As we venture into a new year, many are excited to put 2020 behind them. But we, at the Luke Society, are looking back with grateful hearts. Because of faithful donors and congregations like Prairie City Christian Reformed Church we were able to continue our full support of 36 Christian ministry partners in 30 countries. Thank you for helping to be a blessing to these difference-makers for Christ around the world!
The Luke Society
I hope that the grace of God is constantly with you, your families, and your churches, and you are enriched with every good deed and knowledge in Jesus Christ. I also hope that God has blessed you with a wonderful and joyful celebration of Christmas and New Year. Thank you for your love for Christ's Church in this world and your prayers for our family and ministry here in Oleksandriya, Ukraine. In our turn, we also pray that you enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your souls are getting along well.
I am very grateful to God for the past year. Despite Covid, 2020 was probably the best year for us since we moved to Oleksandriya in 2015. Like everyone else, we could not do much this year. In the spring we were in quarantine for a long time. Besides, there was some decline in our ministry. We moved to a smaller office, we had fewer new attendees. We often conducted worship services only with our family members. I was also sometimes upset because of not seeing the desired changes in our students, either individually or as a group. We studied the Bible regularly and had various ministries for a long time. Some of our young Bible students were with us for a long time and listened to the Word with interest. But we could not say that some of them have or are gaining personal faith and desire to follow Christ. We also did not see them getting closer to each other nor creating a community with us and with each other. Some children who had been attending for a long time disappeared after reaching a certain age. It also made us sad.
In the summer, we held a Christian discipleship camp and afterwards continued our study of the Gospel of Mark. In the fall the situation began to change gradually. Our teenage group again began to grow and revive. Some of the children who had gone missing have returned or are returning. Others seem to be undergoing exciting changes. After Saturday lessons, they stay for a long time and play together, come together to do homework. Some began to attend Sunday worship services too. At the same time, they begin to make friends with each other. A few weeks ago, eight of our teens memorized the Psalm 1 and recited it during the service.
I will give you two examples. One girl's name is Sasha. She is from an non-believing family and has never had a dad. She has been with us since 2017. Then she was 11, and now she is 15. We can say that she grew up before our eyes. She seldom missed our Saturday meetings and always studied the Bible with interest. But she was not particularly friendly with other children, and the word of God didn’t seem to resonate deeply in her. Now, she has begun to read the Bible herself daily. She started praying, even publicly. Recently, in her school, despite the mocking of her classmates, she testified of her faith in God. For her mother to let her go to the Sunday service, she gets up early in the morning and does the necessary housework.
The second girl's name is Dana, our niece. She has been with us from the very our move to Oleksandriya (in 2015). We began our children's and then teenage ministry with our children and with her. However, she was never proactive. She often missed our meetings, took part in our events less often than others, and also made little friends with other children. We did not see in her a great sense of belonging to our ministry and responsibility for it. This year, however, she missed only one meeting and attends Sundays constantly. She always tries to pay attention to other girls, especially newcomers. On December 25, we invited our teens for our home Christmas party. Dana met a girl who had not attended for several months and invited her to come without consulting us. When she came to the party, she suddenly realized that we had prepared gifts for everyone, but that girl. Then she asked Vika to give the gift we had prepared for Dana to that girl. Of course, we bought another gift so that everyone had enough, but we were moved by Dana's caring.
In addition to working with teenagers, Vika continues to lead a elementary school group. Since we did not have anything special for them this year, it has become smaller, and yet a few boys regularly come to the Bible lessons.
We do not know how God will work and guide us further, but we are very grateful to God for this time and for these small changes that we see now. Human hearts are very uncertain. And we continue to pray and serve so that the word of God takes root in our hearts. We ask you to pray for this too.
In 2020, I took two courses at seminary and two more for this semester. It won't be easy, but I need to make a stable progress and use my time effectively. My work is fine now, but the load is also large. Our sons grow up and mature, although not without difficulties. However, we are grateful to God for them, and in them we also see God's work, which I will tell you soon, God willing.
With warm greetings,