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2008 - September/October PDF Print E-mail


239 Duke Road

Columbia, La. 71418

(318) 649-7720


September - October 2008

Hello again to all! We are so thankful for the cordial welcome we received from all of the churches we visited while we were home in September. After a long summer of hard work in camps, it was so refreshing to get to be a part of churches in America with people who speak our own language. I think for so long I had taken for granted the privilege of such a sweet group of believers meeting together to worship our Lord Jesus Christ. Maybe we all fail to recognize that privilege to some degree or another. We forget or don’t realize that so many around the world struggle to have that privilege. Some simply don’t have the right or freedom to meet while others, as in Ukraine, struggle to find a faithful group of believers to meet with. After being in Ukraine for over three years, I now realize the precious advantage I have had throughout my life to always have had a group of believers to worship with. Even if there were some down times, I always knew a sense of belonging to a family of believers. Even in America, I know that I have been more privileged because of the place I was born and grew up. Yes, we were considered one of the poorest states financially, but spiritually speaking, we are considered to be living in the “Bible Belt” of America. I could not imagine having grown up in some of the hard areas of the biggest cities in America or in some other countries around the world. We were blessed to see that several of the churches we visited while we were home seemed full of life and health. It seems that those type churches are the ones who always have an outward focus where the people have recognized the needs of those around them, and they are giving of themselves financially and physically to reach out to people in their communities, nursing homes, prisons, schools, and around the world.


Camp One: June 13 - 27 (Led by Servant Life from Alabama)

Camp Two: July 4-18 (Led by North Monroe Baptist Church)

Camp Three: July 25- August 8

Youth Camp: August 9-15 (Led by Bro. Jay Morgan from Louisiana)

Fall Orphan Camp--Will be set most likely for some time at the end of October, depending on the time of the school vacations. (Will be directed & led by Servant Life/Hope for Orphans of the World)

If you desire to serve in any of the camps, we can put you in contact with the leader for each team, and they will help you to make the plans. Contact us through the email at the top of the newsletter, and we’ll give you the contact information that you’ll need.

We ask anyone who is willing to sponsor children to attend the camps to do so early. The cost is probably about $150 per child for each camp, and all of them are allowed to come for free, so it is a big expense for the ministry.

In October, a group from Alabama with Servant Life came to do the orphan camp. The kids from Belerechinka, from the small orphanage close to our home, and a few of our village kids participated. There were approximately 94 children, and all of them seemed to have a really good time. There were about 12 people from Alabama who came to help, and every one of them were great workers and sweet Christian witnesses to the kids. We started off with a good breakfast, then Bible studies, the teamed played with the kids and they did sports in the middle of the day, and then they had another Bible study in the afternoon after a good lunch. In the evening, the kids bathed and got ready for the evening church services and stage program. Vitalik led each night in singing, someone from the team taught, and Annya, one of our sweet and faithful Christian workers, led in an encouragement to the kids from Bible lessons, and at the end we had some kind of entertainment like a bonfire or performances. The kids were blessed by the work the team put into this camp, and we appreciate their efforts.

We had two of our friends from Louisiana, Terry Tullos and Jake Cockrell, here with us for about four weeks, along with the young man, David who is staying here with us for a year. Jake, Terry, David, and our own son Caleb kept the fires burning at the camp. Jake took care of the inside fire while the other three made sure the fire was kept hot in the big boiler that heats the showers. Everyone was thankful for the good weather, and the hard work all the boys did to make things comfortable for keeping clean and healthy. Just before camp, the stomach virus had taken over in our home, and all of us had gotten sick. We’d hoped the team would miss it, but a few of them ended up spending some time at the toilet with stomach problems, but we thank God that only a few of the kids got sick.

Shane and some of the team also visited a family we’ve been working with for some time now, offering her assistance. This lady has about six children in her home, and has had one little girl who was put into an orphanage. She told Shane that someone had come to their home while they were away and stolen almost everything they had. There were no toys, and very little of anything else, including anything warm to wear or to keep from being so cold at night. They first got the lady some blankets, and then went back later with some of the team to watch the little ones while Shane and Mike took her to town to buy some things for her family. A sweet family in Louisiana that we’ve known since childhood have been helping this family for quite some time, and we appreciate them for their faithfulness to her and the children. Please pray for this family that God will help and bless them.

