Translators, Inc.

The November/December 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-nov-dec-2016Download the PDF here » November/December 2016 (1.31 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.

 


Translators, Inc.

Every morning on weekdays, Abigail and I read through a portion of Bible First. We are now on Lesson 10!

Every morning on weekdays, Abigail and I read through a portion of Bible First. We are now on Lesson 10!

One of the most common questions I am asked as a missionary is how I would describe a “typical day on the foreign mission field”. This question always amuses me because the mission field is intrinsically atypical! During my time overseas, I’ve learned that God leads our ministry through seasons. Just when we think we’ve settled into something stable, the game changes.

For many years, our ministry kept a fairly steady back-and-forth rhythm of high-energy evangelism in the summers and lesson-writing coupled with discipleship efforts in the colder months. But while those efforts continue forward, we’ve recently seen God open a new front: translation.

Because we are English speakers ministering the Gospel amongst Ukrainians, translation has always played a significant role in what we do. For example, all of our Bible First lessons were originally written in English, and then later translated into Ukrainian.

Now, as Bible First spreads far beyond the borders of Ukraine, the need for translation work has again come to the forefront. We’re very encouraged about the progress being made, and in this report I’d like to share an update on three specific language groups.

Anatoliy Zhylavyi

Anatoliy Zhylavyi

Ukrainian
Back in the mid-2000’s, the very first language group to receive a translation of Bible First was Ukrainian. Later, we implemented significant improvements to our English lessons, but many of these were never incorporated back into the earlier Ukrainian lessons.

This fall, we hired Anatoliy Zhylaviy, a Ukrainian translator and philologist from our church, to begin a complete revision of our Ukrainian Bible First course. He is working through the entire course: editing, revising, and even retranslating as needed. Demand for Bible First amongst Ukrainians remains strong, and we are excited to bring these updated lessons to our students.

Catherine Leavitt

Catherine Leavitt

French
Meet Catherine Leavitt – a French national who has spent more than two decades living in Oregon. Catherine contacted us several months ago with a desire to translate Bible First into French. She’s been working diligently on the project and is making good progress. Her father, a French linguist who still lives in France, is assisting her as well. We are very grateful to their family, and we’re looking forward to making Bible First available as a ministry tool for believers in France!

Maria Sanchez

Maria Sanchez

Spanish
Several months ago, we received an email from a lady named Maria Sanchez. Maria uses Bible First in prison ministry, and because many of the inmates only speak Spanish, she asked if Bible First was available in that language. Upon learning that it was not, she asked for permission to translate it herself. Kelsie is also a Spanish speaker (she formerly translated for Voice of the Martyrs), and after reviewing a sample of Maria’s work, we gave her the green light.

Over the past several months, Maria has kept us on our toes as she has sent email after email with new drafts, questions, corrections, and more. She has now completed translating up through Lesson 9 – almost halfway!

The Language of the Web
As our Ukrainian, French and Spanish translators work to make Bible First available to those respective language groups, another effort is moving forward to make sure that these translations will enjoy the far-reaching scope of the World Wide Web. For some time now, we have been building a web-based application that will serve as a digital platform for Bible First. This app will allow churches and missionaries to reach people with Bible First over electronic media.

As of this writing, we estimate that Bible First Online is about 70% complete. There’s still much work to do, but once it’s finished, it will extend the reach of Bible First far beyond the conventional printed page.

We’ll be writing more about this project in future updates, but for now, please pray for our development team as we build this app. We are particularly grateful for programmers Trevor Brown and Andy Buck who are assisting us.

Almost Baby Time!
Oh, and there’s one more thing: it’s almost baby time! Kelsie is due to deliver our first son in early January. Please pray for our family–and Kelsie in particular–as we prepare to welcome our new little boy!

steele-girls

How You Can Pray

  • Praise God for the work being done to translate Bible First into various languages.
  • Pray for Anatoliy, Catherine, and Maria as they translate. We are very grateful for their diligence and commitment to this ministry!
  • Pray for Kelsie and the baby as we near the birth.
  • Pray for my mom, Cathy. She flies to Ukraine on December 28th to help our family during the birth.
  • Pray for Trevor, Andy and myself we continue the development of Bible First Online.
  • Pray for peace and liberty in Ukraine.

To God be the Glory!

Meet the Newest Member of the Steele Family!

baby-steele-2016-crpToday we are excited to announce that we are expecting a new addition to our family! This week, we had our first ultrasound, and came home with our first photo. Kelsie is about eleven weeks along, and so far everything is looking great. Based on the ultrasound data, our projected due date is January 4, 2017.

