Update: February 26 10:00 PM (EEST) - came in at 5:11 PM CST
We are still at the border at 10:00 at night. No clue as to how long it will take. Pray for an opening.
Update: February 26 (11:09 CST)
After a 27-hour ride, we have arrived at the Romanian border. However the line of vehicles is exceedingly long and could take 18 hours.
It is possible to cross on foot, but we have been warned that this could take 10 hours. We would need to stand up and be outside in very cold and windy places. Neither prospect is attractive.
But we praise God that we are in a place where we are safe.
February 25, 2022
Dear Praying Friends,
It is morning after an uneventful night for us personally. We heard heavy planes last night and a couple of explosions far away, but it was otherwise very quiet.
We live in an old farmhouse in a village about 25 miles from the city center. It would seem that this is a relatively safe place to be at the moment. Several families from the church have come out to our place, considering this to be a safer place than the city.
I have decided to try to evacuate, if possible. Phyllis wants to leave, although she is willing to stay. However, she has been sick and needs to see a doctor. Also, it is an added burden for our people here to help us take care of our personal needs because they need to focus on their own family's needs. They are committed to taking care of us, but I consider it better to get out of their way.
We have made contact with Project Dynamo, the organization that rescued so many people from Afghanistan last year. They are now working in Ukraine also. We are awaiting instructions from them as to a time and meeting place. They will then provide transportation to one the countries bordering Ukraine to the West. Reports are that the lines are very long at the border crossings, but we can wait. Robby has already arranged for someone to meet us on the other side of the border to take us to an international airport.
It was a wonderful time last night as we joined an online prayer group being led by our Ukrainian missionary in Turkey. This prayer meeting lasted for many hours. People joined us from around the world, from Uzbekistan, France, UK, and several others.
Time to go right now.
February 24, 2022
We were awakened before dawn this morning with several loud explosions. So it has begun. Russia has indeed invaded Ukraine. In my recent letter I had expressed that the situation here was largely calm and that I did not anticipate an immediate attack. But, I also said, that obvious things could change in a moment, and that has happened.
All Ukrainian airspace has been shut down so there are no commercial or private planes in the air. The borders have been shut down and travel between regions has been blocked. Martial law has been declared. The highways out of Kiev are in gridlock as many people are seeking to flee the city and country. Banks and ATMs are closed as well. The gas stations and grocery stores have incredibly long lines as people are trying to stock up.
These are the early hours and we have no way of knowing what will happen. Perhaps we will have more clarity in a day or two. In the meantime we are at home and still have electricity and internet. We are not in any immediate danger. We have food and water and plenty of firewood i we need it to heat the house.
Robby Dean is here in Ukraine right now. He came to teach at the Bible college, not expecting that the situation would deteriorate so rapidly. When things started to look dicey and KLM cancelled its flights out of Kiev, he decided to leave early on a different airline. However, when he went to get his PCR test he tested positive for Covid-19. So he had to wait a few days to get another test in order to be able to fly. With the travel restrictions on the highways he is unable to get out of the country at the present time.
We will keep you posted as we are able. I am confident that you will be in earnest prayer for us and for Ukraine. Pray for our safety. Pray that we will find a way for Robby to get safely home.
Pray also for Phyllis who has a severe case of bronchitis right now. Pray that we might glorify the Lord in the midst of all the chaos, and that this might be a great opportunity for the spread of the gospel and the spiritual growth of the believers.
Psalm 27:3 Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear; Though war should rise against me, In this I will be confident.
Psalm 27:5 For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabemacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.
Psalm 27:14 Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!
February 21, 2022
Proverbs 25:25, “As cold water to a weary soul, So is good news from a far country.”