David, the young man from Alabama, that I mentioned is staying here for a year, will be continuing his stay even while we return to America in December. But…he has been blessed by the fact that some of his dearest friends will be coming to Ukraine at that same time, and will be going through the process of adopting five children from Ukraine. They will be arriving in November, and they’ve asked David to stay with them and help to document by video all of what will be happening in their process of adopting these children.  We are thankful that David won’t just be left alone, and that he’ll have a precious ministry to some of his closest friends during the holiday season, and especially since we won’t be here with him in December. Pray for David as he continues to seek God’s direction in his life.

If you remember Bogdan, he was the young man that’s been living at the camp for the last year. We’ve grown very close to Bogdan, and are so proud that he has gotten a new family in America. His new parents have been here for the last month, going through the process of adopting him and his younger sister who is still living in the Belerechinka orphanage right now. God willing, they will be leaving together some time next week to go to Kiev to finish the process, and then on to America to their new home. Please pray for this young man and for his family. We hope to keep in touch with them, and that at some point, we’ll be able to see him again in America, and possibly that they’ll be visiting us again in Ukraine from time to time.


It’s been nearly four years since our family moved to Ukraine. It seems like just last month we were ridding ourselves of so many blessings at our home in Louisiana in preparation to come here. It was a hard time for us. I remember how sad I felt, and excited at the same time--so many things that God had blessed us with--people had given us--precious things. It was especially hard for us because we knew that our children would be giving up so much that we knew as a way of life--things that we loved. I remember believing that it was God’s call for us to come here, and I felt resolved that we should come, even if it meant pulling our children away from the things we loved so well--even our way of life--and from things that we knew and enjoyed. Ukraine has not been everything that we expected. One thing we have learned is that people are not hungry for the gospel, nor do they respect you for being a Christian everywhere. Sadly, many of the people want us, like they did Jesus, for the fish and for the bread more than for the Spiritual blessings, but we’ve also been privileged to see many come to faith in Christ. Although we’ve only seen nine baptized during our nearly four years of ministry, we’ve literally seen hundreds make professions of faith, especially through the camp ministry. Many of the interpreters that we’ve spent so much time with, Marilyn teaching them English--many of them have not only come to express saving faith, but now they’re beginning to live their faith. They’ve become disciples of Jesus Christ. We’ve also had the joy of seeing Alec mature and grow in grace and knowledge, and now he’s making a church plant on his very own. Although we try to attend the services with him, he’s actually the one who is taking the initiative and who is making the start. We’re simply trying to walk beside him and encourage him in this, and let him make all of the decisions.

As far as the language, we can get around with it now. We’re able to go and do most business, or most of what we want to do, but we still aren’t able to speak the language enough to teach or to preach. God is using and providing a way through interpreters. One of the greatest joys of my life the past few months is watching and listening as now we’ve sat still, and I’m beginning to see and hear these disciples teach. It really blesses my heart as they are teaching the Word of God. I was really wondering if the things that we were doing were making any difference, but it’s so sweet to hear them now, communicating and relaying the things that we’ve learned from other faithful people who learned them from other faithful people, and who taught them to us. Now we have the privilege of teaching them to others, and the joy of hearing them to teach others with us. It is so sweet to do, and to know this.

While we were in America, I felt like it was time, not to step behind our disciples, but for me to step beside at least three or four of them, and rather than to continue leading them, it was time for me to go aside and encourage them--not push them, but encourage THEM to begin to step up. At first they were shy. They didn’t feel they were capable of doing it. That’s what a person ought to feel. But…they have begun to step up now, and I praise God for this--Alec being one.

I would like to tell you some things about Alec’s new church start. The small room is located in a little village right next door to the post office. The village is pretty run down, and the roads around the area of the church are more like beat down cow trails rather than roads. The place has three bars within 100 meters of the building, and also a statue of Linen just across the street staring directly into the building. We were given free use of the building, which was once an old police station, and although we don’t have any electricity right now, we hope to get some very soon. We have a good wood stove that we’re able to use for heat. What is so strange is that we have a Chinese man trying to teach and preach the Bible in Russian, and our first two people who have committed to coming have been deaf people. The mother is probably pushing sixty (although it’s hard to know for sure since people here in Ukraine age so quickly) and the son is probably in his forties. The interpreter for these two deaf is also the daughter of the older lady. She looks to be in her twenties, and seems to be struggling with some type of substance abuse, yet they’ve been faithful. We’ve also had another grandmother bringing her small grandson already. Alec has been so excited. The second lesson that he taught was on the atonement through the blood of Jesus Christ, and how that Jesus is the only way to Salvation.

