Dear Friends and Partners,
This letter will be a combination of our regular prayer letter and our monthly war update email. We took our oldest daughter to her first year of college at Grand Canyon University, a Christian school in Phoenix, AZ, so we are a bit behind. Next month, I will get back to our normal routine.
After months of hard to read prayer letters, I would like to share with you some good news. In the past month, there has been a slight turn of events – the Ukrainian military has been able to make some advances and take back some of their land in several areas across Ukraine. In our area of Kharkiv, there was significant advancement by the Ukrainian
military’s counter offensive. There are still daily explosions in Kharkiv from long range artillery and missiles being shot from behind the Russian border (since Kharkiv is only 25 miles away from the Russian border), but the Russian military’s defense lines within Ukraine and near Kharkiv have been pushed back about 10-15 miles from their previous location.
Do you remember my friend, pastor Sasha, who was tortured by the Russians? I mentioned a month or two ago that his family made it out of Ukraine and are now living in Poland. The town where he was from (Balaklayea), which is about an hour south of Kharkiv, has been occupied by the Russians for a long time. I am happy to report that this town is one of the towns that was freed by the Ukrainian military!
Looking with my human eyes and projecting what may happen this winter, it may be very rough winter for the Ukrainians in our area, because mu
ch of our city has lost natural gas for heating, electricity for cooking, and food and medicine are scarce. Add to the fact that many people are living in homes or apartments without windows, it will most likely be a very cold winter for many people. But this month and next month, I want to share some good news!
Church attendance has increased dramatically!
Our six ministry partners in Kharkiv have been continually helping people survive by preparing and distributing food packages to the people in Kharkiv, as well as, the towns and villages within our region. Millions of people have already fled our region to other parts of Ukraine or western Europe, including Christian families who were active in the local churches. As you can imagine, church attendance took a big dip with the war, but a faithful remnant of people chose to remain in our city and help those who have been unable to leave due to age, health, or disability.
When our ministry partners travel to these various locations around our region, they always give a short sermon, share the Good News of Jesus Christ, offer salvation opportunities, and distribute biblical literature before handing out the food packets.
Over the past six months, the Ukrainians have consistently seen the love of Christ through these Christian volunteers. Because of this wonderful testimony of God’s love and outpouring of help, the people have been open to visiting the churches and our ministry partners have seen a dramatic increase in attendance, often with few seats remaining in their church services! As you would expect, the churches worship God, preach biblically relevant sermons, explaining their need for repentance, and many people have accepted Jesus with some having been baptized. Salvation and revival are happening across many locations! I can honestly say that this has been a very bright spot for many of the pastors and laity who have worked tirelessly around the clock for six months.
As you can see from the two photos within this letter (from two different ministry partners), there are many senior citizens – this is not a surprise, since they are the most vulnerable of society and many of them don’t have the ability to leave our area. While everyone hates war, God has used this crisis to bring people to himself. With the dire situation of depleting supplies, lack of basic needs, and an unknown future, many people have decided to re-evaluate their eternal security and many people have determined that they need God in their lives and Jesus as their Savior!
This war has been really brutal with the loss of life, destroyed homes, separated families, and lost dreams - and it will most likely remain difficult for the foreseeable future. But in the darkness of these days, God has pierced through and shown his love to a hurting people – and encouraging all of our pastor friends along the way. It is amazing to see the hope and joy that my pastor friends have had in such turbulent times. I am proud of their unwavering faith, strength, endurance, courage, and sacrifice as they share the Good News and try to help as many people as possible physically, emotionally and spiritually! I am proud to call them my friends!
Here is a video from one of our partner’s outreaches (Please copy and paste into your browser):
Here is a video of a church service from the same ministry partner (Please copy and paste into your browser):
I want thank you for your huge sacrifice over the past six months – our ministry partners could not have done it without your help! You have done much in helping our brothers and sisters so far away – thank you! We may never know the impact of your giving this side of heaven, but thank you!
At the moment, it looks like this will be a protracted war, but please receive my sincere thanks for everything you have done and continue to do! We are committed to being the conduit of hope from you to Ukraine, in the name of Jesus! Please don’t grow weary in praying and giving. Every person we help, even in some small way, may be the difference between life and death this winter and going into 2023. Thank you again!
In Jesus’ love,