31 December 2008

Children's Christmas Program

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29 December 2008

Youth Fun At Christmas

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27 December 2008

Click to play December Children's Fair
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22 December 2008

The Owens Family

While Jeff was in Georgia, I was blessed to host Justin and Crystal Owens along with their two little ones, Kayla and Bradon over the weekend. They flew for America today to have Christmas with family and await the arrival of their new baby. This is a sweet young couple and I encourage you to ask them to your churches to talk about the new ministry they will be starting in Estonia. Crystal and Justin did a year and a half of Russian language study here in Ukraine which will be useful in Estonia as many there still speak Russian.

Report from Gori and Tblisi, Georgia

I just ducked into a little internet room by one of the metro stations here in Tbilisi, Georgia. I am here to discuss training and church planting issues with a small association of 22 Georgian churches, only recently formed.

Yesterday I preached in the town of Gori, where at the end of the service 7 people came forward to receive Christ as Savior! Before the services we drove through several villages where homes were bombed and others burned out by the Russian and Ossetian soldiers who came through. Many people are mourning and deeply disturbed about why the soldiers wanted to destroy their homes, since this was already outside of Ossetia in Georgia proper. The churches are reaching out in compassion, meeting their needs, and Bro. Vissarion, the Pastor in Gori, tells me that new people are coming to Christ every Sunday.

In the afternoon, we drove to Tbilisi where I met with several brothers from the association. We discussed many issues together and shared fellowship till about 11 pm. God was very present, and the brothers were very open about their troubles and shared many touching stories about reaching out to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the refugees from Abkhazia (250,000) and Ossetia (140,000).

Today, Bros. Anatoly and Ghia from the BMA (Baptist Missionary Association)of Georgia took me to a military hospital where three hospital buildings are filled with Georgian refugees, about 700 people in each building. Until only a week ago most of them were living without heat, one family to a room. I visited an 82 year old lady who wept over her home, passed down from generation to generation. "The Ossetians burned it to the ground, she said, so that we would leave and never return."

Another family of 6 told me that they were living on macaroni, and had no fruits, vegetables, or other groceries whatsoever, like most of the families in the building. "We left with the shirt on our backs on August 10th," one man said. "Most people fled during heavy bombing and automatic weapons fire, and like us, they did not even have time to pack a suitcase."

Please pray and ask your church to pray for the Georgian churches, that they will endeavor to please the Lord in meeting the physical and spiritual needs of the overwhelming number of needy refugees. I hope that our churches in USA will find a way to help them as well. May the Lord lead!

21 December 2008

October 19th, Accident Update

On October 19th three children on a church excursion to Kiev were hit by a car and hospitalized. Today I saw Vika, the least hurt of the three and asked her how she was doing. She said she was fine. Vika was one of my best English students when she was little. In addition, though I didn't see him, Sasha's sister told me he was in church for the first time today and doing well. Andre, who has been of most concern is doing much better, but still having memory issues for which we would ask that you continue to pray. We serve a mighty God and we know this has all been in his hands. He has the power and the right timing to heal.

Georgia Update on Meetings

Jeff just sent this update on sms: "A most critical meeting in more ways than 1. God blessed visibly. Thanks for your prayers. Still with 3 bros. getting ready for zveroboi tea."

Zveroboi tea is St. John's Wort herb, a very popular tea in Georgia. Naturally I am most interested to hear how God blessed. Jeff returns home Tuesday evening.


Where Jeff is he has no internet connection so our communication is limited. I did receive an sms this afternoon as follows: "7 people gotsaved in morning services. Still in Gori. Going to Tblisi for evening discussions. Pray." There have been some problems which Jeff was hoping might sort themselves out with a little intervention. We can best pray "the Lord's will be done."

19 December 2008


Today Jeff travels to the country of Georgia. Last time he was there they were bombing in Gori and he was trying to get a medical mission out of danger. This trip will be to visit with missionaries and consult with association leaders to plan for future missionary training and church planting. Please pray that God's hand would be in the negotiations and interactions.

