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2009 - March/May PDF Print E-mail


239 Duke Road

Columbia, Louisiana 71418

(318) 649-7720



This has been an amazing three months. We had the "blues" so bad earlier this year, dreading Caleb's leaving to in the U.S., and becoming frustrated with the discouragements, but God has a remedy. We were introduced to three young ladies traveling with the "Adventures in Missions" team who were scouting out areas for their larger teams to follow. These gals were enjoyable and very independent, yet lady-like in their behavior. We met with other missionaries in our region and showed them around, and then a few weeks later, we hosted more of their team. I can tell you, I was truly encouraged. The teams were made up of various denominations, but they had their priorities in order, and Christ was their head. After three weeks with them, I am much more optimistic that God will always have his remnant no matter what we may think. His kingdom will come, and nobody can stop it. Several of these young people are still searching for their place in life, and I believe that as they find it, we will be blessed with some good leaders. It seemed many of the group did not feel called to live in foreign lands as missionaries, but they do feel called to serve the Lord. Many of them had been months away from home already, living in several different countries on a similar level as the natives of the regions, so the glory of adventure was long past. They encouraged my heart and helped me to feel better again about what God is doing. I felt kind of bad because I get to feeling sometimes that God is not doing much. It's not that I know God isn't doing much, but I feel that way, and we usually respond more to our feeling than to our knowledge. Anyway, thanks be to God who give us the victory through out Lord Jesus Christ. The team helped us by praying for our people and villages, visiting and inviting people to services. They offered simple physical help to locals, repairing homes, minor medical needs, teaching groups, spending time with orphans in our area, helping prepare the camp, and encouraging me. I was already by myself when they came since Marilyn and Caleb had left a few days earlier.

We also had another great time with the team led by Bro. Jeff Robinson, consisting of his wife Lisa, Bro. Ken Gilmore, his wife Anne, their daughter Kayla, and Bro. Stan Wyant. We spent considerable time working and fellowshipping with the youth team, and the Louisiana team rotated teaching through the book of Ephesians to our prophet school students and some of the youth team. We spent hours each night trying to solve the world's problems, discussing hard-to-understand scripture, wooing over the shape of the world, but after our endless discussions, we came to the conclusion that we could rest assured because in spite of what we didn't know, there are a few things that God knows that we don't. We left it at that...some of you know how preacher talk is. A Ukrainian once joked with me, "Ukrainians talk and talk about how bad things are going here and there, and then someone says, 'Okay! Let's go to bed,' and the whole discussion starts over again tomorrow."

Our son Caleb has returned to the United States to finish school there, and now Marilyn and I are left on our own, and we're missing our babies badly. Mary just graduated from high school, and is enrolled in the University of Louisiana at Monroe for the Fall semester in pre-nursing. More than that, she is also engaged to be married in December. Talk about the empty nest many changes at one time!

I am still praying and planning to go with Alec to China this Fall to observe the situation there, and to help with any decision-making I can. Alec is now having a little better attendance in his church group as children from the village have attended several Sundays lately. This is a real blessing for us!

God has His plan, and He is sticking to it!

We have lived in Ukraine for over four years now, and we have tried our best to strategize, and to place workers in positions as we best see fit. Things usually work out, but often it takes much energy just "cheerleading" than what I think should be necessary. Then when you think you are over the hump, and have reached the stage of being able to step back and let the situation flow freely, your "leader" reveals a new heart and vision, and you realize that at best, you had developed a training ground of opportunity for ministry, but you cannot "give" a person a ministry. Better said, only God can do that, and when He does place "the call" on a person's life, you cannot stop that person.

This is a short topic I spoke on a few times recently, and it seemed to be of interest to all groups:


The Characteristics of a Wolf:--Luke 7:15

Jesus said to "Beware" -- "Look out, for although you may not know them, they are among you."

False Prophets -- Desiring to be something they are not. I am told that wolves like to live in high places on hills, overlooking their areas of prey. This gives them a better view, and may cause others to think they are a bit higher than they are.

Jesus said that they disguise themselves, putting on sheep's clothing so as not to cause alarm, trying to be something they are not--not to be able to truly lead the people, but doing what best provides for themselves. A position of leadership also puts them in a place to be trusted, making others more vulnerable to them. It puts the wolf in better position for attack, and exposes them to information that might better help their plan. The wolf will use others to get what he wants, and when he is finished, he will devour even these who have helped him/her along the way.

