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2007 - January/February PDF Print E-mail

239 Duke Road
Columbia, La. 71418

Ukraine mailing address:

Shane Duke
St.  Sverdlova 69
Lutugino R.
Lugansk D.    92022


Hello again to all from Ukraine! The weather this year has been wonderful, maybe even better than our home state of Louisiana, and we have been rejoicing! I don’t think the temps have even dropped as low as they were consistently for quite some time last year. There has been just enough cold, ice, and snow to be ready for spring, but not so much that we thought we might freeze to death as it was the first winter we were here. I think we may have had some people praying for us back in the states. If they were, I think it might have worked.
Our village of Novopavlovka had a celebration a few days ago to celebrate the beginning of spring, but although the weather had been beautiful for days before, it suddenly began to snow and the temps dropped well below freezing that very morning. It was fixed up real nice in the school yard with shish-ka-bobs and all the fixings, but the wind was blowing horribly, and it was just too cold for me to stay. I almost wondered if God might be protesting the celebration since, as normal here for village celebrations, someone had sponsored the buying of plenty of booze to make almost every person pretty whoozy before the day was over. After the second person advised me to get a shot of something to keep me warm, I made my way back down the road to my warm house instead. It is sad that the people don’t seem to realize the dangers of alcohol and the public example that’s set before the younger generation coming up behind them I stayed at the celebration long enough to get some pictures of everything, and some video of the babushkas (grandmothers) singing and dancing, and Shane and Caleb brought Mary and me some shish-ka-bob meat back to eat. I had an English class to teach soon after I went back home anyway, and I was actually a little bit surprised that four of the little girls showed up on that day of celebration. We had a good class, and then I went to the store to get them all some ice cream. I’d actually planned to take them with me to choose the ice cream they wanted, but I didn’t think about that they might not like eating it in the cold. When I started to go, one little girl told me they’d just stay and wait for me to come back with the treats, and that they’d just eat it inside the warm house. I understood their point, so I trudged off down the road like an idiot, I guessed after I’d thought about my offer, and brought them back the treats.
Mary was busy with school work, and Shane decided to go back down to the school to check on Caleb and the sound system and chairs they’d borrowed. At first I’d planned just to stay inside my warm house, but all the little girls had decided they’d stay too. I didn’t mind so much that they wanted to stay, but boy were they hyped, I suppose after being closed inside their houses during the winter so much. I’m sure our house is much bigger and more open than they’ve been used to, and I know their moms are a little strict about playing rough inside the house. So…they were getting really rowdy. They got a little ball of foil that our cat had been playing with, and one of them would throw it, and then they’d all take off crawling across the floor as fast as they could to see who could reach it first. They were actually pretending to be dogs, and all the laughing and shouting got louder and louder. Well, I sat and wondered if they might not decide to go home for quite a while, so I decided I’d also go back to the school to check on things, and hopefully, they’d all follow after me. Sure enough, they got the hint. I wasn’t sure if I’d have to stay a while until they got tired of the cold and decided to go back to their own houses, but none of them went to the school with me. They all told me goodbye and headed out to go back home. I secretly hung around the school just long enough for them to get down the road a ways, and then I headed back to my own house again. There were only a few “wired“ people left cleaning things up, and they seemed to be enjoying themselves. Sometimes I feel like a bad missionary when I try to just sneak away, but we really need a time to break and enjoy the quiet after spending days answering the doorbell at our gate. We have to be a little bit sneaky sometimes just to get any time of real rest.
We’d left out early that morning to go to Mala-Urivka for Bible study with the people in that village, so it had already been a long, cold day. We had been meeting inside the nurse’s station before, but some people had complained, and were threatening to have her put in jail, so the mayor had to ask us to start meeting inside a home instead. Well, we don’t mind that, but it’s just a little bit harder to get people to attend in someone’s home, and it’s not nearly as cozy and warm as the little medical office was. By the time we got back for the Pavlovka celebration, my toes were already feeling frozen. We did have a really good Bible study in Mala-Urivka though, and Alec (our Chinese friend and brother in Christ) even wore a tie that morning. We were really surprised to see the pride he’d taken in his dress. That night was the Chinese New Year, so maybe he was dressed for that celebration also. Not sure.
After Shane finished the Bible lesson, Alec talked a little bit to the people, and he reminded everyone of how the TV could be such a bad influence if we watch things that are not good. He told how most of the bad movies are American-made, but that still didn’t make the bad things that people did in these movies to be okay. He spoke with a lot of wisdom about it, and I was a little bit ashamed to hear how other nationalities were needing to encourage their own people not to be influenced badly by the American film industry. The saddest thing is, although much of the bad behavior is not normal behavior for everyone in the US, a big part of it is becoming more and more a part of real life in our country. May God have mercy on our country for teaching and leading people around the world such bad things, and for taking our responsibility so lightly. God has given us so much, therefore, much will be required of our nation. I think we will not be held guiltless.

