English Evangelism in Poltava
What type of event would it take to get dozens of our un-churched friends and neighbors to come regularly to meetings at New Covenant Bible Church? That's a problem we struggle with - how to get the attention of American suburbanites in order to share the message of Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, 5,000 miles away in Poltava, Ukraine, God has given our sister church a very effective means to get unchurched adults from all walks of life to come to classes that include a Gospel message: evangelistic English instruction.
English is the most important language in the world today for science, business and entertainment. Ukrainians are especially motivated to learn English by the difficult economic circumstances in their country. The ability to communicate in English can help them get a better job, whether in Ukraine or abroad. Then there is also the fact that American movies and television are popular in Ukraine, adding to the attraction of English.
Like many other churches in Ukraine, Salvation Church in Poltava has made English language instruction one of their areas of focus for evangelistic outreach. They have built the relationships and gained the experience necessary to make good use of native English speakers who come to work with them. The centerpiece of their English language evangelism is English Club, which they hold once a week. Meetings start with a brief evangelistic message in English (with translation into Russian or Ukrainian), after which the group divides into beginning, intermediate and advanced groups for an hour of practice. Salvation Church members are regular attendees at English club, mainly for the purpose of making friends and inviting them to care groups and church services.
In order to keep English Club going, Salvation Church needs a steady supply of native English speakers. They host American English teaching teams an average of three or four times a year (and they could easily make use of more teams). Some teams come year after year, others come once or twice, but with each team, Salvation Church figures out how to get the most evangelistic value from the Americans the Lord has sent their way.
The Michael Gott International team of 15, hosted by Salvation Church for the second year in February, was able (with the help of advertising and a web registration page) to attract 600 people to 10 days of classes and an evangelistic service at the church. Over 500 of the attendees shared their contact information and a number of them also accepted an invitation to come to a care group.
Last month the New Covenant team of three (John Bixby and the two of us) returned to Poltava for a week as guest English teachers in the Zavorsklo Village School, Gymnasium 17 (a college-prep school), Transport College (a trade school) and the Poltava University of Economics and Commerce. We also led the regular Saturday English Club and two additional evening English Clubs during the week. At the Saturday English Club there was an attendance of about 70. John Bixby shared a message on the unique nature of the Bible as God's message to humanity. Please join us in praying that the attendees will continue to come to hear the Good News of God's salvation plan, reflect on their need, and open their hearts.
A special ministry that God has given the members of the New Covenant team is that of building relationships with the English teachers who open their classrooms to us. Thanks to the fact that God has permitted some members of the team to engage in this ministry over a period of years, there is a growing friendship with these teachers and, in some cases, an increasing willingness to talk about spiritual matters. Through our repeated visits, the leaders of Salvation Church have also been able to deepen their relationship with some of the teachers. We have concentrated in particular on the relationships at Transport College. This year the deputy director and the English teacher joined us, our missionary Valery Antonuk (senior pastor of Salvation Church) and Andre Khudyakov (missions pastor of Salvation Church) for lunch at the church. Also, at the Poltava University of Economics and Commerce, John Bixby was invited to meet with the faculty of the English department, where he was able to share his testimony. Please join us in praying for the deputy director of Transport College, the Transport College English teacher, and the English faculty of the Poltava University of Economics and Commerce, that they will open their hearts to the Gospel.
God has provided a singular opportunity for Christians from English speaking countries. People all over the world want to learn our language for their work and personal enjoyment. We at New Covenant are native speakers, and more important still, by the grace of God, we have an infinitely more important message to share. Praise God that through our 20 year relationship with Salvation Church, we have the chance to contribute to this means of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Steve & Darcy Palmer