NEWS / ENGLISH
Ukraine’s foreign language market is still in a state of infancy as Ukraine gradually opens up to the outside world. Many people are attracted to English as a foreign language because of the hope to improve their opportunities for prosperity. It is believed that knowing English can double or triple one’s earning power. But unfortunately, many serious students have found their university programs and private lessons as very pricey investments. So costly, in fact, that many Ukrainians are unable to pay for these courses to improve their status in society.
As a ministry and evangelistic outreach to the Ukrainian people, Slavic Christian Ministries has provided English courses to the general public (by partnering with local churches) for many years now. We have developed our own Christian based materials to provide both life skills to students, while also giving them the opportunity to learn about Jesus Christ and his love for them.
English Evangelism is Exploding!
Since our last letter, it looks like our English evangelism courses have increased from 150 students to approximately 200 students. It has been a joyful experience for everyone involved. The students love the classes, the teachers enjoy their pupils and the churches are delighted in having an increased awareness about Jesus.
Besides learning English, a small percentage of people are beginning to go to church. There have also been Christmas parties and pot-lucks with many students building relationships with Christians. They say our classes are like a “family atmosphere.” And because of this positive environment, the life of Christ, through His people are shinning bright enough that word about us is spreading throughout this entire town.
I believe that the first stage of our outreach is a success and now we are ready to build towards the future. Beginning this August we will increase our 1st year English evangelism courses to include 2nd year English evangelism courses, discipleship courses and several youth groups. We have other churches pleading with us to do the same with them, but unfortunately, our financial restraints make it difficult, unless a miracle happens!
Nova Vodalaga Region, Ukraine
In the last letter, we discussed the town of Balaklayea. In this letter we will tell you about Nova Vodalaga. Nova Vodalaga, literally translated means “New Water.” Or to put a Christian spin on the name, you could say that we are ministering in the town of “Living Water.”
It is a town of about 15,000 – 20,000 people, with the region having many more residents. It is about an hour drive Southwest of Kharkov. This town is like many other towns and villages in Ukraine with an estimated 50% unemployment rate. The main industry is a glass factory. And consistent with other towns and villages in this culture, the average person makes $40 per month. They survive by growing food in their little plots of land, which they call “kitchen gardens.”
For the past year or so, we have been working with a church in this town. Pastor Victor and his wife Svyeta are such a delight to be around. They began the church as a bible-study several years ago and now have grown to over 40 people. Their sparkling personalities and love for Jesus is so infectious that people so very much enjoy their presence. Everyone works hard and they have just bought an old run-down building they are hoping to make into a church someday. Until that dream becomes a reality, they rent space every Sunday in a government building for their worship service.
They have embraced our classes and God has blessed our combined efforts. In this town we have 40 students, including several teenagers from a nearby orphanage. Many of the people the Lord attracted were youth. So this upcoming Fall we are going to begin a youth group to meet the needs of these young people. Several of the students have begun attending the church on Sundays.
To give you an idea of how the classes have made the students feel appreciated, I have attached an “unedited” copy of the testimonies from many in the class. Their hearts are warming so much that soon we hope many will trust Jesus and open their hearts to Him too!
Testimonies of English Evangelism Students.
Dear Ron, This is Tanya and Angelica writing to you. We like these lessons of English. Ron, how are you? When will you come? Do you have snow in America? Happy New Year! Ron! We wish you happiness and good health. Tanya and Angelica.
I like everything at these English lessons, I like our teacher Natasha. Come to us, we miss you. Natasha. I like it all very much. I would like these lessons to continue. I like our teachers. I dream to visit America, that is why I study English. How do you do, Ron? Thank you for this chance to study English, but I had no this opportunity. I like the way they teach us very much. It is very easy and understandable. Thank you for this opportunity. Natasha.
Dear Ron (respectfully), I thank you and those people, who rendered the help in organization of the courses of English, a lot. This is really the unique chance for many people to study English in our location. Personally I like the classes’ atmosphere and the way English is taught. Alexei.
Hi Ron, My name is Anton. I live in Vlasovka and go to Vlasovka school. Next school year I will go to another school in Nova Vodolaga. I study English to be a good pupil at school. I visit an English group of which you are a manager. Thank you and your friends for these classes every much. How do you do, Ron? I want to thank you for this opportunity given to me. Now thanks to you and your sponsors I can fellowship with my classmates at English classes at school.
