Smoky Mountain Shindig

The September/October issue of our newsletter, Overseas Field Report, is now available. You can read the text of this issue in its entirety here in this post, or download the PDF version by clicking the link below.

OFR-Sep-Oct-2014Download the PDF here » September/October 2014 (1.91 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.

 


 Smoky Mountain Shindig

 

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This September, Kelsie and I took part in No Greater Joy’s Smoky Mountain Shindig. Over 2,000 people gathered for an unforgettable conference filled with solid Bible teaching, singing, fellowship, games, and encouragement.

When Michael and Debi Pearl heard we were coming to the US for the birth of our baby, they invited Kelsie and I to speak at their third annual Shindig, scheduled for September 10-14. We agreed to come and were blessed beyond all expectation! While there isn’t room here to give a full report of all that happened during the conference, I’d like to share a few of the highlights.

The Shindig was held at the Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina. Nestled in the beautiful Smoky Mountains, it turned out to be the perfect venue for a conference that we believe was used of God to bless and encourage a multitude of families.

Mike presented an outstanding series on addiction and the brain. He shared many intriguing scientific discoveries which vividly demonstrate the terrible physiological effect sinful behavior has on our brains. He also showed that, while science can offer an accurate explanation of the damage sin does, only Christ can offer freedom to those in bondage.

I spoke at two of the main sessions, teaching on forgiveness and how to discern God’s direction. Kelsie spoke to the ladies about her experiences as a wife on the mission field. There were also many other speakers at the Shindig, including Nathan Pearl, Rick Batson (missionary to the Philippines), T.J. Slayman (missionary in SE Asia), Shalom Brand, Debi Pearl, and Mel Cohen.

In addition to the teaching sessions, there were family activities, sporting events, and gatherings for singles. In past years, there have been many new marriages which came about as a result of young people meeting one another for the first time at a Shindig.

NGJ also set up an exhibit hall where vendors could sell various products and services for families. Bible First! had a table there, and we were excited for the opportunity to share our vision with many who were interested in evangelism. One man who stopped by our table has already been using Bible First! materials in a prison here in the US!

If you’d like to learn more about the Shindig, be sure to visit www.nogreaterjoy.org/shindig. All the sessions were recorded on video and I believe they will be made available soon.

Missionary to Egypt
james-sliceThis year, we had just one CMO guy who joined us from the US. His name is James Slice, and he is now preparing to go as a full-time missionary to Egypt. Even before coming to Ukraine, James had his eye on Egypt, and has spent more than a year studying Arabic.

We ministered side-by-side with James for two months in Ukraine, and I can say with conviction that he is one of the most committed and faithful men who has ever served on a CMO team. I speak for the entire board of Euro Team Outreach in saying that we heartily recommend him as man of integrity who is stepping out by faith to obey God’s call on his life.

If you would be interested in supporting James financially or simply want to know more about his work, you can contact him via e-mail at
[email protected].

Family Update
Following a busy month of travel and speaking engagements in September, we’ve been enjoying some rest and fellowship with our extended family. Right now we’re staying with Kelsie’s parents, the Powells, and in early December we’ll be heading back to Fort Worth where we’ll spend some time with my parents and prepare for the birth.

Our fourth daughter is due to be born on December 19th, though past experience suggests that she’s more likely to come in the form of a Christmas gift. Either way, we’re thrilled to be receiving yet another little one from the Lord. Please pray with us for strength, health and safety for Kelsie and the baby.

How You Can Pray

  • Pray for a strong team for CMO 2015. Details are available now at www.CMOproject.org.
  • Praise God for over 50 Ukrainian graduates from our Bible First! program!
  • Pray for health and safety for Kelsie and our new baby.
  • Pray for Nathan Gregson as he serves with our staff team in Ukraine. (Nathan is a former CMO team member who came for the 2013 project.)
  • Pray for peace and liberty in Ukraine.

To God be the Glory!

Overcome Evil with Good

The June – August issue of our newsletter, Overseas Field Report, is now available. In this issue, you’ll find an update on this year’s CMO project, as well as information about newly released Bible First! lessons. You can read the text of this issue in its entirety here in this post, or download the PDF version by clicking the link below.

OFR-Jun-Aug-2014 Download the PDF here » June - August 2014 (1.61 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.

 


Overcome Evil with Good

At a recent film showing in the village of Ilemnya (pronounced ee-LEM-nya) we had over 40 kids in attendance. Each of them received copies of Good and Evil Short plus starter packets for our Bible course.

At a recent film showing in the village of Ilemnya (pronounced ee-LEM-nya) we had over 40 kids in attendance. Each of them received copies of Good and Evil Short plus starter packets for our Bible course.

