In the summer of 2000 I went on a mission for 6 weeks with three York College students. I moved to Kremenchuk September 2002 and worked full time there through July of 2008. I have returned 6 times for short mission trips since then, the last time being the summer of 2016.
During the 6 years that I lived there, we had 48 baptisms with 90% retention rate. We planted and worked with 5 churches of Christ. We taught Bible in 7 of the 30+ schools of first through 11th grades. We also reached out to students in the Universities and Technical Schools in the city. We were always active in reaching out to the parents of the young people that we worked with.
In the summers we held Summer Bible Classes and then conducted Bible Camps at the Black Sea. Both of these were very effective in reaching the lost and strengthening the young Christians.
Much more detailed information is available on the history of this work.
Scope of the work of Ukraine and my present life
I first came to Ukraine for 6 weeks as a sponsor for 3 York College students from York Nebraska and the Easthill Church of Christ through the MAP program (Master's Apprentice Program). This was the summer of 2000. We taught Bible Classes in a public school to 5th and 9th-grade pupils. Then we had a 10-day Bible Camp at the Black Sea! This really changed my life and I determined that I wanted to return to Kremenchuk full time and teach Bible in this public school. They gave me an open invitation to come back and teach Bible in their school!
I arrived in Kremenchuk on September 13, 2002. I started teaching Bible at School #11, where I had worked before, nearly right away. Two weeks later I was to receive another shock. Natalie, the Christian English teacher who was my friend and fellow worker took me on a long walk. She informed me that she had met an American, fell in love and was soon to leave Ukraine to live in the US. I was just floored and couldn’t imagine how I could do this work without her, but of course, God provided the way! Natalie moved to the US in February 2003. I started working and teaching at the boy’s prison on Sunday afternoons in Sept. 2002. I started a devotional at my house about the first of October with 6 there for the first time. I met Zhenya again, who I had known before, in Oct. She had kept one of our York girls in her home when I had been in Kremenchuk in 2000. We began to study the Bible. Soon we were also studying with her parents with Zhenya translating. Zhenya and I studied together for 9 months. We began having Bible Clubs (using the Bible to teach English and English to teach the Bible) in my home in mid-November. We had an Adult Bible Club for University students and older and a Teen Bible Club. By April we were having 12 to 13 people in both Clubs and in our devotionals.
Our first MAP team came to Kremenchuk in May 2003 for 8 weeks. This was the 8th year in a row that a MAP team from York College had come to Kremenchuk. There were 6 in this team and they did a marvelous work. They taught Bible for 4 weeks at School #11 and we averaged 40 in the teen class and about 20 in the younger class. We had our first ever Black Sea Bible Camp that lasted for 10 days and Zhenya was our first to be baptized into Christ on a moonlit night in the Black Sea about 10 pm on July 7th, 2003. I returned to the US for 6 weeks about the 1st of August to visit family and Church. While I was in the US, Anya D. (we had 6 Anyas!) was baptized into Christ on August 26.
I returned to Kremenchuk on my one-year anniversary of Sept. 13 to begin my 2nd year of work. All things continued to grow with of course ups and downs. In November, the government passed a law that no foreigners could work in the prisons, so I was shut out of this work, but Gregory a native preacher whom I work with, continued very successfully this work. While I had been in the US, I had applied to try to get an AIM team to come to Kremenchuk. In late December we received the difficult news that we had been turned down, but that we should try again next year. So we started praying about it right then! For the Christmas holiday and New Year, I went to Japan to visit my son Ben. While in Japan, I got bronchitis. In January of 2004, I began preparing for our summer of MAP students that would come in mid-May to do the same kind of work that they did the year before. In mid-January, I fell on ice and broke 2 ribs. With bronchitis at the same time, this was very painful! On March 17th Ksusha was baptized into Christ – our first for the year and 3rd for our work here. We ended up with 8 workers, 6 for the whole 8 weeks including by daughter Jenise!! We had our 2nd Annual Black Sea Bible Camp. During May and June, before we went to camp, 4 more were baptized in Christ. Then at our 2-week Bible Camp, we had 6 baptized into Christ. Then in August and September 4 more joined the Lord in baptism. All told, we had 15 baptisms in 2004 and 17 so far in our work for the Lord. We started working on meeting with an AIM team in May or June when I would again come to the US. Finally, it was arranged that we would meet in September at the World Mission Workshop. My main reason for coming back to the States in September and early October was to speak at 2 Mission workshops and meet with the AIM team to recruit workers to come and join us here.
In 2005 we had 3 more baptisms. Now our AIM team has been with us for 14 months and they have done a tremendous work here! They have been great teachers and role models for our Christians here. We have had 7 baptisms so far this year and 1 restoration. So in almost 4 full years of work we have had 27 baptisms and 1 restoration. We have 24 of these Christians faithful to the Lord and active in His service or a little over 85%. This is God’s credit and God’s glory. We are just the instruments in His service.
By May 1, 2008 we have had a total of 48 baptisms. I decided last spring to begin the process of returning to the states in the summer of 2008 – which will probably be August 1st. God has blessed us with many good works and yet it seems to me that the time is right to return to the States.
I have gone back the summers of 2009 and 2010 to hold Bible Camps. Each summer we had 2 baptisms. So this ministry has had 52 baptisms since September 2002.
On my return to the USA, I spent From September 2008 to January 31, 2011 working with the Evergreen Church of Christ in Des Moines, IA. This has been a good work for me – a learning work. It is a big change coming back off of the mission field to work domestically as a full-time preacher. I have enjoyed this work and the people here. We have had about 12 baptisms since I have been here. I have performed 3 weddings and unfortunately, numerous funerals as well. I have done all the “work of a preacher” and then some.
From February 1, 2011 to August 2014 I served as a preacher for the Osceola Church of Christ, in Osceola, IA. I made one visit to Ukraine while working with the Church in Osceola during the summer of 2012. I did a 3-week mission trip, which included 1 week of our 9th Annual Black Sea Bible Camp! It was a great trip!
I began work with the Ephrata, WA Church of Christ on August 21, 2014, and have been here since then and will continue through March 1, 2019 when I will move back to Kremenchuk! I have made one mission trip back to Ukraine while I have been here for 4 weeks in the summer of 2016.
The plans that I am sharing with you now are far more reaching than just a short trip, but a long-range mission plan to truly make a difference again in Ukraine!
Love in Christ,