March/April 2011 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family in Christ Jesus,

Greetings from the Popchenko Family! We are excited to write that another landmark has been reached in my translation work: with God’s help I was able to finish translating and proofreading the first draft of the Gospel Mark. From here I will be moving on to the Gospel of Luke. At the same time, I have been discussing the Gospel of Matthew with my assistants and am very pleased with the constructive input they have been giving. Recently we have introduced an important change to our means of communication: instead of meeting personally, we now use Skype. Not only am I able to save time, money and effort on traveling, but it also allows for more frequent discussion sessions since I no longer have to wait until an assistant is able to set aside a whole day. This, in turn, furthers the progress of our work. Please continue to pray for the translation of the Bible into Ukrainian.

With some students in Donetsk

A few months ago, I was invited to speak at Donetsk Christian University in eastern Ukraine. In April, I took the overnight train and spent two days there. I had a great opportunity to give three lectures to theology students on “Two Approaches in Bible Translation”. Giving examples from different Russian Bible translations, I pointed out the fallacies of dynamic equivalency (the theory behind translations like the GNB, NLT, NIV) and argued that the belief in the verbal plenary inspiration of the Scripture strongly favors formal equivalency (the method behind literal Bible translations) since it results in translations that are faithful and transparent to the source text. Once again, it was a great encouragement for me to see from the response of the students that formal equivalency is what the average person thinks of as true translation. In fact, the founder of dynamic equivalency, Eugene Nida, himself admits that it takes time for those attending his seminars to accept his theory, both intellectually and emotionally. An exciting part of my trip was the presence among the students of a lady from a Central Asian country (a former Soviet Union republic) who participated in translating the Bible into her native language. They produced the first and only Bible in their language. In a conversation after classes, I learned that they used the Russian Bible as the source text and, for the most part, formal equivalency as the method. Back-translation of various verses of this Bible into Russian showed me some problems and I encouraged the lady to work on the revision after she finishes her theology studies in Ukraine. Please pray for the many Bible-less peoples of the world to have the Word of life made available in their native tongue.

Besides teaching, I had the privilege of preaching at the University’s chapel hour. Speaking from Colossians 1:9-10, I challenged the students to use their time in school to get to know God more deeply, since the knowledge of God and His will precedes Christian living. It is impossible to “walk worthy of the Lord” without knowing who the Lord is and it is impossible to please Him without being “filled with the knowledge of his will”. Also, the academic dean arranged for a meeting with the staff, giving me the opportunity to tell more about the project and for them to ask questions. One question was why I use the Textus Receptus as my base text and not a critical text. I was glad I did my homework years ago so that I could answer this question.

Mama’s Corner (by Wendy)
Spring is here and we are busy getting our garden planted. Sashko and Yurko are thriving on all the “man’s work” that needs to be done with Daddy, and Andriy is right out there with them, hauling branches, digging holes (or trying to), and getting underfoot. School work and violin practice gets done in record time now, as the boys hurry outside to work and play.

Mixing business with business:
getting my exercise while tilling the ground
(poor boys… they are worked to death)


“And what would you do without my help?”
(this picture was taken the next day when it got cold)

Little Matviy is getting his share of fresh air and sunshine, too, as he naps beside us outside in his stroller. It is hard to believe he is already 2 months old! The Lord answered my prayers and gave me an ‘easy’ baby: he eats well and sleeps great (8 hours at night!), coos and smiles and makes all those cute little baby faces. His big brothers all love him and take wonderful care of him. Andriy, age 2 years and 8 months, always lets me know whenever Matviy is crying, by tugging on my arm and saying earnestly, “Mama! Wa-wee-ko! Wa-wee-ko!” (his version of Matviyko, an affectionate form of the baby’s name).

“Don’t you think I am irresistibly cute?”

Special prayer request:
My brother’s wife, Kathy, has been in the hospital on the mission field, bedridden and in serious condition, since April 22nd. At first the doctors thought it was idiopathic thrombocytpenic purpura (the condition of having an abnormally low platelet count for no known cause. Symptoms include bruising and bleeding.), but since Kathy is not responding to the standard treatment for ITP, everyone is starting to wonder if the diagnosis is correct. Please pray for her sickness to be properly diagnosed soon and treated effectively. Also, please keep Chris in your prayers as he is caring for her at the hospital around the clock.

Prayer requests and praises:
1. Praise the Lord for providing us with a good used minivan.
2. Pray for me to have wisdom and protection as I continue translating.
3. Please keep praying for my health issues.
4. Kathy’s condition is serious and we covet your prayers for her.

Our minivan

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

May/June 2010 Prayer Letter

Greetings in Jesus’ Name! We have a long-awaited answer to prayer: Anya has finished writing her doctoral dissertation and is now able to start translating the gospel of Mark. She will not have any teaching responsibilities in July or August and should be able to spend a considerable amount of time translating. I supplied her with the necessary reference tools, as well as my statement on the principles of translation, so we can ensure uniformity of quality and style. I, of course, will be overseeing her work and will have the final say in any translation choices. By the grace God, I was able to finish my revision of the gospel of John and get back to work on the second draft of Romans. John is in the hands of my consultants right now and when I hear back from them, I will work on getting the final draft ready for printing. Ephesians has not yet been discussed with all of my helpers but this month I was able to meet with one of them and get a feedback from him. Please keep all of the translation team in your prayers as we translate God’s word into Ukrainian.

