September/October 2012 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family in Christ Jesus,

Greetings from the Popchenko Family! The work of Bible translation steadily continues and, by God’s grace, I was able to finish the first draft of First Corinthians and 4 chapters of Second Corinthians. The latter turned out to be the most difficult book of the New Testament that I have translated so far. Perhaps the reason for this is because it is the most personal and expressive letter of Paul and in order to understand it, we need to reconstruct the events that led to its writing. Despite the difficulties, I was greatly blessed by this rich epistle as never before. Second Corinthians teaches profound theological truths that are not found elsewhere in the New Testament: the new covenant (3:6–18), our earthly and heavenly dwellings (5:1–10), and the ministry of reconciliation (5:11–21). But its main focus is on practical matters. Paul is writing this epistle to defend himself against the assault of false apostles who, in order to teach their error, tried to undermine his authority. They had to first destroy the Corinthians’ trust in Paul so they attacked his character, his integrity, his credibility and his apostleship. In his defense, Paul took a biographical approach and referred to the facts of his life as disproof of their claims. He opens himself up and we see what the inside of a devoted man of God looks like.

One particular instance is especially worth dwelling on. In defense of his integrity, Paul appeals to the testimony of his own conscience as a sufficient proof, “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.” (2 Cor. 1:12). In other words, the proof of his integrity was the fact that his conscience confirmed it. How could Paul rely on his conscience so much? What if it failed him? He could do that because throughout his ministry he had maintained a clear conscience. Before the Council he said, “I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” (Act. 23:1). Before Felix he said, “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.” (Act. 24:16). To the Hebrews he wrote, Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.” (Heb. 13:18). Shortly before his execution, he wrote from prison, I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience” (2 Tim. 1:3). What a tremendous testimony! The reason many people suffer shipwreck of their faith is because they reject a good conscience (1 Tim. 1:19). Today, when many people’s consciences are dulled by a variety of things, we would be wise to follow in the steps of Paul by maintaining a pure conscience.

Recently, the Lord opened an exciting opportunity to me. On November 5-6, I am planning to visit Ostroh Academy National University where I will speak about this Bible translation project. This place is unique in that it has many evangelical Christian students and professors which is unusual for a post-communist, secular university. I was invited there by Svitlana, a Christian professor of religious studies who is a member of our translation team, to speak before her students. There are expected to be over 100 students present. Another Christian, a professor of German and a member of a local Baptist church, heard about my coming and invited me to speak before the university’s Christian Student Association which he founded. I believe this visit will give me an opportunity to make the work more known and perhaps to recruit more people for this project. Please pray for me as I travel and present my work.

The main building of Ostroh University

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Mama’s Corner (by Wendy)

Sashko and Yurko got a unique opportunity to play ‘teacher’ in October. The son of one of our translation assistants came to spend his fall school break with us, in the hopes of improving his English. In just a week, fifteen year old Sasha learned 400 words and sentences for each. This talented young man is also an excellent violinist and pianist so we had him spend time helping the boys with their instruments. Practice time with Sasha flew by and was so much more interesting than usual!

“Wait a minute, guys, I can say this!”

“Stay in tune, Sasko!”

“Use the full length of your bow, Yurko!”

To our amazement, we received a phone call from the police saying that my laptop had been found! The thief had been identified on a surveillance camera and apprehended a few weeks later. Although we had prayed for its recovery, we doubted that we would ever get my computer back and Yura had even ordered another one the day before the police called us. If we had already bought the computer and used it even slightly, it would have been impossible to return. God is so merciful to His children of little faith.

For those who have not yet heard about Yura’s baby nephew, I will briefly review the situation: At birth, little Danny had congenital heart problems and on October 23rd, at age 5 ½ weeks, he was admitted to the hospital in critical condition. The next day they operated on his aorta, removing a narrowed portion. The operation was a success but the baby remained in ICU for six days. He is still in the hospital but he is getting stronger every day. In a few months (or whenever he is strong enough), Danny will need to have another surgery to repair the holes in his heart. This operation could not be done at the same time as the first one because he was just too weak. Danny’s parents send their heartfelt thanks to all who have prayed for their son. They still have a long road ahead of them and deeply appreciate your prayer support. For more details and updates on Danny’s condition, please check our website at

“Thank you for praying for me.”

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

July/August 2012 Prayer Letter

 Dear Friends and Family in Christ Jesus,

Greetings from the Popchenko Family!