Alec has taken so much care in fixing the small room up to look like a church. He’s placed small hanging Spiritual pictures all around on the walls, and he built a large wooden cross to hang on the wall at the front of the room. He placed plastic chairs in rows for the people to sit, and a small desk in front as a place to stand behind for a pulpit. In the corner, he put shelves for placing his Bibles, song books, and tracts, and he got some old

blankets from the camp to hang over the windows for curtains. The building is dirty, and it’s not much you can do to fix it up. Most of the windows are even broken out, but Alec has put thick plastic over them to keep the cold air out. It’s really blessed our hearts to see the pride he’s taken in making it look like a place of worship.


Trevor has been working with us for about seven months now. His name is really Vitalik. He is working with the local orphanage and village children, and is doing most of the teaching at Belerechinka, but Trevor is one of the finest children’s ministers I’ve ever seen.  He’s twenty-five years old. His heart’s desire is to work with children seven years old and down. He told us one day that he was practicing to be a daddy, and I can tell you that if he is able to be a daddy the way that he’s able to teach young children, he will be a real blessing.

We also continue to labor with the Vitalik that you’ve read so much about, and we ask that you pray for him, that he might commit himself completely unto the work of the Lord, and not be distracted in any way.

Another young man who years ago was influenced through the camp ministry during the time of the Gendke’s--Yuri. Yuri is now showing promise as a youth leader. Probably, he’ll be a pastor in the future. He’s still just a young man, and trying to learn which direction God would have him to go.

We’re there to support these young men, but this enables us to take on other projects. I know this is crazy, but I’ve already got a heart to start new projects in other places.


Another thing we’ve begun is that we’ve started one day extra in the city for Prophet’s school. We’ve been meeting for this class for years now, and we’ve had anywhere from eighteen to thirty people attending the class. The original goal in this was to teach advanced Bible studies, and although it is more advanced than classes at a regular church, we have so many first-timers coming to this (actually as many as we had coming to our church services), that we had to keep the lessons simpler. Because of this, I’ve more recently tried to take only our advanced disciples, and meet with them on purpose on Thursday mornings while others are at work or in school and cannot come. This gives me time to disciple them further, to spend intimate time with them for us to discuss things, and we’ve actually even debated things. One interesting thing is that the Russian and English Bibles don’t always agree--and Alec is using a Chinese Bible which sometimes agrees with the English and sometimes agrees with the Russian. Some of our discussions have been pretty lively, to say the least. Alec has had little influence by theology, so everything he’s got is coming directly from the Bible, and it’s been a rich experience for me, and a blessing, and it’s caused me to look at some things differently, to re-look at some things that I always took for granted. When I hear Alec sharing his perspective--the way that he sees things and the way he understands it, it does make a difference in the way that we think.

Also, one of the missionaries that we’ve worked with in the past, and that we continue to help support in a small way is from India--a very difficult situation and place. There have been hundreds of Christians killed there in the past several months. Thousands of homes have been damaged or burned. It’s been a very, very violent and dangerous situation. I ask that you pray for this man and the people of India. India is one of those countries we take for granted because we hear of many Christians there, but brethren, this is no time to slack up in our battle. In many places we’re losing territory where once it was claimed as Christian, and now other religions are dominating. The Lord never gave us any room to turn back, but to press on, and I ask for you to pray for missions in all parts of the world.

We did have one baptism in September that we didn’t get to report about--a young 
African from Guinea, West Africa. We simply call him Al. He’s a very interesting young man. We baptized in the river behind our house, and the water was so cold we could hardly stand it. The water has a terrible stench in the river, but Al came and was ready to submit himself in baptism. We did it that day because the weather was changing and we knew we couldn’t wait any longer. Plus, I was coming to America. Al was ready. We had Ukrainians that day from our village--ladies who sang on the bank. None of them have been baptized. Whenever we baptized Al, I asked him to testify. He didn’t want to at first. I actually let Alec do the actual baptism--this was the first person he’d ever baptized--you could tell he was so excited to get to do it. When we baptized Al, and he came up out of the water, then I figured surely he wouldn’t have said anything, but it seemed there was a joy on his face that must have opened Al’s heart, and he began to testify and tell about God--It was another rich experience as he began to share all the things that God had done for him.

