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

March/April 2011 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family in Christ Jesus,

Greetings from the Popchenko Family! We are excited to write that another landmark has been reached in my translation work: with God’s help I was able to finish translating and proofreading the first draft of the Gospel Mark. From here I will be moving on to the Gospel of Luke. At the same time, I have been discussing the Gospel of Matthew with my assistants and am very pleased with the constructive input they have been giving. Recently we have introduced an important change to our means of communication: instead of meeting personally, we now use Skype. Not only am I able to save time, money and effort on traveling, but it also allows for more frequent discussion sessions since I no longer have to wait until an assistant is able to set aside a whole day. This, in turn, furthers the progress of our work. Please continue to pray for the translation of the Bible into Ukrainian.

With some students in Donetsk

A few months ago, I was invited to speak at Donetsk Christian University in eastern Ukraine. In April, I took the overnight train and spent two days there. I had a great opportunity to give three lectures to theology students on “Two Approaches in Bible Translation”. Giving examples from different Russian Bible translations, I pointed out the fallacies of dynamic equivalency (the theory behind translations like the GNB, NLT, NIV) and argued that the belief in the verbal plenary inspiration of the Scripture strongly favors formal equivalency (the method behind literal Bible translations) since it results in translations that are faithful and transparent to the source text. Once again, it was a great encouragement for me to see from the response of the students that formal equivalency is what the average person thinks of as true translation. In fact, the founder of dynamic equivalency, Eugene Nida, himself admits that it takes time for those attending his seminars to accept his theory, both intellectually and emotionally. An exciting part of my trip was the presence among the students of a lady from a Central Asian country (a former Soviet Union republic) who participated in translating the Bible into her native language. They produced the first and only Bible in their language. In a conversation after classes, I learned that they used the Russian Bible as the source text and, for the most part, formal equivalency as the method. Back-translation of various verses of this Bible into Russian showed me some problems and I encouraged the lady to work on the revision after she finishes her theology studies in Ukraine. Please pray for the many Bible-less peoples of the world to have the Word of life made available in their native tongue.

Besides teaching, I had the privilege of preaching at the University’s chapel hour. Speaking from Colossians 1:9-10, I challenged the students to use their time in school to get to know God more deeply, since the knowledge of God and His will precedes Christian living. It is impossible to “walk worthy of the Lord” without knowing who the Lord is and it is impossible to please Him without being “filled with the knowledge of his will”. Also, the academic dean arranged for a meeting with the staff, giving me the opportunity to tell more about the project and for them to ask questions. One question was why I use the Textus Receptus as my base text and not a critical text. I was glad I did my homework years ago so that I could answer this question.

Mama’s Corner (by Wendy)
Spring is here and we are busy getting our garden planted. Sashko and Yurko are thriving on all the “man’s work” that needs to be done with Daddy, and Andriy is right out there with them, hauling branches, digging holes (or trying to), and getting underfoot. School work and violin practice gets done in record time now, as the boys hurry outside to work and play.

Mixing business with business:
getting my exercise while tilling the ground
(poor boys… they are worked to death)


“And what would you do without my help?”
(this picture was taken the next day when it got cold)

Little Matviy is getting his share of fresh air and sunshine, too, as he naps beside us outside in his stroller. It is hard to believe he is already 2 months old! The Lord answered my prayers and gave me an ‘easy’ baby: he eats well and sleeps great (8 hours at night!), coos and smiles and makes all those cute little baby faces. His big brothers all love him and take wonderful care of him. Andriy, age 2 years and 8 months, always lets me know whenever Matviy is crying, by tugging on my arm and saying earnestly, “Mama! Wa-wee-ko! Wa-wee-ko!” (his version of Matviyko, an affectionate form of the baby’s name).

“Don’t you think I am irresistibly cute?”

Special prayer request:
My brother’s wife, Kathy, has been in the hospital on the mission field, bedridden and in serious condition, since April 22nd. At first the doctors thought it was idiopathic thrombocytpenic purpura (the condition of having an abnormally low platelet count for no known cause. Symptoms include bruising and bleeding.), but since Kathy is not responding to the standard treatment for ITP, everyone is starting to wonder if the diagnosis is correct. Please pray for her sickness to be properly diagnosed soon and treated effectively. Also, please keep Chris in your prayers as he is caring for her at the hospital around the clock.

Prayer requests and praises:
1. Praise the Lord for providing us with a good used minivan.
2. Pray for me to have wisdom and protection as I continue translating.
3. Please keep praying for my health issues.
4. Kathy’s condition is serious and we covet your prayers for her.

Our minivan

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