Today also, the Justin Owens family will arrive from Tallinn, Estonia to spend a few days with us before departing for America to be home for the holidays and to await the birth of their baby. Pray that the Owens would have calm and rest while with us as they have just gone through a major move from Kyiv to Tallinn.

Please pray for travel safety in both cases.

18 December 2008

Evangelism of Youth Girls

Last Saturday night, December 13, 2008 we had a great group of girls attend "The Meaning of Christmas." There were speakers, music, songs to sing, a time to express artistically and of course, food. Laura Kanaykina asked me to do a craft with the girls and we all had a great time. It was evident they loved the whole evening because when we were all finished no one wanted to leave. For more pictures on this event you can view my art blog at http://teaontheterrace.blogspot.com/

Laura Kanaykina

Laura spoke to the girls and encouraged them. She works a lot with this age group.

The Creative Process

The girls loved doing a craft as part of the whole experience. They made picture frames from foam hearts that Laura had left over from a camp. They turned out so beautiful using glitter and sequins. They will be a good memory of the night and of course we gave each girl a verse to put on their frame.

Girls Evangelism

A lovely girl proud of her beautiful piece of art.

12 December 2008

Day-to-Day Humdrum

Check email, answer letters, make calls, meet with missionaries, meet with church members in need of counseling, meet with small groups, go to choir, fix the car, work on the house, shovel the snow, do more email, answer more calls, meet with more people, etc., etc. etc. There is so much to our daily life that we don't write about because it just isn't interesting, yet like everyone, the daily humdrum makes up a very large part of our lives and is important.

Today Jeff is in the big city of Kyiv(yes, that is how Ukraine is now writing the city name). Jeff is doing the grocery shopping, stopping at the drug store and other errands all on his way to the travel agency. We've come to see that is often how it is on the mission field as the man is the one out running around so this is not uncommon among missionaries.

To get downtown he parks at Petrivka which is the outskirts of Kyiv and takes the subway. It is much faster than trying to fight the traffic. The main goal today is to get his plane ticket to the country of Georgia where he will meet with our missionaries and do some counseling and future planning. Then he will get home after dinner time and do .... you guessed it, check email and answer letters, etc. Life is always exciting, even in the ho-hum events.

Youth Girls Evangelism

On Saturday we are expecting 75 girls for evangelism about "The Meaning of Christmas." Girls from the Irpen Bible Church are inviting their friends to come for this fun Christmas time event. After the presentation there will be a craft event. Laura Kanaykina asked me to come and help with this part of it. The girls will be making and decorating picture frames. And as always, they will have a verse on them. That is my "trademark" you might say. No craft goes home without a verse on it. I'm always thinking about that sphere of influence surrounding the child or person who's done the craft. Please pray for these girls that the Lord would touch their hearts with his love and kindness through all they come in contact with that night. That they might see the light of Jesus in all of us and know he is something they want..

10 December 2008

Winter in Ukraine

The view of winter from the warmth of our kitchen door in our part of the woods.

03 December 2008

Sample Scrapbook Page from Sunday School

Sunday School Scrapbooks

This year the four oldest grades of Sunday School are making year-long albums of their Sunday school experience. These albums will include verse, their lessons each Sunday, pictures from magazines and cards, photographs which we will do and whatever else they find to put in there. We think this will be a great memory for the kids, not just of their lessons, but of their friends (class pictures)and their varied projects. And because it will have photographs, it will never be thrown away. The not so hidden agenda here is that we are making books that will be a witness to others. Please pray for these kids. They are the future of the church. Thank you to all who have sent materials for us to use with the kids in crafts and scrapbooking. May you be ever blessed.