When I moved to Vodolaga, English was hard subject for me at the new school. They often laughed at me and it hurt me. But thanks to your courses my classmates were surprised with my success at English. Ljuba.
Hi Ron, This is Sveta. I love English and I want to learn it completely and my school teachers and Natasha help me in it. The classes she teaches are very interesting for me, and I don’t want to change anything at our lessons. I like the atmosphere of the lessons where everybody help each other and everybody is interested. I want to wish you Marry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I wish you success in your work, happy mood and strong health.
Ron, if you will have possibility, come to our lessons, we will be happy to see you. With respect, Sveta Kranz.
Greetings! My name is Tanya. I am 16. I want to say thank you very much for the opportunity you gave us to study English. I like these classes very much. I want them to continue. I am so grateful to you because we are restricted in many ways living in a village so this opportunity to study English is very good and needed. Thank you!!! May the lord bless you and protect you.
My name is Olhovskaya Vera. I like our classes very mush and I like our teacher – Natasha.
I like the way she teaches in class – very easy and understandable. I’d like that she may pay more attention to everyone separately and to ask us separately more. It will stimulate us to study better. It’ll be good is we could revise the material we studied before because otherwise we forget much things. In general I am thankful to God and men who gave us this opportunity to study.
What I can say about our teacher Natasha is that it’s the best teacher. She is an interesting person. She knows the language perfectly and the way she explains the material to us is very easy and understandable. It’s very important because the person can have perfect knowledge but be unable to pass it to others. Thank you for support of our classes. I’ll be glad if my comments are useful to you. Nadezda Protsun.
I’m thankful to God for touching the hearts of the people who are serving Him to organize and teach in our village English classes. I like our discussions in homelike atmosphere when you don’t care about a bad grade that you may get or the disapproval of the teacher towards you. While in class I have the possibility to have a fellowship with friends but not only that, I also get to know new methods of teaching that make the process more interesting and give a variety to it. It should be so, for everything that is created by God is always pleasant, for the work of God is glory and beauty (Psalm 111:3).
I like the English classes. Now I know many words. Now I am much better at English. I thank you for the opportunity to get to know something new. Kutsenko Anastasia 8 years old.
Thank you very much for the opportunity of learning English! We live very far from the city we are not able to attend the classes we need to pay for. In such time as this we have a unique opportunity to get the knowledge that are very necessary for us. We also thank Anya who is very simple and clear in her explanations of what we need to study. Kutsenko Valentna, 39 years old.
I greet you in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I wasn’t to express t a great gratitude to you for having English classes in our small village. We don’t have many opportunities in our village but you made them more real to us. For me and some other students there is no other way of studying the language the nearest school is 30 kilometers away. And it’s hard to get there form our village. Not much time has passed since we started but I understand I’ve learned much.
Thank you very much for your care for scarifying your time and strength every Saturday to cover such a long way and come to our place. Thank you for the knowledge you give me and I do not have enough words to express my gratitude for your ministry. Sincerely yours, Nadya.
My name is Kvashnikova Irina, I attend the English classes with my son. We like the classes very much and we would like seeing them continue. We thank very much the sponsors of these classes and our teacher Anya.
Thank you that in this far away place we live we have the opportunity of studying English. I think especially our children need it. Because the Engish language is necessary for the ability to communicate in future. And I know that knowledge will be useful always. Julia 42 years old.
My name is Prishkina Julia, I attended English classes. I want to thank all people who participate in the organization of these classes. I’ve been dreaming of learning English for a long time and thanks to these classes my dream is coming true. Thank to you all. May God bless you all.
Hello, my name is Julia. I like studying English according to your agendum very much. Thank you very much for this opportunity you gave us. We haven’t had this opportunity of studying English in our village before, so I’m so much grateful to you.
Hello dear Ron and friends, I am 47 and I’m a father and a grandfather. I study English at your classes. I got to the English classes because of my daughter and grandson. So it’s the fortune’s will or God’s will that I also study. We live far from the New Vodolaga’s place – 22 kilometers away! So I have to drive them and me to the classes every Saturday. In the village we live my daughter was studying German and when she moved to Vodolage she started English. So the problems began. Because of your English classes my daughter Luba only in tree months can now read and translate. Her teachers wonder because she can’t possible learn English so quickly as she does. And being a father and a grandfather I am very much thankful to you for your work and help. My grandson also attends classes he is in the 5th form at school. He does not have English yet as a school subject this year but the next year he will. So he’ll have some knowledge. Thank you very much and thank your friends for me. Sincerely, Vyacheslav Valentinovich.
