Dear Family, greetings from beautiful Kiev, Ukraine! Elena & I flew from Chicago and landed in this amazing city late afternoon on Wednesday, January 8th! We were delighted and greatly encouraged to receive a heart-felt SoldOut Movement Welcome at the airport by Oleg & Aliona Sirotkin – the Eurasian World Sector Leaders – and several other Kiev Disciples! In 2019, Elena & I focused our energies on Manila and Los Angeles, and the Lord blessed us, as Los Angeles grew more than any other USA Church and Manila grew the fastest of any church in the world reaching over 300 disciples locally and over 500 disciples in Southeast Asia! (Please see the “Thank You Video” below from Ricky & Coleen Challinor to the USA Churches for their financial support. I have shown this in Chicago and Kiev and many of the disciples wept, because they long to see the same multitudinous miracles in their cities!) In 2020, the Year of Vision, Elena & I are focusing on Chicago and Kiev! Since Aliona was blocked from entering Russia last February, I had Oleg move to Kiev to join her. Therefore, the pillar church for the Eurasian World Sector was moved last year from Moscow to Kiev!
On Thursday, January 9th, we met with Oleg & Aliona – the Kiev Church Leaders – and their right hand couple, Luca & Sophia Di Beo, to discuss the ministry over lunch! For 2020, Oleg has structured the church with Victor Maslyanikov and Luda Makarycheva leading the North Region, Luca & Sophia leading the South Region with the Kiev Campus Ministry, and Oleg & Aliona leading the East Region!
On Thursday evening at 7:30PM was the Campus Ministry Workshop! We gathered at the “home” of the 68 member Kiev Church – the Tourist Hotel! The singing was jubilant, as Oleg led us in singing, “Hallelujah!” That evening, Vlad Matveyuk – the Moscow Campus Minister – preached on STUDENTS SEE VISIONS and Luca spoke on GOD CALLS! Both were outstanding!
I closed out the evening preaching on THE FOCUS OF CAMPUS MINISTRY! I began the study with Matthew 17:24-27, showing that of the Apostles only Peter was older than 20 years old since only Jesus and Peter paid the temple tax. (Exodus 30:14) So, at this point, the rest of the Apostles were in their teens – campus age! Therefore, if we are to follow Jesus’ pattern, the preacher must start with a “band of ‘campus age disciples’” to evangelize his geographic charge! I closed out the study with Acts 19:8-10 to show the immense impact that campus ministry will have!
Friday morning, Oleg, Victor, Bogdan Mekeda and I visited different hotels in Kiev to find a site for the upcoming Eurasian Missions Conference (EAMC) on May 1-3, 2020! Praise God, we might have “stumbled” upon a new meeting place for the Kiev Church too!
The official beginning of the Kiev Winter Workshop was Friday night! I had the privilege to address my Kiev Family on VISION FOR THE WORLD! Though I used the same Daniel 2 text as in Chicago, I addressed very different needs. At the end of the sermon, I challenged the Kiev Church to have 2 additions per week – 100 additions for 2020! This was accepted with a standing ovation! (Kiev only had 19 baptisms and 33 fall aways in 2019 largely due to disunity caused by false teachers.)
On Saturday morning, we gathered again! I preached on UNITY OF WORSHIP! From the Scriptures I called upon everyone to be present at all of “the meetings of the body!” (Hebrews 10:23-25) I shared my personal conviction that “the only time to miss church is on your death bed – dead!” For my second point, I preached that everyone is commanded by God to sing at the worship service! (Ephesians 5:18-20) Lastly, I challenged the church to set aside the dates of May 1-3, 2020 to participate in the EAMC!
Then for the remainder of the morning, we broke into Men’s and Women’s Programs! In each session the following topics were addressed: Vision In Discipleship (Dima Serafonov – the Moscow Lead Evangelist / Elena), Vision In Prayer (Luca / Aliona), and Vision In Missions (Vlad / Sophia)!
The afternoon was filled with appointments, and then at 5:30PM, we rushed to where the Kiev Church was gathered for ice skating! There Gustavo Piai (converted in São Paulo) secretly dressed up in a polar bear costume and then asked on the ice his unsuspecting girlfriend Anya Korotova (converted in Moscow) to marry him! She said “yes” in laughter and tears!
That evening, we had a very relaxing dinner with the Sirotkins and the Mekedas, who have become dear friends to Elena & me!
Sunday, we began the worship service at 11:30AM! Victor and Luda gave a rousing Welcome! The singing – with everyone singing – was “angelically loud!” After the prayer, Oleg & Aliona oversaw the placing membership of the three week old newlyweds – Vlad & Masha! They have moved to Kiev to train to lead the St. Petersburg, Russia Mission Team in late 2020 or early 2021!
The Serafonovs gave a moving Communion, and I shared for Contribution! My text was 1 Corinthians 5:6-8. I preached that the “old yeast” had been completely removed from my last visit to Kiev in October to now. We now have a “sold-out and unified foundation” of disciples in Kiev! Therefore, the Lord was going to bless their “sincerity and truth” with abundant fruit! Then, I shared, “The Gospel is free but building churches costs money! So motivated by grace, just as every sold-out disciple attends all the services and sings, every disciple should be generous in their giving to the work of the Lord!”
Following a couple more songs, Oleg was the most forceful that I have ever heard him in his lesson, TO SEE THE GLORY OF GOD from John 9!
Though there was no real “push” for visitors, God packed out our room in the Tourist Hotel with 122 in attendance! There were so many remnant visitors… and by the end of the service crying! With Oleg’s help, I had four visitors out, of which I believe three will join the New Movement either this following week or perhaps in two weeks! There is so much fruit to be had in Kiev!
During lunch, we studied with another remnant disciple that had been full-time in the ICOC! Praise God, by the end of the study, he too was crying and has decided to join God’s Movement! Then we “Ubered“ back to the hotel for one last appointment with Dima & Vita – a young dating couple! There, we invited them to be a part of Oleg’s & Aliona’s new “COP’s D-Group!” (COP’s is short for “Company Of Prophets” from Jason & Sarah Dimitry of San Francisco!) Afterward, Elena & I had a quiet dinner, while looking out out on the beautiful “city-scape” of Kiev!
It is now late Monday morning, so Elena & I are preparing for a couple more appointments, which includes a planning session with the Sirotkins and Di Beos! Then, Lord willing, early Tuesday morning, we will fly to Moscow! Please keep us in your prayers! And to God be all the glory!
We are family… full of visions and dreams,