Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Let me briefly give a report and summary on my recent mission trip to Ukraine (October 12-22). The primary focus of this trip was a three day seminar conducted and hosted by the church in Kramatorsk from Thursday through Saturday. There were around 60 Ukrainians in regular attendance over the course of this three day event. Some preachers traveled great distances. Two men had train trips of nearly 24 hours. The theme for the seminar was The Gospel of John. I had the privilege of teaching four classes during the seminar, as well as preaching on Sunday (the 18th) at the Artemovsk congregation. At the end of each day, there was an open forum where attendants were encouraged to write out Bible questions to be answered each day. The question and answer sessions were lively and thoughtful. I enjoyed them immensely.
Now, this particular mission effort in the Ukraine is a work supported and overseen by the South College Church of Christ in Tahlequah, and coordinated and lead by David Deffenbaugh, who has been associated with mission work in the Ukraine since 1994. Trip was special for the Tahlequah congregation and these Christians in Ukraine because they celebrated the 10th anniversary of the congregations at Artemovsk and Konstantinovka. From those beginning ten years ago, additional congregations have been planted in Soledar, Chasov-Yar, and Minkovka. These years have not always been smooth sailing, but these congregations all are doing well and are stable and are growing numerically.
Now before the seminar began, on Wednesday morning (the 14th) we were able to visit an orphanage and boarding school in Konstantinovka which is supported by the congregation there. Later that afternoon en route to Kramatorsk, we enjoyed a wonderful visit with the Konstantinovka congregation for their mid-week Bible studies. The Sunday following the seminar we enjoyed a joint worship service of the Artemovsk, Chasov-Yar, and Soledar congregations. What a great encouragement to be with all these brethren and share in our praise of God in song, communion, giving, prayer and the word. I was privileged to be one of three preachers who spoke that day! Later that afternoon we were able to have a very eye-opening experience and visit of a “Mission of Mercy” rehab house that one of the local Ukrainian preachers has undertaken for service and outreach in a town near Artemovsk.
On Monday the next day, we were able to visit the church in the village of Minkovka where we also visited a hospital and nursing home. We conducted a devotional service and visited and encouraged those who live at this facility. Also during these few days we were able to enjoy some extended visits with the local preachers from these Ukrainian congregations which are supported by the Tahlequah congregation. These were meaningful and enjoyable discussions. I was truly inspired and encouraged at the continued commitment and devotion of these men.
Finally, on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday before we came home, we were able to do some incredible sightseeing and visit some very beautiful historical locations in Donetsk (city of one million near Kramatorsk) and Kiev (the capital city of Ukraine with a population of over four million).
It is my hope and prayer that much good was done during this trip, many seeds were sown, brethren were encouraged and strengthened. Again, I want to thank the Central congregation for their support and prayers, and especially the elders for allowing me to be away. I want to thank all those who taught classes and preached during my absence. I plan to give a more extensision report on Wednesday evening, November 4.