News from the Front

OFR-Jan-Mar-2014The January-March issue of our newsletter, Overseas Field Report, is now available. In this issue, we’ll give you the latest news on the developing crisis in Ukraine, including how current events will affect CMO 2014. Also in this issue, meet Nathan Gregson, our newest missionary intern here in Ukraine!

Download the PDF here » January - March 2014 (860.9 kB)

If you subscribe to Overseas Field Report by regular mail, you should be receiving a printed copy of this issue in the next week or so. As always, we greatly appreciate your prayers and support for our ministry.

Our Position in Ukraine

As you are no doubt aware, Ukraine is in the middle of a political crisis. The details of the conflict–which have grown more gory in recent days–are readily available on major news outlets, so I won’t waste space here repeating what’s been said by others. The purpose of this post is to inform you of our family’s position in Ukraine relative to current events.


There are quite a few foreign missionaries (Americans, Canadians, Czech, and others) who live and minister in Ukraine. Certainly many of our supporters and friends back home are wondering, “With all this in the news about revolution in Ukraine, what are the missionaries doing?” I’ll tell you: we’ve been calling each other on the phone and asking that same question. :) While that last sentence may have brought a smile to your face (as was its intention) it is nonetheless true. In my circle of friends–both American and Ukrainian–I don’t know anyone who’s ever had to flee a country due to civil war, the declaration of martial law, or violent revolution.

Over the past few days, several options have been discussed. We have tried our best to peer a little ways into the future and discern how we should respond. Should we stay put? Should we leave? Whether we stay or leave, what preparations should we make? For my part, I feel that I have found reasonable answers to those questions based on the facts available. But before I share our plan, let’s take a quick look at the current state of things in L’viv.

The Status in L’viv
For my entire adult life, I have made my home in L’viv, a medium-size city in western Ukraine with a population comparable to my Texas hometown of Fort Worth. As of this writing, the bulk of the violence is occurring in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city, which is located a little more than 300 miles east of us. For now, things in L’viv are mostly calm. Yes, it is true that protesters have taken over the Oblast Administration building (as they have in many other oblasts across the country), and have forced the governor to resign, but happily, the city continues to operate mostly normally.

Yesterday, I was in downtown L’viv for an hour or so running errands, and except for the peaceful gathering of protesters in the main square (our “maydan”) there were no signs that anything was amiss. Public transportation is functioning normally, traffic is horrendous as usual, shops are open for business, and people are going about their daily lives as best they can. There are no riot police on the streets. Furthermore, all major utilities and other services have continued without interruption. We have light, gas, water, heat, cell phone service, and internet access. Nothing has been turned off, and to my knowledge, the rumors of internet censorship have proven false. For now, at least, L’viv is very much a safe place to be.

Cause for Concern?
Given my description of peaceful L’viv, you might be tempted to think that we are not concerned about current events. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are not panicking, and we are grateful that our city is still safe, but the violence in Kyiv, the new anti-protest laws passed recently by the government, the lack of unity amongst opposition leaders, and the scores of people who are suffering the loss of life and limb, all provide ample justification for the use of the term crisis.

While the reality of the conflict is clear, the wisest course of action is perhaps less so. At first glance it may seem best to adopt a get-out-while-you-can approach, but in case you haven’t had to flee your country lately, let me assure you that it is by no means a simple decision to make. We all have homes and ministries here, to say nothing of dear Ukrainian friends who face a very uncertain future. And if we do leave–which is a possibility–where would we go? Probably Poland. But once there, where would we stay and for how long? What would be the sign that it’s safe to return? In our absence, what would become of our ministries, our homes, our churches and our friends?

If all that seems like a cloud of complexity, that’s because it is. War–if that is indeed what we are facing–is never simple. But despite all this, we are not without direction.

Our Plan
God has blessed us with a wonderful team here on the mission field, and for the most part we try to do things together. The current crisis is no exception. All three of the men who lead Euro Team Outreach–myself, Nathan Day, and Jessie Beal–have discussed the situation and decided on a course of action for our team. This is our outlook in a nutshell:

  1. Our bags are packed. For now, we are staying put. But there are several possible events which could change our minds, and if one or more of those occur, we are ready to leave on short notice.
  2. We have set up a rendezvous point where our team would meet immediately in the event that phone and internet communications are cut off, which is a real possibility if martial law is declared.
  3. If we do decide to leave, Poland is the likely destination, though there are others as well. Ukraine borders five US-friendly countries on its western side. Poland, the closest of the five, is less than two hours by car from L’viv.
  4. We are praying and trusting that the Lord will guide and protect us now as He always has. We are persuaded that those who fear God need not fear anyone else.

To date, none of the foreign missionaries we know in L’viv have made the decision to leave Ukraine. We’re all still here, and we’re all praying that this situation will be resolved peacefully. Our ministries are moving forward, and our families are continuing with daily life.

Bear in mind that this is not Syria or Afghanistan. For the most part, Ukrainians are peaceful, reasonable, freedom-loving people who now face the difficult task of standing up to injustice in their country. They don’t want chaos any more than we do. I’m sure I speak for the entire missionary community in Lviv when I say that we love the country of Ukraine, and we pray earnestly that God would bring peace, liberty and prosperity to this land.

“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses:
but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”
(Psalm 20:7)

Gathering Fruit

OFR-Oct-Nov-2013The October-December issue of our newsletter, Overseas Field Report, is now available. In this issue, we’ve got lots to report about the fruit that God is bringing in as a result of this summer’s CMO project.

Download the PDF here » October - December 2013 (2.68 MB)

If you subscribe to Overseas Field Report by regular mail, you should be receiving a printed copy of this issue in the next week or so. As always, we greatly appreciate your prayers and support for our ministry.

