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2009 - October/December PDF Print E-mail


239 Duke Road

Columbia, La. 71418

(318) 649-5452


October - December 2009




Hello to all!


            It doesn’t seem like it, but we have lived in Ukraine nearly five years.  We thank God for allowing us to serve here, and we thank those of you who have responded to God's leadership in helping to send us here and keep us in ministry resources.  It has been an interesting journey, and well worth the trip.  I hope that we have gone as far as we could, and have made the difference God brought us here for.  Sometimes I feel we are making little difference...then other times I feel maybe we are accomplishing more than we can see.  I know that missionaries are to be "temporary".  That is, if all goes well, they are to work themselves out of a job in due time.  A foreigner should not be the one to turn the hearts of the native land, but it should be a national who turns the hearts of his people.  Then again, we are all pilgrims in a strange land.  What is it that separates nations?  The invisible, imaginary lines that form the borders between lands?  The physical differences in the flesh of the people?  Is it not true that we find a common make-up in the flesh of all man?  Could it be the diversity of language?  I don’t think so, for “He has made of one blood, all nations that dwell upon the face of the earth”.  We are not as different we like to believe we are.  Our differences often become our excuses for not getting along, but they are not excuses for not doing right as there is only one God and Creator of all.


            We finished our fifth camp of the year in a joint effort with HOPE (Hope For Orphans) from Birmingham, Alabama.  We held a camp for orphans and under-privileged children for one week.  God blessed us with good weather and good spirits.  The love poured out in this camp was unimaginable for a gathering on earth.  It was awesome.  I know I say this after almost every camp, but "this was the best camp we have ever had."  We were blessed with one full week of having over 80 children in attendance with about 20 more Ukrainian young adults and a team of 14 Americans to love one another.  These smaller camps are easier to manage, and it enables everyone in attendance to get to know one another better and to spend more time with the kids.  We had Bible study lessons, crafts, activity and play time, music, sports--a summer camp compressed in a camp adjusted for cooler weather.  There were several children who also expressed saving faith in Christ and a desire for a closer walk with Him as well as all receiving Spiritual "vitamins" to help mend broken hearts and wounded spirits.  I feel sure we had the best food we have ever had in a camp as Vera was spending much time personally supervising the cooking.  I gained about ten pounds in that one week.  We finished the camp just in time.  We had snow only three days after the camp closed, and all schools and public assemblies were closed the week after the camp due to the H1N1 flu moving through Ukraine.


            The Ukrainian government is taking no chances with the flu.  They are trying to contain the spread of it, and I think they have done well in taking precautions to slow its spread.  In the panic of the quarantine, the pharmacies sold out of all cold and flu medicines due to people buying the medicines as a precaution.  This, in turn, keeps people who are already sick from being able to find relief in over-the-counter medicines that would help ease the symptoms.  The "swine flu" is an epidemic the world will have to deal with, and it is taking lives, but by God's grace, it too will become a memory testified among other things that God has brought us through.


            Some may disagree with me on this, but I like to try to measure progress in Spiritual work.  Some would say you cannot measure Spiritual things, and they cite scriptures like 2 Samuel 24 where David numbered Israel.  I note the Biblical pattern for markers in life from such scriptures where the apostle Paul tells us to judge ourselves (I Corinthians 11:31); the counting of souls who were baptized in the book of Acts; and also the geographical posts of progress made through the missionary efforts of Paul, Peter, and others.  I think you can, though only in part, rightly assess Spiritual progress.  Moses prayed for God to teach him to number his days.  You only have one life to give and one lifetime to live…we are living it up for something.  I don't think God could tell us to consider our ways if there was no way to measure or discern our progress in right or wrong.  Like Jonah, we can know that if God sends us to Nineveh, and we are headed to Spain, we are headed the wrong way.  It took a U-turn by God's design to get Jonah headed in the right direction.  Anyway, back to my point….for some time, I have been asking our "prophet school" students to try to get us some "defined" estimates on the "evangelical" church attendance in the city of Lugansk.  The group said, "Okay," but they were only giving me estimates off the top of their heads.  Of course, these estimates were not completely out of reason, but they were still the result of thought, with no actual effort to find out true information.   Over a period of a few months, I also asked other Christian leaders, and got different responses.  Some said, "There are lots of people going to church"; one person of another group even said, "We don’t need to make any effort in that part of the city as there is already a church of another denomination there"; another asked, "Why do we need to be concerned with how many go to church.  The other groups are not our business".  This stirred me a bit as it is like saying only the family members in our room count.  Other family members who are not present in our house at this time are of not our concern.  We are our brother's keeper, and all Believers are part of the family of God.  We are to be concerned with the state of all of the churches around us as the apostles Paul and Peter were.  They traveled around and checked on the state of the churches.  Part of the provocation for my checking has been our recent study through the book of Acts, and the importance of keeping a check on the people of God.  I chided a little with members of my group for making no real effort in being able to describe the church attendance of our city. 