Bro. Jeff Robinson and Bro. Gary Waggoner visited in early February to do evangelistic work in the neighboring villages and also here in Pavlovka. The night they arrived, we had had Bible study in the city, and Shane was planning to take some of us back home to the village before he went to the airport to get the men. They had flown into Lugansk on the airplane. Well, there was not an excessive amount of snow, but when the wind began to blow really hard, so much blew from the fields that huge snow drifts began forming on the roads. Snow plows were pushing it back in larger areas, but close to Pavlovka, it was bad. Our little car just couldn’t make it through the last big one, and we ended up very stuck. At first, Shane called Alec to bring his little 4-wheel drive Niva to pull us out, but then he ended up stuck in the ditch along beside us. Shane figured it would be easier just to desert both vehicles and walk home, and then come back the next morning to get them. Well, none of the Ukrainians nor Alec thought that was a good idea. They said that if we did that, the tires would be gone when we came back to get them. We laughed, but decided that might not be a good thing to do, so we got the shovels and dug and dug and dug, and then pushed and pushed and pushed for over two hours that night. We didn’t make it back home until after midnight, and then Shane had to go back to help Alec. There were cars all up and down the road that night stuck in the snow. Even the big miner’s bus was stuck right behind us. I don’t think I’ve ever used so many muscles so strenuously to dig and push in all my life. I felt like I had the flu for days after that. I’d just almost gotten over having a stressed arm from a fall on the ice, and two bunged up toes from a fall on my steps, and all that pushing ended up hurting them again--not nearly as badly, but still enough to aggravate. Boy, that was a night to remember! Poor Bro. Jeff and Bro. Gary ended up being taken to the warm, nice house in the city to stay overnight, so they were still well taken care of.
I know these two guys were a great blessing to our people, and that they planted good seed. Bro. Jeff worked in Mala-Urivka last time he came, and he went back there again, and had several to make professions of faith. On this route, the men saw the lady we all call “Spirit Lady” again, and Shane seems to think she is doing worse than ever physically, and he also thinks she is showing signs of stress. This lady has lived in the hills for years, and the locals say that although she is eligible to draw a pension, she won’t take it to live by. She just wanders the hills with dogs following after her. We’ve been seeing her quite often around our home lately, and she seems to be asking for more help also. Shane and Caleb took her some food one day, and also one of the home-made hats sent from America. Shane said that she didn’t want to take it at first, and she told him that she would just wait until spring when she could take a bath. As she was taking her scarf from off her head, what Shane had thought was just a dirty hat, he realized was actually this lady’s hair instead. He was amazed at how dirty and matted it had become. He was able to get her to take the hat, and she also has been accepting food. Pray for this lady, for her mental and spiritual condition, and also her physical.
Also, Bro. Gary worked in our little village of NovoPavlovka. He taught Bible studies at night with people that Alec was able to gather, first at his own home, and then they came to our home the next night. There were several of these who raised their hands that they had prayed to accept Christ as their Savior. These people know very little about the Bible and the teachings of Christ, so please pray for them to grow and understand. One young man even asked what the difference was between heaven and hell. This is how little so many of the people know. Ministry in many cases here in Ukraine is just like plowing a little dirt and planting just a few seeds, and then hoping that someone will continue to dig around it and protect it so that it will have a chance to blossom and grow. Now is the time to plow these fields before the day turns to night. Any place could be vulnerable to lose the freedom of teaching and preaching of the gospel, but this part of the world is still very vulnerable to being at least limited, if not completely cut off. We must continue to work while it is still day, and not grow weary from discouragement or criticism. Please continue to pray for all. We appreciate both Bro. Jeff and Bro. Gary for their willingness to come this far and sow just a few seeds while there is still time. Thank you both for your encouragement.