We are alive and well in Ukraine. We are so grateful for all of you who have been praying for us, and we have been encouraged by many of you writing to tell us of your concern and how you are standing with us in prayer. Surely, through your intercession at the throne of grace we have been obtaining mercy and finding grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
It should come as no shock if I tell you that you can’t trust much of what you see or read in the media. There is so much that is hype and hyperbole and partial truths or outright lies that it is really hard to know what to believe. So let me give you my perspective.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is not imminent, it happened in 2014. Since that time there have been close to 40,000 casualties, with the number of Ukrainians killed at more than 14,000. Close to 2 million people have been displaced. Contrary to many reports, most people are not fleeing to Russia but are moving to the west to the capital city of Kiev and other cities or other European countries in many cases. The US State Department has been issuing Level 3 and Level 4 threat warnings for more than seven years now. What is happening now is not something new.
It is true that there has been a large Russian military build-up all around Ukraine – on the eastern border, on the northern border in Belarus, in the south in the Crimean Peninsula, and in the west in the Transnistria region. No one knows for sure if this has any real significance or if it is just grand theater being produced for Putin’s aggrandizement. It may be that he is doing a lot of posturing in order to achieve political goals that do not include a full-scale assault of Ukraine at all.
Let me tell you what I observe in Ukraine. In the Donbas region of southeastern Ukraine several cities are under the control of Russian separatists. There have been continuing skirmishes for years between these Russian-backed forces and the Ukrainian military, accounting for the casualties mentioned above. However, for the most part, Ukrainians are not living in fear of an all-out assault.
I have traveled to many place around the country, and except in that one region there is no indication of a country on the brink of war. And except in that region a person can travel freely by car or public transportation without being stopped at checkpoints. There are no soldiers or military vehicles along the way. I have flown domestically into and out of cities in Ukraine with no problems, no increased scrutiny at the airports.
In the capital city of Kiev the airports are open, with more concern about the Corona virus than a military invasion. There are no long lines at the airports with people frantically leaving the country. In fact, the last couple of times that we have flow into Ukraine recently, the incoming planes were full. Apparently people are not afraid to come here. There are no special forces at the airports or along the highways. Businesses are open and there is no evidence of panic buying. The shelves are fully stocked. There are no long lines at the gas stations. Churches are not overflowing with people cowering in fear because of a perception of imminent danger. People are not huddled in their homes and we hear little talk of war. By all appearances Ukraine does not look like a country that is unduly alarmed by all of the news coming out of the US and western Europe.
Obviously things could change rapidly. We have no way of knowing if they will. We receive notices from the US Embassy here, almost daily, warning us to leave the country immediately. I have even received telephone calls from the State Department in Washington to ask if we are still in Ukraine, and, if so, do we plan to evacuate. The last time they called I asked if they had some information that was different from what I could get from the media, and they said no. So I want to know what has changed in the past week or month or year?
There are some who are making decisions based more on fear than fact. KLM airline has suspended all of its flights in and out of Ukraine because their insurers have refused to cover any losses that might be sustained due to a war. This results in economic loss both for them and for Ukraine. Other companies headquartered in the West have also suspended working here. This has also had some impact on the economy here. As you have probably heard a couple of countries, including the US, have pulled their embassy staff out of the country. But the vast majority have not done so.
We are not oblivious to the potential danger, and we have considered what steps we might need to take in the event of war. We have some food stockpiled, some gasoline and a power generator. We know where the border crossings are should it be necessary to leave. But we have no plans at present to evacuate. In fact, we do not anticipate leaving unless forced to do so. Our thinking is this: what kind of example would we be, what testimony of faith in the Lord, if we tell our people to trust in the Lord and then we bail out at the first hint of trouble? This is our life, our ministry, our home – until the Lord moves us!
Please continue to pray for Ukraine, for its leaders to have wisdom, for its military to have courage, for its people to turn to the Lord in their hour of testing. Pray for us that we can continue to preach the gospel, to keep on training our Bible college students to prepare them for ministry. It is our privilege, our joy to serve the Lord here.
“I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.” Psalm 91:2
Jim and Phyllis
Thirty years ago on Christmas Day the Hammer and Sickle was lowered for the last time at the Kremlin in Moscow. The Communist Party was dead. Thirty years ago this month the Soviet Union was dissolved and the republics in the USSR became independent nations. This opened the door for Christians from the west to enter into those countries which had been denied access to the gospel of grace and Bible teaching for 70 years.
