For Such A Time As This!
In 1995, our family moved from Sunrise, Florida to St. Charles, Illinois. Following the Lord’s leading, we joined a church with a heart for expository preaching and missions. At the very same time, this church, the former Fox Valley Bible Church, was developing a partnership with a sister church in Poltava, Ukraine. Over the years, we have seen this partnership develop and have witnessed the Lord work in the lives of individuals both there and here. Time and time again, we have been blessed by our Ukrainian brothers and sisters as they have been blessed by us.
Personally, I have enjoyed the privilege of seeing the Lord do many great things through this partnership. I have heard transforming testimonies, read inspiring reports, and seen beautiful photos. But I never visited Poltava. I had never sensed the Lord’s direction to join one of our teams heading to Ukraine. Now however, having traveled over 1.5 million miles to Africa, South America, Japan, Western Europe, and beyond, the Lord has given me the desire to travel to Ukraine, “for such a time as this.”
As we entered Poltava and neared Born Again Church, I didn’t need anyone to point out the building. I recognized it right away from all the stories and pictures. However, it immediately became foggy, as my eyes filled with tears. Finally, I was enjoying the privilege of being where FVBC began serving twenty years ago – and helping to strengthen the partnership with New Covenant Bible Church and the church in Poltava!
I have spent the last eight years of my life training pastors and church leaders how to study, teach and preach God’s Word with God’s heart. And I wanted the same privilege with our friends in Ukraine. My heart for the church in Ukraine seemed to echo Paul’s heart for the church in Rome. Paul writes:
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles (Romans 1:8-13).
Paul expresses a sincere appreciation for the church in Rome and a compelling desire to visit and serve them. He longed to strengthen them and be mutually encouraged by them. He desired to reap a gospel harvest among them. When I preached at the Born Again and the Salvation Churches, it was their “Harvest Sunday.”
I preached Matthew 9:35-39, “The Lord of the Harvest,” which stresses having a heart for the harvest, Christ’s harvest. We were greatly challenged by this passage. Jesus had His work, what is our work? Jesus had compassion for the crowds, do we? Jesus called for a response, how would we respond?
By God’s grace, we saw some harvest fruit as a man repented of his sin and prayed to receive Christ. I am so thankful I was able to go to Ukraine. I went to encourage and was encouraged; to strengthen and was strengthened.
Pastor Valery, whom we have had the long privilege of working with, recently became President of the Baptist Union of Ukraine (BUU). Valery shared the scope of need within the BUU. While there are over 2,500 churches in the union, more than 500 are without pastors and 300 have aged pastors transitioning out of ministry. The pastoral shortage is compounded by the wonderful fact that the BUU is growing at an average of 40 churches per year. Moreover, a great number of pastors have very little pastoral training.
For such a time as this…
In light of this need, the Lord has been working in the hearts of our leaders at New Covenant as well as the leaders at Leadership Resources International (LRI). Pastors Valery, Andre, and others spent time considering how we might help meet the need for training pastors. As such, we hope to launch two Training National Trainers (TNT) groups in Ukraine, one in Poltava and the other in L’Viv. The goal is to see men become faithful teachers and trainers of the Word of God, just as described in 2 Timothy 2:2.
In preparation for this opportunity, we led two exploratory workshops. The first training involved 5 pastors from Melitopol. We were going to travel south to meet these brothers but they said it would be unwise to do so because of the Russian invasion. So, thankfully, they came north to us.
The second training was held at the Christian Center with 40 attendees– some of whom were pastors, others deacons, others teachers from our sister churches.
One young man named Andrew said, “This training is just for me.” Andrew was preaching his first sermon that Sunday and was struggling to prepare it. He said, “This training has given me the confidence I needed to boldly preach God’s word.”
Pastor Andre said, “Even though I have received training in Bible School, this type of training is good for my soul. I need training like this to warm my heart and stimulate my mind in a new and fresh way. It also is providing me with tools that are transferable to train others.”
For such a time as this…
I want to thank New Covenant Bible Church for the privilege of representing you and our Lord in Ukraine. Also, please join us in prayer as we consider the possibility of launching two TNT training groups in Ukraine in the Spring of 2015.
For such a time as this,