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2008 - March/April PDF Print E-mail

CROSSOVER MINISTRIES

239 Duke Road

Columbia, La. 71418

Email: crossovermin@juno.com

March-April 2008 Newsletter



By the grace of God, we continue to press on. Sometimes we have very good days, and sometimes not so good. We continue to see many of our people oppressed in certain ways: Phrases like “Lots of accidents happen on the road!” are common, and understood to mean threat. These threats commonly continue to soften the will of those who would do better, especially in business or government. We have never had a threat on our lives, but we have many who feel they should have a part of us, and want their share of resources that pass through our hands. It is frustrating to see those who have more material possession greedily want much more. Satan has filled their hearts, and many of them would take resources from any source available, including the people of God, orphans, widows, or any other invalid of society—invalid, meaning a person not able, or who is perceived as not deserving, to defend themselves. There are a lot of people going to hell here, rich and poor, and I better understand the words of Jesus, the apostles, and the Old Testament prophets as they spoke against the Godless rich of their day. Sadly, there is a religious balm here that salves the souls of many. I am told these corrupt are often the sponsors of expensive religious efficacies, building monuments to “their faith,” and somehow they are praised, while the money given is from portions exacted from those “below” through exorbitant prices, the control of business, and through the sale of alcohol or refusal to pay wages due to some technical error or personal fault. Get a man drunk and get him to make a fool of himself, and then penalize him excessively for damages. The gambling kings are having their day as well. Casinos and opportunity to waste money are in no shortage, and every pyramid business scheme imaginable seems to be flourishing for the short time that they live. Sadly, there is a base of folks gullible enough to believe that you can get rich quick from doing nothing--those who spend their lives looking for pots at the bottom of rainbows.


It is easy to spot and make an example of the small criminals, and they often bear heavy consequence for their sins, while the bigger ones cruise in expensive cars and live in “castles” of excess. I know this happens in the US and every other country as well but I hate it just the same. I love Ukraine, but I long for the day when Christ brings light to the land, exposing and cleansing the evil that pervades most areas of society.

 

God has kept us safe here, by His strength in a strange land. He has brought people into our lives that love and help us in many ways both rich and poor. He has kept us in good health and satisfied us with goodness from his hand, and we are even learning to appreciate Ukrainian food as we ought. He has even provided an outlet for such luxury as peanut butter and fine ground table salt. We even found sliced bread, and have been allowed the privilege of going home twice a year for short stays to see our precious Mary, and our families which we love dearly, and the brethren and friends which so faithfully support our ministry here.

Before you lose hope let us tell of CAMP PLANS:


Before you give up on Ukraine, let me tell you of some of the good that is happening here. By the provision of God, we are preparing for the summer camps. Our workers are busy repairing damage from past years, and doing maintenance/repair work on roofs, plumbing, electrical, painting, etc... We are in the process of installing new lighting on as much of the camp as we can. We are planning to hold an older youth camp August 24-30, and we need no shortage of light there. We are also seeking to replace the old refrigeration units. They are very old, needing constant repair, and are not energy efficient. The repair/upgrades are expensive, but we believe that they will pay off in the long run. Besides, something must be done as the juice was squeezed out of the old ones long ago. We hope to install some type of filtration system for the swimming pool. While we did add chlorine daily last year, the water was soon dirty, and the pool had to be drained between camps. We would refill it in two days, but the water remained too cold to swim for several days after that. The cool summer nights here make swimming a test of endurance anyway, but the kids sure do love those short swims every day, and this pool is the only opportunity for many of them to enjoy.


We have four camps of our own scheduled, including three 15-day kid’s camps: June 14-28 (Servant Life- Oklahoma team—will have heavier focus on orphans and younger children); July 5 - 19 (North Monroe Baptist Church team); July 26 - August 9 (mixed group); and the youth camp August 24- 30 (Team headed by Jay Morgan based from North Louisiana). The kid’s camps will be very similar to a giant Vacation Bible School as far as teaching goes. There will be worship services at night and a variety of sports and other activities throughout the days. We are inviting 250 kids per camp, and have teams coming from bases in Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Alabama. We still have need of help in the third children’s camp and the youth camp. If you are interested, please contact us—by email is best.

 

We are expecting about 250 youth from all backgrounds in the youth camp, with ages 14 to college or university age. This promises to be an exciting time. We are focusing on discipleship also, and while I am anticipating the excitement, I am dreading the discipline that I know will be required.