Like a dog, a wolf, by nature, is greedy. He will take all he can, when he can, and it will be more than enough. I have often seen it in the nature of puppies to gorge themselves, eating so much that they can hardly walk or roll over. They get what they can while they can because they fear they may not get another.

A Russian proverb says that when the wolf has eaten, then he will return to the forest. He cannot help himself because it is his nature. When you realize who or what you are dealing with, you are best to give him way, allow him to go, drive him away quickly--you cannot change him. He has disguised himself, probably with the help of others, so that he looks harmless. He appears to have taken the nature of a sheep, but deep within, he cannot help himself. He is content with his nature! Just a costume will do for him/her until his end is met. Trying to teach him or disguise him to be a sheep when at his/her heart he is a wolf will only allow for further heartache.

Sometimes a wolf will blame others for what he is not. A wolf may say that someone tempted him, or messed him up along the way, but a tree is revealed by its fruits. A tree will bear its natural fruit no matter how you manipulate it. It is true that we can all be tempted to sin, but our consistent way of life will be according to what lies in the heart.


The weeks before opening camp are what I call "Camp Crisis Days". There are so many repairs, safety preparations to make, and even worse, legal preparations. Ukraine remains very beauracratic, and it seems more attention is given to paper work than to the actual purpose itself. In an effort to protect themselves, officials try to "suit proof" themselves, making sure they have legally covered themselves in case something bad should happen. This is understood in our "sue-crazy" world, but it sure discourages a lot of good, and money is often spent on things that I feel matter less.

There are no empty days on the camp calendar this summer as the camp is filled with our groups and with others from the first day of our camp beginning on June 13th until the last day of August.

We have a fall orphan camp which is sponsored by and planned with the Reach Orphans With Hope group from Birmingham, Alabama. Everyone is invited, but to participate in this camp, you will need to coordinate with this leadership team.


The city group continues to be so sweet, and they are growing in grace and knowledge. We still meet in the Seventh Heaven Chinese Restaurant, and we have two young ladies who desire to be baptized this summer from this group.

We meet weekly on Tuesday nights with the interpreters, and have a Bible study group. These classes will stop with the beginning of summer camps, but most of this group will be serving in the camps as workers. During the Fall and Winter, we also have a meeting each week on Thursdays with the core group from the Tuesday night classes. The Bible study is a little more indepth, and the students are given more opportunity to ask questions and discuss topics. With the approaching camps, we close these classes out and only meet on Tuesdays with everyone.

We continue to meet with two orphan groups. Trevor Vitaly is actually in the process of purchasing a small home in the village down the road from us so he can be closer to the ministry service with the orphans. He meets several times each week with the kids at the orphanage in our village, teaching them English, Bible, and moral lessons. He also encourages them to attend church services at the school each Sunday, and last Sunday he had about twelve with him even though it rained. Because of the rain, none of the adults showed up at the school, so we just brought the little ones into our home, Trevor and Alec sung songs with them, Trevor taught them a Bible lesson, and then we gave them hot chocolate. They didn't seem to be familiar with our American style hot chocolate, but they did seem to enjoy it. We still meet also each week on Wednesdays at the Belerechinka orphanage. We sing songs, have a Bible based lesson, and then we give prizes for questions answered. These are the kids who attend the Fall camps.

The church group in the village is still a struggle, but some Sundays are better than others. The attendance really drops when there is a holiday season because it is such a big tradition to celebrate here with partying and drinking. Some remain faithful, but others are what I call "swingers" and they only swing in once in a while, sometimes only when they have a need for something from us. Work in the village has been tough, and although they all seem to respect and love us, it has been hard to break through the hard core of atheistic communism and tradition. Many are inwardly so faithful to a tradition that they know very little about. They refer to themselves as Christians, but they cannot rightly tell what a Christian witness represents, much less what they themselves represent. Many of them have no idea that Baptists also call themselves "Christians" because they are followers of our Lord Jesus Christ. One day, Shane attempted to offer a man a Bible, and the man refused it with the reasoning that he is a Christian. I wouldn't even be sure if the man realizes that the Holy Bible is what the Christian belief is based upon since so few people even owned a Bible when we first arrived in the village. Sometimes it is a puzzle to us what the people are actually thinking about us. As I said, most of them treat us well, and they seem to love us, but they only come to us if they are in need of physical things. Spiritual thinking seems to be far from them.

