29 March 2009

Nikolaevka, Crimea, Ukraine

Today we attended church in the "House of Culture." That is what the Ukrainians call their community centers in every village. The church rents a small room on the second floor that is unheated. Actually the whole community center is unheated. So we all sat around in our coats and gloves singing hymns and listening to Bro. Jeff and another brother encourage us with the Word.

This is the church I wrote about just recently which is building their church home right in the center of Nikolaevka. This also happens to be the church we started when we came back in 1994. The very interesting thing about this is that in most places, when the town "gives" a piece of land for a church building, it usually is way out on the outskirts of town and is not easily accessible. Yet, this town gave them a "prime" piece of real estate in this sleepy winter village that transforms and swells in summer to a large seaside resort. Land prices have risen astronomically, so we saw this as the hand of God. It wasn't that way when we came in '94, but that is how things have changed. So, they are a church of about 20 to 25 people, planning for a summer influx and building to seat 150 people in worship services. The church collected $12,500 of their own money to begin, and a local builder gave them another $25,000, allowing them to finalize blueprints, fence the property, and dig and lay the foundation. What can a small church do if they serve a great God?

Do you see God at work in all of this? I am wondering how we can help them. What they've built so far has been with their own hands, but they are a poor people with little resources for materials. Nonetheless, God has given them enough to get started so they are a people full of hope. May the Lord cause it to happen!

Scrapbooking Faith in Ukraine

If you'd like to see pictures on Saturday's class please view our personal/artsy blog. We had a great time with the girls. Go to Tea On the Terrace.

27 March 2009

Faith-booking Class in Simferopol

Greetings from the Crimea region of South Ukraine. On Saturday, tomorrow, I am doing a scrapbooking class for 10 young ladies. I am so pleased the Lord gives me this opportunity to work with young women. They will be making a scrapbook that documents their Christian walk of faith. This will not only be valuable for themselves, but it will be a great way for them to share about their experience with friends by showing their scrapbooks. Please pray for us even if you see this after Saturday that it might be an ongoing blessing to many.

26 March 2009

On the Road in Ukraine

Check out our article and pictures of the road trip from Kyiv to Crimea at: http://teaontheterrace.blogspot.com/

25 March 2009

First Baptist Church of Nikolaevka, Crimea, Ukraine

Church Foundation

The Church in Nikolaevka, Crimea, Ukraine

Letter from Sergey, Pastor of the Baptist church in Nikolaevka,

I greet you, our dear brothers and sisters, with the love of our Lord Jesus Christ,

We are building a House of Prayer (church) in the village of Nikolaevka. In the village as well as in the outskirts live over 15 thousand people. The town is growing very quickly; many are building private homes along with rooms for vacationers as Nikolaevka is near the sea. The land here is very expensive because of the vacationers. We are expecting the population to surge in the future.

We were granted .61 acres of land (1/4 hectare) in the very center of town, which for the church is a great blessing because we have had to migrate from one rental space to another over the past 15 years. Our church can now have its own building. Moreover, in the summer many people visit our worship service who have come from other cities and even other countries. These are tourists, who come here for vacation. Christians in some countries are experiencing persecution, but here, thanks to the Lord, they can come to worship without fear of repression. Sometimes visitors have been saved in our services and returned to their homeland. What a blessing that we can share the good news about our Lord in this way!

Many barriers have arisen to keep us from starting our building project, but the strong arm of God was with us. We began with only our own hands, each member taking part in the building. Now we have built our fence, laid the foundation of the building, and are presently building the Sunday school rooms and utility buildings. Our worship hall has been designed to seat 150 people. Although we have done a great deal ourselves, we need help from outside.

If the Lord has so disposed you, we ask you to participate in helping us build our House of Prayer.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Cor 9:8)

With love,
Pastor Sergey and the brothers and sisters of the Baptist Church in Nikolaevka

If you so desire to participate in this move of God then you may send donations to:
Jeff Franks Workfund, Nikolaevka
Baptist Missionary Assn.
P.O. Box 30910
Little Rock, Ark. 72260

21 March 2009

A Few Moments of Sunshine in Moscow, Russia

The weather in Moscow was gray and blustery all week, but when Bro. Jerry (Kidd) and I were talking in his room and this low, faint sun came out to highlight these buildings, I had to go for my camera before it disappeared.

Danilovskaya Monastery in Moscow

I thought you would enjoy seeing this panoramic view from the Danilovskaya Hotel in Moscow. In mid-March Moscow was still white, with flakes still falling most evenings. The monastery was built by the son of Alexander Nevsky in the late 1700's, and I read in one place that it was Moscow's first all-men's monastery. I have no idea what that means. Were they co-ed before that? It is also the official residence of the Most Holy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Alexey II. (Amazingly, I was able to write his whole title and name without resorting to an exclamation mark. I am counting on his excellency to forgive the omission. Thank you for your prayers, our meetings went well. Jeff

16 March 2009

Canoe Trip, Kid's Camps, Volodya Ponomorov

The following is a letter from one of our young BMA missionaries in Ukraine. I think you will rejoice with us in the way the Lord is using this young family.