In our last letter, we asked you to pray that two of my assistants, Irina and Sasha, would be able to be more involved in the project. God has begun to answer our prayers. Sasha’s son has joined him on his job sharing his load and, as a result, Sasha expects to be able to spend more time in translation work. Please pray for the details of this situation to be resolved and continue to pray for his wife’s health problems. Also, another assistant has rejoined us after a few months’ absence and is now checking the gospel of Matthew against the Greek text. Finally, a five-person reading committee is now working on different portions of the translation. Irina’s current obligations still do not allow for much participation, so please keep her situation in your prayers. Thank you for continuing to uphold our team in prayer as we make the word of God available to our people.

I am helping my assistant Sasha by installing stairs to his newly built second floor (with the help of one of his younger boys).

The work keeps moving along and now with God’s help I was able to finish the first draft of 11 chapters of 1 Corinthians. As usual, Bible translation has many challenges. One such passage was 1 Corinthians 6:4, If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church., a verse of immense practical value for believers. All Ukrainian and Russian versions have “you set them to judge…” while the KJV has “set them to judge…”. This variation results from the fact that the Greek word can have either meaning. If the verb is taken as “you set them”, then the “least esteemed” would refer to non-Christians and the verse would express indignation at the practice of going to secular judges. However, there is a problem with this interpretation. The Greek word for “least esteemed” literally means “despised” and it is unlikely that Paul would characterize nonbelievers so disdainfully as “despised” by the church. Further, the same word in 1:28 refers to Christians (“things which are despised”) to characterize the world’s contempt for those whom God has chosen and it is most likely that the same meaning is intended here. So, if the verb here means “set them” and “least esteemed” refers to Christians, then Paul here suggests to set humble, lowly Christians as arbiters in “smallest matters” (6:2), in “things that pertain to this life” (6:4). This way Paul gives practical advice as to how to resolve conflicts among Christians without going to court.

For a vacation this year, we went to a place in the Carpathian Mountains where springs of mineral water are supposed to help kidney problems. I have not been able to have follow-up tests done since we got back, so I cannot yet say if the water helped. While on vacation, we were able to distribute some gospels of John and tracts among the many vacationers. One particularly good opportunity was to place the literature near the springs where all the people came to drink mineral water. We found this way to be better then just passing around the gospels. Oftentimes people would reluctantly take a gospel, obviously not planning to read it. However at the springs, only those who were interested took them. Pray for them to find the living water which springs up into everlasting life. In the village we stayed at, we found a small Baptist church where I had an opportunity to preach on Sunday morning. There we also met a Christian family and the husband was captivated by our magnetic scripture bumper stickers (these are not available in Ukraine) and wanted them, too. This was refreshing since many Christians in Ukraine are too ashamed of their testimony as reckless drivers to put scripture signs on their cars. (Actually, almost everybody here drives recklessly but Christians are expected to be different.)

Preaching at the local Baptist church

Sashko is placing gospels of John at the spring

Mariolatry is everywhere in this part of Ukraine. The inscription on the statue says, “We magnify you, most holy virgin, mother of Christ, our God, and glorify your most glorious patronage.”

Mama’s Corner (by Wendy)

The weather was delightful on our vacation, which is really saying something, since the weather in the Carpathian Mountains is very unpredictable. It was nice to get away from the stress and routine of everyday life for a few days. We did have a few ‘bumps in the road’, though… the main one being the theft of my laptop computer. Some professional crooks stole it right out of our room! They were identified on the surveillance cameras but have not been apprehended yet. Even if they are caught, we realize that my laptop is probably long gone. We are at least thankful that it was my computer and not Yura’s that was stolen.

Good catch, Sashko!

Watch out for those bears roaming the streets of western Ukraine!

A local man is giving us a ride across the river

The wagon train is ready to pull out…

As our harvest came in, Andriy was working with me, learning when the different vegetables are ready to pick (we had to have a little lesson on this subject after he picked several microscopic cucumbers!). He also celebrated his 4th birthday last week and considers himself to be one of the ‘big boys’ now. I got a few simple workbooks for him to start this year, so Andriy is telling everyone how he is starting “shkool” like Sashko and Yurko.

For those who don’t already know, Matviy’s diagnosis came down to a simple case of rickets. Vitamin D and a few other supplements were prescribed and we have already seen significant results: he has cut three more teeth and is running, not walking, everywhere!

Praise the Lord for healthy children!

Thank you all for the cards and kind wishes for my birthday. I feel more blessed than ever before and thank God for the wonderful family, loving friends, and gracious salvation He has given to me. What more could a person ask for? May you each be rewarded a hundred times over for your love and kindness to our family.

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