02 December 2008

Jeff's Letter About Meetings

Things are going well this morning. Much enthusiasm for the Word and God has blessed our interaction. Bro. Jerry led both yesterday and today with inspiring devotionals, as only he can bring, so full of love for God and people. So keep praying for all our friends and for us that God's will, his plans and desires for this conference will be fully realized.

01 December 2008

Crafts With the Six Year Olds

This is too much fun to call it work. Sunday school teacher Vitya and Crafts volunteer Leda helping the children.

Many Have Come, May Their Hearts Be Touched

I spoke with Jeff tonight and there are 19 participants that have come in for training. This is one of the largest groups yet. One woman said this was just the kind of training they needed where they can have discussion. She said in their country they only get lecture and there is no opportunity for interaction. Discussion and interaction is typical of how Jeff teaches. He is teaching "inductive" method of Bible study so these people can self-feed. All have shared belief in Jesus Christ and assurance of salvation.

Yesterday on the news I heard of violet protests in the city where they are and today a bomb injured two, so please continue to pray for the participants growth and the protection of all.

"For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." 2 Corinthians 4:5 KJV

29 November 2008

Underground Church

After a great experience in Israel, two days home and Jeff left today for undisclosed country where he will meet our missions director. Jeff will be working again with folks coming out of a "No-Access" country teaching them from the Bible. The news just reported some violent protests going on where he is so I would appreciate your prayers for their safety as well as Jeff's teaching and our director's preaching.

This work is such a wonderful opportunity, as the Lord has provided an open door we would never have dreamed. We are humbled to have a small part in ministering to these people and building them up in the Lord, to His glory. Pray for these people that someday they would have freedom to worship as they please without the threat of imprisonment for their faith. Pray for those who are still imprisoned right now. May the Lord lift you up this day as you serve him in joy and appreciation for all he's done. We are grateful for you.

22 November 2008

A Trip to the Holy Land

God surprised us not long ago with the opportunity to go to Israel with many folks from our church along with other pastors and Christians from around Ukraine. I am writing you from Jerusalem now. We are the only Americans in a group of 34 Ukrainians on a tour of many places where Jesus walked. This has been a dream of ours for many years so we were thrilled when the door opened. We feel extremely honored that the church wanted us to come along and would simply asked that you pray for the deepening of our relations with them since we've been granted this great blessing.

Women's Retreat

Paula Rhinehart, author and speaker at the Kyiv Christian Women's Fellowship retreat which was held this past October just outside of Kyiv in the village of Brovary.

Women's Retreat

A time of praise and worship, a time of refreshment. The retreat is held every two years.

Women's Retreat

This was the youngest attendee of the Women's Retreat. Mom's starting her young.

Women's Retreat

I was able to display and sell some of my baskets at the retreat. This picture gives you an idea of one of the many crafts I do with ladies here in Ukraine. We went through a whole season where we did a series starting with the simplest of baskets from paper and boxes up to more complex fabric cake box baskets. It was so much fun and they loved having such "pretties" to take home.

11 November 2008

Ladies Prayer Conference

On Thursday the Bucha Church will be sponsoring a Ladies Ministry Meeting. The meeting is based on Jeremiah 33:3 "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know." Leah and I have had the privilege of making large refrigerator magnets with this verse glued onto the handle of the telephone. These cut-outs were sent to us by someone in the states. We have been making little such goodies as a take home gift for these ladies for a few years. We used craft foam and plastic gemstones to decorate them further. Our thanks to those of you who send craft supplies. The Lord uses them to bless more than just the kids.

Why We Are Here

09 November 2008

Border Crossing

After spending all day Friday at the border crossing we finally got the document which an official refused to give us the day before. Thank you for your prayers. This problem cost us an extra day and night which we had not planned, but we made it home Saturday night after the long drive across Ukraine and we are thankful to have this behind us.

Accident Update

On October 19th a group of Sunday school students went with their teacher to the big city of Kiev for an excursion. Three of the children (11 year old range) were hit by a car while crossing a busy street, but not in a pedestrian crossing zone. Vica was bruised on her head resulting in a concussion and released after several days of observation. Sasha had a compound fracture to the leg and is in a cast from the waist down. Andre was in a coma and not expected to live. Vanya, the young man who took the children was, needless to say, devastated.