Alec remains busy working in the camp building and repairing, and he has fixed his little church up even more beautiful. He now has about eight nice new benches built, new wallpaper, and things look so nice. His group is growing in attendance as some of the kids of the village have found out about his meeting, and several of them are now coming. The deaf are still trying to remain faithful, but because of the lack of a good interpreter, it has been hard for them. They still meet with the group when they can. They are really sweet people. Alec didn't have adequate heating there during the cold winter months, so we had to take them with us to the city or to the village each Sunday. Now that the weather is warm, he is back at work, visiting from time to time in the village where his group is located.

Please pray for Alec and for his family. He is still in a struggle about what his future intells. He desires to go back to China to reach his native people, and also because his mom and dad are getting older and more feeble. He received word that his dad is hardly able to work in the fields any longer, so that puts a hardship on his family. I understand his wife's reservations about going to a foreign country without any training in the language, and without knowing anyone where she would be going. Because of the stress of their situation, they have had some difficulties, so please always keep them in your prayers. They also have a little girl named Irra who needs a home that is stable and unbroken. Please remember them. Only a commitment and clear understanding of a call to missions from Christ can give them the grace needed to endure in a situation like this.

Shane also wants to take all of our prophet school students on a mission trip soon as they are eager to "go", and they need to see more of the need and God's work than just what is within the "box" of Ukraine.


We want to take the time to thank all of the teams of people and some individuals who have spent time with us in Ukraine over the last year. It seemed that some of these were like an anchor for us, encouraging and helping us sometimes during times when we had gotten pretty depressed. Other times, it seems we might have been a small part in helping others, but either direction, we have learned to accept what the Lord Jesus puts in our path. We don't always know exactly what will come our way, but we do know that God knows what we will encounter each step of our way.

Many have been coming to Ukraine on short-term mission trips since the first year we were here, and some before we came. We appreciate the effort you have put into the ministry with our people here. While we haven't seen as much accomplishment as we would like to see, it is obvious that God has allowed us to be a part of what He is doing here as there is more work being done, and people bearing witness of His name in this region than there was a few years ago. We are sowing good seed, and we trust that one day, God will be glorified with a good harvest.

Edited portion of a "thank-you" letter:

Life in Ukraine has been a roller coaster ride, full of chills and thrills, and you guys have all been a part of that. We thank God that he has made all of us a team, allowing us to serve as co-laborers together with God, and that He has allowed us to minister over and over again with many of you guys, including those who pray and those who pay the way. You have been a part in all things done here from the first summers of camp to the first winters of visitation and encouragement. At the beginning, the people were a bit reserved, and sometimes tough to get close to, but there were lasting impressions made, especially on the interpreters. Several of those affected by the visits of that first winter have now gone on, some to be with the Lord. God used some of you to introduce Himself to them. Your presence has proven to our people your concern and love for them, and they know that you desire good for their souls rather than just to seek another "scalp for your belts". Your ministry has refreshed my Spirit and helped us to go on, even when it was so disheartening.

Thank you all for serving the Lord.



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 by Servant Life/Hope for Orphans of the World)


If you email us at the address at the top of this newsletter, we can give you information you will need, or we will put you in contact with team captains for the camp you desire to serve in.

We ask that anyone who is willing to sponsor children to attend the camps to do so early. The cost is approximately $150 per child for each camp, and all of them are allowed to come for free.

On behalf of our camp workers, we are trying to manage a 60-year, 30-acre camp that is capable of sleeping over 400 campers with less tools and equipment than most people keep in their garage. There are few power tools, and most work is accomplished the old fashioned muscle power way with wages that often represent "good intentions" more than "livable income". We have a good team of workers this year, including two American girls (one a Ukrainian missionary from another city), a good quantity of free help from the coal mine, and have had help from teams. Both American and Ukrainians, believers and unbelievers, have a part in our camp, and we are grateful to God for all he has provided.

God Bless You All!

Keep Pressing On!

Shane, Marilyn, Mary & Caleb Duke

Crossover Ministries Associates

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