BIEMs of Light April/May 2017

Praises Rejoice with us!

  • We praise God that, on April 6 & 8, friends of BIEM volunteered their time to load a 40-ft. container of aid, Bible literature, and church-planting items. It’s now bound for Ukraine. (Please pray it will arrive safely and that God will help our Ukrainian brethren to navigate successfully the bureaucracy involved in getting a container through Ukrainian Customs.)
  • From time to time, BIEM invites our national church-planters to the U.S. to visit churches and share their testimonies and news from the mission field. Praise the Lord that, after several attempts, Igor Fomichov has been granted a visa to visit the U.S.
  • A movie titled King of Glory (a 4-hour movie) was created to explain Jesus to Muslims. It shows God’s plan for mankind and emphasizes the need for a Savior. BIEM translated it into a Central Asian language, and our missionary Tim arranged for it to be shown on national TV on Easter in Central Asia! Praise God for reports of salvation decisions!
  • Sasha, a BIEM missionary in a predominantly Muslim land, rejoices that he and his wife now have several Bible studies in homes of local Muslim husbands with wives from Russia or Ukraine. In these cases, the husbands not only permit the study in their home, but have also sat and listened. Praise God! May His Word speak to hearts.

PrayerPray with us!

  • From Belarus: BIEM missionary Nikolai Ryzhuk requests prayer for evangelistic tent meetings planned for May 13 - 14. May many unsaved neighbors attend, even if out of curiosity. Pray for God to convict of sin and to draw people to Himself.
  • Also from Belarus: The spinal operation undergone by the Ryzhuks’ son, Tolik, was evidently not fully successful in correcting his problem. In addition, our missionary Nikolai is now hospitalized. MRI results reveal herniation in his spine, and physicians say he needs surgery. Pray that God will provide guidance in both members of this missionary family.
  • Summer is fast approaching! Overseas, pastors and missionaries are contacting us to ask whether there will be funds for summer camp ministries. As of this writing, BIEM needs $26,000 to match last year’s level of camp support. Please pray the Lord will prompt His people to make camp ministries possible once again in 2017.
  • Please pray for believers in Peru, which has been hit hard by heavy rains, flooding, and mudslides. Although the immediate crisis may be over, these events leave behind much devastation and needs. (Donations for relief may be designated “Peru Relief.”)

Challenger Update

Here is a story from our most recent Challenger publication.

A deadly military conflict continues in Eastern Ukraine. Like many pastors in that land, BIEM's Vitaly Bilyak asked himself how he should respond. Here's a condensed version of his report.

What do you do when there's war in your country? As you know, there's a war in Eastern Ukraine. In our nation, for political reasons it's called an Anti-Terrorist Operation. But that doesn't alter the fact that people perish regularly.

Our church considered: what did we have to offer? We had received humanitarian aid from BIEM. Some of that aid we had distributed locally, but a portion remained. We could send one small load. Next, I contacted churches and BIEM about our idea. BIEM responded and named a dollar amount they could contribute, which was a clear sign form God. Next, two churches got on board.

But where should we go? The president of our brotherhood of churches recommended a congregation in Dobropolye that's actively rendering aid. We decided to give them part of the funds we'd collected. Also, even though visiting Avdeevka was dangerous, we wanted to minister there, on the front line.

We set out very early. Our cargo van drove ahead, and we followed. With me went Volodya, Andrei, and Roman. By evening we reached Dobropolye.

Ministry in Dobropolye

First, we unloaded our van into the church warehouse. Then we got acquainted with the church.

The population of Dobropolye is 30,000 and about 15,000 refugees settled here. People are everywhere—in vacant rooms of businesses, dormitories, private houses, and apartments.

On Sunday, the church auditorium was filled with 120 people. Some arrived early to talk. Several arrived during the second half, obviously for the aid. The service wasn't long, but was uplifting. When Andrei shared how the Lord had saved him from addiction to drugs, people cried.

After the service, people lined up as if on cue. Sisters from the church registered first-timers. Others showed ID's to receive about 10 lbs. of food, which was purchased with funds we'd provided. Each package included Christian tracts. Anyone who didn't own a New Testament received one. Some people were grateful and open to conversation; others expressed no emotion and simply left.

Meeting with refugees in Rodynske

After a quick lunch, we climbed into cars and tortured ourselves on the roads as we drove to a neighboring city 21 miles away. There, 50 people gathered in a dim corridor for a service. Everyone stood. When we sang a song about home, many quietly wiped away tears.

I often preach, but never before had anyone listened so intently. I spoke about everyone's most important need—a meeting with the Savior. Afterward, they gave me a letter of appreciation singed by everyone who attended.

