News

Challenger Update

Here is an excerpt from our most recent Challenger publication.

Summer camps provide a wonderful way to introduce children, teens, and young adults to the Gospel! Camps lift young people out of their routine and provide a wholesome atmosphere where they enjoy nourish- ing food, fun games, God-honoring music, Bible teaching, and handcrafts — all with adult leaders who reflect God’s love for them. We can’t thank you enough for your prayers and donations to make summer camps possible, but let us share quick peeks at some of the camps. This year, combined reports indicate 1,019 souls repented of sin and accepted Christ as Savior!

“My name is Julia. I’m 17. This summer I served in a camp with disabled children. My ministry was leading games. In order for this to be fun and interesting for them, I tried to prepare games accord- ing to their abilities. With great joy I observed each camper. A few moments were difficult for them, but then my team would assist them. Even the grandmothers and moms who accompanied them would get involved. This camp united us and created camaraderie. In the end, when you see a tired smile, your heart just rejoices at their joy.

“It’s so painful and hard to be in their situation. How thankful I am to God for my salvation and health.

“Thank you very much for your financial blessing, that I could help such kids at least a little bit and have a share in their difficult lives.”

More pictures and stories from this summer’s camps are featured in the Challenger.

Challenger Update

Here is an excerpt from our most recent Challenger publication.

Recently one of BIEM’s dear friends, Pastor Peter Rumachik, passed away. This Challenger includes a special tribute to his life. For the rest of the article, please read the Challenger!

If you were asked to name just one Christian from our time who had lived an exemplary life for God despite great pressure, which one would you name? For many believers around the globe, the choice would be Peter Vasilievich Rumachik.

On January 29, this faithful servant of God (and long- time friend of BIEM) passed to his eternal reward at the age of 87. But who was Peter Rumachik? What makes him so respected among believers? Let’s glorify God by taking a brief look at how He led in Peter’s life.

Early life

Peter was born in the Soviet Union in 1931, the period when Stalin’s atheistic government was already working to strangle the church and eradicate faith in God. Because his mother was a Christian, Peter heard the Gospel from a young age. He and his closest childhood friend Victor regularly met to read the Bible together.

So, even as a boy, Peter believed in God, and he understood the only way to Heaven was by God’s grace through faith in the Savior, Jesus Christ. Yet, he saw the reality as the atheistic authorities imprisoned active Christians, confiscated Bibles, and seized places of worship. Understanding how difficult life could be for a Christian in the Soviet Union, at age 16 Peter made a decision about becoming a child of God. “Not right now, and not even in my youth or when I’m middle aged, but I’ll follow the path of Christ when I am per- haps 50 or 60.”

However when his best friend died at age 18, Peter realized he had no guarantee of living to old age. He could die any time. Three months later, cutting through snowy woods, he knelt in the snow and prayed, putting his trust in Jesus Christ. In 1948 he was baptized.

Becoming active

Peter once recalled, “From the very beginning of my turning to the Lord, I believed deeply in my Savior, loved Him, and strove to serve Him in any way.”

The period from 1955– 1960 became particularly memorable for him. During those years he played an active role in preaching and assisting to start a house church in the Moscow suburb of Dyedovsk. By the end of the 1950s, the authorities had fined Peter and the other preachers multiple times. In 1961 the authorities began conducting searches of their homes. The authorities brought criminal charges against Peter and four others: starting an illegal church, holding crowded meetings in a home, allowing children to be present at church, and for disobedience to the VSEKhB (the government-registered and controlled group of Evangelical Christian- Baptist churches). He and the others were put on trial and punished by being exiled to Siberia’s primitive Krasnoyarsk region.

Continued in the Challenger.

 

Prayer Request

BIEM church planter Vitaly Bilyak and a team of dedicated children’s workers have launched a new orphanage ministry in Ternopil, Ukraine. They have made several trips to a nearby orphanage and established good rapport with the director. Now that a ministry team is in place, please pray for this monthly outreach to the nearly 150 needy orphans.

Challenger Update

Here is an excerpt from our most recent Challenger publication.