 

The Ukrainian Baptist Union will also host a one week children’s camp August 10-15, and a local non-denominational group will host a camp August 16-22. As you see, there is no fallow-time for the camp territory. The few days we have in-between camps will be spent on repairs and clean-up, and hopefully, the camp team will get much needed rest.

 

We have a great group of interpreters this year. Many of them will interpret for their first time. Marilyn has put many hours into them, and as we have practiced, we have been able to teach many Spiritual truths to them. We also have our group of “old faithful” interpreters who have really shown themselves faithful. We have had the joy of being with many of these kids over three years now, and have experienced some ups and downs with them. We have witnessed some going questionable directions, and then later getting reoriented, coming to themselves, and holding to the better path of righteousness. For most of them, all of our teaching is still under trial. Biblical concepts are said not to work in this society. Not our words but Christ’s words are being tested. He is able to prove himself without any help from all of us. What we need to do is declare His word.


Marilyn and I will be in the US April 22- May 14. We will try to visit as many as possible, and we have a team led by Bro. Jeff Robinson coming in May to help us prepare the camp for the summer. There is no shortage of work for them to do, and maybe we can get teaching and preaching in every day as well.


We have a website at www.crossovermin.com. It has lessons that Marilyn has written for camp one. Camp two will probably use VBS lessons and we’re not sure yet about camp three. We don’t have a big team so far. Don’t know all yet. The web site also has a booklet that any person coming this way would find helpful and informative on our camp operation.


Youth camp topics are being discussed, and are expected to be on such topics as purpose of life, the importance of being a true disciple, purity of life, information on the Bible, what is sin, etc…? We have yet to meet and discuss all, but we are “cooking.” This is part of what we will do while in the US during early May.


We continue our efforts to repair and improve the camp, and honestly, while it is old and run down, we feel it is a jewel entrusted to us, and a tool for shaping young lives and Eastern Europe. It also seems God is using it to shape the lives of many foreigners, mainly Americans, who come here to help, and then end up experiencing God shaping their own lives through the lives of those they came to help. Although we only have nine years left on our lease agreement with the coal mine, the camp proves to be a consistent base of ministry in Lugansk Oblast, but it is also known far into Ukraine. Last year in the summer camps, seven nations were represented, and we expect the same this year. Kids and workers come and go, carrying the message back with them wherever they are from. They may not seem like much yet, but boys will be men, and like the prodigal son, God will bring to remembrance the things they learned in their childhood.


We are also privileged to have some Americans staying with us to help most of the summer in the camps, and one young man just finishing high school will be staying a year. Pray for him! Village and winter life will likely be quite a transition for a Southern young man fresh out of high school with American convenience.


The camps are expensive! It costs about $50 just to feed one of these kids for two weeks. This is not counting the cost of hiring help to be able to hold the camps, including maintenance help, cooks, dorm parents, and other necessary staff. Ministry is expensive, both in physical and financial cost, but everything in life comes with a cost. We believe the witness of the ministry of the camp is worth the cost, and we trust God as we believe he is leading, and that He will continue to uphold this cost through His people. We hope you will feel free to sponsor a child or a project of repair/improvement as God leads. Those who “stay by the stuff” have as much a part of this ministry as those who fight in the actual battle.” (1 Samuel 30:24)


ORPHAN MINISTRY:


We have been blessed to have passed the seven month mark with an older orphan named Bogdon. He has lived at the camp under our care since late August last year. While he has taught us quite a few things about older youth life, we certainly love him and thank God for the opportunity He has given us with him. Bogdon is something of our test. Eventually, we hope to develop a program that helps older orphans transition from the orphanages to real life—a very difficult transition, to say the least. The following statistics are from Hope for Orphans based in Birmingham Alabama:


Orphan children in Ukraine do not have a bright future.  There are over 100,000 orphans in Ukraine and outside of the orphanage walls; they are not equipped to live life on their own.  Most are out of the orphanage by age 16 and face a future of uncertainty.  Most have no one to turn to.  About 10% will commit suicide after leaving the orphanage before their 18th birthday.  60% of the girls will end up in prostitution and 70% of the boys will enter a life of crime.  Only 27% of these youth will ever find work.