Salvation Comes to Stanechnye!
After two years of teaching evangelism English to hundreds of students in many different locations, God is beginning to do some very exciting work in our midst.
During the past two years God has shown us His graciousness by favorably predisposing local governments, school systems and secular families towards our ministry. It has been encouraging to see the large number of students and their openness towards us. But after many months of long hours and sacrifice by our team, we have been baffled (Americans and Ukrainians alike) why no one had accepted Jesus as Savior. Especially since our ministry team had faithfully been investing in the student’s lives and unconditionally spreading Christ’s love in an atmosphere that has combined lots of love, grace, truth, light, testimony and consistent prayer. But for some reason, no converts.
However, in one village named Stanechnye we knew the Holy Spirit was moving. One day the local pastor ran up to me with a huge smile and said, “Ron, the families of our village believe your ministry is a gift from God. They see no reason why you should be here unless you were from God. And they are very happy.” Somewhat reserved, my response to this pastor was, “I am happy they are blessed, but no one seems to be becoming Christian.” Thinking of all the other locations without any eternal salvation, I guess my faith factor was a bit on the empty side that day. Nonetheless, God has actively been working in this location.
This past December around fifteen students accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. Everyone was excited – students, families and our team. Here are three testimonies from our students:
“To be honest, I wish I could have attend English courses last year, I really like our teacher Victoria and I’d also like to spend more time with God. And I can do that in our English classes! I always desired to have my own Bible for fellowship with God. But now I know that I can also fellowship with Him in our English classes. I really liked the last party when Vova shared his testimony and it really touched my heart, now I have a desire to spend more time with God. I love the atmosphere of our classes.” – Svyeta Gorlova, 14 years old
“I like everything about our English classes – our textbook, parties where we have a lot of fun, and interesting cartoons about God. I also like that our teacher prays for us every time we have a class. During this time I found out a lot of things about God and began to believe in Him more, I even started to pray before going to bed, not every night though but I pray.
I’d like to share a small testimony – once at our class I had a terrible toothache and I asked our teacher Victoria to pray for my tooth, she did and the pain went away, praise God!” – Oksana Kogal, 14 years old
“I really like our qualified and smart teacher. I knew practically nothing about God before I started coming to the English classes, but with the help of our teacher I’ve learned why God created people and everything else on our planet earth. I found out that God could always help me when I go through hard times and difficulties in my life. I’d like Him to be my example.” – Ruslan Chernov, 16 years old
Now we are praying that our Lord Jesus will continue to bless many of our other locations too.
School’s Out, but Not Forgotten!
After teaching 19 English evangelism and discipleship courses this past year, we have concluded for the summertime. A wonderful time was had by all. People were encouraged, educated, and a few people were saved. We will begin our third year of teaching again in the fall. Here are a two testimonies from our younger students:
“I liked my English class because we didn’t only study, but also read interesting Christian stories. I also liked the party times where we watched Christian videos and played interesting games. I know now (and I will always know) that God loves all people without exception, and wants us to love Him and come to Him in prayer. God helps the people who ask Him for help. I know realize that a person goes to hell because he didn’t know God. I like the classes and don’t want to change anything.” – Artyom, 12 years old
“I liked the classes because they were very interesting. Besides our course, we had fun parties. I liked everything very much. Ron, thank you for this opportunity to study. During these classes we spoke about God and learned that He takes care of us. I discovered how God created the earth. But the most important thing is that you managed to prove to me that God really does exist. I’d like to have more classes in the future.” – Alyona, 15 years old
FINALLY, AFTER THREE YEARS
After three years in the making, my discipleship book, which I have been researching, writing, and editing on a part-time basis, comes back from the editor’s office within the week. After I make the final revisions, it goes to our Ukrainian editor’s office for a final review too. Hopefully, by the end of August, both books will be published – one version in English and the other in Russian.
The book has already been taught to approximately 150 students. But including other readers, 400 or more people have read at least a portion of the book so far.
We were also told that the Ukrainian denomination (with whom we partner with) has used this book to teach the secular government of Kharkov more about Jesus. This is wonderful news since the leaders are in charge of around 4 million people. Pray that God will use this book to save these men and glorify Christ in Kharkov!
