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Changes (November 2014 Update)

November in Ukrainian is Листопад meaning “leaves fall down.”  It’s a great description of the beautiful forests with golden and red leaves DSC_2385.EFFECTS.1now forming a carpet on the ground.  It’s a scene I get to see every day from our new apartment and I get to walk through those leaves on my way to the bus stop every morning.  So much has changed since our moving to the Right Bank of Kiev!  My daily trip is about 1/3 of what it used to be and our opportunities for ministry have greatly increased (see below) now that we live over on this side of the river.

There are also many changes here in Ukraine this month.  We elected a new Parliament and there is a “ceasefire” in the Russian-Ukrainian war right now.  I put “ceasefire” in quotes because, although the government forces have ceased firing, the pro-Russian separatists have not.  And Russia continues to send men and equipment across the border to reinforce the territories they captured.

But, in general, things are more peaceful – for now.  Most believe that Putin is reconsidering his approach since so many Russian soldiers died in Ukraine and Russian mothers are asking how this happened if there are no Russian soldiers in Ukraine (the world has been asking this for months!).  Also, many believe that Putin is shifting his strategy to a “Cold War” in which his withholding of gas supplies is the weapon.  Russia has already reduced gas supplies for two countries that have sold gas to Ukraine and Putin has warned that he will shut off the gas from Russia if Europe (50% of Europe’s gas comes from Russia) sells gas to Ukraine!
Continue Reading »

Many Ministry Opportunities (October 2014 Update)

The situation in Ukraine is now at a slight “pause” but that does not mean everything is fine.  In fact, with winter approaching, things will probably get worse even if Russia does not do anything more to Ukraine — which is unlikely (more below).  People ask me repeatedly, why do you stay in Ukraine?  Why don’t you go back to America where it is safe and you can live in comfort?  For me, there are a couple of answers, not the least of which is that I also have family now in Ukraine.  But most of all, this is the place where we are ministering.  And as long as we have an open door, we need to continue to minister and serve here even though things may become more difficult. Continue Reading »

God’s Provision in Difficulties (September 2014 Update)

In Ukraine, the situation appears to have become worse as now regular Russian troops have invaded in the East and the South of Ukraine.  The Ukrainian economy has worsened with inflation and it looks like it will be a while before things stabilize.  But more about the situation in Ukraine later.  We want to tell you first about God’s provision in difficulties.

Praying for an Apartment

Before we left in June, we made a decision to move to the right bank (Western) of Kiev to be closer to school, church, campus ministry and family. Even though this would cost us $100-200 more per month, we believed the time saved in travel would be worth it.  So we packed up everything and put it into storage.  We tried to find an apartment before we left but we found that prices were higher and we did not want to pay for 3 months of summer rent while we were in the states.  So we decided to wait until we returned at the end of August.

All summer, we kept in contact with a couple realtors who were looking for rental property for us.  They kept telling us that apartments were very scarce and there was nothing available for us.  We returned on Thursday, August 28th and spent the afternoon on the internet and talking with a number of realtors.  They all said the same: there were no apartments available and the prices had risen to $300 more than they were in May.  But even at that price, nothing was available. Because of the situation in the East and in Crimea, many refugees had resettled in Kiev. Continue Reading »

Ukraine Has Some Relief (We Hope!) (June Update)

The situation in Ukraine appears to be improving, at least for now.  The presidential elections were a success and the new president won by a landslide – signs that Ukraine is more united as a country than many believed.  Russian troops, although still close, have moved back from the border and, in spite of requests by the separatists in Eastern Ukraine, Putin has decided not to intervene in Ukraine.  These are all good signs.2014 KTS Graduation

But there are still many difficulties ahead.  Right now, Ukraine is waging a war with the heavily-armed pro-Russian groups in Eastern Ukraine.  There has been some progress in restoring order and preventing them from further take-overs but it has cost many lives (mostly Russian soldiers who are supposedly NOT in Ukraine).  But the toll on the people has been great also.  People are afraid to go into the streets and definitely afraid to say anything positive about Ukraine.  The separatists routinely abduct, beat and even kill anyone who voices any opposition.  They are currently holding over 80 people hostage (including many journalists and international observers).  Many believers are holding open prayer meeting on the squares and they have been persecuted and beaten by the separatists for doing so.  We know so pastors who have had to live the area because of threats to their lives and to their families! Continue Reading »

More Conflict in Ukraine … and maybe Tear for Ukrainemore to come! (May Update)

The situation in Ukraine has become much more intense the few last weeks and should continue to worsen over the next 3 weeks.  The reason is that we have national elections scheduled for May 25th and Russia has made it clear that they don’t want these elections to take place.  Additionally, the next week should be our toughest challenge.  Pro-Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine have already set May 11th as the date when they will vote to separate from Ukraine.  Russia has acknowledged this date and will try to create more violence to create a reason for Russian “peacekeepers” to enter Ukraine and “protect” the May 11th elections.  The past few days have been increasingly violent with over 40 killed in Odessa and unnumbered more in Eastern Ukraine.

Right now, Ukraine is trying to remove the heavily armed forces occupying government buildings in 10 cities in Eastern Ukraine.  Ukraine has set troops to fight against these terrorists who are armed with anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles.  In response, Ukraine has sent its army to remove these men (clearly they are Russian operatives in Ukraine, just like in Crimea).  Russia has demanded that Ukraine remove its troops from Eastern Ukraine while they are increasing their troops on the borders of Ukraine and threatening to invade to “protect” the people of Ukraine from the “Fascists” in Kyiv!

Please keep praying for Ukraine!  The situation here is becoming very serious and we expect the next week will be some of the worst violence as we move toward the elections. Continue Reading »

All Quiet on the Western Front … For Now! (April Update)

Things have been relatively quiet here in Ukraine for the past couple of weeks.  Russia has toned down the intensity ofPray for Ukraine its propaganda about Ukraine but it has not given up its threat to invade Ukraine.  Russian troops are still masse d on Ukraine’s border ready for attack.  Their tanks can reach Kyiv in 2 hours.  Russia claims that it is merely conducting military exercises but military observers say these troops are not practicing anything but just waiting in battle positions.  Who knows what Russia will do next!  Ukraine has made clear that this time they will defend Ukraine with all means necessary if Russia invades.  But Russian forces on the border alone are more than double all of Ukraine’s forces.  And, so far, NATO, the US and Europe have all said they will not intervene militarily if Russia invades.

Pray for Ukraine …

There are many things to be praying for Ukraine in the coming month. Continue Reading »

Pray for UkraineWe Know Not What to Do … Our Eyes are on You! (April Update)

Amazing things have happened in Ukraine since our last update – both good and bad!  To begin with, the revolution in Ukraine made an amazing, maybe even miraculous, turn around the day after we sent out our last update.  Then I told you about the brave Ukrainians who had been surrounded by the government forces and seemed to be on the verge of being overrun at any moment.  The government had closed the metro and all roads coming into Kiev and had placed sandbags and military vehicles and machine guns at the roadblocks.  More and more Special Forces were being brought into Kiev coming off buses with automatic weapons and with the permission to use them.  The protesters were surrounded on three sides by the government forces.  Things seemed pretty hopeless for the anti-government forces. Continue Reading »

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