In the evening, a friend from Donetsk visited. He's a pastor. His church ended up on the other side, under occupation. Every Saturday he loads his old car with groceries on the Ukrainian side, then drives back. After a two-hour church service, he leads a Bible class for adults. To me, he and his wife are heroes, people who risk their lives crossing the front twice a week to help believers on that side of the war. We handed him funds to buy food. After prayer, he departed to his reality.

In the line of fire

The next day we were to visit Avdeevka, a city that's been hit by artillery for nearly a month. A feeling of anxiety rose at the first block-post checkpoint. Armed men examined our ID's and cargo. When they learned we're from Western Ukraine and that we were delivering aid, they let us proceed. There are five checkpoints manned by soldiers along the 37-mile road. Closer to Avdeevka, there were practically no other civilian cars, only military vehicles. On the approach to the city, road signs, fences, and houses have been riddled with shrapnel. Many homes have plastic sheeting over the windows instead of glass. There were houses where blown-out windows don't even have plastic over them.

After a final checkpoint, we entered Avdeevka. First, we visited the church. People expected us. They shared the latest news: that morning men from the church had rescued an elderly couple from a house where a shell had hit. The couple was brought to the church and fed while considering where they might live now.

In the church, we heard explosions, but no locals made a fuss, so why worry? We gave them cartons of humanitarian aid and finances for ministry.

Local brethren suggested we visit buildings that were shelled during the night. When we reached that street, we saw broken wires, ruined houses, sheds, and fences... Plywood covered windows.

Shots were fired. The locals didn't react. But everyone wonders the same thing: "When will it end?" They don't care who wins, just so as the shooting stops.

The pastor of Revival Baptist Church in Avdeevka says, "Fifty precent of the church's members have left the city, but despite the situation and the danger to life, ministries have not ceased. God has filled the church with new members and newcomers. God has opened new ministries for us: children's work, feeding the elderly and invalids, aid to residents of the city by repairing windows after shelling, and aid to families with many children."

We left with mixed emotions. When we returned home, we read in the news that several hours after our departure Avdeevka was heavily bombarded. Apartments were hit, and people died.

Please pray for Ukraine! Pray especially for churches on both sides of the conflict line. Pray that each of us will understand what is his role in serving suffering people in this senseless war.

If you would like to help, mark your donation "Ukraine Aid." Gifts will go to churches that are actively rendering aid along with the Gospel in the same spirit as Jesus, who met physical needs while sharing spiritual truths.

March Video Update

Watch this video on Vimeo by either clicking on the following link or by copying and pasting it in your browser:

https://vimeo.com/212197253
 

Though it is already April, this e-mail contains our March Video update.  The month of March and beginning of April we have had Eugene Buyko and Vitaly Bilyak, church planters from Ukraine with us as we visited churches in the East and Midwest.
One of the projects they are have been involved with is preparing a 40 foot container of humanitarian aid, Gospel literature and church planting equipment to send to Ukraine.  This video update features these Ukrainian national missionaries saying a few words about this container shipment.

Urgent Prayer Request

Thank-you for praying for our brothers and sisters in Peru which is
experiencing floods and mudslides of historic proportions.   A "state
of emergency" has been declared for 1/2 of the country.

Our missionaries are attempting to assess the damage; however, heavy
rains are expected to continue for 20 - 30 more days. The
missionaries expect overall repairs and replacements to total tens of
thousands of dollars. Medical needs are expected to arise in the
coming weeks. Drinking water and food are in short supply at best.
Cell phone service is spotty.

We value your prayers for our missionaries and their congregations in
this time of great suffering. Those desiring to help with these needs
should designate funds "PERU RELIEF" via BIEM.

February Video Update

Watch this video on Vimeo by either clicking on the following link or by copying and pasting it in your browser:

https://vimeo.com/205231850

Greetings! Since we have Vitaly and Olena Yurchenko visiting the United States from Ukraine, this months video update comes from our office and features brother Vitaly giving an update on our seminary in Kiev. Brother Vitaly is the director of this seminary.
Last month we had an increase in students which in part was due the fact that more and more students are coming from the War Zone in the East since we began covering their travel expenses.  The increase in students has created a housing shortage which we hope to solve by finishing the attic in the church building where the students stay.   Please pray with us for the $10,000 that is needed to finish this attic.

BIEMs of Light March 2017

Praises Rejoice with us!

  • Last month, we requested prayer for Nikolai Ryzhuk’s evangelism trip to the Far North of Russia. God protected the team from serious harm when a snowmobile broke down in the wilderness, and He gave fruit in new decisions for Christ! Thanks for prayers!

  • These past few weeks, BIEM missionaries Vitaly and Olena Yurchenko have been in the U.S., visiting churches and bringing firsthand reports from the field of Ukraine. These meetings have been a blessing and encouragement for all. Praise God.