In 1993 my wife, Phyllis, and I went to the former Soviet Union as missionaries. We have done evangelism, planted churches, and started Bible schools. Our primary focus is to train pastors, teachers, evangelists, and missionaries. Since 1996 the work has been centered in Kiev, Ukraine. This has been a wonderful place for ministry, with great freedom to openly preach the gospel, plant churches, and to teach the Bible.
Ukraine has experienced great turmoil in the past 30 years with differing factions vying for power, with political and economic problems. In spite of all these things the country has prospered and enjoyed much liberty. However, since 2014 with the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych, the country has suffered some severe blows. Russia forcibly took over the Crimean peninsula with its highly valuable ports and naval base on the Black Sea. In addition to that, Russian-backed separatists, in armed conflict, took control of the Donbas region in eastern and southern Ukraine. The conflict has continued for seven years now, resulting in the death of thousands of Ukrainians, the exodus of more than a million people from that area, and much suffering for those still there.
Since last year tensions have escalated due to a large buildup of Russian troops along the northern and eastern borders of Ukraine. Only recently has this caught the attention of Europe and America. What does this portend? I don’t know. Will there be a Russian invasion? I don’t know. What I do know is this:
No matter what the situation in the world, our divine mandate has not changed. We are in this world at this time for God’s purposes, not our own. We have not been called to comfort or east, to success or prosperity, but to represent the Lord Jesus Christ. In an era of political chaos, economic instability, pandemic, paranoia and fear, we must keep our eye on God’s objective and press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ. There is but one question that must be answered: how can I please the Lord in this situation?
Therefore, we press on, that we may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus laid hold of us. Our hope, our confidence, our stability comes from knowing God and His Word. We cannot control conditions in the world, but we can trust in the God who is sovereign over all. Therefore, let us redouble our efforts to walk worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, to bear fruit, and to increase in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:10).
Our work here continues with the Bible college, church, and Bible conferences. We have a very busy schedule for this spring, not only in Kiev, but also in several other places in Ukraine where we are able to hold conferences and teach in other Bible schools. We also have trips planned for teaching in Armenia and Zambia in the next few months, and possibly Estonia if the Covid cops will allow us entry. We have not been vaccinated for the Covid virus, and will not do so. This presents problems for us in travel since some countries require a vaccination to enter. Even here in Ukraine it is necessary to have either proof of vaccination or a PCR to fly or even travel by train. It has been necessary to curtail a few teaching opportunities, but in spite of that we still have a full calendar.
We are so thankful for God’s abundant blessings to us in giving us the privilege of serving Him, continued health and strength, and faithful partners in ministry. Thank you so much for your prayers, your encouragement, your support. We praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for you. Please pray for our health, safety, and open doors for the ministry
By grace alone,
What a marvelous adventure this Christian life is. Of course, there are struggles, but, oh the joys that come to us in serving the Lord.
In July Phyllis and I returned to Hot Springs, Arkansas, where we had our first church ministry. Grace Bible Church was planted in 1971, and I had the privilege of being the founding pastor. The church had a Golden Anniversary celebration. A number of the charter members are still in the church, as well as some of their children and grandchildren. It was a great time of rejoicing in what the Lord has done in and through the ministry of that church. It has touched literally thousands of lives through various ministries over the years, and also produced a number of people who have gone into ministry. We are also rejoicing that the church has remained true to Word of God with a free grace gospel and emphasis on verse-by-verse Bible teaching. They have continued to grow under the ministry of Pastor Mark Goad, and just recently sold the building we met in for many years in order to put up a new structure, the old one being too small to accommodate the congregation.
Back in Kiev we are beginning our 29th year as missionaries in this part of the world. Word of God Church is doing well under its Ukrainian leadership, growing both in number and spiritual maturity. The Bible college is back in session. Although our enrollment is down this year, we still have a full schedule. It seems that a lot of people have gotten into the distance learning mode and do not want to leave home in order to study. Of course, we believe that face-to-face teaching is best, but we are in the process of developing online courses. This is a big undertaking, but it seems necessary at this point.
