Dear Friends and Family in Christ Jesus,
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 1 Cor. 15:20
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! It is typical here in Ukraine to continue speaking of Christ’s resurrection until His ascension, which is another holiday observed here. I am using this opportunity to preach a series on Christ’s post-resurrection appearances to His disciples. According to Acts 1:3, Jesus appeared for two purposes: 1) to give evidence of His bodily resurrection (“To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs”), and 2) to give the disciples final instructions (“speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God”). My intent is to examine each instance of Jesus’ appearance and to see what proofs of His resurrection are there and what new truths He revealed. Several people expressed their interest in hearing a more in-depth discussion of these familiar passages.
Speaking of the book of Acts, right now I am working on the first draft of chapter 26. This book is a source of great inspiration to me. One of the things that drew my attention as I translated is how much Christians suffered for their faith and what their attitude was toward it: they were “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.” (Acts 5:41). This is what came to my mind when I recently heard the testimony of a Ukrainian pastor who died from cancer several months ago. His pastor-friend visited him on his death bed and asked, “Is there any desire that has not been fulfilled in your life?” The man thought for a moment and answered, “Yes. Ever since I was a young man, I dreamed of being counted worthy to suffer imprisonment for Christ’s sake but that never happened.” Christians with this type of attitude are the ones that “turn the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). Along with translating Acts, I continued working on the final draft of the gospel of Luke. Both my assistants and I were able to make significant progress and we are looking forward to publishing the children’s edition of Luke and, later, the four gospels. Please keep praying for the translation work.
The day after Easter a group from our church went to hold an evangelistic meeting in a village where a Ukrainian brother has been trying to start a church. (Groups from our church come to hold evangelistic meetings there from time to time.) We were encouraged to see a good sized crowd, among whom were also some people who have been coming to the church off and on, but are not yet saved. Our family sang “Low in the grave He lay” and then I preached on “The Meaning of Easter” from Romans 4:25. Please pray for the ministry in the village of Balyko-Schuchinka and for those who heard the gospel at the meeting.
Mama’s Corner (by Wendy)
Spring… that glorious season is here at last! How do I know? My eyes are itchy and I can’t stop sneezing! Allergies notwithstanding, Sashko and Yurko got the garden area tilled up for me and Andriy helped plant all the things we love to eat. Matviy has discovered the delights of the great outdoors as he crawls around the yard, examining everything from sticks to weeds to bugs. The balmy weather is also serving to motivate Sashko and Yurko to hustle along with their school work. After all, who wants to sit at a desk when the sun is shining and the soccer ball is waiting?
A nasty virus pounced on the children in mid April: fever, sore throats, plugged noses. It was a full 2 weeks by the time all four boys took their ‘turn’. What a blessing to have everyone healthy again… and just in time for our church picnic. The boys had really been looking forward to it and had a lot of fun playing a variety of sports and games.
Andriy continues to make us smile with his little-boy ways. He is a very thankful child, although not always well-informed. The other morning I was pouring oil into a pan and he asked “Wha’s zat?” “Oil,” I answered. “Ahh, oil! (with a knowing nod) Yummy! T’ank you, Mama!” Out of the mouth of babes…“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thes. 5:18
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