May/June 2011 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family in Christ Jesus,

Greetings in Jesus’ Name! The translation work has been making steady progress. By the grace of God, I was able to do the first draft of 9 chapters of Luke. I must say that I have been immensely enjoying translating this unique gospel. First of all, it is the longest gospel and therefore it is the most thorough and complete. 41% of Luke’s material is unique to his gospel. For example, out of the 35 miracles recorded in the gospels, 20 are mentioned in Luke, 6 of which are not found elsewhere. So, if it was not for the third Gospel, we would have not known of the miraculous draught of fishes, the raising of widow’s son in Nain and the healing of the ten lepers. Out of 50 parables that Jesus taught, 19 are found only in Luke. If Luke had not recorded them, we would not have the parables of the Good Samaritan, the rich fool, the lost sheep, the lost coin, the prodigal son and the Pharisee and the publican, as well as the teaching of the rich man and Lazarus. Also, Luke records about 30 events in the life of Jesus which no one else does. So if we did not have Luke, we would miss the birth of John the Baptist, the birth and childhood of Jesus, Jesus’ forgiveness of a sinful woman anointing His feet, the repentance of Zacchaeus and Jesus’ appearance on the road to Emmaus.

Second, writing to Theophilus who was most likely a Gentile, Luke portrays salvation as being universal, for everyone. He traces Jesus’ genealogy to Adam, the father of all men, and focuses on Jesus’ compassionate attention to foreigners (Syrians, Romans, Greeks), showing that salvation extends to all nations. In fact, Luke sees the gospel as being not only for all nations, but for all kinds of people. No other biblical author is concerned as much with social outcasts (tax collectors, lepers, prostitutes, beggars) and includes as many women or children as Luke does. An interesting observation is that Matthew and Mark never use the word “salvation” in their gospels and John uses it only once. Luke uses it five times in his gospel, plus six times in the book of Acts. He emphasizes salvation and that it is for everyone.

So, what am I trying to say? It has been a custom for many Bible printing ministries to print John (typically coupled with Romans) for evangelistic purposes. While there are good reasons for that, Luke appears to be better suited for this task nowadays. We live in a day and age in which so-called “Christian nations” are being rapidly secularized, so fewer and fewer people are familiar with basic Bible facts, the earthly life of our Lord in particular. This is even more true for unreached peoples where Bible knowledge in nonexistent. Luke understood that the knowledge of the earthly life of Christ is necessary for Christian faith (1:4) and he presents the works and teachings of Jesus that are especially important for understanding the way of salvation. Complete in its scope (from the birth of Christ to His ascension) and arranged in order, this gospel would be more readily understood by present-day readers.

Considering all these things, we decided to act on the suggestion of a friend of this ministry and publish a children’s edition of my translation of Luke with illustrations by a Ukrainian artist. This edition is designed for parents to read to their children, with pictures to help the stories come alive. So often children grow up on Bible storybooks and do not hear the ‘adult’ Bible read until later in life. Our desire is to give children an illustrated ‘real Bible’, not just a storybook. This undertaking is still in its earliest stages but we would really like to have it done by Christmas. Please pray for this project.

The past month we began to work on yet another project. We are planning in the near future to launch a Ukrainian web site dedicated to our translation. Our main objectives in doing so are to broaden Ukrainian awareness of the work and to receive feedback. Also, we are going to put the plan of salvation there – something I have never seen on a Ukrainian or Russian Christian web site. As for the feedback, we will post my translation of the gospel of Mark (since it is the shortest) and ask people to fill out an on-line questionnaire. To make this gospel ready for posting, my assistants and I have been recently working on its second draft. I am glad to announce that after a break due to her heavy teaching load, Anya has rejoined us again. Please pray that we can finish editing Mark and launch the site within the next month or two.

In June, our van was sideswiped. Just as I eased to a stop at the side of the road to let an entourage pass, I heard a loud scratching sound. Apparently the man who was driving behind me was not maintaining a safe distance. Thankfully, nobody was hurt and the van was not terribly banged up. The police arrived within minutes and the process was taken care of in record time. Now we just have to wait for court’s decision (a formality) and then for the man’s insurance company to pay for the damage. Please pray the body shop does a prompt, decent job (this is asking for a miracle).

Mama’s Corner (by Wendy)

Between wrapping up the school year and taking care of summer projects, we have been keeping quite busy. Yurko and Sashko also finished their first year of violin lessons. Both boys passed their music exams, receiving the highest score of ’12’ and Sashko was invited to play for the school’s end-of-the-year concert. Andriy has made quite a name for himself by his impeccable public conduct. He is the perfect little gentleman, sitting almost motionless through 2-hour church services, soberly shaking hands with all who notice the pint-sized member of the congregation, and then quietly waiting at my side until it is time to leave. (Nobody believes me when I tell them that he is a regular little boy who likes to run and yell and play!) Matviy is 4 months old and continues to be the sweetest, happiest baby anyone could ever hope for. At mealtimes, he sits by us in his little seat, smiling at Daddy until Yura notices him and starts talking to him.

First recital

Hi, everybody!

Happy Birthday Yura and Yurko! What do you do with a Bible translator on his birthday? Get him away from his office! The six of us drove over to the town of Myrhorod on June 8th and spent a relaxing day sightseeing and visiting a horse ranch. I praise the Lord for my husband who is such a good father and provider for our family. May God bless him with health, wisdom and many more years as he continues to translate the Bible. Our second son celebrated his 7th birthday on June 17th. We had a wonderful day at the park as a family and then enjoyed some fellowship in the evening with our Christian neighbors. Posters and cards, packages from his grandparents, and a remote control boat made for quite a festive time! Since last year the boys were all in the hospital on Yurko’s birthday, Yura and I were particularly eager for this year’s birthday to be special…. and it really was. We are so thankful for to God for our son. Please join us in prayer as he continues to grow spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Our greatest desire for Yurko is that he love and serve the Lord throughout his life.

At the horse ranch

 The Birthday Boy

Kathy is home from the hospital and doing really well. She recently wrote me and asked that I thank everyone for their prayers during her illness. More than once her condition was critical, but Kathy said that God comforted her through His word mightily. Not only was her life spared, but all of the procedures were painless and, with the exception of some cramps in her leg, she has had no side effects from any of the medications. “The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad” (Psalm 126:3).

Thank you for your continued prayers and financial support that help to make this ministry possible.

Your Fellow-servants for Jesus’ sake,
Yura, Wendy, Sashko, Yurko, Andriy, and Matviy Popchenko

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