I just finished teaching a two-week module at Word of God Bible College on the subject of Soteriology (the doctrine of salvation) and will be teaching courses on Old Testament historical books (Joshua through Esther) and another course on the major prophets (Isaiah through Daniel). In addition to the college, I preach once and sometimes twice on Sundays, plus two online classes during the week. Other than that, I am free!
Many of the Covid-19 restrictions are still in effect, but people are becoming less fearful of becoming infected, and the government mandates are being eased. It is still necessary for Americans to get PCR tests before entering the country, but vaccination is not required. The vaccination papers are necessary in a number of European countries, and this makes for some frustrations. I had plans to go to Estonia to teach for a couple of weeks there, but they require vaccination papers, so I postponed the trip. I tested positive for Covid early this year, so, I assume, I am now immune and have no need for vaccination.
We are so thankful to the Lord for His mercy in giving us health and stamina, His grace in allowing us the privilege of serving Him here. We also praise the Lord for all of you who pray for us, encourage us, and support us. Thank you.
By grace alone,
What a year this has been. I doubt anyone will forget 2020 with all of the tumultuous events, the chaos, confusion and panic: impeachment, riots, pandemic, and the election fiasco, lockdowns, quarantines, shuttered businesses, restrictions on church attendance, travel bans, etc., etc., etc.
What a great time to be alive! What a tremendous opportunity to manifest the grace of God, His provision to a lost world, and to give a reason for the hope that is in us. What a comfort to know that our sovereign Lord is ruling over all. The world is not spinning out of control but is moving in the exact direction that He has planned. In His book they all were written, the days fashioned for us when as yet there were none of them. He saw this year in eternity past and made perfect provision for His children to go through it with peace and joy, with confidence and assurance. He put you where you are at this very time for His own purposes. We have opportunity to shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. We do not despair. We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair (2 Corinthians 4:8).
In the midst of everything we had to make many alterations to our usual way of doing things. We had to cancel our annual trips to Africa and South America. I was scheduled to teach for two weeks in Estonia, but that had to be postponed. I was planning on teaching a course in eastern Ukraine, but that was scrapped at the last minute due to the Covid-19 panic. For several months our church could not meet face-to-face because of government restrictions. So we held services at our house with 10-15 people in person and the rest joined us live stream on the Internet.
Because people were confined to their homes for weeks on end, we started having Bible classes online every night of the week. This has abated somewhat so that we now have livestream classes four times a week, but the church is now able to meet in our usual place on Sundays.
I have been teaching a group of 15–20 people on Sunday evenings in a town about an hour and a half from our home. We are hoping that this will develop into a local church there. I had an interesting experience there the first Sunday in December. There were two teenagers, a brother and sister who wanted to be baptized. The man at whose house we meet has a small above- ground swimming pool. Even though the temperature was only 15 degrees, we had the baptism outside. I was delighted to do this, of course, but this is not an experience I look forward to repeating with any regularity.
Classes at the college continue unabated, although it has been necessary to conduct some of them online. This has required us to do some juggling in schedules, though, due to the time difference between Ukraine and the US. American professors would start teaching at 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning, which is 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon here. So, the students here finish at 8:00 or 9:00 in the evening. But this was really a minor inconvenience.
As we come to the close of this memorable year, we give thanks to our loving Lord who has enabled us to carry on the work. We have been blessed with good health and abundant provision. We also give thanks to all of you who have been so faithful in supporting us in prayer and with your financial support.
We do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:9-10).
All by grace,
May 6, 2020
Greetings from Ukraine. We are alive and well and enjoying good health. The country has been shut down for months now, but the government has announced that it will begin to ease some of the restrictions next week, but continue the quarantine for at least two more weeks.
The US Embassy here has been very good about sending out notices of changes made by Ukrainian government concerning regulations that have been put into effect. They even held a virtual town hall meeting last week with the Charge d’affaires and Counsel General addressing the regulations and policies of both the US and Ukrainian governments.