In October, BIEM’s newest secretary, Lauren, traveled to Ukraine with members of Mt. Tabor Baptist Church in Lebanon, Indiana. Here she shares impressions from that trip.

I can honestly say this trip has been the answer to a long-held dream. I went to Ukraine for the first time when I was twelve, and have dreamed of going back ever since.

While I loved many things about this trip — the Ukrainian countryside, traveling, and don’t get me started on the food!—as I look back over my pictures, the people stood out the most.

When I boarded the airplane for this trip, the only people I really knew were Sam and Amy, my coworkers from BIEM. I will admit I was nervous about spending a week and a half with strangers. But God removed that fear immediately. The Lord gave our motley crew great unity. I got to watch our group take care of each other by carrying bags, deciphering names of food, and sharing hair-doing skills.

Our group was made up of ten people from Indianapolis, a couple from Canada, and Sam and Amy. The youngest member of our group was Derek (age eleven). I was next youngest; everyone else was over fifty. One of the couples from Indy was also blind. While in Ukraine, we were accompanied by Eugene (BIEM’s Ukrainian director) and Igor, who served as our drivers. Church planter Lyosha was our interpreter.

Our main purpose for the trip was to participate in widows’ and orphans’ services in a number of the different churches BIEM supports. Some of the services were held in local orphanages or boarding-school facilities. We also had the opportunity to visit two of the Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation centers run by BIEM personnel or local pastors. In the process, we did a lot of driving. We stayed in Bilogorodka, just west of Kyiv in the Second Baptist Church of Bilogorodka, pastored by BIEM’s Director for Ukraine, Eugene Buyko.

Our trip was punctuated by excellent meals, great conversations, and so much laughter. As I look at the pictures, I can almost hear the laughter. I know very little Russian and Ukrainian, but every once in a while I would get the jokes.

Since we spent most of the trip traveling hither and yon, we spent a lot of time in the two vans. Combine bad suspension, bumpy roads, and a fully European driver, and it makes for some exciting adventures. I rode in the blue van, driven by Igor Fomichov, one of BIEM’s church planters. Igor and our interpreter Lyosha (another church planter) shared many laughs throughout the trip. And anytime that Sam, Eugene, Igor, and Lyosha get together, laughter is sure to ensue.

And the people. The people are beautiful, from the impulsive hugs of little children to long, broken conversations in the van. We met widows who were so grateful for a simple bag of groceries. We met kids who were excited for gifts and love. I got to reconnect with the wives of several church planters, whom I have met over the past year, when they have visited the BIEM office.

And their stories. Over the course of the trip, we got to hear testimonies from several BIEM church planters and other Christians. From Vitaly Yurchenko surviving being in the affected zone on the day Chernobyl exploded, to Igor Fomichov’s dramatic transformation from a life of drugs and crime, I am so grateful for the grace of our Lord, who sees value in all people, the broken, the prideful, the scared, the disabled, and the criminal.

I have no pictures of one of my favorite parts of the trip. On Friday night, after a long day visiting the Philadelphia Rehab Center in Fastiv, plus the Velykоpolovetske orphanage (an hour away from Fastiv), and finishing with a widows’ service at the River of Life Baptist Church in Fastiv, we were finally heading back to Bilogorodka. It was probably 9:30 at night, and we had an hour and a half drive over fairly bad roads. I was sitting towards the front of the van, chatting with Lyosha and Igor, when Igor asked whether I can sing. Igor’s English is about equal to my level of my Russian — very limited. But many hymns have been translated into Russian. So we sang. We sang all the verses of all the hymns we could remember, and when they knew the songs, the Ukrainians joined in. We sang all the way back. There is something about worship that is beautiful in any language, even if you don’t understand what is being said.

I returned home with a renewed love for a country on the other side of the world, for a language I barely under- stand, and for people I call my brothers and sisters in Christ. Please pray for these families as they reach out to their communities to impact lives for Christ. Please pray for the continued influence of the connections made through the widows’ services. For many of the widows, it was their first time in church. While many of the widows we interacted with were older, a number were younger women, widowed by the conflict that continues in Eastern Ukraine. And please pray for us who went on the trip, that God would continue to teach us and mold our hearts through this experience.