Kelsie has struggled with the typical morning sickness and fatigue, and is grateful to be nearing the end of the first trimester. Already she is starting to feel better.

We are grateful to God for entrusting us with another of His little ones!

Meet Oleg

The November/December 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-Nov-Dec-2015Download the PDF here » November/December 2015 (1.69 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.

 


Meet Oleg

Oleg Demedyuk is a believer from L’viv. At his request, we recently started a Friday-night Bible study. Currently, we are studying the book of Romans.

Oleg Demedyuk is a believer from L’viv. At his request, we recently started a Friday-night Bible study. Currently, we are studying the book of Romans.

Recently, I received an email from a young man named Serhii whom I discipled several years ago. A friend from Serhii’s church had inquired about finding someone who could disciple him. Serhii suggested that he contact me, and he did.

The first time we met, Oleg shared his testimony, and we spent some time getting to know one another. I explained a bit about what we do here as missionaries, and also suggested some ideas on how we might best spend our time during future meetings.

Normally, when a person expresses interest in studying the Bible, I like to start in Genesis. But since Oleg already had a solid foundation (he’s been saved for several years and faithful in his church) we decided to begin in Romans.

Each Friday evening, we read through a portion of Romans, look up key cross references, and discuss Paul’s teaching.

Oleg has also begun some limited involvement in our Bible First ministry. For example, we recently received a letter from one of our newer students who raised some objections to the doctrine of the deity of Christ. The student offered several verses in defense of her ideas, even going so far as to suggest that Jesus is merely an angel. I showed Oleg the letter, and he did some study on his own, researching the various points in the letter. This of course led to some great discussion on the deity of Christ. We’ve reached out to the student and suggested a Skype call to address her letter, and we’re waiting for a response.

I’m excited about this new discipleship relationship with Oleg, and I would appreciate your prayers for us as we move forward. In particular, pray that God would open clear doors for Oleg and others like him to become involved in the Bible First ministry.

Family Update
Here at the Steele household – which some of our Ukrainian friends warmly refer to as “Joshua’s Kingdom of Ladies” – there’s never a dull moment. Our little girls are steadily growing into little ladies, with Abigail in particular taking on more and more responsibility in the home.

From the left: Rebekah, Kathryn, Abigail, Hosanna. It’s hard to believe that Kathryn is nearly a year old!

From the left: Rebekah, Kathryn, Abigail, Hosanna. It’s hard to believe that Kathryn is nearly a year old!

Kelsie has crafted an excellent school program, and each morning finds the children happily (most of the time) seated at their desks, working through their assignments. In the afternoon, Abby and Rebekah have a few add-on subjects, such as typing lessons and a Bible class with Dad on Fridays.

It’s hard to believe that Kathryn is nearly a year old! As I write this newsletter, she is just beginning to walk on her own. Her smiles bring no end of joy and laughter to our family!

On Thanksgiving, we all had a “ball” at the bowling alley!

On Thanksgiving, we all had a “ball” at the bowling alley!

Our little girls are quickly becoming little ladies. :)

Our little girls are quickly becoming little ladies. 🙂

Bible First
We are excited to report that God is continuing to bless the impact of Bible First in Ukraine! In particular, our prison ministry is growing. In fact, since CMO ended this past summer, we’ve been enrolling an average of one new student almost every day!

Trevor Brown and I are also continuing our programming efforts, working diligently to bring Bible First to the web. We feel that making the course available in electronic format will open many new doors to reaching the lost for Christ.

Next Summer…
Registration for next year’s Carpathian Mountain Outreach project is now open! CMO 2016 will begin on June 20, and the deadline for submitting applications is April 1. We’ve also put together a brand new CMO web site! Check out all the latest details at www.cmoproject.org. As always, we appreciate your prayers for this ministry, and for the young men who are even now making preparations to come.

cmo-logo-full

How You Can Pray

  • Praise the Lord for Ukrainians who are hearing the Gospel as they study the Scriptures with Bible First!
  • Pray for a strong team for CMO 2016.
  • Pray for Oleg and I as we continue our discipleship meetings.
  • Pray for strength and wisdom for Kelsie and I as we homeschool our children here in Ukraine.
  • Pray that God would continue to bring people to faith in Jesus Christ through the Bible First outreach.
  • Pray for peace and liberty in Ukraine.

 

To God be the Glory!

 

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

 

ofr-shindig-cover

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!

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.

steele-2014

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.

 

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)