The Corona virus has not been too serious here. As of 5/6/2020 there have been some 325 deaths attributed to COVID-19. The economic impact, however, is tremendous because so many small businesses have been shut down. Restaurants have been closed, but they will be allowed to serve take-outs starting next week. Quite a few of our people have not been able to work for more than 2 months now, and this has put a real strain on them.
We hope that by the end of the month we will be able to resume normal meetings for the church. During this quarantine period we have been holding church from our living room via the internet. We have also been having Bible classes every night of the week from our home. It seems that people are willing to get online every night for Bible study and some social interaction with others in the church. What is interesting to me is that we have more people watching online than we have ever had in church. We even have people from several other countries joining us regularly. We pray that this will be a time of spiritual growth as people realize that God is the sovereign in control of all things, and that we are totally dependent on Him.
I had to cancel my annual pastors’ conferences in Zambia and Brazil due to travel restrictions. A couple of other conferences planned for Ukraine were also shut down because of regulations concerning the number of people who could congregate.
Our Bible college has continued with all of the classes being taught online. This has required some modifications since many of our classes are taught by Americans. The time difference between here and America is 6-10 hours, depending on the time zones. So, our students have classes in the evening while it is morning in the US. But we are glad for the technology that makes the distance learning possible.
We pray that the Lord will sustain you and keep you during this time of trouble, but most of all that He will continue to work in you, that you might fulfill His purpose for you at this time, and that He will be glorified through you.
By grace alone,
Deuteronomy 33:27, “The eternal God is your refuge, And underneath are the everlasting arms.”
Psalm 46:1-2, “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear …”
We are back in Ukraine after a two-month tour in southern US states. It was a blessed time for us as we were able to spend Christmas with all of our kids and grandkids for the first time in 15 years. After that we went on the road, traveling through 8 states and visiting 14 churches. It was a wonderful trip, seeing many old friends; but also we visited a number of churches we had not known before, making many new friends.
But back in Ukraine now things are really heating up for Bible teaching. Mark Musser is not only teaching a course at the Bible college but is conducting conferences in three different churches during two weeks. During this time I will be teaching a seminar at a church recently planted by one of our graduates. Then, I will be teaching a module at the college during the last two weeks of the month.
April will also be a busy schedule. I will travel to Eastern Ukraine to teach a two-week course at a Bible college the first part of the month and then fly to Zambia for conferences in three different cities. Of course, all of this requires a lot of preparation and organization before the teaching ever begins.
Many people ask about the political situation in Ukraine. Whatever is going on here has not affected our ministry at all. There is still conflict in the eastern part of the country, and in spite of a “cease fire” agreement, there are still occasions of shooting and shelling between Ukrainian and Russian-backed forces. We get frequent warnings from the embassy to avoid certain sectors and cities because they are dangerous and some people have been taken hostage and held for ransom. Obviously, we stay out of those places
We praise the Lord for His abundant mercies, giving us the health, strength and provision to be able to carry on such a rigorous schedule. We ask for your prayers for our continued health and safety, especially as we travel to other countries.
We also thank God for your participation in this ministry. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
By His lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Phyllis and I will celebrate our 51st wedding anniversary next week. It has gone by so very quickly, but has been such a tremendous blessing all the way. Still in love and loving each other more with every passing day. The Lord has blessed us with two wonderful children and four grandchildren. We are going to spend Christmas with all of them this year for the first time in 15 years. That will be a special time for us. We do love our work on the mission field, but we do miss being able to spend more time with family.
Before we return to the USA at Christmas we still have work to do here. I will be returning to Armenia to teach a spiritual life course with Mark Musser. The people in a couple of the churches there had such a positive response to the Word of God when we were there last month that they have asked for more teaching. It is really exciting to find Christians who want to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As soon as I get back from Armenia I will teach a survey of the Major Prophets at Word of God Bible College in Kiev.
When we get back to the US we will be visiting churches in the South and Southeast. Here is our schedule. If you are able to come to any of these churches we would love to see you or hear from you. Jim’s mobile number is 256 655-1908.