Apparently, this was my concern more than theirs.  At first I asked pastors, but I tended to get inflated numbers as they were citing membership rather than average attendance.  Anyway, it seems that the most agreed-on number of the souls living in Luganks City is 650,000; the number of churches or established groups is ten "Baptistic" groups (including ours), with an average attendance of 435; ten "Pentecostal/Charismatic" groups, with an average attendance of 1140; One Methodist group that I estimate as having an attendance of fifty.  Total estimated actual average attendance in church in living flesh 1625 (those who come to church “in spirit only” are as hard to count in Ukraine as they are in the US).  This means that in the city of Lugansk, where the majority of the churches are at and where it is easiest to gather people, we still have less than half of one percent of the city's population going to church on a regular basis.   While it is likely that we have missed a few groups in our estimation, it is a reasonably close estimate for the average attendance of church groups meeting as of October 2009 in Lugansk.  Some of the average attendance is also a result of members belonging to efforts in more than one group.  I know that some of the youth meet with three or four groups on a regular basis.  Our city and region is not reached with the gospel.   It is said that there are about 2,700,000 souls living in the Luganks Oblast, and the attendance ratio is worse in villages than it is in the city.  Although we are making progress, especially in discipleship, and there is more effort being made by National churches than in times before, our region is scarcely affected with the gospel.  We must not grow weary in well doing.  We have worked hard, and I feel no condemnation for any lack in effort, but I am burdened for our people.  


            I may differ from some believers in this, but I think that a considerable portion of the Russian Orthodox folks are saved, but again, even if you count them all, there are only a handful, by percent of population, who are with true sincerity of religion.  Many claim connection to God, they have little souvenirs from "temple" visits, but they are no more Christian than the devils who believe in God.  God is just a distant thought to them that they will refer to in time of time of trouble, but they have no real intention of bowing to Him unless necessary.  They love sin, and sinful living is their choice of lifestyle as children of the Devil.   The lostness of our region has been very hard for me to accept.  It is not a result of a spiritually ignorant people, but it is a result of a people who have heard the truth and have rejected the gospel.  Some of our folks actually think they have done God a favor when they have attended church or given their offerings to the temples.  Through the years, I have held myself to believe that men are lost because they are ignorant, but the truth is, men in Luganks Region are lost because they have rejected the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, choosing darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.  They are not ignorant.  They are rebelling.  Shortly into our ministry in Ukraine, I came to the conclusion that our people did not need any scientific evidence of God.  In spite of their claimed Atheism, they knew he was there, but they have chosen to deceive themselves and live like the devil, convincing themselves that they can come to Christ at any time they choose… "Yeah!  Right!”  (It's just like the alcoholic who can stop anytime he wants to and citing his evidence as the past three days of not drinking due to some important "measurement" in his life.  If he gets caught drinking on these days, he will not get the job, so he has controlled it while he has to.  Otherwise, it controls him.)  So what do we do?  Do we quit preaching?  No!  We do not!  God sent us to preach the gospel.  We cry out louder!  We continue to try to live the difference loud and clear.  There is a difference between the people of God and the children of the Devil.  See the contrast...Jesus spoke on this in John 8 and in Deuteronomy.  Seems the majority only follows Jesus for the fish and the loaves, but this in no wise diminishes our call to go and preach the gospel.