Today as the pastor prayed he thanked God that Andre has finally regained consciousness. This is the first we've heard since we were away this week. I spoke to Sasha's mother this morning who said he is home now and got up on crutches for the first time since the accident. Though I didn't get to speak to him, I was glad to see that Vanya was in church today. Please continue to pray for healing in all involved, including Vanya who was so troubled by this.

07 November 2008

Border Crossing

Please pray for us as we go through the border crossing for a second time in the last few days. Last night they refused to give us one of our documents, which means we must repeat the process today and pray that we will get it this time. This process means a day long wait of standing in line from the Ukrainian side and then again from the Polish side. The problem is on the Ukrainian side. It is all part of a corrupt system that still has not been healed despite leaving communism behind. Too many of those remnants are still lingering as it lines pockets. We know God has his plan in all this, though it does try our patience.

04 November 2008

New Feature

I'm sure some of you have seen the "Email Subscription" gadget on the right side at the top. That is a handy deal like an RSS feed that will send you an update every so often when I update the blog. That way you don't have to go find the blog, but you will just receive the latest new articles. I've been trying it to test it out and it seems it doesn't send for every article, but just every couple or so. Therefore it won't clog up your in box with a lot of entries. So.....if you are wanting to keep up with us, try it. You can always cancel it with a button stroke.

03 November 2008

Fall in our Front Yard

We are slowly moving towards winter. This shows the view from our front door to the neighbors.

Fall in our Front Yard

We are having the most wonderful warm fall with roses still in bloom.

02 November 2008

Accident Update

There is basically no changes to report from last Sunday. The doctors did not expect Andre to live, yet this is the third Sunday or two weeks since the accident date and he is still with us by your prayers. He is restrained as he continues to thrash about, but there is not consciousness and no recognition of family members. The blood clot in his brain needs to dissolve before he can come to consciousness.

Sasha is still in the hospital with a cast from the waist down. He is mending and in good spirits.

Please continue to pray for Vanya, the young man who took the children on this excursion. He is still grieving the event and very upset from it all.

Car Document Troubles

Monday morning our Oklahoma friends, Dwight and Jill Smoot leave to return to America. We will miss them. As soon as they leave we are also packed to leave for the border of Poland. Only a few months ago we did this and now we must do it again. There is a chance the authorities could give us a lot of trouble so we will be praying for God's assistance through this process. What we take for granted in America is often times a much more difficult process here. Please pray with us on this.

27 October 2008

Dangers of Kiev Update

There were three children from our church hit by a taxi driver last Sunday the 19th in the captiol city of Kiev (Kyiv, new spelling adopted by the country)while out on an excursion. Vica, the least hurt was held for observation for a almost a week and released on Friday or Saturday. Sasha is still in the hospital and will be immobilized for some time with two compound breaks. Praise the Lord he is healing. Andre is still in a coma, but he is starting to move his arms, legs and eyelids. He has a blood clot in his brain that has to pass before he can come to consciousness. He has been thrashing so he's tied down, but he is being fed by his mother. Pray for Andre's older brother Sergai who is accusing the church of wrongdoing and is very upset. We are grateful for your prayers for all these families that have been hurt by this tragedy. If you would like to contribute to hospital bills for the two boys please send contributions to Baptist Missionary Assn., P.O. Box 30910, Little Rock, Arkansas 72260. Make a note on your check to specify either Andre, Sasha, or just Auto Accident so we will get it to the right place.

Imprisoned for Faith Update

Recent report has that now five of Jeff's former Bible seminar attendees have been imprisoned for their faith in one of the "no-access" countries. Please pray for these people. It seems hard for us to grasp that this still goes on in our world, but these people are being beaten and tortured. They need your prayers.