Please check out our calendar to see our travel plans while in the USA. We may be coming to a church near you and would love to see you!
By Grace alone,
Jim and Phyllis
October 1, 2019
What a great month we had in September. The first two weeks I taught Soteriology at Word of God Bible College. We studied redemption, reconciliation, imputation, justification, faith and the gospel of grace. Our new students were very excited to learn these essential truths.
Right after these two weeks Phyllis and I flew to Yerevan, Armenia. We were hosted by Mark and Caren Musser who are now living and ministering in Armenia. I taught every day for two weeks. The Bethlehem Evangelical Church provided the venue for Ron Minton’s International Baptist Bible College. There were students from several different area churches. I taught a course on dispensations and covenants. This was new information for these people who have not been exposed to serious Bible study. The distinctions between the Old Testament life under the Law and the New Testament life under grace were brand new concepts for them. There was confusion about Old Testament salvation and whether we in the Church had to keep parts of the Law. Many of them were so glad to hear about the tremendous blessings that stem from our union with Christ. The teaching of spirituality vs. carnality was a new doctrine to them. So many of them expressed joy when they came to understand how to walk by the Spirit. It was a great pleasure to teach there. They were unanimous in urging us to come back and to teach them again.
I was also able to preach at another church on Sunday. I spoke on the warning passages from the book of Hebrews. In Hebrews chapters 5-6 there is a warning about being lazy or unmotivated about learning and applying Bible doctrine to our lives. There is a command to not be spiritual babies, but to go on to spiritual maturity. I was pleasantly surprised the next day when the pastor called me to tell me that the church talked about the lesson and declared that they didn’t want to remain babies and only drink milk, but wanted to grow up in their spiritual lives. What a positive response!
We were also able to visit a number of sites in and around Yerevan. We went to a museum of ancient Armenian documents. This was interesting because Armenia was the first country to declare itself a Christian nation back in the 3rd Century. A missionary who went there in the early part of the Church Age discovered that they had no written language, so he invented an alphabet for them, still used today, and the first book ever written in their language was a translation of the Bible.
We went to see some ancient churches and monasteries which indicate the influence of Christianity. Even though they repudiated the Council of Chalcedon, which clearly states the doctrine of the Hypostatic Union, nevertheless, the gospel was prevalent in that country since the early days of the Church.
It was also a treat to be able to see Mt. Ararat every day from Yerevan. It is certainly an impressive mountain, reaching almost 17,000 feet, with glaciers on the top which are hundreds of feet deep. The closest we got to the mountain was on the border of Turkey. Mt. Ararat is almost always engulfed in a haze, we did have a couple of days when we got a rather clear view. We went to a museum where they claim to have some items which were made of wood taken from the Ark. I have my doubts about this since they also claim to have a thorn from the crown that was put on Jesus at the cross, as well as the head of the spear the pierced Jesus’ side. Highly unlikely!
We are back in Ukraine now and busy preparing for teaching upcoming courses this fall. We are so grateful for the health and strength which the Lord has graciously provided for us that we can continue to work here. We thank you for your prayers and support which enable us to preach the gospel and to teach the Bible in so many places.
All by grace,
We rejoice in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the multitude of His tender mercies. The past four months have been packed with so many opportunities to teach the Word of God.
In February I filled the pulpit every week at a local church in Kiev while also teaching at Word of God Church. In addition to this I worked with Mark Musser in two other churches to put on DM2 workshops in Romans and Colossians. Altogether this amounted to more than 30 hours of teaching. But this would pale in comparison with the next three months.
In March I made my annual journey to Brazil, putting on conferences over a span of three weeks in four different cities, often teaching 4-6 hours a day.
After returning to Ukraine I had just a few days to rest before going to western Ukraine for a two-week course at a Bible college. I returned to Kiev for a wonderful celebration of our Lord’s resurrection, then left a few days later to go to Southern Africa. We had conferences in three different cities in Zambia and then went to Malawi for another week of teaching there. I travelled with three Zambian pastors I have been training for several years. It is a great joy to see how these men have matured in the faith and who are now able to help with the teaching.