Last time I mentioned encountering some computer problems, related to software. Well, my problems have not stopped but only increased. Right on my birthday (what a ‘present’!) my computer crashed. Apparently, an entire batch of these laptops had faulty graphic processors and many owners experienced this problem. The good news is that Apple is going to replace the entire mother board for free. The bad news is that I have to wait a month for the part to arrive from abroad. I am so glad that we have yet another laptop which a church in Washington gave Wendy (thank you again so much!) and I was able set up all the necessary software and continue my translation work. Speaking of my birthday, I thank the Lord for allowing me to live 37 years, serving Him and working to provide Ukrainians with the Book of books.

We continue to have numerous ministry opportunities. In late April, a brother from our church approached me asking to speak to the young families and address a problem that many of them had: wives complaining about their husbands working too much and not spending time with their families. As a setting for this occasion we chose a picnic on May 1st, since it was a holiday. The guys decided to do all the cooking so our wives could rest. We had a great time together fellowshipping, eating great shish kebabs, playing games, etc. I had a wonderful opportunity to speak on the God-given responsibility of men to lead their homes in following God’s will revealed in the word of God. It was something that some of the men had not expected to hear: some of them thought I would rebuke the wives for not appreciating their husbands working so hard. Everybody was encouraged as they returned home that day.

Speaking in the open air


Solving the world’s problems while peeling potatoes


Playing volley ball afterwards


We thank all of you who prayed for evangelism in Gostra Mohila. After arranging for the use of a public building for the services, I began preparing for the evangelistic meeting. Coming up with a text for invitations and posters, looking for and buying follow-up literature, picking songs, writing music for our men’s choir, and singing practice kept me busy until the meeting. A week before the meeting, we drove to the village to pass out invitations to people’s homes and hang posters in public places. Along with the invitations, we put the gospel of John in every home. This way, even if people chose not to come they would still have the word of God to read. We were able to put out over 600 gospels. As the theme of the meeting, I chose “Returning to the Father’s House”, focusing on the parable of the Prodigal Son. Most of the songs our men’s choir sang, the youth’s recitation, the testimony of a deacon from our church (a true prodigal son), and, of course, the sermon were all based on that parable. We were pleased to see about 20 unsaved people show up. All of them heard a crystal clear presentation of the Gospel. At the close of the meeting, everyone received a book God’s Salvation by O. J. Smith) and a film (“God’s Story”). Also, a weekly Bible study was announced. One person, a village drunk, made a profession of faith and he has not missed one single Bible Study, coming every time more and more sober. We praise God for the opportunity of ‘glorfying His Name among the heathen’.

One of the deacons in our church had mentioned once how unevangelized the town of Yahotin is. A town of 21 thousand people, located about 60 miles from Kyiv, it has only one Baptist church of about 30 members, and it is not a soul-winning church. So we decided to ‘blitz’ it by putting gospels of John in people’s homes. One Saturday in May, we loaded our car with Ukrainian gospels and drove to Yahotin. The plan was to put the gospels in mail boxes of apartment buildings located on the first floor. Some of the buildings did not have mail boxes, so the boys and myself got our exercise, climbing the stairs of the multi-level apartment buildings to put the gospels by the doors, while Andriyko and Wendy kept us supplied with literature that they carried in the stroller. Sashko and Yurko were real troopers, keeping up with the fast pace and working hard. In just a couple of hours, we were able to put out about 700 Gospels of John with the address of a Bible correspondence course on them. (Missionary Joshua Steele in L’viv has an excellent Chronological Bible Course that he uses for both evangelistic and discipleship purposes.) Now that the seed has been sown, let’s pray for fruit in this unreached part of Ukraine.

Boys stamping and packing gospels


Putting the gospels in mail boxes


Putting the gospels in door handles


After the distribution, we spent some time at a local park


By the lake


Mama’s Corner (by Wendy). In June we had the worst health situation our family has ever experienced. It all started with Sashko getting some sort of gastrointestinal infection. One by one, the rest of the family got sick. All three boys ended up in the hospital for over a week (thankfully, I was able to stay with them around the clock). Sashko and Yurko were on IVs and antibiotics, Yura weathered it out at home and I came down with it last after everyone was on the mend. All this time Yura was making daily trips to the hospital to bring us food, medicine and whatever else we needed. Despite all the tests the doctors ordered, no definite diagnosis was ever pronounced. It was a scary time, but God was faithful and we thank all of you who prayed for us during these past few weeks.

It was such a pity that Yurko had to celebrate his 6th birthday in the hospital, feeling awful and hooked up to an IV, but at least we were able to have a small birthday party for him right there. He is growing up quickly, has finished his kindergarten work and is surprising us with his ability to pick out songs on the piano by ear! He puts in long days, trying to keep up with his big brother and teaching his little brother everything he knows. Sashko and Yurko’s orthopedic issues are still with us, but for now supportive shoes and exercise are all that we can really do to help. The hot summer is already here and our boys enjoy swimming in a small inflatable pool that we have in our yard.

It’s so much fun!

Praises and prayer requests:
1. Anya has finished writing her doctoral dissertation and started translating the book of Mark.
2. Pray for Anya and me to have wisdom and protection from the devil’s attacks, as we translate Romans and Mark.
3. Please, keep praying for my health (I am still experiencing some health issues).
4. Pray for the general health and protection of our family.
5. Continue to pray for the health of our friend William who has cancer.
6. Please pray for our support situation. Over the past several months we have lost almost a third of our monthly support.

Your fellow-servants for Jesus’ sake,
Yura, Wendy, Sashko, Yurko and Andriy