24 October 2008

Wedding Ministry

Last Saturday I got to help decorate for a wedding in the church. This family had little means for decorating and all such expenses, but I have gathered by God's grace and the help of friends, a number of things that can be used for just this occasion. Some time back we made vases using glass bottles and wrapping them in lacy fabric with strings of ribbon and white beads dangling from the necks. I had some cream colored roses sent to me that we used and I found some lovely white flowers that we did in the rest. These vases the ladies made in the church some time ago and we've used them for weddings and baby showers, which are held in the church as well.

Now last Saturday I got to do something I've wanted to do for some time. I made the brides "sign-in" book for guests. It was fun to decorate with lovely embellishments sent by you. This weekend I get to repeat all of this for another wedding. I look forward to each book as it is such a fun creative experience. Thanks to all who send items that allow me to do this. May the Lord bless you abundantly for your sacrifice.

23 October 2008

Dangers of Kiev

On Sunday a class of 11 year olds went into Kiev (Ukrainian capitol)for an excursion accompanied by their Sunday school teacher Vanya. I have few details, but three of the children darted across and were hit by a taxi cab. They were not in a crosswalk and were trying to beat the traffic. Vica went home with a concussion and bruised head. Sasha has neck and spine injuries with a compound fracture to his leg and possibly other limb breaks. He is in a cast and immobilized, but will recover. Andre is in a coma and the doctors give little hope for his recovery. He is critical and they have said only a miracle from God will save him. Worse than all of that is that there are two doctors treating him arguing over what kind of treatment he needs which has been very devastating to the family. One says he needs to be treated with a special machine (I'm sorry I have no details here) while the other says absolutely not.

Please also pray for Vanya who took the children. You can just imagine what he must be going through since he was the responsible party and yet, 11 year olds are not so easy to control. If ever there was a time to pray, this is certainly a need. This helps you to understand why so often we ask people to pray for our safety. The licensing process here is so costly and complex that most people pay $400 to buy their license and then go learn behind the wheel. It is truly a dangerous place.

18 October 2008

Tallinn, Estonia Last Installment

Jeff and Justin returned home yesterday and all is well. Justin is excited about Estonia and is already learning the language on his own. Jeff said it is evident that God is in this move. Thank you for your prayers. Coleen

12 October 2008

Exploratory Trip, Tallinn, Estonia

The following several pictures were taken over the weekend. This trip is for Jeff and Justin to explore the Lord's will for ministry in this country. Justin and Crystal have had a burden for Estonia. Please be in prayer for their time there. You can find out more about the Owens at the following blog sites:

Tallinn, Estonia

Here's the reason Jeff is in Estonia. Justin Owens is a missionary currently in language school in Kiev, Ukraine. Pray for his family in his absence as Crystal is home with two little ones and she does not drive here so she is pretty home bound. J&J will return on Friday.

Tallinn, Estonia

A very tall church steeple. I wonder what the spiritual climate is there. I'm sure Jeff and Justin will come home with a feel for that. The very old.....

Tallinn, Estonia

And the new and modern.

Exploratory Trip, Tallinn, Estonia

More Old Town in Tallinn. I can see painting this place or at least drawing. Certainly a taste of old Europe.

06 October 2008

Imprisoned for Faith

Since Jeff has returned from Armenia he brought back the news that now five have been imprisoned for their faith and three more are being questioned. These are all people with whom Jeff has a teaching relationship. Dear People, this is a time for us to pray, not just for these Christians, but for the leaders of their country. To pray that their eyes would be opened and this persecution would end. The world turns a blind eye to what these regimes are doing, therefore, we must all the more be diligent to lift them before the throne of heaven.