Throughout the course of this trip, over 700 widows and orphans heard the Gospel and received help. Pastors of the churches involved report they have gained regular attenders from these meetings. May the Lord work in hearts to save souls and make them church members!

 

 

Challenger Update

Here is an excerpt from our most recent Challenger publication.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, that God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

 This fall, BIEM missionaries in Ukraine are once again organizing special meetings for two distinct categories of people: widows and orphans. The services for widows will share the Gospel, plus a meal, and each woman who doesn’t own a Bible will receive one along with a sack of helpful items. The services for kids will be held primarily in orphanages. Typically, the kids hear a Bible lesson where they learn about Jesus, and children’s Christian literature will be distributed along with an age-appropriate “care package” for each child.

Why the special outreaches? Pastor Sergei Debelinsky, one of BIEM’s first church planters and President of the Brotherhood of Independent Baptist Churches of Ukraine, explains:

“Probably most people wonder about the meaning of their lives: why we’re alive, what we can change, and what we should be doing. God’s plan for believers is to live for others, to live a life whose purpose is serving others. Intrinsic in the Bible verse above is the idea that God has prepared for us a field in which to perform ministry services. He expects us to do them as if for Him....

“Probably one of the most famous Scriptures concerning good deeds is ‘Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the father- less and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world’ (James 1:27). God expects His people to have a special mindset concerning orphans and widows. His will is that they be visited and given assistance as a smaller imitation of God, as it is written, “a father of the fatherless and a judge of the widows, is God in His holy habitation...” (Ps. 68:5).

 Not just hearers of the Word, Sergei and his wife have adopted numerous orphans. Passionate on this topic, he points out additional Scriptures:

  • In Exodus 22:22 God protects them: “Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.”

  • In Psalm 146:9, God portrays Himself as aiding them: “The Lord...relieveth the fatherless and widow.”

  • Through Isaiah 1:17, He calls upon us who believe in Him to aid them: “Learn to do well...  relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.”

In Ukraine today, the pension a widow receives isn’t large, only $100–$150/ month, depending on work history. And numerous widows are far from elderly. These are young women who have lost their husbands in the military conflict that continues in the East. Believers can guide such women to spiritual truths amidst their loss and despair. In God, widows and orphans can find fresh hope, meaning, and support.

Sergei advises, “It’s precisely when the wound is bleeding that we must apply God’s balm for healing and hope. We must hurry to do good deeds, remembering the transience of a person’s life. The opportunities that are available today may not exist tomorrow....

“These people don’t just happen to be near us. God allows them to be near us, and He expects something from you and me concerning them.”

Sometimes, widows who first enter a church for these services take an interest in the Gospel. Some accept Jesus Christ as Savior. And no one can count the number of orphans who gain a Heavenly Father through loving Christians.

BIEM appreciates these special opportunities to reflect God’s love. A minimum of $6,000 is needed for gifts to be distributed. However, in order to magnify the potential, we hope to raise $12,000.

 

 

Prayer Request

Every summer, BIEM supports many camps in Ukraine, Russia, and other countries.

Please pray with us for many children to attend camps as well as much fruit to arise from God's Word going forth! The seeds planted during these camps continue to bear fruit for months and years to come. Read some stories about the continuing effect of summer camps in our most recent Challenger

If you are interested in supporting BIEM's work with summer camps, you can donate online, by phone at 317-718-1633, or by mail at P.O. Box 707 Danville IN, 46219. 

Challenger Update

Here is an excerpt from our most recent Challenger publication.

In the 1990s, Pavel Rumachik of Dyedovsk, Russia, approached BIEM with a question: “If we Russians do the work of construction ourselves, do you think our American brothers and sisters in Christ might help with funds to build a church?”

It was an excellent question. Up to that point, BIEM had requested dona- tions for evangelism, Bibles, Christian literature, and other projects, but back then we’d never attempted to raise funds for a church building. We put the matter before our supporters, and God’s people responded enthusiastically!