Camps are quickly approaching, and won’t be long before time to start. There are so many things to get done before we leave for the US, and so little time to do it. Please pray for us as we work quickly to get things together. Although we have done many camps in the past years, we have never done anything quite to this magnitude, so we covet your prayers for us.
We have begun repairs and improvements to the camp. We had strong winds a few nights ago that severely damaged the entire roof over the main stage area, and other building were damaged as well. The stage area roof is large and very high, so we will need professional help, with special equipment, to repair this roof. We also need to repair fences around the camp, buy a new commercial cook stove, make repairs to the main electric system, and repair damage caused by leaks in time past, as well as other maintenance that needs to be fulfilled on this 50+ year old facility. This promises to be an expensive year of repairs, but we believe they will be well worth it in time to come. These camps have the potential of reaching and influencing thousands of children for Christ, and we can have youth and adult activities on the grounds throughout the year. We believe this campground will be a major asset in training young men and women with Bible knowledge and life skills to prepare them for future ministry.
We have a couple from North Monroe Baptist Church who will be coming over in May to help with the work all summer, and we are looking forward to their stay. We hope they will enjoy this time, and that not only will they be a blessing to the people of Ukraine, but that the people of Ukraine will also be a blessing to them as they have been to us. Although there are many aggravations and frustrations living here in this country, we also have seen the value of these people, and we have grown to love many of them. They have truly been a blessing to us.
We are now in the process of working with interpreters and workers for the camp, and also in preparations for activities we plan to do. If anyone has any ideas or plans for camps, we need them as soon as possible so that we’ll be aware of what we have already. There are many things your different ministry groups might like to do as different projects such as preparing games, sponsoring sporting activities by buying T-shirts for teams, basketballs, footballs, soccer balls, nets, chess games, ping pong sets, badminton sets, craft supplies, or things of that sort. If any of you are interested in this, you may e-mail us for details at the address from the top of this newsletter. We would be glad to allow you the chance to help in some way from the US. Although we have money committed to the camps, we also have a lot of repair work, normal job and maintenance pay, electricity bills, and other expenses which will need to be met first of all before we can pay for extra fun things. May God richly bless you all for everything you are doing to reach others with the love of Christ.

Camp dates are as follows:
First camp -- (Open for help!) -- Begins June 9th - June 23rd
Second Camp -- (North Monroe Team sponsored) -- Begins June 30th - July
Start date:
Third Camp -- (Lafayette, La. Baptist Association sponsored)
Start date: July 21st - August 4th

NOTICE: These camps are totally FREE to all Ukrainian campers, and many of them will be from the local orphanages, and most of them attend no church of any kind, so it is an evangelistic outreach. We have figured a cost of $50 per child. Any individual, group, or church who would like to sponsor children, we would appreciate any donations for these children to attend camp. We hope to have approximately 210 children per camp, which will be a total of approximately $ 10,500 each camp. Any help is appreciated.