One of the things we’ve had reservation about--in the camp, in the building that Alec is using, and in almost any place that we’ve used here in Ukraine--there is a fear of fixing things up nice, making them better, and making repairs that are needed. That fear is because there is a tendency for somebody to come in and take it away from you. Sometimes they do it legally, and especially this happens to Ukrainians. We have a little advantage as rich Americans. They take things legally, they take it away with threats--they find some reason or some charge to accuse you of why you can’t use the building, and I’ve watched as many things have been fixed up in the past, and then they came in, took it, and those people used it until they destroyed it. It’s not for good reason that they do it. Most of the time, they want to put a drinking place, bar, disco or something like that in--anyway--using it for bad purposes until it’s gone. The honest truth is that I’ve always had, in the back of my heart, a fear that this would happen at the camp, and we know that the camp has just been something that’s been entrusted to us by the Lord. He entrusted it to us. It’s only God that’s helping us keep it. You pray for us that we’ll know how much to invest--when to stop. We still continue to rent the Chinese restaurant in Lugansk, but we need a bigger meeting place. The location of the restaurant is great. It’s in the center of the city, but the room is small. We also have very limited times in which we can use it--only Sunday mornings. We need a place where we can meet with a youth group, the prophet’s schools, and where we can have other outreach type ministries. We’d also like to start some type of humanitarian aid. We’re using another church house right now, but four Christian groups are using it. It’s just a small room. It’ll seat about thirty people maximum. It’s being shared by so many groups, so we have to be careful with that, but we are praying that God would give us what we need there.

There are several repairs--always repairs--that we need to make at the camp. Our electrical wiring system, our water filter system, and playground equipment--we must continue to repair. The electrical system has gone as far as it can go. The camp is sixty years old, and some of that wiring is original. Our electrician runs his legs off trying to keep it all pieced together, but it’s also dangerous. We don’t know exactly what it would cost. If we were to put new lights and everything else up, the cost would be maybe $8,000. We also need to repair some roofs. Again, we have about twenty buildings at the camp, and almost all of them need roof repairs, but some need it worse than others. The average cost to re-roof one of those buildings would be about $2,500. We’re just praying about what to do there. Some of these buildings we don’t have any choice about. We’ve got to do something. We’ve been praying for something like a small tractor to use to pick up trash, and to carry limbs and other supplies around the camp. The camp is about forty acres. It’s a tremendous area to have to walk and cover. Our workers cannot do it. We have a brother who is willing to help us get a tractor, but we haven’t been able to find anything dependable here in Ukraine, and it’s not actually cost-feasible to send something from the United States. Then we have the problems of getting parts and other things. We’re still asking the Lord about what to do there. We also need to make repairs to our swimming pool. We bought a liner two years ago--very low quality rubber--maybe we’ll get by with one more camp season--maybe not. One of the things we’ve also been told we must do is that we must continue to make one building per year be up to fire safety standards by putting in smoke alarms and having the building sprayed. One building has cost us around $3,000 in the past. We have about six buildings left to get done.

One of our disciples, Yeagor, is now in China. He was interpreting for us in English--an excellent English interpreter. He’s now learning to be a Chinese interpreter, and we hear that he’s already trying to start Bible studies in China. We don’t know how he’ll be able to do that. It may be affected by his student positions.

Ukraine hasn’t been all that we expected. It was better in some ways--worse in others, but again, I have to say, “It has been worth the journey.”

Caleb has become a tremendous help to us, and we depend on him for so many things now. We ask that you’d pray for him, that God would strengthen him and enable him. He’s also growing to be a young man, and facing decisions in life that he’ll soon have to make. We will be going home at Christmas. It’s a special time for us. In the nearly four years we’ve been here, although we have been home several times, our trips have been so crowded, reporting to churches, preparing for future events, we’ve hardly had any time with our families. This year, we want to go home at Christmas, slow down, and spend time with our families. Also, as Mary enters this next year into the college life, our family time is growing less and less. It was already difficult to give her up--to let her go home two years, and finish her last two years of high school, but we felt that was best for her, and we sure want to spend this time with her. Our parents are also not so healthy anymore.

The financial situation in Ukraine has taken a major turn for the worse just within the last few weeks. We’ve been warned that many banks might possibly be forced to close, and many coal miners have been either laid off by being given unpaid vacation time, or hours and pay have been cut to much less than before. Sometimes, the government can’t even pay workers, and workers must continue to work on a “promise” basis at those times. We saw this situation when we first arrived in Ukraine, and it looked like things had steadily improved over the last three years, but people warned that there would be a downfall in the future. The banks began to loan money like never before, and many people bought on credit, but so few make enough to cover big debt. There are also more kids that we know from the village who have been put into the orphanage due to alcoholism, financial, or other family problems. We believe that this will be a very difficult few years for Ukraine as the country is now facing new presidential elections and political problems.  Please pray for this country.

God Bless you all! Keep Pressing On!


Shane, Marilyn, Mary, and Caleb

Crossover Ministries Associates

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 18 November 2008 )
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