Now twenty years have passed since Truth Baptist Church opened its doors in Nahabino, Russia. Through this church, God has worked mightily to save sinners from all walks of life. However, because many of the church’s very first converts were drug addicts, early on this congregation emphasized ministry among people with substance dependencies. As a result, they have led the way in opening multiple Christian rehabilitation centers for alcoholics and drug addicts, which in turn have freed many more souls from the shackles of sin and guided them to new life in Christ.

Concerning the church’s 20th anniversary celebration, Pastor Pavel gives full credit to the Lord: “First of all, we thank God that twenty years ago He founded a church in Nahabino. We held a special service of praise to the Lord. Our theme came from the central portion of Psalm 136. We used it to help us recall the mercies, which the Lord bestowed on us twenty years ago. As pastor, I read the first part of each verse describing God’s blessings, for example, ‘O, give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good.’ Then the entire congregation continued in unison, ‘For his mercy endureth forever.’ In this way, I pronounced twenty-two mercies aloud to the church, and twenty-two times the church responded about the eternal mercy of God. It was such a triumphant service!”

The whole congregation sang the Russian hymn “Let Everyone Exalt Christ.” A Christian orchestra led the congrega- tion and visiting friends in much praising. This orchestra included trumpets, violins, a guitar, a piano, synthesizer, flute, and triangle. The musicians were adults, but also children who study in music school.

With obvious enthusiasm, Pavel continued his description. “Two choirs — one all males, and one of mixed men and women — sang majestically. Of course, our children, youth, families, and guests also praised the Lord. The hymn ‘All Earth Is Full of Your Grace’ accompanied by an orchestra was a wonderful adornment. We had two sermons. The Lord has blessed us, and we rejoiced.”

After the service, everyone stayed for a delicious dinner. Women of the church provided a wide variety of flavorful dishes, which contributed to the fellow- ship and festive atmosphere.

Later that evening, the anniversary continued at a second service, which included participation by more guests, some of whom had traveled far distances to join in the celebration. In that service, church members shared many recollec- tions of God’s blessings in the spiritual founding of the church, and in the con- struction of their building.

Pastor Pavel’s father, Peter Rumachik (86) spent eighteen and a half years in Soviet prisons and labor camps for being an active Christian. During Soviet days, he never expected to see such blessings in his lifetime, and he, too, shared a short message from God’s Word. In conclusion, everyone watched a slide presentation about the history of the church.

Pastor Pavel offered these final words to BIEM concerning their day of remembering and rejoicing: “Praise God for everything! May the Lord bless all of us to praise Him, and to be faithful to Him, as we await the soon-coming return of the Savior for us!”

 

Challenger Update

Here is an excerpt from our most recent Challenger publication.

BIEM’s shipments of 40-ft. containers of humanitarian aid and church equipment are especially effective evangelistic tools. They open hearts to the Gospel, help new churches, and they lift up churches’ testimonies in their communities. Learn the encouraging details, in the words of Ukrainians themselves...

It’s such a blessing to see BIEM meeting not only spiritual needs in Ukraine, but also material needs. Because the economic crisis in Ukraine has dragged on for decades, people have seen humanitarian aid more than once. They distinguish good aid from a pile of rags. People who receive assistance from us are always grateful, because BIEM sends quality items.

When I consider the whole humanitarian-aid process — from receiving donated garments in Indiana all the way to distribution in churches, orphanages, and rehabilitation centers in Ukraine — I see the church of Jesus Christ united in fulfilling the Great Commission. Every carton of clothing, every chair, each blanket, is a token of God’s love, sent to Ukraine by brothers and sisters in America. This isn’t just a mountain of stuff. It’s carefully packed boxes of love in the form of folded blouses, sweaters, and pants.

When Eugene Buyko and I visited BIEM in America last spring, we helped to load a container. The process of shipping and receiving such aid is laborious. First, most of the clothing received at BIEM’s warehouse gets hand-sorted by volunteers. Sorting and packing requires much more than a few days. When the warehouse is full, it’s time to order a sea container. Once again, loading requires volunteers.

