Sergei Tikhonyuk (a Rhema Ukraine student) was an alcoholic and drug addict for many years. His wife and children prayed for him and he eventually became a Christian. He decided to go to Bible School at Rhema Ukraine where he is currently an advanced training student.
Last summer, God led Sergei to become a chaplain in the Ukrainian military. Sergei travels back and forth between Vinnitsa, Ukraine and the eastern front where war still rages. At Easter, he was asked to hold a service. He was initially scared because he had never done an Easter service, but agreed to do so. He earnestly prayed and studied! Traditionally, in Orthodox churches in Ukraine, people bring bread and eggs for the priests to bless. When Sergei arrived in the tent, 200 men dressed in battle gear with rifles stood ready to listen. They brought bread for him to bless.
Sergei looked at the bread on the table and said, "I want to tell you about Jesus, the passover lamb." Sergei shared a gospel message. When he was done, he gave an invitation and every man in the tent stood to receive Jesus. He later was invited to eat with some military brass who had not been in his service. While eating, they discussed the bread and eggs that the priests blessed. Sergei said, "I can't take this any more. I've got to tell you about Jesus, the passover lamb." He shared with these men about Jesus and they also received Jesus!
Rhema Ukraine students continue to grow and take steps to share the love of Christ with the nation of Ukraine! Your support makes this possible! Thank you!
Growing up is such an interesting process! Babies are born and they are so innocent and precious. We watch with delight as they begin to take their first steps and eat real food. As they get older they go to school, learn to run errands for their parents, and even begin to drive.
Spiritually speaking, I am watching the Rhema Ukraine students take their beginning steps in ministry. Some have been in ministry already and are spreading their wings into the fullness of their calling. Others are new in ministry and staying faithful with what they know to do for now. But just as parents watch with delight as their kids reach important developmental milestones, I am watching, delighted as these students take their first steps in ministry.
Check out my newsletters for more specific news!
I am thankful for so much this year! Rhema Ukraine continues to move forward in spite of the challenges presented by the political situation here. Rhema Vinnitsa students finished their first level in the spring and are continuing their education.
My mother is alive and we recently had GREAT reports from the doctors. (She doesn't have to take insulin all the time any more and the fluid that was around her heart is gone!) Praise the LORD!) I have enjoyed another fruitful year in Ukraine. While I sometimes feel the Russian language is a mystery wrapped in an enigma, I am actually improving. (The picture below is from last year with Vita, my roommate. Living with her for the past year has definitely stretched my language skills and she is a wonderful human being!)
THANKS SO MUCH for your friendship, prayers, and support! I can do nothing without your help, and I am very aware of how much your prayers helped this year in every way, but especially for my family.
HAVE A WONDERFUL HOLIDAY SEASON!
What do you eat? I heard this question often while in the US this summer. Some people think that when you go to the mission field, you will never be able to eat the way you do in America. While it is true that there are some items that can't be found here (like baking powder and chocolate chips); there are also a lot of great local foods that you can't get in the US!! To clear up misconceptions, there are two McDonalds franchises where I live in Vinnitsa!!
Many yummy local foods can only be found in Ukraine! Examples include котлета по киевская (chicken Kiev), борщ (borscht), плов (sorta’ like fried rice), and a personal favorite пирожный картошки (pirozhny kartoshky!!) There is no US equivalent for pirozhny kartoshky!! But it's chocolate and tastes better than brownies!! There are all sorts of different beet and cabbage salads, plenty of fresh herbs, as well as more chocolate candy than any where in the US. (President Poroshenko, the current president, owns the largest candy company in Ukraine. When he ran for presidency in 2014, I said to many people "That would be like Hershey or Willie Wonka running for president in the US." He had an unfair advantage!)
When people gather, there always seems to be tea and something good to eat. Look at the pictures below for a few examples of local foods that I enjoy. I am not starving!!
Celebrations! We recently held the last class of this session for basic training students at the Rhema Vinnitsa campus with music, words of love and gratitude for the students' sacrifice, and of course, lots of FOOD! In thinking of this last formal opportunity to share with these students, a phrase came to me, "You're not done yet!"
There is much more for us to do as we take steps to follow the leading of the Lord for our lives. The students need to finish online tests, a practicum of 100 hours at church, and (we pray) return to finish advanced training next year. For all of us, there is so much more to learn and do.
We are celebrating the goodness and faithfulness of God in leading us this far, but know He has so much more in store!
The Word and Prayer!
January: a time for new beginnings. In January, we started the year with a faith conference in Irpen, Ukraine. This was a gathering of Ukrainian pastors, ministers, and missionaries. The Word was taught and we prayed together as the early church did in Acts 4. We prayed together concerning the situation in eastern Ukraine and many of the ministers continue to pray for an end to the bloodshed. In Acts 4:23, Peter and John returned to their company and prayed in unity after they'd been arrested. It's great (as well as comforting) to be with your "own company" in challenging times. It was also a time of fellowship and very little sleep!
The Word and prayer: a great way to start the year off right!
Are you facing a challenge?