  • Recently BIEM missionary Vitaly Bilyak and several brethren visited eastern Ukraine’s zone of military conflict with humanitarian aid and the Gospel. A pastor of one church there says his Sunday’s services are full, and 50% of attenders are unbelievers. “They all come with broken lives and broken hearts, hungry and cold, but listening to the Word of God, and some of them take him to heart.” Praise God for a chance to minister among the hurting.

  • Ruben Villar, a single BIEM church planter in Peru, has met a wonderful Christian young lady named Laura, and they have now announced their engagement! Praise God for such a blessing from the Lord. More good news—his church, which is up to 65, has outgrown their meeting place, and they have just rented a larger facility that can accommodate 110.

PrayerPray with us!

  • BIEM missionary Igor Balashov reports that a team plans to visit Lugansk to assist local churches with evangelism (in the zone of military conflict.) Please pray for the right team members to be able to make this trip, for salvation of souls, and strengthening of believers.

  • Our missionary Valia Yankovska has successfully foster-parented various children. Right now, she requests prayer for Anya and Volodya, two foster children who have rebelled in various ways and need repentance and salvation in Christ.

  • In the Republic of Georgia, Charles Hoblitz reports several conversions of native Georgians and also that Christian students from Nigeria and India attend their English-language services. However, “some know nothing about how to live the Christian life and tackle problems Biblically, so we have also been doing a lot of Christian counseling lately.” Pray for wisdom for counseling and for understanding in these students.

  • Vitaly Yurchenko, who serves as the Rector of the seminary in Kyiv, is thrilled that more students enrolled for the winter session. This number includes three more students from the occupied territory in the east of Ukraine, making the number from there 9 students. Pray for these students as they put into practice the information and training they receive.

 

BIEMs of Light February 2017

Praises Rejoice with us!

  • The pastor of a church planted by BIEM in Russia is excited at the way the Lord has gotten ahold of his son’s heart who has been a subject of much prayer.   The young man, who is in his twenties, devoured almost half the Bible in January and eagerly wants to be baptized.
  • Celebrations! The church in Desna, Ukraine, is now celebrating 14 years since their founding, and this past Sunday the church in Ternopil, Ukraine, celebrated the end of a decade of renting facilities as they praised God for their newly refurbished auditorium.

  • BIEM missionary Igor Balashov and an evangelistic team recently completed a 2-month journey in which they evangelized with small churches across Russia deep into Siberia. At one point their vehicle broke down, and they had to send away for parts, so they interpreted this as God’s will to continue evangelizing where they were. Praise God for workers for the harvest, and praise Him for salvation decisions resulting from this trip!
     
  • Praise God for an excellent Winter session of our seminary in Kiev with 45 students!  This is a great number for a Winter session.  Nine students from the war zone in the East were able to attend.

PrayerPray with us!

  • At this writing, Nikolai Ryzhuk is once again in the Far North of Russia, where he and another brother are traveling by snowmobile through extreme cold to distant villages for evangelism and to fortify believers. Please pray for them during this dangerous trip.
     
  • One BIEM missionary couple in a predominantly Muslim land happily report a number of new visitors at the worship services they hold in their home. A few guests who considered them believers due to membership in the Russian Orthodox church expressed amazement at the Bible truths they learned, and have come back. Please pray that the Gospel will illumine the hearts and minds of these listeners and bring repentance and trust in Christ.
     
  • Using Bible studies and other activities, the Tuttles in the Republic of Georgia have had opportunities to share the Gospel with both men and women who don’t attend church. Please pray for these folks, too, to understand and embrace the Good News of salvation.
     
  • One of our Ukrainian church planting couples, Vitaly and Alona Yurchenko will be visiting churches in the United States this month.  Please pray for journeying mercies and for God’s blessings on these meetings which will be in the Midwest and Colorado.

January Video Update

Watch this video on Vimeo by either clicking on the following link or by copying and pasting it in your browser:

https://vimeo.com/200862376

Greetings!  Once again our video update comes from the Moscow area where we had the joy of participating in the dedication of the new church building in Shahovskaya.  It was a wonderful time of praising God, testimonies, preaching, food and fellowship.  Every square inch of the building was packed with people.  A truly wonderful event. Afterward, I had the occasion to visit with Pastor Peter Rumachik in his home.  I had recently searched our archives and found the first few issues of our newsletter the Challenger which we began publishing in 1983.  The very first issue contained an article about brother Peter who had just been re-sentenced to another 5 year term without every being released.  Back then one of the major thrusts of our newsletter was to inform Christians about the believers in the Soviet Union who were in prison for Christ and encourage them to pray for them and write letters in their behalf to various authorities.  We never thought we would meet any of these hero's of the faith except in glory.   It was a blessing to present these early newsletters to brother Peter and translate for him what they said.  A big smile swept across his face when I translated a part where people were saying it was not likely he would survive his current term.  Praise God almost 35 years later he is still serving God while many of his persecutors went on to meet their fate. This video update is from this meeting in brother Peter's home.  It is longer than what we usually send out but this was a special moment, especially for those of you who know Pastor Peter.