When loading, volunteers fill the container compactly. No empty space is left. The top is reserved for bulky or fragile things: bicycles, wheelchairs, cribs, strollers, etc. During loading, someone counts and logs each item. When full, the container undergoes fumigation. At last, a truck hauls the container to a port, where it’s loaded onto a ship. Transit takes two months.

Our Ternopil church enjoys good collaboration with Social Services in our city. They know people who truly need help and accompany them to our church on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We offer everyone Christian literature, plus a children’s Bible if they have kids.

Employees of Social Services feel at home in the church. I was talking to one, and he referred to it as “our church.” I smiled. I like this trend. We pray that people, “seeing your good deeds, glorify God” (1 Peter 2:12).

Friends, once more I want to express to you great thanks for your ministry to Ukraine through humanitarian aid.

— Vitaly Bilyak, Ternopil

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thank you for your prayers and for the material aid, which is so vital. In the economic collapse in our land, there’s much poverty. The brothers and sisters of various churches are grateful for the clothing you provide. This clothing is vital for us, since not many people can buy new things. Our churches receive small offerings, so we’re unable to buy church furniture. So chairs, tables, and other things from the container are really useful.

Here, not many can buy a car, especially in villages. When one brother received a bicycle as a gift, he was ecstatic. Now he gets around much more quickly.

Surrounding our church is a chain-link fence. Where did we get the fencing? From a container, of course! You can’t imagine how much you help us. Without your aid, our missionaries couldn’t have established a single church. Not one church building has been built without your help, because we are “labourers together with God” (1 Cor. 3:9).

Over and over, I want to express appreciation to you for your invaluable support. May the Lord bless you!

— Vitaly Yurchenko

Please consider giving towards the costs of shipping containers so that we can continue to further the Gospel through humanitarian aid. For more stories of how humanitarian aid has blessed people in Ukraine and surrounding areas, click here. 

Challenger Update

Here is a story from our most recent Challenger publication.

In August, Central Asian evangelist Elijah and his family saw God work in wonderful ways as they delivered mp3s with the New Testament, Bible lessons, Christian songs, and testimonies in Central Asian languages such as Tajik, Kyrgyz, Uzbek, and Russian.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My name is Erkin. Because of my illness, I’m completely blind. I have been with Christ four years. I do not read and cannot move without help. Not long ago I was operated on and I began to see the glory of God. Still, to my great regret, I cannot read the Word of God. But not long ago God made me a wonderful gift. From the city came a minister [Elijah] and blessed me and gave me an mp3. I did not even know there is such a thing as mp3. Now I listen to the Word of God whenever I want. I am very grateful to God for such a wonderful gift. I do not have to ask someone to read the Word of God to me; now I listen to the Word of God when I want! Thanks to my God and those who donated their finances for this blessing. May God bless you abundantly.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My name is Jyldyz. I was born in 1964. In 2015 I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I cannot
read the Word of God. I only listen to God’s Word in church. My eyesight is -9. God heard my prayers and through the ministers gave me an mp3 from which I can hear the Word of God. This is an incomparable blessing. When I received the mp3 into my hands, my tears began to ow. I am infinitely grateful to God and Jesus Christ. Thanks to all who have contributed to the spread of the Word of God.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This year I will turn 89. My name is Vitaly. Since I see poorly, my wife wrote for me in large letters verses from the Scriptures every day. I could not read the Word of God, but now I have an mp3, and through it I listen to God’s Word. I was so glad when I was given this player. It is my dearest gift in life. When I received it, I did not let it out of my hand and enjoyed it all the time. I was edified by the Word of God and did not give it even to my wife. She took offense. [He laughs.] She complained to her friend about this and told God’s servants who distributed the mp3s. Finally, my desire was fulfilled; the Lord heard my wife’s prayer and answered. Now we listen to the Word of God together. All glory to God.

Gifts designated “Central Asia Ministry” will purchase more Here it Now! (HIN) players. Can you help?

July 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/225293122


Praise God for the wonderful privilege of serving Him together with you in spreading the glorious Gospel to a needy world.

This month's video update comes from western Ukraine where church planter Vitaly Bilyak operates a Christian Drug and Alcohol Rehab center outside the city of Ternopil where their church is located.  This ministry had a pressing need for a vehicle since it was taking the men 2 1/2 hours to travel to church through a combination of walking and public transportation.  One of our recent projects was to raise funds for a vehicle to meet this need.  

Praise God that, when this project was shared in the churches that Vitaly recently visited, this need was met!  In this video, brother Vitaly expresses gratefulness for this great blessing for the ministry.

 

Challenger Update

Here is a story from our most recent Challenger publication.

When a sinner repents, Heaven rejoices. In our church, we too greatly rejoiced. Victor is a man for whom we have prayed a long time. He actively helped in building our church. He became the first person whose heart found peace in Christ after many years of wandering in darkness.

Victor came from the world, from a non-Christian family. All of Victor’s life passed without the Lord; therefore, when he repented that was a special event for us. Tears of joy welled in our eyes. We sang hymns of praise and thankfulness. The whole church got on their knees and gave praise to the Creator for this saved sinner.

However, while the church was rejoicing, the enemy of mankind’s souls was pre- paring a serious trial for Victor to shake his faith. When Victor’s wife learned he had repented, she began pressuring him psychologically. For two weeks she would not talk with her husband. Later she used words to pressure him at any opportunity. On Sunday mornings before worship service she would say, “Don’t forget to give away all the tithe to your church.” (That was as if to say, “Take all our money and give it to your church.”)

Friends and relatives wondered how it was possible he would no longer drink alcohol. They wondered if Victor had fallen into a cult.

It takes courage to openly declare you’ve become a follower of Christ, that you want to change your life, especially when everyone around you is far from God. There’s a risk everyone will turn away and say that you’ve lost your mind. But Victor had thought through his decision with regard to the Gospel and Christ. He openly said: “I am a believer. I no longer drink!” Thank God for his decision and courage. This was the first fruit of his repentance. 

For a long time, Victor has taken medicine for his heart and blood pressure. He has bottles of medicines standing on the windowsill in a certain order, so even with his eyes closed he can take the right one and make no mistake. One evening he came home after a hard day of work, and he took his pills, drank the necessary dose and...felt oddly. He lay down and all his body felt weightless. Victor thought he was dying. It turned out his daughter-in-law had unwittingly shuffled the medicines. As a result, he took ten times the normal dose of one medicine! When Viktor finally began to feel better, his concerned wife said tenderly: “Victor, go to your church. You will sing psalms. It will help you feel better.”

His wife’s new, softened attitude is a huge answer to prayer. Fellow church members in Ukraine were praying, and so were Americans Victor had met when they visited Bilogorodka to help with the church’s construction. People on both sides of the ocean prayed fervently.

There will be more trials in Victor’s future. We are praying, and we ask that you, dear brothers and sisters, please support Victor in prayer, that the Lord be with him in all his paths and give him peace of heart.

Thank you again to each of you who donated to BIEM’s church construction fund, which in turn led to Victor’s repentance. Saving sinners is the heart of ministry!

BIEMs of Light July 2017

Praises Rejoice with us!

  • The financial need for the summer camps has been met! These camps for children and teens have already begun, so this is also a prayer request for God to work through them.
  • In Ukraine, two dedication ceremonies took place in June: the new church in Bilogorodka and the completely rebuilt Rehabilitation Center outside Ternopil. Both of these facilities turned out even better than imagined and stand out as wonderful testimonies.
  • Last month, we asked that you pray for our shipping container to arrive quickly and pass through Ukrainian Customs. It did! The cargo of chairs included in this shipment arrived in the nick of time to seat everyone at the Bilogorodka dedication service! Praise the Lord!
  • We also requested prayer that two foreign-born coworkers be granted visas to visit the USA. God granted this request! In May and part of June, Igor (church planter in Ukraine) and Sasha (a BIEM national missionary in a restricted country) were able to visit many churches, where they preached and shared directly about their respective mission fields.

PrayerPray with us!

  • In a restricted-access nation in Central Asia, 50 children came for camp. A number of them made professions of faith in Christ, but 6 in particular gave evidence of truly understanding their need of Christ.  Later, after local policemen threatened and intimidated our BIEM missionary against preaching and holding services, 90 people came for family camp. There, 8 former Muslims placed their trust in Christ as Savior! Please pray for continuing fruit and for safety for our personnel.
  • In Peru, missionary Wilber Huillca and others will soon begin creating an audio recording of the Bible in Yine, the language of one of the tribal groups in the Peruvian jungle. Please pray for God to bless and use this project to save many more souls for His Kingdom.
  • In Belarus, even though BIEM missionary Nikolai Ryzhuk’s spinal condition is better (less painful) than previously, he still cannot perform manual labor or drive long distances. Please pray for relief for this brother.
  • BIEM’s missionary Micah Tuttle (Republic of Georgia) shares this request, which all of our missionaries could echo: “As you pray for us, pray for a sincere love for men’s souls, for a bold courage in our witness, for a pure heart before God, and for a steadfast faithfulness in this ‘good’ fight. We are very much aware of the need for prayer support back home and are incredibly thankful for your prayers, your love, and your financial support!”

Urgent Prayer Request

Our missionary Tim and his family are courageously serving the Lord in a country strongly opposed to Christians. The spiritual attacks have been increasing weekly especially from false believers who try to destroy their ministry. Recently, Tim held a camp for children and there were 6 campers who accepted Jesus as their Savior and 2 other people who have just come to Christ. Now he is being summoned to appear before the authorities. Please pray God will intervene in this meeting and preserve their ministry there. Pray also for these new converts who are already facing strong opposition for trusting Christ.

BIEMs of Light June 2017

Praises Rejoice with us!

  • With God’s blessing and help from friends, we are progressing toward our goal for summer camp programs. At this time last month, we needed $26,000 to match last year’s level of $40,000. As of this writing, the need is down to $16,600. Thanks to all who are giving!
  • Our missionary Nikolai Ryzhuk had been hospitalized with severe back pain. Although he is still unable to do physical labor, we rejoice that he is able to walk and attend evangelistic tent meetings held in Drogichin, Belarus, in May. But continue praying.
  • BIEM has been hosting 2 of our Ukrainian church planters who are in the U.S. for the first time and visiting churches to share their ministries in person. Also, Vitaly Keller of Russia is visiting U.S. churches too. These meetings with supporters are mutual encouragements!
  • A second soul has come to Christ in Bilogorodka! Although Pastor Eugene Buyko’s father-in-law helped in the church’s construction, he had been skeptical of non-Orthodox believers for years. Working alongside our believers convinced him the Gospel is true. Praise God!

PrayerPray with us!

  • BIEM’s most recent shipping container of supplies was due to reach the Ukrainian port on June 1. Because this container includes items for the new church plant in Bilogorodka (hundreds of chairs, tables, pulpit, several hundred Bibles), please pray the Lord will speed its way through customs to reach the church before dedication Sunday on June 18.
  • The church in Ternopil, Ukraine, requests we pray for God to supply a youth pastor for their church. A university city, Ternopil has about 40,000 students. Opportunities for outreach abound, but missionary pastor Vitaly Bilyak is limited as he serves as pastor and oversees the youth, too. He hopes God will send a youth minister in the near future.
  • In the military city of Desna, Ukraine, literally thousands of soldiers must march past the church building on their way to showers.  Pastor Igor hopes to mount an electronic sign on the building to highlight Bible verses and give church information. Please pray that God would enable and direct in this exciting evangelistic project.
  • BIEM praises God for the $7,000+ that donors have sent to provide relief for the churches and Christian families hurt by this spring’s flooding in Peru. Please pray for these brothers and sisters as they repair their homes and church buildings. More gifts are welcome since it will take some time to recover.

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

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.