Carpathian villages, though beautiful in photos, can be surprisingly dark places. Entrenched in centuries of religion and superstition, the people who live in these mountain communities often embody a sad yet all too common paradox: “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him…” (Titus 1:16)

Consider the children pictured above. The Bible literature they were given has the potential to lead them to salvation through faith in Christ. Yet some may never even have the chance to read the material or consider its claims. There is great likelihood that parents and grandparents, misguided by the deception of false teaching, will snatch away the books with a stern warning to avoid accepting propaganda from sects. Anyone from the outside who talks of God or the Bible is not to be trusted.

As the boys reach adolescence and slip into drinking and other destructive habits, the parents shrug their shoulders and point to hard economic conditions. As the girls enter puberty, often lacking the protection and guidance of their fathers, they seek attention from the boys through seductive dress, sometimes bearing more resemblance to prostitutes than country dwellers. All this and more is tolerated as an unavoidable reality, blamed on anything and everything except personal choice.

Bound by sin, people turn to the priest to appease their consciences. They attend mass and confession regularly, repeating empty prayers to idols while their lives and the lives of their children slide ever more quickly towards the blackness of hell.

I write these things as one who has been visiting the Carpathians for nearly a decade. I’ve often asked myself the same question that is no doubt pressing your mind also: what is to be done? Is there nothing that can turn back this tide of evil? Yes, there is. The simple Gospel of Jesus Christ “… is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…” (Romans 1:16)

As modern American Christians, we tend to be easily discouraged when we don’t see sweeping revival in response to our evangelistic efforts. But Christ’s redeeming work is focused on the individual. The village as a whole may continue its march to destruction, but all the while God is quietly calling out His elect, those who choose to believe the Word preached to them.

“…And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14) We go to these places because we are sent; we preach because we are commanded to preach. We are called to hold the line as good soldiers, to shine Christ’s light in the darkest corners where hope seems lost, to proclaim the Gospel message until the day our Lord calls us home. This is the essence of our ministry in Ukraine, and of Carpathian Mountain Outreach in particular.

Please don’t stop praying for our team as we minister. God knows every heart in every village, and His Word is not bound. Every weekend camping trip brings our team into contact with new faces, new opportunities to preach the Gospel and distribute Bible literature. Pray that God would strengthen us and that He would use our efforts to turn many to repentance.

If you’d like to keep up with CMO 2014 as the project progresses, be sure to subscribe to the ETO eReport at www.euroteamoutreach.org.

New Bible First! Lessons
We’ve recently released Volumes 3 and 4 of our Bible First! course in English. These two volumes add an additional seven lessons to those already available. As our local Bible First! course in Ukraine continues to grow, we are excited to see more people using the English version of these materials in their own ministries. To learn more about how you can use Bible First! to reach the lost in your own ministry, please visit our web site: www.biblefirstcourses.com.

Baby Update
As you likely know already, we are excitedly anticipating the arrival of our fourth child in late December of this year! After much prayer and consideration, we’ve decided to have the baby in the U.S. For that reason, our family will be coming back to Texas in mid-October to prepare for the birth. Please pray for safety and health as we travel.

How You Can Pray

  • Pray for open doors to preach Christ in the Carpathians and throughout Ukraine.
  • Praise God for the many new responses we are receiving as a result of literature campaigns!
  • Pray for health and safety for our team as we minster.
  • Pray for health and safety for Kelsie and our new baby.

To God be the Glory!

Baby on the way!

Today, we’re very excited to share with you the news that God has blessed our family with a new member! Kelsie is about ten weeks into her pregnancy, and we expect to welcome our little one into the world sometime in late December.

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We appreciate your prayers for our family as we make preparations for the arrival of our baby. We couldn’t be more thrilled, and we praise the Lord for His generous reward.

ultrasound

Seeing a new heartbeat for the first time never gets old.

“Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: And the fruit of the womb is his reward.”
Psalm 127:3

Gearing Up for CMO

The April/May issue of our newsletter, Overseas Field Report, is now available. In this issue, we’ll tell you about our current preparations for CMO 2014, especially with regard to the political crisis in Ukraine. Also included is an update on our Bible First! program.

Carpathian Mountain Outreach 2014 will begin in just over a month. This will be our 8th project, and we’re excited to see what God will do in western Ukraine this year!

Carpathian Mountain Outreach 2014 will begin in just over a month. This will be our 8th project, and we’re excited to see what God will do in western Ukraine this year!

OFR-Apr-May-2014Download the PDF here » April/May 2014 (1.72 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.

 

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.

euromaydan

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.

Conclusion
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.