Harvest Day

The fall season is very joyful in Ukrainian churches as they celebrate their “Harvest Day”. Living in a predominantly agricultural country, early in their history Ukrainian believers took in the simplicity of their hearts the commandment of Exodus 23:15-16, “Thou shalt keep…the feast of harvest…” and started celebrating the feast. It does not have a set date and is observed in September-October, each church deciding on the date. It is customary to decorate churches with various produce for that day and invite fellow believers from neighboring churches to the service with a dinner to follow. Americans usually compare this to their Thanksgiving Day, although the two have significant differences. Ukrainians, besides thanking God for providing their “daily bread”, spiritualize it and speak also of sowing and harvesting in spiritual realm. Thus, the subjects of the spreading the word of God, sending laborers into God’s field, bearing spiritual fruit in the Christian’s life etc. are typically addressed.

This fall our men’s choir was invited to visit a village church 120 miles from Kyiv, which for the past few years has used their Harvest Day for evangelism outreach. For the occasion, they rented a dining hall and invited all the villagers to come and hear the word of God. We were glad to see many visitors. The local pastor, a farmer himself, had been present at the evangelism in Gostra Mohila back in May, and he asked me to conduct the service. I 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 we may have eternal life through Him. We ask you to pray for the salvation of the unsaved visitors. Villagers are very heard to reach with the Gospel but we praise God for the opportunity to till the ground of their hearts once again and sow the seed of God’s Word.

The crowds
Singing in the village of Stepove

Excited by this event, we decided to do a similar thing in our own church in Kyiv on Sunday, October10th. It had been a while since we had any kind of evangelistically-geared services in our church and we felt like we needed a revival. I presented the idea to the pastor and he asked me to organize and run the service. We had only a week and a half for preparations, but with the help of many others in our church, we were able to prepare the program, put up posters, and pass out invitations. Right up until Sunday morning, I was not sure if I would be able to come. Three days prior to that, I got a bad ear infection, was running a high fever and was on antibiotics and shots. By God’s grace, by Sunday I was feeling well enough to conduct the service, play for and sing in the choir and preach. For the theme of the service I chose “Thanking God for providing three kinds of bread: physical bread, the Word of God and Jesus, the Bread of life”. Thus, three messages were preached explaining how God revealed Himself in nature, His Word and finally in the person of Jesus Christ to bring salvation to mankind. The church was packed and we had about ten first-time unsaved visitors, besides those who have been visited us before but have not yet trusted Christ. God blessed the service and we saw three professions of faith! One of them was the daughter of a church member. We rejoice in what God is doing here and ask you pray for those who trusted Christ to grow in faith. Also, please pray for my ear infection since I am not completely recovered and today my other ear began to bother me.

Harvest Day, Kyiv 2010


Singing at our home church


Preaching on the “True Bread”
After the service


July/August 2010 Prayer letter

Dear Friends and Family in Christ Jesus,

Greetings in Jesus’ Name! The past summer was the hottest summer in recorded history of Ukraine. Since Ukraine’s climate is usually moderate, the vast majority of homes do not have air conditioners. As a result, the death rate doubled during those hot months because many people simply could not endure the heat. Thankfully, the place we rent has an air conditioner in the kitchen. This is where I resorted to for my translation work since it was simply unbearable to work in my office upstairs. Granted, I could not spend as much time there as in my office, but at least I was able to continue translating. After being without my computer for two months (I thought I would never get it back from the repair shop!), I am finally able to use it again. To assist the progress, I have decided to work simultaneously on the second draft of Romans and the first draft of Matthew. So far, five chapters of Matthew are ready.

I have exciting news to share: for the first time in the history of this Bible translation project, another person besides me translated a portion of Scripture. Anya was able to translate two chapters of the Gospel of Mark and I corrected her translation of Mark chapter one. After receiving my corrections, Anya realized that there is a lot that she does not know (or is not familiar with) in the translation process. Even though I intuitively understood the issues she raised, I was unable to answer all of her questions in linguistically precise definitions. One of them was about conveying an author’s style. A little research in the matter showed that the study of Biblical authors’ style is one of the most neglected areas of Biblical studies. As a result, there seems to be no consensus as to what biblical style involves. This prompted me to do some reading on the subject. However, the literature that I have at my disposal is nowhere near enough, so books were sought out and ordered on-line and I hope that within two months they will be here. This incident reminded me that no one ever wakes up one day knowing absolutely everything about the area in which he works. The same is true about Bible translation. It is an interdisciplinary work… probably more so that any other. It requires knowledge of languages, linguistics, translation theory, exegesis, theology, history, various aspects of culture (customs, eating habits, clothing, music, etc.), agriculture, botany, zoology, architecture and so on. As for myself, I am constantly in the process of reading on various subjects pertaining to translation.