In the spring of this year, we at Rhema Bible Training College Ukraine faced a major obstacle as Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula. The city we'd called home: Sevastopol, was not necessarily safe for us any more. We moved to a safer area of Ukraine and prayed and believed God for a peaceful resolution to the unrest in Ukraine.
After more than a month, it seemed wise to leave Ukraine. We left our stuff behind, planning to return, but unsure of what the future held for Ukraine or for us. Returning to the US was bitter sweet. After being away for a long time, it was great to see family and friends. However, there was always the pull of our home away from home and the thought of how our friends in Ukraine were being affected by the political unrest.
Our God is Greater!
It is so clear right now that our God is greater than the challenge of the geopolitical realities in Ukraine. Rhema alumni in various areas of Ukraine have risen to the occasion and are continuing their Christian witness. The book publishing company, now located in Russian territory, now has free access to distribute books in both Ukraine and Russia. The local church left behind continues to flourish and thrive as other Rhema Ukraine graduates have stepped up to fill pastoral positions left open due to the departure of Pastors Barry and Adrianne Jensen.
I am returning to Ukraine knowing that sights like the above Russian battleship may await me. However, I am not afraid. It's not because I am unaware of the risk, but because I know that God is greater than the risk. He has been faithful to protect me from major battles in the past and He will do so again! I stand firmly convinced of God's call, convicted that His call to "go" hasn't changed, and fully persuaded of His promise and word:
Though an army encamp against me, my heart will not fear. Though war may rise up against me, in this I will be confident. One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
OUR GOD IS GREATER THAN ANY OBSTACLE OR CHALLENGE WE FACE!
Sickness, financial ruin, an unhappy marriage, a rebellious teenager.... Sometimes we face obstacles in our lives! God has done so much for us, but sometimes we forget & get too focused on the giants!!
In 1 Samuel 17, David faced a giant by the name of Goliath! He was outclassed, outnumbered, and lacked experience in warfare. BUT HE WON! What can we learn from David so we can overcome obstacles as he did?
Five Smooth Stones
David chose five smooth stones from the brook to fight Goliath with the one thing God had given him experience with: a slingshot and some stones! But we have the same ability to choose five smooth stones when we are up against an enemy. These stones include:
Stone #1: God's presence: Matthew 28:20 says Jesus will never leave or forsake us. Look beyond the giant to your God and tell your Goliath, "MY GOD IS BIGGER THAN YOU!!"
Stone #2: God's word: Heb. 4:12 says God's word is alive and active. When facing a giant, go to the brook of God's Spirit and pull out the word that's alive to you about the situation. (For example: Facing the giant of a rebellious child? The book of Isaiah says all your children will be taught of the Lord!)
Stone #3: God's covenant: David knew he had a covenant with God. But if you're a believer, Heb. 8:6 says you have a better covenant and God promises in Psalms that He will never break His covenant (or contract)!
Stone #4: The name of Jesus: David told Goliath he was coming to him in "the name of the Lord God of Israel whom you are defying...." We now have the name of Jesus! John 16:23 says we have the right to approach the Father in prayer in the name of Jesus whenever we need to and that whatever we ask we'll receive!
Stone #5: God's faithfulness to us in the past. David looked back to the times God helped him kill a lion and a bear with a slingshot when he was alone with his father's sheep. He knew the same God who saved him from these predators would deliver him again. Heb. 11:11 says Sara received strength to concecive seed because she considered God's faithfulness. Come on, look into your past and think about it. Has God ever let you down before? NO!! He will take care of you now!
So, if you're facing a giant, use your five smooth stones to defeat the enemy!
Beyond My Thoughts!
I left for Sevastopol, Ukraine in September. Shortly after arriving, Pastors Barry & Adrianne Jensen (Rhema Ukraine directors) asked me to pray about going to Verona, Italy for Rhema Europe & Africa meetings. I honestly could barely wrap my brain around it.
God does exceedingly, abundantly above!
I had the unexpected honor & fun of traveling to Italy in October for a week of training and seeing a few sights. In Italy, I learned how to enter information into the worldwide Rhema database. I interacted with some amazing people and had a blast while doing so. It was a fun and fruitful trip. God does exceedingly, abundantly above all that we could ever ask or think! (And I have a great imagination!) Check out the gallery for more pictures!
Can You Hear His Heartbeat? Kidder Memorial
People, People, People....
When Jesus saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion toward them because they were like sheep without a shepherd.... "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest that he would send laborers into His harvest." Wherever Jesus went, He was moved to help people from every walk of life.
The first thing Jesus said to do when He saw the multitudes was to PRAY. Not run off & do something foolish, but pray. As we pray, God will point our hearts in the right direction to get involved witht he people with whom He wants us involved.
How shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? (Rom. 10:14-15.) Some of the people God's heart of compassion beats for will NEVER hear unless someone sends a preacher!
Go into all the world & preach the gospel to every creature! (Mark 16:15.) Whether you go across the ocean or across the street, share the good news with everyone you meet! Jesus loves you & isn't holding your sin against you!
People, People, People....
God's heartbeat is for people, people, people.... Get involved with what moves God's heart through praying for people, giving to people, & going to share the good news with people!
Kimberly Linza passionately pursues God and His plan, loves people, and lives life on purpose.