PACKED AND READY TO GO
With God’s blessing, we have two teams totaling 23 people coming to Ukraine this July and August. There is another possibility of another team coming in September, which may be solidified soon. We are excited to have these wonderful people come and minister in the name of Jesus. They seem to be very excited as they prepare to touch a few lives of orphans, encourage Christians, and help Ukrainians with evangelism.
It is heart warming to see American Christians sacrifice their time, talent and finances to bless people they have never met. Please pray for their spiritual protection and encouragement during these trips. Pray also that Jesus’ kingdom will expand because of their efforts.
Enjoyment in English Evangelism
SCM has helped local churches with evangelistic opportunities through our English evangelism courses for four years now. We recently completed three courses to 46 people through a local Baptist church in Kharkov. This year’s students were as diverse as ever. We had young and old students, Christian and non-Christian students, and educated and less educated students. All of them had varied religious backgrounds ranging from atheistic, Mormon, and Christian worldviews. To say the least, it was a very eclectic group of individuals. Despite their diverse backgrounds, the students had two things in common: first, they all wanted to learn English; and second, God had drawn everyone of them to learn more about Jesus Christ!
Over the past months, we not only taught English vocabulary and grammar, but we used Christian themes within our curriculum, engaged in class parties, showed Christian videos, played games, and pastor’s gave their Christian testimonies, and they invited them to church.
Everyone who attended our classes was very open and sincere, and enjoyed learning very much. Almost every student desired to have courses again this upcoming September. Here are testimonies from two of our students this year:
“I enjoy studying English with your ministry because we are learning English while receiving knowledge about Christianity, which I know very little about because the largest part of my life was spent learning atheism from my Soviet upbringing. My attitude about God is changing with every passing lesson. He is becoming closer to me, more understandable and more interesting.” – Nina Kucherenko
“I enjoy the way our English course is presented. Besides teaching grammar, vocabulary, and oral language acquisition, there is interesting biblical vocabulary that has not been mentioned in other courses, which is very helpful. There is a very friendly and warm atmosphere in our class. Natasha [SCM teacher] treats all students with much care and concern. She has good pronunciation and she is a very skilled teacher. I thank you for the opportunity of studying English and the Bible at the same time. I am personally prompted to meditate about our existence on this earth, my behavior, and my future goals. Thank you very much!” – Olga Moiseyenko
Nina and Olga are only two examples of the 46 students we invested in every week during this academic year. As is always the case with this type of ministry, we build trust and relationship for months with the hope and prayer that a few people will accept Jesus as his or her Savior. I know this year was no different. Now that our courses are completed for this academic year, we now patiently wait, pray, and see how many of these students will search for Christ and begin going to church. Please pray for their salvation.
As you read this letter, we are in Ukraine distributing my theology book to the student body and faculty of Christian universities throughout the entire country. Please continue to pray for our ministry as we seek to expand Jesus’ kingdom and light.
Bursting at the Seams!
I recently returned from a very fruitful trip to Ukraine. Our English evangelism courses, theology courses, and orphan ministry are going well and growing dramatically. Because of your generous gifts, our English evangelism classes are bursting at the seams.
The pastor of Resurrection Baptist Church in Kharkov recently asked me to hire another English teacher due to the overwhelming growth in the English evangelism courses we are teaching in his church. God has drawn over 120 students to this location alone–many of whom are non-Christians from the community!
The high turnout and limited space have forced some of the students to sit in the hallway where they can barely hear the teacher. Please pray that God will provide the funds so we can hire another English teacher. Our students are meeting in three groups, but they need to be divided into four.
I am also delighted to share with you that God has significantly grown the volunteer team working with our orphan ministry. Eight Ukrainian Christians are giving their time to help support our paid staff. I feel overwhelmed with joy seeing God’s people giving their time sacrificially, but I am equally delighted in knowing that more children are receiving personal attention and love. We still need more help, but this is a vast improvement!
Our theology courses are currently studying my new book in three churches. We are using these courses as a testing ground for our fall courses and to prepare our study guide to accompany my new book. Because we anticipate an increase in enrollment in the fall, we are now planning on hiring another theology teacher. Please pray that God will draw the right person to us.
Educating Heads, Reaching People’s Hearts
We recently completed eight months of English courses in Kharkov, Ukraine. I’m amazed at how quickly time goes by. Once again, our efforts proved to be enjoyable and fruitful. Through your support, we taught English to over 200 students in two different locations with multiple courses in each church.