            I think seven of the existing Baptist groups have permanent buildings, three of the Pentecostal groups, and also the Methodist group.  The groups with the permanent buildings are not necessarily any larger than the groups without permanent buildings, but having a building is more convenient.





            Although we believe that God both sent us to Ukraine and also has used us here, I still find the usury here as blistering as ever.  It seems that some folk can take advantage of their six month old child as fast as they would their grandma.  The corruption is common, and filters through society seemingly affecting every branch of life, religious and secular.  The militia commonly stands in places where the lines and laws are not clear as to what is right or wrong, and they stop people for breaking unclear, perhaps unknown, laws that neither they nor anyone else could define in such confusing circumstances.  Some of them are pretty brazen, while others are respectful, but they are enforcing indiscernible laws.  You wonder how these guys get by, but the higher-ups are aware of all.  It reminds me of Eli in First Samuel.  Many are made fat with the bribes received, and while some may not receive the bribes themselves, they are aware that it is going on under them, and their sin is the same, as they share the guilt for not making things right when it is in their power.



            It seems that financial times will be hard, but by faith, we are planning for the 2010 camps as before, trusting to God's providence.  All children come to our camps free of charge.  We may have to lessen the number of children attending the camps this year, but as always, we will do the best we can.  Ukraine has a presidential election in January.  This may mean a change in laws, but we expect things to be similar as before.  We invite you to come to the camps and be a part.  Please contact us for detailed information and camp schedules.


            We continue our "prophet's school" with four in-depth disciples, and about fourteen others who attend on a less committed schedule.  Yuri, one of our prophet's school students, is doing well, but has committed to a two-year seminary in Kiev.  We were able to visit his seminary class in Kiev, and he is growing in grace and knowledge, and is doing well there. 


            I ask for you to pray for Alec, our Chinese partner in the faith.  It seems that he and his wife will separate in divorce.  While he is obviously saddened by this, he has in no wise diminished his commitment to Christ.  I see him tear up regularly, still seeking God's intervention, but he knows that Christ calls men to salvation, and men and women may choose to accept His love or reject His offer of peace.  He hopes to attend seminary in China in coming months.


 I had wanted to carry some of our key disciples on a short-term mission trip, but it seems that neither time nor will finances work out for this.  My concern is that they need to see past the box of Ukraine as there is a tendency in Ukraine to stay up half the night talking about how bad things are, and then going to bed and doing the same thing again the next night in a never-ending cycle.  We need to be doers of the Word, living to make a difference.  I want them to see places where men are responding to the command of Christ, and not only to see the success stories, but also the places where men are being persecuted for Christ.  My desire for them is that they might live for Christ, knowing the power of His resurrection, and that they will become all that Christ has saved them to be through the power of the Holy Spirit.




            Several months ago, we watched some videos of the violence and killings that have taken place in India in past months.  Our guy's spirits were touched.  They mouthed the question, "Why?"  I pray that they will keep this attitude of prayer for those suffering with Christ around the world. 


            Our city church groups have continued really well.  The attendance has been great, but more than that, the Holy Spirit has been working among this group, and they are growing in grace and knowledge and increasing in their love for both God and man.  One of the group members initiated a special offering of food and clothing for the poor in early November.  Although there was no resistance, it was questioned about who we would give the offering to.  I know this may sound strange, but while Ukraine is a moderately poor country, you seldom see someone who is really hungry without inflicting it on themselves.  The majority of people survive on a diet of bread and starches, but they do survive, and there have only been a few times when we have been asked for food.  But...many times we have been asked for money because they wanted to buy alcohol and not bread.  Anyway, the offering was received, and it amounted to over $50, which is a considerable offering for a church group majority consisting of college students.  There were three families chosen to be helped with the food, and the clothing was distributed to several individuals and orphans.  The clothes quality was exceptional.  It was given as an offering, and not a closet cleaning.  We were really blessed to see their heart to help.


