Mission Trip Update

3•22•2006 – I arrived home in Dallas at about 8:00pm. The trip went very well and I am so glad to be home. I want to thank everyone for their prayers, without which the work could be done.

3•20•2006 – This afternoon, we met with a youth pastor named Sergei whose church is minstering to the Gypsy’s in Ukraine. The Gypsy’s are Ukraine’s Samaria in every sense; there is enmity between the two cultures and many churches here see no need to evangelize to the Gypsies. As I listened to how this small church has approached the work, I was highly interested in how they had to flex and adjust to this culture. It was very interesting.
We also met with Vladimir Cheynik who is the president of the Baptist Union in the Volyn region. He told us many of the same things that Misha mentioned including the need for more churches. There are 700 towns and cities in the Volyn region that have no Protestant church at all. The harvest field here remains large.
I preached a second time at the 2nd baptist church in Rivne. It’s actually the first baptist church but the history of the church is a story for another time. Ken and Steve gave their testimonies and Ajay did another wonderful job during the worship. It’s been great having a concert pianist/opera singer along. Ajay has a tremendous gift for this.

Tomorrow is a full day of road travel as we go from Lutsk to Kiev. Wednesday is a fully day of flying as we go from Kiev to home. I’m very ready to be home. See you in a few days.

3•19•2006 – It’s been a busy few days but the bulk of our tasks are behind us. We had two more leadership conferences, training about 50 more people. At one of the meetings, we met with pastor Sasha (Alex) and four of his disciples. We were trying to work out some of the areas that the team in July will be visiting to plant new churches. His church started 2 years ago and he has this tremendous testimony.
This Sudnay morning, we worshipped at a baptist church in Rivne region. Ken and Steve gave their testimonies, Ajay joined in their worship then I preached. In all, there were about 300 in attendance. I think I’m going to head straight for Jenny Craig when I get back to the U.S. The food here is phenomenal and, the more you sit, the more they keep bringing!
Last night, we met with Misha, the head of the baptist union in the Rivne region and some of his assistants. It would be similar to meeting with the head of the BGCT or SWBTS. He outlined what strategies they had in place for the Rivne region (a region is like a state in the U.S.) He has some concerns about where Ukraine is heading, especially for young ministers. I’m still trying to collate all the information he gave us.

We’re at an internet cafe right now. I have no idea when will be the next time I’ll be able to post.

3•16•2006 – We arrived in Lutsk, Ukraine last night after midnight. It was an eight hour drive in a van from Irpen to Lutsk. The road provided many opportunities to be woken. The hotel is much nicer than the one in Irpen and I slept in this morning, skipping breakfast. We had lunch at a very nice resturaunt near a castle. The castle has an interesting history, as does the resturaunt. At one time, the resturaunt was a Catholic church. During the days of the USSR, the church was used as a museum for atheism. Many students were taken to the church to see how empty Christianity was; as empty as the museum-church.
During WWII, the castle was used to imprison many Ukrainians by the Germans. When the Germans withdrew, all the prisoners were killed and the castle literally flowed blood out of it’s gates.

We met with Roman Brychuk, a young pastor here in Lutsk that will be acting as our translator. He has a very technical background and is current on many technologies.

Ajay will have his worship conference tonight and Steve, Ken and I will hold the Leadership Conference tomorrow. It has been a restful day.

3•15•2006 – The conference went very well. We got a chance to talk to many of the pastors one on one as they talked about what they have learned, what they’ll take back with them and how excited they were. I got to meet Eugene’s wife Natalie today.
I met a young man named Yura who is concerned because he sees the importance of disciple making but has no one in his church to disciple him. One of our translators, Ilya, had the same questions. We encouraged to pray, keep looking in and outside of his church for godly men. We also encouraged to be a discipler with what he does know.
Met another young pastor named Sergei. They just started a new church plant in an area of 350,000 that has no evangelical churches. They run about 35 people and had already put into practice much of what we spoke about at the conference. He already has a desire to see his church multiply into more churches in his region.
This has been eye opening for me to see these pastors so engaged. We have two more conferences scheduled but we have an eight hour bus ride ahead of us today. We won’t get to Lutsk until late tonight. I have no idea what the internet access will be like there, if any.

3•14•2006 – We began our first full day of training at the seminary. Ken, Steve, and I will be leading the sessions today. The men seem ethusiastic about each session so I’m encouraged.
Our translator’s name is Eugene. He is a medical doctor in Kiev and also teaches English to medical staff. He came to Christ much later in his life but has a passion to serve God. Pray that God will guide him as he considers the possibility of establishing a family practice in Kiev. He desires that it be a ministry to the community.

I met a young man named Sasha. He has been praying and fasting with other young men in his church about starting a new church plant. He believes that God is leading him to help in that effort but the older pastor in his church will not bless the work unless the traditions are maintained (covering of heads, etc.). It is difficult, he says, to begin a new work that does not reach a younger generation. Even moreso when the pastor is unwilling to move his church in that direction.
I met another young man whose name I cannot spell who has no one to disciple him. We offered some suggestions including prayer to help him find both a Paul and a Timothy in his life.

I met an man about my age named Alexander. He said the Disciple Making and Developing Leaders sessions helped him tremendously. I asked him if he will have new disciples when I come back in July. He lives far away from here but he said, God willing, he will. He is committed to pray, seek and find those who he can disciple and who can disciple him.

The jet lag is beginning to affect the team as we adjust to the 8 hour time difference. We can feel our energy waning. Pray that God will continue to strengthen us.

3•13•2006 Arrived in Kiev last night, had dinner (rice!) and got to the hotel. I slept like a baby on the plane; woke up every hour and whined. Luckily, I slept like a lightly snoring rock at the hotel. We actually had an easier than normal trip to Kiev, the veterans say.
The plan for today is a tour of the seminary and a half-day of training. Tommorrow is a fully day of training and another half day on Wednesday before we go to Volyn.

The training team is well rested and ready to go. Pray that, through us, God will equip the pastors and lay leaders who attending the training.

3•9•2006—Headed for the Ukraine on 3/11-3/22 for a Leadership Development Conference (LDC). I’ll be leading the Evangelism and Leadership Developments sections and be traveling with Steve Sims, Ajay Torres and Ken Clouser. This will be my first time into Eastern Europe and I’m looking forward to it.

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