03 October 2008

God Answers Prayer

Thank you for your prayers on behalf of Jeff and the believers who gathered in Armenia. There were 21 with Jeff and a small child, the biggest group he's had yet. This is a new group from the folks he's been meeting with for a few years and they all want to come back again. For some of these people this was their first time to fellowship with other believers. For others it was the first time they'd ever heard God's word. Jeff said the fellowship was so sweet and God's presence was felt by all. Jeff relayed all this over the phone to me with such joy for the time he had with them and how God worked in the group. No doubt your prayers were what carried the seminar.

I share with you something that was such an encouragement to me the first time I read it:
Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the One who hears it and not in the one who says it,our prayers do make a difference.
Max Lucado

29 September 2008

"No Access Countries"

Dear Ones,

This week I ask you with strong urgings to pray, to plead before the throne of our Maker that he would bless the time Jeff has with certain believers in training this week. These are people from an underground church who have come into Armenia from a nearby "no access country." It is a place where they cannot openly speak of their beliefs and Jeff cannot go in as they know who he is. Therefore, they risk coming out, meeting, being baptized and studying God's Holy Word. I also ask that you pray for two men who have been imprisoned there. One was a participant in Jeff's training. They have been sentenced to death for their faith, but the God who moves mountains can rescind that sentence if he so chooses. Whatever the outcome, may His will be done and He be glorified. We are ever grateful for your intercession.
Joyful in service,

20 September 2008

Investigatory Team

For you folks who pray I'd like to ask you to keep Jeff, Charles Speer and Mike Grover in your prayers as they spend the next few days looking to see how they might minister with Pavel Pochopsky in the Vinnitsa oblast (like a county or small state). Charles has come for many years witnessing to the policemen of the area and also to believers. A Christian and a policeman is really like an oxymoron. They just don't fit together according to most believers in Ukraine. That is because most of the militia here are corrupt. Charles has opened their eyes to new possibilities and now has believers praying for the militia, something they've not done in the past. Between now and early next week they want to see how else Charles' church might be involved. May He be honored and glorified.

17 September 2008

Pastor of Church

Pastor Peotr Danilovich Sierenko prays at the beginning of camp which was held at the Dom Evangely (House of Prayer) in the village of Gorenchi located straight west of the big city of Kiev. Please pray for this church as they struggle to finish the building of their little church.

A New Hat

This little girl was proud of her paint job on her new hat. Is she cute or what?

Crafts at Gorenchi Camp

Coleen working with some of the girls painting their hats provided by Vicki Nelson of Smile Alliance. What fun they had with the hats and some wore them all week.

Lunchtime at Gorenechi Camp

Lunchtime is almost as much fun as any other part of camp. Some come without breakfast so they really gobble it down. This was the last big fling before school started the following week on September first.

Camp Cook

We all have to eat after such hard work! She was a sweet as they come.

Gorenchi Camp, August, 2008

The Lord gave me another camp to do this summer in a small village with a small church. This church is still under construction, but all church activities go on nonetheless. Children from ages 5-12 attended and here did sports outside.

15 September 2008

The Lord's Gift

Sunset on the river of a sleepy village. We were blessed by this scene and had to stop to record it. May you be blessed as well.

Cathedral Skyline

On the road as we left our visit with the Skripnik family. This is a typical Ukrainian village home with a Orthodox church in the background at sunset

The Skripnik Family

BMA missionaries to one of Ukraine's least church populated areas. The Lord provided support to bring these missionaries on and move them to this needy area of Ukraine. They are supported by First Baptist Church of Carthage, Texas. We were able to see them at work with children and view many pictures of their camp events done this summer in their village.

Missionary Vist

Left to right: Luba (Sergei's mother), Coleen, Little Julia (a neighbor child), Jeff, Vica, Tema (4 yrs. old), Sergei and David (9 months). We had a wonderful visit along with the typical sumptuous Ukrainian dinner.


Hay has been stacked the same way for centuries here. And it keeps into the winter. Notice the tiny church in the background village.

Western Ukraine's Beauty

September is here, but we have had beautiful traveling weather through the Carpathian Mountains of western Ukraine on our way to see missionaries.