"God especially blessed us in several summer projects. In one of these, my wife and I took part in a 10-day canoe trip for college students. We paddled down the Vorskla River in Ukraine’s Poltava oblast. 40 students made the trip of which 10 were still unbelievers. I was there as a spiritual counselor and spoke at the seminars which we held every evening. What an exciting time we had getting to know one another, having fellowship, fun, and experiencing the extreme!

Also, in our local church we held a youth camp and a children’s camp.

This year God has led us to develop our needs-based community evangelism. We began to work with handicapped people in our region. A sister began to come to our church who had been saved in a charismatic church. Her son is handicapped and she is the director of a cerebral palsy association. We are starting a small group among the mothers of children with that disease. Often the husbands abandon such mothers, and they find themselves in need and often depressed. In loneliness they have a great need for fellowship. Small group fellowship is just what they need. A few such mothers are now regularly visiting our church.

In addition on June 1 we are planning to hold a “Banquet of Hope” for handicapped and otherwise challenged children. For this we are planning to rent a facility in our area.

This summer we want to have a children’s camp for the handicapped. However, we have come face to face with some complications. This is very specific and delicate work. It is work, which demands a special love, compassion, and a total dedication to helping such people. Therefore we are trying to form a ministry team for just this purpose. Please pray for us and for this ministry.

We are progressing with our plans to start a rehab center for drug and alcohol-addicted people. Our prayer is that the Lord will send us dedicated leaders for this ministry. The Lord has already given us a property in Tetievo in the Kiev oblast(state), which needs repair.

There in Tetievo, by the mercy of God we were able to plant a new church. Each Sunday we are gathering a group of about 10 people, who also meet during the week. The Lord sent us a missionary family in Sergey and Natasha, who are leading this ministry.

A couple words about my family. We are well, and for me this is a great joy, help, and support in the ministry. I have two boys, David (12) and Ruvim (11), in the 6th and 5th grades, respectively. David is studying piano in music school. Ruvim is learning the guitar. They love soccer and enjoy playing on the grade school team.

The financial crisis has not left us untouched, and therefore we are praying and seeking additional support for our family in the amount of $150 - $200. This is related to the rapid growth in prices for gas, electricity, telephone and other utilities in Ukraine. My support does not yet cover these expenses.

We also are want to finish the restoration and repair of our home for which we need about $2,000. Such are our needs. We are praying about this and believe that the Lord will answer them."

If you would like to contribute to the needs of this young couple you can send your donations to the Baptist Missionary Assn. of America, Box P.O Box 30910
Little Rock, Ark. 72260 making note for the Jeff Franks work fund, "Volodya Ponomorova"

12 March 2009

From Moscow

Oh, the wonders of Skype. Jeff called me over Skype the last two nights to say thanks for all the prayers. He and Brother Jerry had good flights and have had good meetings. They went to the Central church to meet with the pastor Sergai and all was good. Jeff asked that we continue to pray. Thank you for your dedicated hearts.

10 March 2009

Prison Ministry in Ukraine

Last week Jeff was in Vinnitsa, a city in central Ukraine about setting up the first seminar for prison ministry. The Lord blessed with successful meetings and they will start this endeavor in early April. Please be in prayer for this: for the prisoners, the officials, the men leading the seminar and for the equipment. This being the first seminar to be done in Ukraine will be very important for it to go well as it will set a precedent for moving ahead into other prisons. May God be honored.

Moscow, Russia

This morning at 5:30 we left the house to take Jeff to the airport for his 3 hour flight. Brother Jerry Kidd (our director/boss) of the Baptist Missionary Association of America (BMAA)left much earlier than that for his overnight flight from America to Moscow (jet-lag...). They will be meeting for the next several days with Russian pastors there about the Sunday school ministry that we helped start some years back with literature and seminars. Please pray for their safety in this big city and that God's plan would be fulfilled and blessed in their being there. To Him be the Glory.

04 March 2009

Prison Ministry In Ukraine

Not long ago Jeff received the go-ahead from the head of Ukraine prisons to write up a proposal for starting ministry in some of the Ukraine prisons. Therefore, today he has gone to the central Ukrainian town of Vinnitsa to meet with prison officials there to arrange for setting up meeting and seminars in their prison. This is a prison where our BMA missionary Pavel Pachopsky has people who have worked and are ready to expand work in the prisons.

Last April Jeff took a delegation of Ukrainian prison wardens to America so they could see first hand how ministry in prisons can reduce the rate of resitivism of prisoners. This is a great opportunity that could have immence impact on the whole country in time. The head of Ukraine prisons even suggested that they put the prison guards through this Christian training as well. We stand amazed at the open doors, but still ask that you pray about this so problems will not beset and close doors.