For the second year in a row, we taught English to about 90 students at Grace Baptist Church in Saltavka, Ukraine. The pastor informed me that about half of the non-Christian students who attended our courses have begun attending his church! Praise God!
This past school year we also began teaching approximately 120 students at Resurrection Baptist Church in Kharkov, Ukraine. Our time there was very successful, both numerically and in terms of our “pre-evangelism” among many unbelievers. Natasha, our English director recently wrote, Our English classes are over and only good memories are left. We had a pleasant graduation party. We provided diplomas to the graduating students, drank tea, listened to Christian music, fellowshipped, and had much fun. At the end, there was an invitation to salvation and offer for people to visit the church.
We asked the students at both schools if we met their expectations, what they enjoyed about our courses, and what they discovered about God. The overwhelming majority replied that they learned more about God and really enjoyed learning English. The senior pastors of the hosting churches have already notified us that they want our ministry to teach the same courses again this Fall.
The Christians who attended our courses responded that they became more grounded in their faith. A few comments included:
As you can see from these comments, our programs have been very beneficial in educating Christians about our Savior, while introducing non-Christians to God’s love and care for them. Although no one openly expressed their desire to repent and reconcile with God at Resurrection Baptist Church, it was obvious that their hearts were sincerely touched. The non-Christians have a positive attitude toward God, the Christian church, and believers—all for the better.
A MESSAGE TO YOU FROM ONE OF OUR STUDENTS
Please read the testimony of Anastasia, one of our students, who wrote,
Of the three courses provided at this church, I’ve been attending the 6 p.m. group. The classes exceeded all my expectations! I liked the professionalism and the experience of my teacher. Everything was very interesting. I now know many new things about English, while also discovering many new Bible stories, such as the creation event, Garden of Eden, Noah, and Moses.
My entire life, I believed that it was only possible to communicate to God through the Ukrainian Orthodox traditional way of lighting candles and speaking to God through the intercession and help of saints or icons. Now I know otherwise!
Natasha and I want to thank each of you for your prayers and generous gifts to our ministry. I have many more positive news and exciting stories to report, but I’ll save them for updates in the coming months.
Steps To Peace With God!
Andrey Volovik, SCM English Evangelism StudentAndrey Volovik, SCM English Evangelism Student.
Hello, my name is Andrey. I am 28 years old, and I have been a real estate broker for the past six years. I come from a very spiritual family. My grandmother and parents visited the Orthodox Church several times every year, usually at Christmas and Easter. Because my parents were such devout Orthodox believers, we always kept icons of different saints in our home. My grandmother enjoyed lighting candles at the local church.
A few years ago I lost my job. When I got home I shouted at my grandmother, who was praying before one of the icons. “Grandma, where is your God? I yelled. “Why didn’t he help me? Where is he in my life?” I left my grandmother speechless. She didn’t know what to say.
Later I met Lena, a Slavic Christian Ministries English teacher. She told me about the ministry, and how they were providing free English courses as an outreach to the community. Needless to say, I was very surprised because nothing is free in our culture!
Nevertheless, I decided to attend the classes and quickly discovered that I really enjoyed them. The curriculum was very interesting, it was taught in a very interpersonal manner, and everyone was so friendly. I never imagined that people within the church could be so joyful and happy! They didn’t look sad and depressed like many of the other people in my life. Every week, I couldn’t wait until to attend our next class!
One day, Lena read us a Christian poem entitled, “Footprints in the Sand.” It really touched my heart—especially the last line of the poem, which says, “My son, my precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”
The question I had asked my grandmother was finally answered! It now made sense to me! That night at class, Lena gave an altar call, and I went up front and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I knew in my heart that this was truly the first day that I wasn’t alone in this world!
One short line in a poem transformed my life and set me on a new course as a Christian. Now I know that God is always with me! During the good times and the bad times, I now can trust that Jesus will guide me and help me. I am now able to overcome so much in my life because of my trust in Jesus. Now I know that I will never feel lonely again; and I never want to drift apart from God! – Andrey Volovik
Isn’t this a wonderful testimony of how God used so many different things to bring Andrey to himself. Please pray that many more students from all of our ministries will accept Jesus as Lord very soon! As you can see from Andrey, you are making a difference! Lives are being changed and souls are being saved!