We are happy to write that two more people are joining the work. Sergiy teaches exegetics at a Bible college in Donets, Ukraine, and he has agreed to be a consultant. I have not had a chance to work with him but hope it will be a productive collaboration. Victoria is a graduate of a seminary in Belgium with a masters’ degree in theology and teaches at a Bible college in Kyiv. In July, I had an opportunity to interview her to check her Greek. She needs more experience but is willing to try to improve her level of knowledge, so I spent some time with her explaining translation principles as well as supplied her with initial literature to read. Eventually, Victoria hopes to be able to do translation work but for now I would like to use her as one of my consultants.

Not long ago a brother with Pentecostal background joined our church and he asked me to explain to him the subject of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. After talking with him personally, I decided to preach a series of messages on the Holy Spirit. The commencement of the series coincided with “Trinity” – one of the three major Christian holidays observed in Ukraine by all Christians as well as being a national holiday celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. As usual, people’s interest is great and we are glad to see them grow in the knowledge of the word of God. In August, our men’s choir was invited to sing at a baptism service in the church of Dimer, a nearby town. Since churches here do not have baptisteries, baptism services are held outdoors, by rivers or lakes and include preaching and singing. This way passersby can hear the service and witness the baptism. We were glad to have unsaved people hear our gospel singing. Besides singing in the choir, I had the privilege of preaching at the service. Please pray for the salvation of the unsaved people who were present.

Singing at the baptism by the lake


Continuing at the church
Preaching on Believer’s Baptism


In our recent prayer letters, I asked you to pray for my health issues. For the past several months, I have been having lower back pain. Lately, it got so bad that sitting at my desk for two-three hours would make it uncomfortable to the point that I would need to take a break. Finally, I was able to get the answer: an MRI showed that I have two disc protrusions. My doctor prescribed some medication to reduce the inflammation, special exercises and swimming as a decompression technique. Failure to do that will lead to disc rupture. Fortunately, we have a swimming pool nearby and I plan to use it regularly. For exercises, I need to buy a piece of sports equipment. To make things even worse, in July I got a virus from my nephew which caused bronchitis and double sinusitis simultaneously that knocked me out for two weeks. The rest of the family got by comparatively easy. At the time of this writing we are on another round of colds and fevers, so please pray for our health.

Mama’s Corner (by Wendy)
Summer is past and school is back in session! Sashko is forging ahead in the third grade, while Yurko is eagerly working in his first grade books. (He is SO excited to finally be doing “real” school!) Even Andriy insists on being included, so he joins us at his little table with a coloring book and pencil. In August, we celebrated his 2nd birthday and what a little man he is becoming! He tries to keep up with his big brothers and is never happier than when they include him in their plans. We are thankful for his sunshiny personality and pray that he will shine for the Lord with a clean testimony and bold witness all of his life. I was also blessed with another birthday this summer. God has been very good to me and I thank Him for the life I have by His grace. Sashko and Yurko are enrolled in the local musical school this year which means 2 violin lessons, 1 music theory class, and 1 choir class each week. If all that were not enough to keep us busy, Yura’s cousin from the village (Sasha Savchenko, translation consultant) asked if his 16-year old son could live with us while attending a university in Kyiv. We welcomed Pasha to our home, but had to limit his stay to one semester because the next semester we have another relative coming to live with us: Baby Popchenko #4 is expected to arrive in late February or early March of next year. Everyone is looking forward to another little brother or sister to play with. Morning sickness is past (praise the Lord!) and I feel some energy returning… just in time for school. God’s timing is always right.

Diligent students
Celebrating Andriy’s Birthday at McDonald’s
I’m two now!

Prayer requests:
1. Wisdom, protection, and health for translation work.
2. General health for our family. Since our return to Ukraine, we seem to catch every virus that comes around. We try to eat as healthy as it is possible in this country and take quality vitamins but that does not seem to help a lot.
3. Yura’s back to recover quickly.
4. Baby’s development and Wendy to have strength through this pregnancy.

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