Does it seem strange to you to see these two words side by side? Unfortunately in our strife-filled world it may not seem strange at all, but the fact is that I am not writing about a wedding anniversary. I am announcing the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the founding of Christian Life Church in the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine (which was the capitol of Ukraine during the USSR years). Doug Lucas, John Murphy, Kerry Hawkins and others were used by God to plant this congregation, which has impacted thousands of lives over the past 20 years.
Zhenya Molodchy is one of those whose life was not only impacted, but changed forever by the truth of the gospel of Christ, proclaimed clearly at Christian Life Church. When I first met Zhenya 13 years ago in Crimea, he had already graduated from Polytechnic University, having attained his degree as an engineer, but was serving as an interpreter for the “Man and the Christian Worldview Symposium” because of his proficiency in English. God had changed the direction of his life from engineering to evangelism, and he was preaching for the Russian-speaking service for Agape Christian Church (which also had English services). Zhenya had recently been set apart to that position and asked my advice to help him wisely carry that responsibility. He also invited me to come to Kharkiv to help him with outreach, which I accepted for the spring of 2002, 12 years ago. Later the elders of Christian Life Church, Zhenya’s home congregation, invited him to become “Minister of Missions” for them.
Zhenya has interpreted for me more than any other interpreter, and I love it when he does so because he preaches it with passion and expression when he interprets. He has organized outreach meetings and seminars. Together we have preached and taught for Christian Life Church, village churches and new church plants, rehab centers, jails and prisons, creation evangelism meetings and family life seminars. Zhenya has a MDiv from TCMII and is planning and praying about finding a doctorate program in ministry.
Zhenya’s wife, Natasha, is also an interpreter, who graduated from Crimean American College and went on to attain her PhD, while teaching English at People’s Ukrainian Academy in Kharkiv and has her PhD in linguistics. She also loves Jesus, has the gifts of mercy and friendship, and is an excellent personal evangelist. Zhenya and Natasha were newlyweds when I first met them, and now they are parents with three more budding personal evangelists God has given them – Masha, Yan, and Jacob. It has been my privilege to mentor Zhenya and Natasha, and God has bonded our hearts together like family. Della and I now serve as forwarding agents for their ministry. (They struggle with the combined problem of inflation, plus devaluation of their currency).
So what is the animosity? It’s in the air all around them. The threat of war and the animosity of Marxism comes not only from Russia, but also from many fellow Ukrainians. Please pray for peace, open hearts to the gospel, and many backsliders to return to Christian Life Church for the anniversary celebration on Sunday, June 15th.
Here is a copy of the letter to Christian Life Church, which I wrote at Zhenya’s request:
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ at Christian Life Church,
We thank God for you, as I think of Christian Life Church as my home congregation in the city of Kharkiv. Concerning your 20th Anniversary Celebration, I want to say, “Huge Congratulations!” May God provide for you, prosper you with growth, and protect you from enemies of the gospel. We are thinking of you and praying for you continually. We pray earnestly for spiritual awakening in Ukraine, in Russia, and in America.
We believe God must have very big plans for Ukraine! We are living in perilous times – historic times – exciting times. Perhaps never in history has there been more prayer for Ukraine than there is now. We must constantly remember Who is in charge of all history. God Almighty has brought Ukraine front and center on the stage of history “for such a time as this”. Why? We don’t know yet, but we can know that He has His good reasons. God did not bring Christian Life Church into existence 20 years ago and sustain you for all these years for no reason. Each of you is a unique creation of God, who has a circle of influence which no one else on earth has. God created you for a purpose. Please ask yourself the question Mordecai asked Esther: “Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Please ask Jesus, “Lord, what would You have me to do?”
I remember you with many fond memories and long for the time when I can be with you again. I don’t know yet when that will be. I am praying for you in accord with Paul’s prayer recorded in Colossians 1:9-12: “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.”
May all of us, including the leaders in Ukraine, Russia and America, come to the perspective of the former tyrant, Nebuchadnezzar, after God humbled him: “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to abase.” (Daniel 5:37- NKJV).
With deep love and respect,
Rick with Della
The Pertinence and Power of God’s Word in the Midst of Violence, Stress and Uncertainty
I want to pass on to you a copy of the letter we sent to our wonderful friends and co-workers in Odessa, Lugansk and Donetsk.
We have been hearing and reading the news reports of the terrible events in Odessa, Donetsk and Lugansk. We are praying for God’s protection, wisdom, and opportunities to witness for Jesus.
I want to share with you some powerful Scriptures for your encouragement:
“Make haste, O God, to deliver me! Make haste to help me, O LORD! Let them be ashamed and confounded Who seek my life; Let them be turned back and confused Who desire my hurt. Let them be turned back because of their shame, Who say, ‘Aha, aha!’ Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; And let those who love Your salvation say continually, ‘Let God be magnified!’ But I am poor and needy; Make haste to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay.” Psalm 70:1-5
“The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.'” Zeph. 3:17
“Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7-9
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’” Romans 1:16-17
“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. . .To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.” Colossians 1:9-20; 27-29
“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” Colossians 2:8-10
“But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:14-17
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
“You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” 2 Timothy 2:1-4
Remember, you are in our hearts and prayers,
Rick with Della and Sandy