While Bogdon is not grown yet, and it seems that almost every day involves some challenge, he has the potential of growing to be a fine young man. I ask you to pray for him, and we want to especially thank those who are helping to sponsor him.


MISSION OUTREACHES:


We have another young man working with us in both the camp and mission outreach right now. His name is Yuri. He is a well-taught believer of 22 years of age. He is skilled in electrical work, and is a blessing at both the camp and in outreach. He is a really serious thinker, and is at the age to challenge thought. I like this! While he is stubborn, he is still moldable—not conformed yet to the same old same old! I ask you to pray for him also.


Alec, our Chinese brother and helper, is now in China visiting his family for the first time in 10 years. He came here at 22 years of age to try to make money. He has not succeeded in that, but he did find a wife, has a beautiful daughter, and he found Christ. He not only believes, but he is now helping us in ministry all the way around—at the camp, church, mission outreach, or anywhere else he’s needed. He has taught children a few times, and tries with the adults. He still needs time. Lately, his greatest achievement has been helping to lead the singing. It is so sweet as we have him, Zhenya, Bogdon, and Yeagor trying to lead the way as Victalik is now working or not able to come much of the time. Anton and Annya also remain as faithful as the day is long. They are more involved in study, but they sure are an encouragement to us.


There are far more in our circle than I could mention, and we love them all. We invite you to come and meet them, and also the new ones God is bringing into our life. You will understand why we have come to love them so.


There are other Americans living in our region of Ukraine who are a blessing to us, including the McDonald’s, the Ferdon’s, the Zazula’s, Jack Long, and a young friend named Brian. We have found encouragement from our fellowship together. Those of you who travel as teams can never know how sweet fellowship from home is unless you have been without it for a spell. You guys refresh us and our people like summer rain.


Our church groups hold steady, and we have seven who have remained very faithful in Prophets School. Others have come, but not as steady. This winter we have covered the life of Saul, David, Solomon, going through the Kings, and are now in the lives of Elijah and Elisha. It has been a blessing for me, to say the least. Our city group has been giving an offering each Sunday for about two years now, and it is almost enough each Sunday to pay the rent of the restaurant.


We appreciate any and all help we receive, from the Bibles donated to us from BEAMS, the New Testaments from the Gideons, Bibles purchased by local church gifts to the sponsorship of the many projects we have endeavored, especially the camps and all that takes place in the “physical plant” there. We appreciate the medicines and medical help provided for our people and the sponsorship of our “young prophets”—hopefully God’s future leaders for near and distant lands. Have we mentioned Yeager, one of our main interpreters is learning Chinese and is expecting to go to China to live for several months this fall? And…many thanks to those who help send the many team members. Believe me, they are a great help, and an encouragement to us all.

 

There will be many ministry opportunities this year and hopefully also in years to come, as God leads and as we invite you to be a part of what God is doing here. In other words—“Come over and help us!”


We have heard of many folks we love dearly back home who have become sick, and many have passed away. We pray that God will strengthen, bless, heal, and comfort your hearts. Loneliness is amplified by distance, but we trust that in spite of the loneliness, and even things that our families and loved ones have sacrificed together, that Jesus’ promises will be true as He said in Mark 10:29.


Please pray for Moses Shah our friend and co-laborer in India and his team as they endure persecutions to the point of death with homes and churches burned in past months.


Keep Pressing On!”

Bro. Shane




FROM MARILYN

As Shane said, we are still in need of volunteer workers and teachers for our third camp, so if God leads, contact us as soon as possible. I’m sure it would be a blessing for you in lots of ways! We will probably make the lessons for third camp much simpler and easier to teach for beginning teachers because we may have the need to place some of the Ukrainian young people teaching. Most of them have never had the opportunity to teach before, so it will be a new, and hopefully a good experience for them, so pray that God will work things out for camp three. We just pray that God will have His way! This may the time for some of them to step forward and begin to give of what they’ve learned over the last few months. Pray for God’s guidance for us in all! We have some who are very faithful, sweet Christians, and I think they would be very capable with God’s help!


