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

May/June 2012 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family in Christ Jesus,

Greetings in Jesus’ Name! God continues to allow me to make further progress in translation. By the grace of God, the first draft of the entire book of Acts and 5 chapters of 1 Corinthians is ready. The most unique feature of Acts is that it is the only book of the Bible that contains examples of apostolic preaching. It has several sermons and speeches by the apostles Peter, Paul, James and the first martyr Stephen, plus Paul’s own summary of his evangelistic preaching (Acts 20:20-21). While the epistles give the apostles’ teaching of the Gospel, the books of Acts records what they actually said when they preached it. Depending on the audience (Jewish or gentile) and the circumstances, each of their sermons includes a combination of the following key elements:

1) there is only one Creator, God (Acts 14:15-17; 17:22-29);

2) Jesus died and was raised from the dead as a fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies and the apostles and others witnessed these things (Acts 2:23-39; 3:13-15, 18, 22-26; 4:10, 20; 5:30-32; 7:52; 10:39-41; 13:27-37; 17:31; 26:23);

3) Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the Lord and only Savior (Acts 2:36; 4:12; 10:36; 13:23);

4) forgiveness of sins, justification and salvation is by grace and by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 10:43; 13:38-39; 15:9, 11);

5) the Gospel has moral implications (Acts 24:24-25; 26:20);

6) one must respond to the Gospel by repenting, turning away from sin toward God, believing and calling upon the Lord (Acts 2:21, 38; 3:19, 26; 20:21; 26:18, 20);

7) there will be final judgment and those who did not respond to the Gospel will be condemned (10:42; 13:40-41; Act 17:31).

Praise God for recording the apostle’s preaching in the Bible so that we can have a clear understanding of what a presentation of the Gospel should include.

In between working on Acts and 1 Corinthians, our team has continued working on the final draft of the gospel of Luke. Speaking of our team, I would ask you to pray especially for two of my assistants. Due to some problems they experience, their involvement in translation work has been limited for some time now. Irina’s son has hemophilia and is in constant need of expensive medicine. It has become increasingly difficult for hemophiliacs here to obtain it. In order to address this issue, Irina headed up an organization of hemophiliacs’ mothers and this work takes up much of her time and energy. Please pray that hemophiliac children can continue receiving necessary care. Sasha’s work has been quite demanding for a while, leaving him very little time for translation work. Please pray that he would have more time available for this important project.  Pray also for his wife Lyuba as she has many serious health problems.

The Lord graciously blessed me with another birthday in June. We went on a picnic to the Botanical Garden in Kyiv and spent a nice day as a family. Thank you all for the cards and tokens of love. I deeply appreciate your kindness. [Since delivery service to Ukraine is better than it used to be, please feel free to send any letters directly to us on the field. This would streamline the shipping process, as well as lighten the load a bit for those who deal with our correspondence. Thank you.]

At the Botanical Garden

Matviy is finally walking, but we noticed that something is not quite right with his legs. We took him to an orthopedic specialist and the doctor said he has some form of rickets. Wendy and Matviy will need to spend a few days at their clinic for him to have a thorough examination done. They will run various tests to determine what type of rickets he has, what treatment is needed, and to check for other problems. Please pray for a correct diagnosis and effective treatment.

Mama’s Corner (by Wendy)

The older boys finished the school year well, particularly in music. At their recital, both boys received top marks and awards for high achievements during the year. Yurko surprised us all by composing a harmony part to a piece that Sashko was learning. When their teacher heard it, she decided that they would play it as a duet for the recital. She then called in the music theory teacher, who promptly offered to take Yurko as a pupil in her composition class! We rejoice in the progress they made this year and how they are already learning hymns that can be played to praise the Lord and encourage the saints.

Playing their duet

With their teacher and awards

Sashko opened a lawn-mowing business in June. In Ukraine, it is highly unusual for young people to do any work (lemonade stands, paper boys, babysitting, etc. are unheard of), so we were pleased that he received several calls and already has one steady customer for whom he has mowed twice. With his first two “pay checks”, he bought himself a weed-eater. “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” (Lamentations 3:27)

Mowing for his first client

Trying out his first weed-eater

Yurko celebrated his 8th birthday in the village of Bakymivka where he has been visiting Yura’s relatives. Along with his cousins, Yurko has been experiencing the joys of farm life: rising at daybreak to water parched crops, pulling countless weeds in the hot sun, and doing a dozen other jobs that left him eating massive quantities of food, taking naps (!), and learning the value of hard work.

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