 

Urgent Prayer Request from Baptist International

Answer to Prayer:

What an answer to your prayers!  Our missionary Tim was facing such difficulties and trials while recently traveling to a Muslim country.  He was going there to train and encourage our national pastors and workers.  However, he was threatened and detained by authorities, then closely monitored by the police.  Shortly after our request for urgent prayer, things greatly improved and the trip became very beneficial. On his return trip no one harassed him, but problems with his ticket threatened to delay his flight home.  God overruled, and after several days flying and staying in airports, he arrived home very tired, but very happy.   Thank you for praying for his safety and a successful trip.  It worked!   Praise the Lord.

Original Prayer Request:

Our missionary Tim is in a Muslim country to train and encourage our national pastors and workers. He has been there before with no major problems from the authorities, but this time he is facing hostile treatment, making his trip very hard and physically exhausting. Tim says Satan is causing many problems and even the small community of believers are under attack. He has been dealing with everything from gossip to drunkenness. Much prayer is needed for the rest of this week and a safe trip home. Thank you!

BIEMs of Light January 2017

Praises Rejoice with us!

  • Right at the moment when the main auditorium of the new church in Bilogorodka was ready for services, a piano for it became available. The sellers had wanted much more for their German-made piano, but they sold their apartment and needed a buyer that very day!
     
  • In Tbilisi, Georgia, Micah Tuttle shares that another soul who once doubted that lifelong sinners could change has come to Christ for salvation—and been changed!
     
  • In Smolin, Ukraine, BIEM missionaries Alexander and Ira Petrenko have at last been able to close on a small house to use for worship services. Praise God for another location where His Word will soon be preached. May locals hear, believe, and accept the Gospel!
     
  • In Kiteni, Peru, missionary Rolando Arias and his wife praise the Lord that, despite sicknesses this past year, they have seen God’s hand working through church services, Bible clubs, their recent Christmas services and other interactions in the community.  

PrayerPray with us!

  • Andrei Eliseev, who leads the Rehabilitation Center near Ternopil, Ukraine, requests prayer for their weekly evangelism at the local tuberculosis dispensary. People often respond to the Gospel with hostility, but recently one man accepted Christ! The following Sunday he brought another of his friends to church. May many more turn to Christ.
     
  • Please continue to pray for believers who evangelize in Russia. One BIEM missionary shared this: “Nadia, who is in her late teens, spoke to a homeless person at the railway station and prayed for him. As soon as she gave the man a Bible, the police immediately approached her and demanded an explanation why she did it. They said they would arrest her the next time they saw her doing so…. The next day, after prayers, Nadia told her father that she would continue to preach the Gospel, but with more caution.”
     
  • In St. Petersburg, Russia, a shelter for the homeless also serves as an evangelistic ministry. Members of an evangelism team take turns studying the Bible with those who live there. Please pray for the believers on the team, and also for the shelter’s residents.
     
  • In Central Asia, missionaries will soon hold their first ever winter retreat for teens. Also, we will soon hold eschatology seminars for Central Asian ministers. Please pray for God’s hand of blessing on both ministries.

December Video Update

Watch this video on Vimeo by either clicking on the following link or by copying and pasting it in your browser:

https://vimeo.com/197418629

This month's video update is from the outskirts of Moscow where BIEM church planter Pavel Rumachik established a drug and alcohol rehab center as a ministry of the church planted in Nahabino, Russia. Early in their ministry, so many drug addicts and alcoholics were reached that a pressing need developed for a program and a place to help these new believers who were struggling with addictions. They began right in their church building with a program that featured Bible Study, personal counseling, and physical labor. Eventually, they moved to the building in the video, which was largely built by the men in the program. This video features Pavel Rumachik speaking about this very successful ministry, which led to several other centers being established in other areas.

  

 

November Video Update

Watch this video on Vimeo by either clicking on the following link or by copying and pasting it in your browser:

https://vimeo.com/193401753

This month's video update is from Chernihiv, Ukraine, the capital of the Chernihiv Oblast (state) which is north of Kiev and stretches all way to the border of Belarus. This city of 300,000 has a rich history going back hundreds of years.  It is a cultural and educational center with a large number of college age students because of the many colleges and universities in the city. This video features Lyosha Savchuk, who is the BIEM church planter in this strategic area.

Challenger Update

Here is a story from our recent Challenger publication.

When it comes to building churches, a major concern in most of the world is justifying the cost of a facility that’s used only a few hours per week. So, there are great advantages to buildings that are usable for more than worship services. Three of BIEM’s current construction projects are examples of buildings that multi-task for their congregations. Since most of you won’t have an opportunity to visit them, let us take you on a brief “tour” via this article.

Bilogorodka, Ukraine

In the early planning stage of this church building, a question arose concerning a basement. Should the building have one? Building from the ground up would be cheaper, but would skipping a basement be shortsighted? Because Bilogorodka is near the capital of Kyiv, discussions led to the realization that, with lodging facilities in a basement level, this location could fill various needs, including:

• Lodging for seminary students.

• Guest quarters for attendees of conferences.

• Pastors’ meetings.

To accommodate such specific goals, the plans were revised to include a full basement with eight bedrooms, restrooms with showers, and a meeting area, plus more rooms and restroom facilities on the second and third levels. The design included a kitchen and eating area. The result was a multi-purpose church building that could house 30–40 people. Long before the building was complete, the downstairs quarters were made available for seminary students, who were thrilled. These new surroundings provided a huge upgrade from the crowded housing situation they had previously endured. Since then, the building has housed mission teams, Christian refugees in transit from the war zone, and pastors who gathered for annual meetings.

Ternopil, Ukraine

Due to the downtown location of this church, the cost of a stand-alone building was far out of reach. The solution, by God’s gracious provision, was to purchase the first floor of an apartment building. (This is an area most typically used for stores, shops, and other businesses in Ukraine.) The first floor that BIEM helped the congregation to buy includes two separate entrances besides the main church entrance. This large downstairs area makes possible multiple uses that dovetail with the church’s outreach to the community.  For instance, church leaders immediately designated basement space to receive and store BIEM’s container shipments of humanitarian aid and ministry equipment. (We’ve already sent one shipment.) BIEM missionary Vitaly Bilyak plans to use another room in the basement as a youth ministry center. A separate entrance from the street leads to two separate rooms, one on the left; another on the right. As the church grows, these will be ideal for developing ministries such as a day-care center, food-pantry, or clinic. Any of these would enhance the ministry of the church and provide opportunities for evangelism.

Shakhovskaya, Russia

Since this community of over 200,000 people has had no Gospel witness (the believers there travel by train to reach the nearest church), this church-building project is the answer to the prayers of pastors and other Christians who have been praying for this city. A second prayer was that God would provide a church planter to shepherd this work. The church-planter God provided brought a big challenge. Brother Andrei, the experienced church-planter called to this work, has a huge family with thirteen children. Where are you going to find a home for so many people? Since blueprints for the building had yet to be created, the solution was to make a good portion of this church building a large parsonage adequate for this family.

Approaching completion

Amazingly, God provided a donor who offered a matching-fund gift large enough to push all three projects to the point of being able to hold services. As these three projects near completion, the last step is to finalize their interiors, including church furnishings and seating. Praise God! And as if that were not blessing enough, BIEM has now received another matching-fund offer of up to $40,000 to match whatever other donors will give toward Church Construction. Thus, if gifts from friends of BIEM add up to $40,000, then those funds will automatically double to $80,000 — enough to furnish these three buildings, plus provide a badly needed roof for the Soroon Women’s Shelter in Central Asia. Dear friend, if you would like to make a special year-end gift for Gospel ministry, this matching-gift offer will maximize your donation’s impact. To finish these jobs, simply designate your gift of any size “Church Construction.” May God bless these constructions, and may He save many souls in their communities!

Slobodian Prayer Letter

Dear Pastors and Friends,

Warm Christmas greetings from the Slobodians! As we celebrate this special time of year in commemoration of God’s great gift of His son, we wish each of you a joyous Christmas and blessed New Year.

As a family we have much to be thankful for.  Looking over the past year we see that God has answered the prayers you have directed towards our family needs.  Amy has fully recovered from her heart surgery one year ago and our grandson Shane Harvey has recovered from the serious concerns connected with the liquid build up around his brain we had mentioned a year ago without needing brain surgery.  

Shane’s older brother Noah who had the heart transplant still needs your prayers.   Though he seems to be fine his doctors at the Children’s hospital have grown increasingly concerned about some of his lab tests that are a regular part of his life.  Though they continue to run tests, as of yet they have not found out why the test results are so troubling.  Please pray that they can find the cause of all this and that it is something that can be treated.   Meanwhile he is not in pain or discomfort and is in fact a happy little boy even though his life is not normal with all the trips to the hospital and the feeding tube he is connected to most of the time.

We are also rejoicing in the recent announcement our daughter Sharon and husband Ashton Brandyberry made that they are expecting their first child the end of March.  This will be our 9th grandchild!

This past year also brought some special ministry blessings. The 2500 children and youth attending our camps this summer was a record and the nearly 500 salvation decisions was rewarding for all those who labored and gave for this ministry.  It was also a blessing to see the return of students this year from the war zone in the East at our training sessions in Kiev.  The seven building projects started last year made significant progress over the past year and each one is complete or close to completion. 

As this year draws to a close there are some needs which need prayer.  Please pray for our brethren in Russia who need wisdom and strength as they deal with the new anti-missionary legislation that has been passed.  Authorities in Eastern Ukraine have also recently made statements against “non-traditional religious organizations“ which generally means anything other than Russian or Ukrainian Orthodox religions.   Pray as well for brother Peter Rumachik as he continues trying to resolve the delay to getting gas to the new church building in Shahovskaya, Russia.  Please pray that they may soon be able to switch from the expensive electric they are now using to the more economical gas.   

Thank-you for the prayers and support you send our way.  We thank the Lord for your heart for His missionary work.  May God bless you all!

The Slobodians

BIEMs of Light December 2016

 

Praises Rejoice with us!

  • Tolik, son of BIEM missionary Nikolai Ryzhuk, underwent back surgery in Moldova in the last week of November. So far, recovery seems to be going well. Tolik was up and walking two days later. Praise the Lord for a Christian surgeon and for this report.
     
  • BIEM praises the Lord for the provision of a $40,000 matching-funds program to push several building projects to some final stages of completion, including needed interior furnishings! Please pray with us that the $40,000 needed comes in.

  • Pastor Andy Counterman, who is BIEM’s Field Director for Latin America, reports exciting progress among the young church planters there. Starting new churches is no breeze. Humanly speaking, it involves much time and energy. But God is blessing. One church is up to 55 people. Another up to 60. Another church planter is reaching native tribes in the jungles… May the Lord continue to bless the ministries of young men on fire for God!
     
  • In Bila Tserkva, Ukraine, BIEM’s Bruce Tuttle speaks of his 10 Bible students and says he is  “delighted with the developments that are noticeable in their fervor and Christian leadership character.” Such words remind us of the Apostle Paul’s pleasure at Timothy’s eager desire to grow in the Word and ministry. Praise God for such young men!

PrayerPray with us!

  • Currently Igor Balashov and an evangelistic team are visiting churches in Siberia in places where “there are many fish, but few fishermen.” In all our prayers for buildings, programs, and resources, may we never forget simply to pray for the Holy Spirit to touch hearts and save souls through the preaching of His Word! (Igor sends thanks for prayers, too!)
     
  • In the past, we have referred to the puppet ministry of the church in Chervona Sloboda, Ukraine. Vitaly Yurchenko writes, “Please pray about upcoming presentations, as we have many scheduled for different places. Christmas is coming, and various churches and orphanages invite us. Pray for these outreaches.”
     
  • In Goncharovsk, Ukraine, missionary Alexander Petrenko has organized a floor hockey club for schoolboys. In addition to the playing their sport, he has Bible lessons with them. He requests prayer for these young men to understand and embrace the Gospel.
     
  • In Shahovskaya, Russia, Pastor Rumachik reports a bureaucratic delay that prevents hooking up a natural gas line to the new church building. This situation forces the believers to continue warming the building with electric space heaters, which is expensive. Please pray for a quick resolution to this delay.

 

BIEMs of Light November 2016

 

PrayerPray with us!

Dear friends, for November we’re dedicating the entire BIEMs sheet to prayer for Russia. This is unusual, but we believe the situation warrants special prayer.

BIEM president Sam Slobodian and a board member traveled to Russia for face-to-face meetings with Russian pastors. Those discussions helped to clarify the controversial new laws in that land. These laws forbid evangelism outside the church by witnessing or handing out literature, and they forbid foreigners from participating in any religious activity period. Fines for violations can be as high as $780 for an individual and $15,500 for a church. Here are some thoughts and concerns we have gathered from Russian pastors and national missionaries:

  • These new laws signify a serious negative stance by the Russian government toward any religious activity other than that conducted by the Russian Orthodox Church, which is exempt from the new restrictions.
     
  • The laws do provide a legal means to witness outside the church, but it requires registration with the government and abiding by strict details, such as proper protocol of how a congregation authorizes named individuals to evangelize outside the church. For example, if a word is capitalized in the wording authorizing this but not capitalized in other church documents, the document legalizing such activity is nullified. Our brethren are very leery of registering their witnessing activities through this provision.
     
  • Our brethren are not surprised by these developments. They have always expected persecution to return. One pastor said, “This whole matter smells like the old Soviet Union.”
     
  • Local authorities are not well informed concerning the details of these laws and have shown a propensity to go beyond them. For example, two Americans (not with BIEM) were arrested and fined. One was charged with violating the law simply for giving a greeting in a church service. The other American was charged with the same offense even though he merely sat in the service. The arresting officers declared him guilty merely for being with the offending party and that even though what was said was a simple greeting, it was an illegal act for a foreigner. Our understanding is that both Americans paid the fines.
     
  • Out of 16 cases the government has prosecuted so far, only one case has resulted in an acquittal. This acquittal involved Hare Krishna members. The other 15 are in appeal.
     
  • There is little hope that constitutional challenges will succeed. One pastor said, “The Russian courts interpret the constitution the way they want to.”
     
  • Attorneys advising Christians say it will take a year to understand the results of these laws.

Keep praying, even after November, that souls may come to Christ regardless of human laws!

 

Slobodian Prayer Letter

Dear Pastors and Friends,

 

Warm greetings from St. Petersburg Russia where despite the cold blowing snow our hearts are warmed by the fellowship of our brethren we have been able to fellowship with in the Moscow area and now here in St. Petersburg.  Our hearts are also warmed by the knowledge that we have many friends and partners in ministry like you who faithfully pray for and support this ministry.

It was a blessing to see the church construction in Shahovskaya, Russia and spend some time with the church planter there brother Andrei Udinseva who was recruited for this ministry by Pastor Peter Rumachik who has spearheaded this church planting project.   Our video update this month contains both of these men giving a word of testimony about this exciting work in the community with over 200,000 with no Gospel witness.  If you are not receiving our monthly video updates which we send out by e-mail and would like to receive them, please let us know.   Also our summer camp report is also available upon request.  Praise God for 2500 children and teens in attendance with 494 salvation decisions!

We were very interested to hear from our brethren concerning the new anti-religious laws that were passed this summer in Russia.  These new laws forbid evangelism outside the church by witnessing or handing out literature and forbid foreigners from participating in any religious activity even inside the church.  Fines for violating these laws can be as high as $780 for an individual and $15,500 for a church or organization.  Following are some thoughts, information and concerns that we have gathered from Russian pastors and national missionaries we have met with.

  1. These new laws are a serious matter that signifies a negative position of the Russian government towards any religious activity except for that conducted by the Russian Orthodox Church, which is exempt from the new restrictions.
  2. Our brethren are not surprised by these developments.  They have always expected that persecution would return.  One pastor said, “This whole matter smells like the old Soviet Union”.
  3. The authorities are not well informed concerning the details of these laws and have shown a propensity to go beyond the laws.  For example two Americans were arrested and fined.  The one was charged with violating the law by simply giving a greeting in a church service.  The other American was charged with the same offense even though all he did was sit in the service.  The arresting officers said that he was guilty for simply being with the offending party even though the offense was simply a public greeting done by a foreigner.  Our understanding is that both Americans paid the fines.
  4. Out of the 16 cases which have been prosecuted by the government thus far, only one case resulted in an acquittal.  This single acquittal was a case involving Hare Krishna church members.  The other 15 are in appeal.
  5. There is little hope that constitutional challenges will succeed.   One pastor said, “The Russian courts interpret their constitution the way they want to.”
  6. It seems that the main target right now is foreigners.  This may change later.
  7. Attorneys advising Christian’s are saying it will take a year to understand the results of these laws.

Please earnestly pray for believers in Russia these days.  May God bless you all!

The Slobodians

October Video Update

WATCH THIS VIDEO ON VIMEO BY EITHER CLICKING ON THE FOLLOWING LINK OR BY COPYING AND PASTING IT IN YOUR BROWSER:

https://vimeo.com/188805094

Dear Pastor and Friends,

This month's video update is from Shahovskaya, Russia, a community of over 200,000 about 2 hours from Moscow.  Shahovskaya is along one of the commuter train routes serving Moscow, and so many people commute this long distance to work a high paying job in the capital city.  This video features church planter brother Andrei Udinseva who was recruited for this ministry by Pastor Peter Rumachik, the spearhead of this church planting project.  

Challenger Update

Here is a story from our recent Challenger publication.

 

Every summer, BIEM sponsors Christian camps in Eastern Europe. This year, your donations helped the Baptist church in Lutsk, Ukraine, to try a first: a camp for kids with disabilities. Due to the unique needs of each child, families wanting to send a special-needs camper also sent one parent. BIEM missionary Valia Yankovska shares her impressions:

I constantly thank God that I can have a role in the lives of young people through ministry in the church. Once again, with the help of the whole BIEM team, we’ve been able to hold an evangelistic

camp, this time for special-needs children and their parents. We prepared diligently, and we were concerned, because this was a first for us.

