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

March/April 2012 Prayer Letter

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?

Happy to be outside

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.

Playing volleyball at the church picnic

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

"I just learned how to ride a scooter!"

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