The city group is growing in grace and knowledge, and a few new people have been attending the last few weeks. Our newest believer is a 22 yr old named Victoria, a very precious lady. We are averaging about twenty each Sunday now, and the Spirit has been really sweet among the people. Things seem to be going well, and we pray that good seeds are being planted that will spring up in due time, and begin to produce much fruit for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Some of these people are already professing, baptized believers, so the sermons are usually a little bit deeper and a little harder to chew on. Dima has been teaching the Sunday school class with a young man named Yegor interpreting it into English. This last Sunday, Yegor was sick, and Victalic was able to interpret into English, and he did a really good job. I have been really blessed by Dima’s teaching, and it is plain to see that he has a gift from God for teaching and explaining the message in simple, understandable terms. Please pray for this young man as he continues to struggle to find his place for his future ministry and work.
The village group is also growing in number, although it is so much harder to see the fruit of salvation in them. Many of them have professed their belief in Christ quietly, but some have openly stated now that they are afraid to openly profess in public, or to be baptized, because of what other people might say about them. It is very possible that something like this could happen, and what is really prevalent is how those who are afraid to profess publicly are so very judgmental of others who have already made public professions of faith. I think that some of them may just be afraid that the very same judgment that they have done to others will then come back to them from some of their own friends if they publicly profess, but then still commit some sins. The people are hard on one another here, and don’t understand about the grace of God at all. Although there is a time when a believer must grow up and become mature, there is also a time of teaching and learning during the earliest stages of his/her new birth. These new believers can easily become very discouraged living among so many people who are consistently so harsh on them, especially if the new believers are actually trying to take part in the church services at all.
While Bro. Jeff and Bro. Gary were here visiting with us, we were able to allow Bro. Gary to do a short devotion with some of the workers at the camp after they had fed us a good meal one day. After he finished the devotion, and he had asked would anyone like to pray for Jesus to forgive them of their sins and become their Savior, one lady spoke up with a comment that explains how I think many of them feel, but just may not be so open with saying it. She said that she believed that there are some who are so bad that they are going to have to straighten up their lives and begin to live more normal lives before God will ever really save them, and before they would ever be able to be a Christian. This lady is one of the harshest, and although she tries to help anyone she can, sometimes she doesn’t realize how discouraging the honesty of her words can be. Obviously, she still has not grasped the great power and grace of God to continually change our hearts, minds, and lives more and more every day. Only God is able to keep us from falling whenever we abide under the shadow of his Almighty presence. Pray for these people to begin to understand the powerful love of God, and how He wants to work in their lives. Pray that they will begin to learn that it is not about the righteousness of man, but all abut the righteousness of a perfect Savior who gave his life as a ransom for many. Then, maybe the people can be set free from the chains of sin and oppression that seem to be bound in the hearts of those who are reaching and searching for their own way. For example, one young man told us that he had witnessed to his mom two different times, but she just doesn’t understand. He said that she told him that if he did what she did by working hard and making his own way, then he’d be alright. Many of our own people in the US have this same hard attitude about God--”God didn’t help me get to where I’m at today. I worked hard for everything I’ve got, and I don’t need God now!” It’s sad to realize that so many living right in the US around so much preaching of the gospel of Christ, still have those same feelings about life and about God.
The Bible says that “it is God who gives thee power to get wealth.” It is not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord!

Eye glass clinics
We held eye glass clinics in two villages in January and February. Dr. Zeek, a young Iranian in a medical university here saw over 120 patients in the two clinics held, and over 100 pairs of glasses were distributed. Zeek is a believer, and a very kind man, the people have responded well to this outreach. We gave a Bible to almost every person who saw the doctor. We give special thanks to Bruce McDonald and family, a missionary family here who helped us with these clinics and provided many of the glasses that were distributed. Shane

Other places
While our primary ministry focus is on eastern Ukraine, we continue to correspond, and are channeling some financial assistance to some of the former countries we have worked in before including Mexico, the Philippines, and India. I had always felt that we would eventually have a part in the work of China, but I never dreamed we would be doing it via Ukraine. Alec, our Chinese brother, is growing in grace and knowledge at a remarkable pace. He can only read Chinese, and we are actively pursuing Chinese literature for him, as well as holding three extended Bible studies each week in Russian for him and other ministry prospects. When I return to the US, I hope to bring him back some Chinese study aids that brethren there are seeking to gather for him. Alec is now teaching Sunday school to children, and he has an active part in the devotions of each group we minister to.
Our sweet Mary will move back to the US to live with her grandparents and finish school there. We will miss her, and pray for God’s grace to help us as a family through this transition time.

As always we invite you to come and help us here. Shane

Thank you.
Keep pressing on
Shane, Marilyn, Mary, and Caleb

Last Updated ( Sunday, 13 July 2008 )
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