into 4 givings although we could do it all at once. This is to keep our hearts in an attitude of worshipful giving every week. Anyway, after looking at some videos of YNAB we decided to give it a shot. It’s great! We have combined it with the envelope system but we no longer have to keep all those receipts and then put them all in a spread sheet. This used to take 2-3 hours out of Lera’s week if she was able to even get to it each week and if she couldn’t (because we do get extremely busy at times) then it would pile up. With YNAB you can immediately record what you spend in your phone and it syncs over all your devices. The software is also intuitive and little by little it helps you to save enough money so that you are eventually living one month ahead, having one month of living money saved up.
Check it out! Purchase by this link and save $6!
Speaking of Finances: (some transparent details)
I was planning to save the next email update for the end of the month because I want to start sending them at that time. However, Ukraine needs prayer and we have an urgent need from our regular monthly supporters.
Our current monthly goal is just $2,000/month. (We were able to bring it down after we left International Messengers)
This amount will allow us to stay out of debt, have a small savings and take care of some things we really need a little money for.
We usually receive an average of about $1,800, so we are praying to bring it up just a tad.
Many American missionaries we know raise support anywhere from $4-10,000/month.
For this amount (and it may have to be higher in the future a bit), we are able to sow Gospel seeds for less!!
We have recently received a few one time gifts that helped us tremendously with the switch over from International Messengers to Impact. About $2,000 total, and there are a couple more checks coming. Thank you all!! We really needed that, and the switch over was scary as we didn’t know how it would go! God is providing!
Some people will get excited that God provided that and choose not to continue giving. Please don’t do this, as one time gifts do not always come in like this and we hope to have our monthly giving where our monthly goal is.
Currently we have received official giving transactions from our friends totaling $1,600/month on the dot.
Other friends who have verbally committed to partnering with us monthly will bring this up to $1,705 once they have.
There are a few others who may continue with us as well but haven’t given a definite answer. This may bring it up to over $1,800.
Then we are praying for God to bring it up to 100% of our goal. There are several people who had told me they wanted to partner with us but decided not to I guess. I want everyone to know that if you can’t support us for whatever reason, or simply chose not to, that is perfectly fine. I would ask kindly though that if you did say something, please let us know if you change your mind. We will not hold it against you but it isn’t fair for you to create these expectations in us and then disappear. As you can see, we are not living luxuriously and each person that commits to supporting us matters. Too often people have decided it doesn’t matter. More importantly is our friendship with each of you. Please don’t anyone feel that if they can’t support us, or changed their mind that you should feel bad — don’t. Our friendship means so much more to us than letting silly money become a tool for division. Please understand that your giving is vertical. It is not to us, but to God. We are not depending on you to supply our needs, but God.
We ask for you to partner with us because we are sincerely serving God and we believe this is how God funds His work in the world. Therefore, as people of faith we shouldn’t have any qualms about asking. We are asking this because it is a ministry for us to humbly and boldly provide you this opportunity for blessing in your life, and to be a part of God’s global work.
If you are planning to partner with us, please do so before the 21st if you are able. A check will be sent to our credit union on the 23rd each month so it helps a lot if these transactions go through before then.
To partner up with us go to:
Thank you from the bottom of our heart!!
Ministry Highlight Pics: