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

September/October 2010 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family in Christ Jesus,

Greetings in Jesus’ Name! Translation is making steady headway. By the grace of God, I was able to do the first draft of 20 chapters of Matthew. As I worked through this gospel, I was reminded again of the numerous mistranslations that existing Ukrainian versions have. Some of them are of no doctrinal significance but some are. Here are a few examples. In Ukrainian Bibles, many people in need, like the two blind men, or the woman of Canaan whose daughter was demon possessed, or the man whose son was a lunatic (Matthew 9:27; 15:22; 17:15), ask Jesus to “grant them pardon” (as if they are some sort of criminals), instead of “have mercy” on them. Even in the Beatitudes, the merciful are blessed because they will obtain “pardon”, instead of “mercy”. For those who “labour and are heavy laden” (Matthew 11:28), Jesus promises to “calm them down”, instead of “give them rest”. In the Sermon on the Mount, the disciples are instructed to “not be sad” about their life, what they will eat or drink (Matthew 6:25), instead of “not taking thought” for their life. But there are more serious mistranslations. In some Ukrainian translations, men do not “put their wives away” (Matthew 1:19; 5:32; 19: 3, 9) but simply “let them go”. Many Ukrainians believe Jesus was a Nazarite because in Matthew 2:23 He is made to be one. Perhaps the most significant mistranslation in Matthew that I have come across so far is when Jesus instructs His disciples not to “say extra or unnecessary words” when they pray, instead of not using “vain repetitions” (Matthew 6:7). This is most likely a deliberate mistranslation reflecting the Greek Orthodox Church’s agenda, which uses vain repetitions extensively. The list goes on and on. Although these corruptions are not as serious as those that teach salvation by works, God’s truth is still being distorted. Please continue to pray for a faithful Ukrainian Bible to be produced.

Our church leadership decided to have a small Bible institute for preachers both of our church and of those in villages in the Kyiv area. Since most of them work full time and many have to travel quite a distance, it was arranged to meet on Saturdays once a month. I was invited to teach the preacher’s class. Besides teaching the men how to prepare a sermon, I am putting emphasis on having them preach the Gospel in regular services. Having been “underground” for so long (when the only “visitors” they had were disguised KGB agents), most Baptist churches here are still not used to presenting the plan of salvation and giving invitations in their regular services. I hope that through this preacher’s class many preachers will be compelled to do their highest duty.

Preacher’s class

This fall our men’s choir was invited to visit two village churches for what is called here “Harvest Day”. On both occasions the services were evangelistically-geared and we were glad to see many visitors. In the village of Stepove, I had the privilege of conducting the service and was able to clearly present the Gospel, pointing to the “Bread of Life” who was broken on the cross of Calvary for our sins that through Him we may have eternal life. We also did a similar service in our own church in Kyiv on October 10th. God blessed the service and we saw three professions of faith!

For many years, Bible Baptist Church of Marysville, California, has served as our sending church. This past June, their pastor resigned and a new pastor was recently called. Since we have no plans of visiting the U.S. in the near future, we will have no opportunity of meeting Pastor Brown. Therefore, we believe that it is best for us to transfer our sponsorship to a church whose pastor knows us and our ministry personally and intimately. We deeply appreciate the years of faithful support and sponsorship of Bible Baptist Church. Pastor Brad Weniger of Central Baptist Church, Woodbridge, Virginia, has a keen interest in Bible translation work and has shown his full support of our ministry time and time again. We have discussed these things with both Pastor Brown and Pastor Weniger and both agree that this step would be the most beneficial choice to take. Central Baptist has unanimously voted to become our new sending church, effective immediately. Please make note of our new sending church name and address (see our letter head).

In our last prayer letters, I asked you to pray for my health issues. Well, for the past month and a half, I have had almost non-stop problems: a sinus infection, then an ear infection, then a sinus infection again. This of course slowed down my work. At the time of this writing, I am recovering from my last sinus infection. My doctor suggested having some immunity tests done to see if there is something wrong with my immune system. After I have this done, he will see what route we should take. Please keep my health in prayer.

Mama’s Corner (by Wendy)
It is has been a marathon couple of months for us! Praise the Lord, school is going well and the boys are on or ahead of schedule in every subject. A tremendous answer to prayer came in the form of a Ukrainian school teacher who is now tutoring Sashko and Yurko four days a week in three Ukrainian subjects. Olga Kostyatynivna is a lovely, Christian primary school teacher who just so happens to live right at the end of our street! The boys are doing well with their Ukrainian school work and having a tutor has made my load lighter. As far as all the tests and check-ups have shown, Baby Popchenko is growing and developing according to schedule. I am feeling well and thanking God for the energy to keep up with our current schedule.

Praises and prayer requests:
1. Pray for me to have wisdom and protection from the devil’s attacks, as I finish the first draft of Matthew.
2. Please keep praying for my lower back and recovery from recent illnesses.
3. Pray for us to find a larger reliable car for our growing family.
4. Thank you for continuing to pray for Wendy and the baby.
5. Keep praying for the health of our friend William. Even though his doctor says that he no longer has any signs of cancer, an achy numbness in his legs frequently causes him severe discomfort. The doctor says that it is a side effect of the chemotherapy, but William is concerned because by this time such symptoms should have gone away.

May God bless you for your faithful prayers and financial support. We pray regularly for your churches and ministries as well.

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