I have noticed at the camp and in other places and ministry that many of the workers we have hired are gradually beginning to take such an interest in what is being done. Just over a year ago, we took over the camps, and in the beginning, it seemed like sometimes we had to drive people to work like a farmer drives his mules. As we look around the camp now, we can see that our workers are gradually taking such an interest in its beauty and use that they will take their own initiative to do things to make the camp more beautiful. Just today, they wanted to take us around to where the big boiler is tended and show us how they had cleaned it all up and separated the big pieces of wood, the boards, and the coal, cleaned up the area beside the river, and made it look very nice and neat. I was so impressed by the way they had taken pride in what they had done, and wanted to show us how good it looked. It seems in many ways, the people of Ukraine are beginning to feel hope and to have a better outlook for their future. I think God is blessing and moving in the hearts of people here, and we just sometimes don’t really recognize it when it’s happening right before our eyes. It makes me think of how a farmer will go out and plow his field, make it ready, plant the seeds, and then go back every day to see if any of the seeds are peeking through. If he could just see underneath the dirt, he could see that some of the seeds are gradually taking root. Suddenly, when the farmer goes out one day to look at his field, he begins to see little green sprouts peaking through the soil. It’s such a refreshing thing to be able to see those first little green sprouts poking up through the dirt. I sort of wonder if that’s not what we’re starting to see from time to time here in Ukraine—those first little sprouts of greenery poking its way through the dirt. I sure hope so!


I recently saw a story in one of my devotion books about a man who grew up around farms in the US. He said he could not understand fully the scripture about how the farmer went forth with weeping as he sowed his seeds because he had never seen the farmers he grew up watching crying as they were planting their fields. America is a land of plenty in so many ways. This man later became a missionary in Africa, and in that land, there were eight solid months of very dry weather. During the months just after the harvest, the people were happy and rejoicing, but as time went by and the weather became dry each year, they began to find it necessary to ration their food until the people were going hungry just before time for planting came again. The little babies could be heard crying because their mother’s milk had dried up from lack of nutrition. This man said that inevitably, a child would come running from the granary one day loudly rejoicing over the fact that he’d discovered a sack of grain hanging on the wall of the granary. He would tell his Dad that he had discovered a sack with food so they would have to starve no longer. The dad would need to solemnly tell the child that this sack was being saved for seeds to use in the next planting season, so it would have to be saved and not eaten. When the time came for planting, this missionary man said he witnessed for the first time how the farmers would go into the field and as they began to throw the precious seeds into the soil, tears would be streaming down their faces as they had to do this job which had to be done, and go back home to continue to watch their families starving. This man said that he understood the scripture fully after living and witnessing for the first time the way of life in this poor African land.


That story touched my heart because I began to feel that it ministered to my spirit in such an encouraging way in our own situation here in Ukraine. When we came to Ukraine, I felt just like this man who had to tell his son that in order to have something to gather in the harvest, they must go out and sow the seed, but he would do so in weeping. Just before we came here, I wept until I could weep no more, feeling as if we might completely destroy the lives of our children who had grown up just a few miles from their grandparents and had the same friends from their early childhood. They didn’t want to leave, and I didn’t want to make them leave, but I knew that in order to sow seeds in this part of the world, we would have to go. At first, I was a little bit bitter when we came here and there was so little response to the gospel. The people seemed to be hard and uninterested, and I couldn’t see that anyone wanted things to be any different here. I still wonder sometimes. I felt like no one really wanted us here anyway, and at times, I almost wanted to dare them to run us out of the country. My attitude was—“If you don’t want us here, we have a much better place to return back home to!” We don’t need you either!” But…as time went on, I have begun to love these people and feel it is a part of my heart now. I began to see that the people are intelligent, inquisitive, and they have much potential to become a great country some day! What I saw was that these people were a people without a lot of hope because of memories of better times in their past and widespread corruption in their present. They had become accustomed to being taken advantage of; therefore, they saw no guilt in themselves for returning the evil. To be honest, after living here and experiencing some of how they feel, I now have an understanding of the temptation to return evil for evil. I know that’s not the Biblical concept and way of doing things, but it became much more understandable as to why the people have the temptation to do it. It is easy to take advantage of a people who are down! Praise God that He won’t leave us groping in the dirt if we become willing to look to Him for our help and hope! I believe that Ukraine has a long way to go in becoming the people that God expects it to be, but I am beginning to see a glimmer of hope in some of their eyes as we watch them work on projects that they feel are worth the effort! Pray for us all here in Ukraine, that God will make of us the people that He desires for us to be!


God Bless You!

Marilyn

Keep Pressing On!”

Shane, Marilyn, Mary, and Caleb Duke

Crossover Ministries Associates

 
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