22 January 2013

CRIMEA, UKRAINE ON A SUNDAY

The article below is written by Jeff Franks.  This picture is Judy Van Sant, our dear friends (husband Bob, not shown) who arrived in Ukraine just shortly after we did which is now almost 20 years ago.  She stands in front of a Christmas message, "If you don't have Christmas in your heart, you won't find it under the tree."  Below is the church where Jeff visited this past Sunday.

How rich we are as believers, that in almost any part of the world, we can join with other friends who are fellow members in the family of God!  In some places they may be very few, like here in Simferopol, yet we can visit them because they have a name and a place of worship.  This Sunday I joined the believers in Simferopol Baptist Church, where our long-time missionary friend Pastor Bob Van Sant leads one of their church plants along with his wife Judy.

A number of years ago their church acquired the building where the traditional Evangelical Christian Baptist Church held its services during the Soviet years.  When I walked in Sunday morning I was overcome with a flood of memories, since I had first preached here in August of 1992 during a short-term mission.  Two years later, when our family settled in the village of Nikolaevka, I preached here on most Sunday mornings. However that was another time, another age, and another church.

Bob & Judy's church actually knows Coleen better than me.  Here I am better known as "Coleen's husband".  Several of the ladies, on seeing me, immediately asked, "Did Coleen come?" She has led several seminars in art journaling or as she sometimes calls it, "faith-booking" for the ladies of Simferopol Baptist Church, both young and old.

Before the main service Pastor Bob led a Sunday school lesson on the subject of crowns.  Very encouraging lesson, and challenging, too!  Afterward in worship Pastor Bob had invited me to preach, and since the day before was January 19th, the Holiday of Jesus' Baptism, I chose that for my subject, one of my favorite episodes from the life of our Lord Jesus.   Worship was uplifting and joyful.  Marina, Lena, and Nelya sang "Nearer my God to Thee" in beautiful 3-part harmony.  Here is their performance on YouTube http://youtu.be/kEN5vP0j4_I

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