While in Africa I had an allergic reaction to something and developed a rash that covered my entire body. Along with that I got some kind of infection that required a course in antibiotics to get rid of once I returned to Ukraine. But I thank God that He enabled me to complete the teaching in spite of the maladies.
Upon my return I taught a two-week module at Word of God Bible College. In the middle of that we had an ordination service for Oleg Lozinski. Oleg, who has been with us for 15 years, serves as director of the Bible College and as pastor of Word of God Church. Bob Bolender, pastor of Austin Bible Church, along with his wife Sharon, came to Kiev for the ordination. Mark Musser, long-time associate with our ministry, now living and working in Armenia, also came to participate in the ordination. It is so gratifying to see people, such as Oleg, that we have trained, actively involved in ministry.
Then on the last day of May we had a graduation ceremony at Word of God College. We graduated six students this year, and already several of them are slated to begin ministries in their home churches.
We will be in the States for two months to take care of business matters, get medical checkups and travel to several states to visit churches. It would be wonderful if we could visit all of you, but there just isn’t enough time.
How we praise God for giving us such a wonderful ministry as well as the health and stamina to do it. We know that this is all a matter of grace. We are also thankful for all of you who pray for us. We are confident that through your faithful prayers we have been sustained. Your faithful support is so much appreciated. Thank you.
By grace alone,
Jim and Phyllis
“1 Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! 2 Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. 3 Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. 4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. 5 For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.” (Psalm 100)
What a wonderful privilege to serve our Creator God and our Savior, Jesus Christ. The ministry here has been fruitful and the source of much joy as we see the Word of God at work in the lives of so many people here in Ukraine.
The Word of God Bible College in Kiev continues to be the primary focus of our work here. We have a dozen students this year, and this is one of the finest groups we have ever had. They are serious about learning the Bible and applying it. We anticipate that they will have significant ministries when they have finished their studies with us. Some of them have already been approached about pastoral work when they graduate next spring.
Word of God Bible College 2018–2019
One of the greatest joys is seeing our graduates serving the Lord. In two DM2 conferences that Mark Musser put on in Ukraine we had six former students involved in the teaching. Vasya Munko, one of our first graduates, pastors Grace Bible Church in Lviv. He taught some of the DM2 modules, interpreted for me at a seminary course I taught in Western Ukraine recently, and will teach a course at the college in December. Igor Smolyar, another graduate is currently teaching a course in the pastoral epistles at the college. Sasha and Ira, husband and wife team who graduated last year from the Bible college are heading up the youth group at the church and doing an outstanding job. Zhenya Savchenko, our first college graduate, pastors Living Water Church in the nearby town of Baryshivka. His church hosted one of the recent DM2 conferences. Oleg Lozinski, director of the Bible college, is currently teaching a Bible college course in Armenia.
I have taught more than 80 hours of Bible and theology in the past two months, not including teaching on Sundays at Word of God Church, and pulpit fill in other churches. In December I will teach another 32 hours at the college. We praise the Lord that He has given us grace to be able to carry on such a demanding schedule.
Another cause for celebration: Phyllis and I will be celebrating our Golden Wedding Anniversary on the 30th of November. Fifty years! A wonderful marriage.
We are so grateful for all of you who pray for us and support this ministry. Thank you. May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and blessed Christmas.
By grace alone,
Below I have also included a letter from Mark Musser who has labored intensively in our ministry here and in other places as well. Please keep him and his family in your prayers.
A GROWING, MATURING MINISTRY IN KIEV
I just returned to Yerevan, Armenia after spending a very fruitful two weeks in Ukraine. It was such a pleasure to arrive in Kiev after a mere 2-½ hour flight, and then be able to get quickly into the ministry there with no jet lag! Since 2004, I have traveled to Kiev almost 30 times from the Pacific Northwest and the long flight does takes its toll on the body – but this fall – it was a hop, skip, and a jump over Turkey and the Black Sea to Ukraine.