            We will be in the United States for Mary and Dylan's wedding until after the New Year.  We have prepared gifts this year, purchased with funds from HOPE for Orphans for our team to distribute to local orphanages and poor families as in years past.  As opportunity allows, I hope to get to see many of you before we return to Ukraine in January 2010.


            For the year of 2009, we had over 120 workers who came from America to help in camps, evangelism, discipleship, medical, orphanage work, or other.  We had well over 2,000 kids and workers who passed through the camps this year participating in some type of ministry, but mainly in camps.  We had three normal kid's camps, one youth camp, and one Hope For Orphans Fall camp.  There were also several other Christian camps held by other Ukrainian ministries of Ukraine during the time between our own camps.  The camp grounds housed teams who came with The World Race groups, workers for camp preparation and evangelism, some orphans, and several of our Ukrainian ministry workers.  These ministry workers help in orphan and local ministries of the village and in the city.  They helped with normal routine works at the orphanages, taught English and Bible studies with the small local orphanage, helped with the Valentine Banquet and Christmas gift distribution at Belerechinka orphanage, helped with music and ministry in the mission group services and visitation preaching spots, and also did some personal evangelism.  One of the young men even tried to help teach us better Russian.  The camp was also host for a team of medical workers who came in October just before the Fall Orphan Camp.


            Although we are expecting a financially lean year, we are preparing as usual for the three summer kid's camps, the youth camp, the fall orphan camp, and lots of activities before, after, and in-between camp season.  We will continue prophet's school as usual on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well as scattered services on other days.  We try to assess our ministry in effort--not to let the good things keep us from the best things.  Sometimes it is a hard call, but we only have "one life to live and one life to give".  There is no time to waste.  We want all to be for the glory of God.


            We thank all of you for your generosity to us, and to the people our ministry is associated with.  There are various outreaches and individuals who are helped through Crossover Ministries in several countries and places.  Some of these are sending support raised through various channels through Crossover, while others are helped directly through support by Crossover.  We know times are difficult financially for all, and we try to be the best stewards possible for all that God has entrusted to us.  If God moves you to help us, or to help those associated with our ministry, we will be grateful for your support.  Crossover Ministries is a 501c non-profit ministry, and financial gifts are tax deductable.   We have some ministry partners who cannot support themselves, so part of our ministry effort is helping them with needed support.  The summer camps are totally free to the children attending, and we have other national workers we are helping support in Ukraine and in other places.  We budget ahead for the summer camps, and early support for the summer camp ministry is especially helpful as the children come by invitation-only basis.  The majority of invitations are given out in April for the summer camps, and we prepare the camp accordingly.


Please feel free to contact us for more information--email is best.  Our Ukrainian address is 69 Sverdlova, Novopavlovka, Lutugino Region, Lugansk District, UKRAINE 92022.  When sending mail, please use Shane and Marilyn Duke instead of Crossover Ministries.  Anything being sent for Crossover Ministries should be sent to 239 Duke Road, Columbia, Louisiana 71418.


            Since Caleb is living in the United States and plans to finish school here, and with the health problems of our parents, we plan to try to be in America three times in the coming year.  This should mean that we have more opportunities to speak in churches, so if you would like for us to come and speak to your church or group, please contact us.  E-mail is the best method of contact for us.  If you would like a financial statement of Crossover Ministries, send a request through email.  A new report will be completed in the Spring.


            We are also happy to announce the coming marriage of our daughter Mary Elizabeth to Dylan McGuffee on December 19, 2009 at Crossroads Baptist Church in Grayson, Louisiana.  We ask you to pray for them as they start their life together.



God bless you all


Keep pressing on!


Shane, Marilyn, Mary, and Caleb Duke and all

Crossover Ministries Associates


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