CMO 2013: A Summary

OFR-May-Jul-Sep-2013The July-September issue of our newsletter, Overseas Field Report, is now available. In this issue, you’ll read a report of all that was accomplished during this year’s CMO project.

Download the PDF here » July - September 2013 (1.89 MB)

If you subscribe to Overseas Field Report by regular mail, you should be receiving a printed copy of this issue in the next week or so. As always, we greatly appreciate your prayers and support for our ministry.

The Seven Pillars of Genesis, Part 7: Joseph

The following is an excerpt taken from the twentieth and final lesson of Bible First.

Joseph’s Forgiveness

Joseph is often acclaimed as the most complete type of Christ found in the Old Testament. Entire charts have been constructed to show the numerous parallels between the life of Joseph and the life of our Savior. Of all Joseph’s qualities, his forgiveness of those who had been his persecutors is among the most Christ-like.

JosephAs governor of Egypt, Joseph held the power to bring down crushing retribution against those who had hated, mocked and betrayed him. Amazingly, the Genesis record gives no indication that this course of action ever entered his mind.

Once Joseph had satisfied himself that his brothers were indeed repentant, his first thought was to reunite the divided family. His forgiveness of his brothers was complete and final. After their initial reunion, Joseph never once reminded his brothers of their wickedness. Never did he point out the fulfillment of his childhood dreams, or emphasize his superiority.

In fact, when Joseph’s brothers, fearing a delayed vengeance, came to plead for mercy after Jacob’s death, Joseph was moved to tears as he reassured them of his intention to care for them and their families.

When Christ died at Calvary, He too was the clear victim of animosity from the very ones who should have loved and received Him. He could have called down legions of angels to destroy His oppressors but chose rather to endure the cross that He might save them.

The Bible states clearly that, when a person comes to God through faith in Jesus Christ, he receives complete and lasting forgiveness of all sin. (Colossians 2:13, Ephesians 1:7) Whereas the repetitious process of ritual confession found in many religions produces uncertainty and doubt, Biblical forgiveness in Christ is a one-time occurrence, assuring the believer that all his sins–past, present and future–are put away “As far as the east is from the west…” (Psalm 103:12)

Joseph’s Forgiveness in Genesis
“…We pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him…And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.” (Genesis 50:17, 19–21)

Christ’s Forgiveness in the New Testament
“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.” (Luke 23:34)

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (Ephesians 1:7)

“Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man [Christ] is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:” (Acts 13:38)

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

“I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.” (1 John 2:12)

“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;” (Colossians 2:13)


The Seven Pillars of Genesis, Part 6: Jacob

The following is an excerpt taken from the twentieth and final lesson of Bible First.

Jacob’s Inheritance

Jacob, the third of the great patriarchs, seemed an unlikely candidate to carry on the Abrahamic covenant, and yet his life demonstrated a personal relationship with God and a genuine walk of faith. Many aspects of Jacob’s life parallel that of Christ, but perhaps most significant is his inheritance.

JacobOn the night that Jacob wrestled with God, his name was changed to Israel, which also became the name of the nation God had revealed to Abraham years earlier. Jacob’s sons, who themselves became the heads of twelve tribes, were born into a glorious inheritance. From their lineage sprang a nation without equal on the earth: chosen of God, blessed of God, and known to the world as the people of God.

The Scriptures reveal that Christ also received a great inheritance from His Father, and became heir to a kingdom. All who believe on His name are made citizens of this kingdom, and are born again into the family of God, receiving what the Apostle Peter calls “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1:4) Speaking of believers, Peter further expounds our great inheritance in Christ: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” (1 Peter 2:9)

Jacob’s Inheritance in Genesis
“And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 28:12–14)

Our Inheritance in Christ
“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” (Hebrews 9:14–15)

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Romans 8:16–17)

“That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:” (Ephesians 1:10–11)


The Seven Pillars of Genesis, Part 5: Isaac

The following is an excerpt taken from the twentieth and final lesson of Bible First.

Isaac’s Substitution

After repeatedly promising Abraham that he would become a great nation, God fulfilled His word by giving Abraham a miracle son: Isaac. Given this background, one can only imagine the shock Abraham must have experienced when God commanded him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Not only was human sacrifice inconsistent with God’s previous commands regarding the sanctity of life, but this new directive seemed a contradiction of His promise to make Abraham the head of a great nation. How could there ever be such a nation if God’s promised child, Isaac, was to die?


Happily, faith in God’s direction was a lesson Abraham had learned well. Although overcome with sorrow, he set out immediately to obey. When all was ready and Isaac lay bound on the altar, Abraham lifted the knife to slay his son. At the last moment, God intervened and saved Isaac’s life, saying, “…Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” (Genesis 22:12) The test was over, and Abraham had passed.

But while Isaac’s life was spared, the sacrifice that day was nonetheless completed. Rather than cancel His original command, God provided a ram to take Isaac’s place on the altar.

Similar to Isaac’s plight, all of humanity was once in jeopardy because of sin. While God loved us as a Father, His own law demanded our death as payment for our sin. As this sad tale unfolded, Grace and Justice seemed the worst of enemies, incapable of reconciliation.

Substitution was God’s master plan to save His family from condemnation. By offering His only begotten Son to be executed in our place, God could remain just, and at the same time justify the ungodly. “…That he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth on Jesus.” (Romans 3:26) Christ took our place on the cross in order to purchase for us a place in the family of God.

Isaac’s Substitution in Genesis
“And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.” (Genesis 22:13)

Christ as Our Substitute in the New Testament
“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6–8)

“Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9:28)

“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us…” (Galatians 3:13)