Over the years, I have done a lot of teaching at the Word of God Bible College in Kiev, which continues to be blessed with serious students. While the Bible college is not large, usually comprised of 10–15 students, it is an intensive two-year program that even includes Greek and Hebrew studies.
We have several new students this year at the Bible college, one of them used to live in Yerevan!. Several of them are from the Lviv area in western Ukraine and are mature believers. Four of them, two couples are even now being petitioned/recruited to help serve in other churches in the country after they graduate. Please pray for future ministries and good decision-making on the part of Vasya and Larisa Chaplaev and also for Yuri and Nadia Chugai. They have been such a pleasure to teach and their enthusiasm for God’s word is very high.
This time around, I taught New Testament Survey, which was well received by the students. I will return in early spring to teach Romans, and then again in late May to teach a survey on Daniel-Revelation. In addition to teaching at the Bible college, I helped lead two DM2 workshops that included a number of different teachers, including Jim Myers, two other Americans and seven Ukrainians – six of whom are graduates from our Bible college. This is a really good sign of how the ministry is maturing in Ukraine as we are starting to see more Ukrainians involved in teaching the Bible. These DM2 workshops are not easy to do, involve many hours of teaching, discipleship, and study for everyone involved. They have proven to be very effective in giving hands-on teaching experience to our former students. This fall, we taught the book of Galatians in Kiev, and then the book of Colossians in Baryshivka.
Andy Stacy, who has taken the pastoral reins of Grace Redeemer Bible Church in Olympia, also joined us with great enthusiasm for the second year in a row as he helped teach both Galatians and Colossians. When it was time for Andy to go back home, he had a hard time leaving as he really enjoyed the Bible workshops and getting to know the people better.
Bob Bolender III, yet another graduate of our Bible college also joined us and helped us teach! Bob is increasingly becoming interested in the pastoral ministry. He is married to Elvira, another graduate of the Bible college in Kiev! Elvira joined in the work by doing some of the translation. Elvira is Russian, but came to Kiev through the ministry of the Ryabchenko’s who have been serving as missionaries in Turkey ever since they graduated from the Bible college a number of years ago now. Elvira moved to Turkey and met the Ryabchenko’s, who then encouraged her to go to the Bible college.
With such testimonies, when I think of our mission in Kiev, I often think of Acts 19 where the apostle Paul, after being forced to step away from the synagogue because of his strong emphasis upon the law-free grace gospel, started teaching in Ephesus by using what Luke calls “the school of Tyrannus” (Acts 19:9).
Right before I headed back “home” to Yerevan, we had also had an especially fruitful day on the last Sunday I was in Kiev. This included attending the church service in the morning, finishing up DM2 Galatians in the afternoon, and then finishing up with a baptism service in the evening. After Jim introduced the baptism service, Pastor Oleg Lozinsky then baptized three people, after which it was an honor for me to give a short sermon on the significance of baptism from the Scriptures. It was a special day indeed and very reflective of the maturing ministry in Kiev.
But this is not all – Oleg Lozinsky then got on the plane with me to travel to Yerevan as he was invited by Dr. Ron Minton to teach a course at International Baptist Bible College (IBBC). Dr. Minton, who lives in Kharkiv, Ukraine, is president of IBBC and has a number of different college branches in several cities in Ukraine and other international locales. He and Jim often teach at each other’s respective colleges. He recently opened up a new college branch in Yerevan, hosted by a church called the Bethlehem Church. When he found out I would be living in Yerevan, he asked me to teach my Christian Family course there. Now, however, it is Oleg’s turn.
Oleg, one of our first graduates at the Bible college, is now the pastor of the Word of God Church and also the dean of the Bible college. Oleg has matured in his faith, particularly over the last several years as Jim has given more and more responsibility over to him – which has made him thrive spiritually. It has been a pleasure to attend some of the sessions being taught by Oleg. He is having a great time teaching his course.
Oleg teaching at IBBC in Armenia
Oleg is receiving lots of good questions as they are hearing grace-orientated truths for the very first time. After classes, some linger and discuss with him many theological, spiritual, and biblical questions – for up to 2 hours!