Missions In Ukraine Update

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Greetings!

Spring has come to Rakhiv, and we are welcoming the new season gladly. The last week has been spent battling sore throats and congested sinuses, but we are excited about the opportunities for ministry that warmer weather will bring! Here are some things we've been doing this month and things we are looking forward to:

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Old and New Friends

In the picture above you can see us spending time with some folks in the city of Ternopil, where we travelled to meet up with James Lee. We met James last October at a missions conference in Prague. He travels all over the world equipping bodies of believers for missions, so he contacted us to let us know he would be in Ukraine and asked if we would be able to see each other. After an overnight train ride we were able to spend the day in fellowship with James as well as meet some of the Christians in Ternopil. This was a great opportunity, and we were especially refreshed to see how God is working in that city. The young people in the church are especially active, worshipping together frequently but also leading outreach initiatives to bring the gospel to their friends. Our spirits were encouraged, and we may plan a future trip to bring our youth group to Ternopil to similarly be encouraged by the example the believers there have set.

A Fire In Our Apartment

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Sometimes the reality of missions is living conditions are a bit different than one might expect in America. We are fortunate to be in a nicely remodeled apartment, but the guts of the building are from the Soviet era. We had expressed concerns about the wiring in our apartment but were assured everything would be fine. Soon after, we had an electrical fire in our bathroom. Fortunately everyone is ok and the damage was minimal. On the positive side, I was able to witness to the plumber who helped take care of some of the renovations. Also, while one of the local believers was over helping repaint, we began discussing how we might collaborate to bring the local Roma (gypsy) community some kind of gospel resources in their hear-language. Since each settlement has a distinct dialect, the local group has never, as far as we know, had any access to materials concerning Christ in the language they grew up with and think in. We are going to be working to change this.

Worship Leading

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I also had the opportunity to lead worship at one of the local churches here in Rakhiv. This included singing a worship song I have written in Ukrainian. To a large extent, worship in contemporary Ukrainian churches is either in Russian or a translation of an English song. I feel it's important for people to be able to have music that helps them personally connect with God in their own language. To that end, I also spent some time working with Sasha, one of the girls in our youth group, to write a song. She often writes poetry to God, and this was a great opportunity to help her put those ideas to music.

Youth, Prayer, and Evangelism

- We continue to disciple the local youth. Working with young people to help them develop in their pursuit of God and in their emulation of Jesus continues to be one of our primary focuses. We are specifically working to train them as leaders, taking responsibility in worship services, bible study, and reaching out to their community. Again and again we find ourselves rejoicing at the tremendous growth we see in them.

- Enjoyable prayer is beginning in our city. For many believers, prayer is a mere obligation, a mechanical act required in religious life. But our God is not a mute idol -- He is the Living and True God, our Good Father, Comforter, Bridegroom. Spending time with Him, then, should be the pleasure of all who know Him. Previously, we shared our plans to have an extended prayer meeting with the youth. Though many of them were nervous at first, thinking it would be impossible to pray for an entire hour, most of them ended up staying behind their assigned time, some up to 4 hours. All of them marveled at how it was enjoyable to worship, meditate, and intercede together. Our plan now is to begin weekly prayer meetings, as well as a monthly extended meeting. We believe this is essential because 1) loving God is the first commandment and we want to remain focused on His beauty, 2) the prayer of a righteous man avails much and has real impact on the people and events in the community, and 3) Christ Himself says that His father's house will be a "house of prayer" and we believe this means not in name only, but in truth.

- Prayer leads to evangelism and outreach. As we spend time in prayer for our family, friends, and for the city at large, our love for them grows. God answers by giving grace and wisdom so that we can minister effectively to the needs of people around us. Especially as spring replaces winter, we hope to conduct different types of evangelism that will expose people to a gospel of life in place of simple religious tradition. Pray especially for the youth, as they are asking God for boldness. In this culture, especially in our region, reputation is everything. It can be very difficult to preach the gospel here for this reason because you will be labeled as a fanatic, a member of a cult. Pray that all of us will understand that any negative consequences we might experience are worth sharing the love, mercy, and deliverance of Christ with the people who need it.

We greatly appreciate your continued prayers and financial support! Continue to pray for our health, as well as the different ministry projects we have going on. Our desire is to see people's hearts deeply impacted by God's love, and for that we need continued wisdom and grace, as well as clear demonstrations of His divine power. Again, thank you all, and feel free to contact us by email for any reason!

May Mercy and Peace and Love Be Multiplied To You All

Steele & Alice

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