We held the camp 25 miles from Lutsk. We stayed in a two-story building with rooms for four, six, or eight people. On the first floor we held Bible studies and craft time. We ran the games outside and in the large hall where we had Bible lessons for adults.

We had two puppet shows. One of those presentations was written and performed by mothers of the kids, and that was interesting. At the end, someone needed to summarize the show’s meaning and tie it to the Bible lesson, which Ludmila did. Later she told how hard her heart was beating, but then how “easy it was on her soul” when she’d finished She’s only recently begun to read the Bible. For her, praying before meals was new. She found the Bible to be a wise and interesting book; indeed it holds answers for all her questions. She asked how people can fully obey the Lord and also pursue their own plans and personal life? We spent a lot of time in conversation.

Of course, leaders were busy with the children. To our surprise, all the children were obedient. I’m amazed by their openness, their smiles, and friendliness. Age-wise, some are no longer children, but mentally they are young. Our No. 1 rule is to talk to them normally, without pity, as if to ordinary kids.

These special-needs children were so active in games. They read the Bible aloud, they sang, and they performed all exercises during morning calisthenics. This was exhilarating and instructional for all the children. They tried their hardest, even though it didn’t always work out.

One boy, Victor, always ran to games and calisthenics. Some exercises were hard for him, but he asked his mom to help. His mother, Tanya, was delighted with her son’s camp experience. In camp, he opened up and laughed and was cheerful. At home he was reserved, grumpy, and fearful. How surprised she was when he joined in relay races and even knew how to be a good loser. She cried from joy that you revealed secret sides of her son, and that her boy felt what it’s like to be a needed part of a team, to be like everyone else. When there was a call to repentance, this boy lowered his head and prayed. His mom prayed, too.

Andrei, 15, had a reputation of hurting people. Other kids feared being in the same room with him, even when his mother stood beside him. On the first day, he learned the difference between a winner and a loser, and he tried with all his might to be among the winners. One time he lost at a game. He cried like a little child. But later he realized such things happen and that the first step toward victory is to be victorious over one’s self. He began to obey his mother and leaders. He enjoyed helping and encouraging littler ones. By camp’s end, he was a “kind and gentle bear.”

Some children misbehaved, and they deserved punishment. But Maksim (a leader) volunteered to take the punishment in their place, so he was swatted with stinging nettles. Afterward Maksim explained that Jesus died on the cross for you and for me to take our guilt on Himself so that we can have eternal life with God in Heaven. Andrei absorbed this lesson, and he prayed for forgiveness and salvation. His mother, Elena, works at a school. She has no spare time for training her son. Now, at the end of camp, she seriously wants to fellowship with us. She has seen God at work in her family, and that only He can help her cope with her son.

Luba and her granddaughter Inna, 16, had never been in a camp. (After Luba’s daughter gave birth to a disfigured daughter, the daughter’s husband left them. Luba’s daughter cried for a long while; then she gave Inna to her mother before she, too, departed to start a new life without the disabled daughter.) Luba has raised and schooled her granddaughter at home. Luba told how it hurts that Inna has no friends. When Inna was an infant, it hurt to take her outside. Everyone stared, and children laughed at Inna. Physically, she’s 16, but her mental age is half that, so she has no friends.

Luba said, “When we were invited to church, I was afraid to go. But then I saw and felt the friendliness, understanding, and support. Inna really looks forward to church. At home, she repeats the lessons to her grandfather. And I received Jesus into my heart as my Savior. I’m thankful to those who have given me the chance to be in this camp with my granddaughter. I want to read the Bible, to study it, and wish for my granddaughter to receive salvation, too. It’s sad for me to think about Grandfather and I passing away and Inna having no one to live with. After all, no one needs an ill child, and the retirement home probably wouldn’t accept her. But for now we live in God’s joy, and I ask for the Lord’s mercy concerning the salvation of Grandpa and my granddaughter.”

Inna reads the Bible, and in this way she uplifts herself. It’s a little hard to understand her words, but she reads confidently. In camp she read verses to all of us — and she was happy.

Thank you, friends of BIEM, for caring and for giving to make many, many camps possible. Your love is touching lives for Christ!

Urgent Prayer Request

An Answer to Prayer:

God has answered prayers for our national worker Barnabas, who suffered injury after his truck slid on ice and rolled over 3 times.  His vehicle was totaled.  Less than 3 weeks later, he is joyfully reporting he is feeling “fully recovered.”  He wants people to know how grateful he is to God and how thankful he is for amazing prayer partners.

 

Original Prayer Request:

Our coworker Barnabas lost control of his car when he drove over a patch of ice. Injuries from their accident resulted in the left side of his body being in pain. He is unable to get treatment at the local hospital because there is no electricity in the area. Please pray that Barnabas will be able to receive the medical attention he needs.