New Horizons L’viv is undergoing many changes and growing all the time. We changed buildings in 2015, roughly doubling our meeting space and adding room for our coffee ministry. We all remember thinking then, “Oh, this will last us for a while!” Well…here we are in March already considering going back to two services and praying again for a larger building, because most Sundays find us with no open chairs and multiple people in our “overflow” room in the cafe! The cafe is more than twice the size of our previous fellowship space, but every week it is packed full after service, with people standing in line for coffee and enjoying fellowship with brothers and sisters.
The church continues to be made up primarily of young people and students, but we’re also seeing an increase in couples, families, and a few older people. It’s also very exciting to see that God is growing the Body through marriages and multiple pregnancies among our members.
Home fellowships started this month. We have four different groups meeting throughout the city, and we look forward to the growth they will bring in people’s lives and in church unity. We’re also changing the format of our Saturday night services. Each Saturday of the month, we will hold a different service: fellowship and game night, “believers’ meeting”, men’s and women’s Bible study, and cafe night. We hope that through these various meetings, the church will meet some needs that we’ve been identifying for the past months: needs for increased fellowship, prolonged times of worship and addressing topics of concern specifically for the men and women.
Both Josh and Nicole serve among the leadership of the church, which is meeting on a regular basis for vision planning and training. Nicole was involved for several months in a project to create a ministry manual for New Horizons, which defines the church vision and provides training material for leaders to utilize in individual ministries. We are all now meeting to discuss how we can practically strive for excellence in each ministry, and the church is holding regular trainings for all the Body’s volunteers. We’ve learned that in a church of roughly 100 people, almost 50 of them volunteer to serve in one or even several ministries. With the continual growth, each person is invaluable, and we are praying for wisdom in guiding these volunteers, as well as recruiting more to serve the growing church Body.
Josh is also running the English Club every week. They took a month off for the holidays in December and January, but are now back to a regular meeting that is attended by about 20 people each time. The students who come include believers and unbelievers, and the club is primarily aimed at developing relationships with people. Last week, Josh shared the Gospel during the meeting. While there was no direct response at that time, it was evident that people were considering the message. Please be in prayer for those who don’t yet know the Lord, that their hearts would be stirred to seek Him!
Worship Ministry is also in a state of change and growth. Nicole is still serving as overseer and is now back to leading the Sunday services, after taking several months off for pregnancy complications. We are in the process of adding some new members and incorporating the vision planning and training that the church leadership is providing. We now begin practices with a brief devotional about Biblical principles of worship, and Nicole is looking for specific opportunities throughout practice times to address spiritual and practical aspects of leading worship. We are also holding regular meetings for all involved in worship, sound and words ministries. The goal of these meetings is to increase fellowship and unity among the team and to provide spiritual and practical training.
Closely related, Josh continues to lead the Sound and Words Ministries, which is responsible for running the sound system and providing lyrics for worship at each service. He and a young woman named Galya (to whom we’ve introduced you in the past) are the primary sound technicians, and they have been training a third technician in the past months. The Words Ministry is in need of more people to serve, and Josh is also focusing on training and discipleship for those who are already involved.
We continue to engage in Discipleship, both separately and as a couple. In 2015, we developed a pre-marital counseling program for the church and have now worked through it with two different couples. One of those couples, Vitali and Kristina, were married in September. It’s a blessing and privilege to continue watching them grow as a young family, and we enjoy sweet fellowship with them. They recently began studying at a local Christian ministry program, focusing on learning how to provide counseling and personal discipleship.
We still love to have other couples and families over to our house for fellowship. Please pray for one of those families, who do not yet know the Lord personally. The Lord also recently brought a new family to the church from another city, and we’re so enjoying their friendship! They have been married roughly the same length of time as we have, and they have a little boy just months older than Nora. The two kids have become great friends, and we love spending time with them!
Nicole continues to meet with two or three women from the church most weeks. These young women are precious sisters in the Lord who are growing, serving and constantly a blessing! Galya comes over every week and has been a faithful member of the church for years. She helps Josh run the Sound Ministry and also serves in Children’s Ministry and Words Ministry. For a number of months, she has felt a stirring in her heart to serve in more ways. Galya is a talented painter by vocation, and she is seeing that God uses those talents to bless and serve others. She also recently started meeting with a new believer from the church to provide discipleship. It’s been a difficult season of life for her recently, and her father is battling continued serious health problems. Please pray for her dad, that he would recover and that he would come to know the Lord. Please also pray for Galya and her family, that they would have peace and wisdom in making decisions.
Surely the first family update people always want is to know about Nora! She is now two and a half and a full fledged toddler. Nora talks all the time and is starting to speak in sentences. She still practices some Ukrainian words, but we hope to find more practical opportunities for her to learn the language. Her favorite pastimes now are reading books and doing puzzles, and it’s great to watch her little mind at work as she figures things out. Nora absolutely loved Christmas this year! She memorized many of the popular Christmas songs, and we finally had to cut her off from playing Christmas music in the house at the end of January! Nora is still very social and loves going to church to play with her friends. We’re trying to prepare her for having a baby brother, which she now talks about all the time. Hopefully that means she has at least some idea of what is coming in her little life!
Baby boy is now 26 weeks along, and we (especially Nicole) are counting down! There have been no further complications to the pregnancy, and the baby appears to be developing on schedule. He’s extremely active and lets us all know that he’s bound to be a busy little boy. This pregnancy has been a much bigger challenge than Nora’s was for Nicole. While there have been no additional threats to baby’s safety, there have been many more discomforts and difficulties, both physical and emotional. In addition, Nicole has decided that she has never felt more like a missionary than she does being pregnant in Ukraine! Prenatal care and childbirth are far more complicated here than she experienced with Nora. At the same time, we’re thankful to have great doctors and a wonderful support system in our family and friends, both here and in the States. Some of you have asked what our plans are for the birth. We will be staying in L’viv to have the baby at a local hospital. Nicole’s current doctor expects a normal, healthy birth, and the doctor who will deliver the baby is a Christian woman we have met on a number of occasions. We’re thankful to the Lord for providing her!
As we mentioned in our last update, we are especially thankful to have a much healthier winter this year, and we’ve been fighting only occasional minor flu and cold bugs this season. We did learn recently, though, that Nicole has kidney stones. Unfortunately, there is no safe treatment during pregnancy, so she’s eating a restricted diet and praying those stones stay put until after the baby comes!
We are again looking for renters for our house in Indiana, so please be in prayer that our property manager would quickly find good tenants. We’ve been in our house here for one year now, and we are praying about God’s will for the future in that area. We still love this house, but we learned after moving in that the landlord’s dog (who lives next door and shares outdoor space with us) is a biter. We’re able to take necessary precautions for now, but with two kids and continually having guests over to our home, it’s not a great situation for the long run. We are praying that God would only open the door to a new place when it’s His timing. We are also praying that God might lead us to something with a yard for the kids to play in and where we could entertain guests.
Praises and Prayers
Praise the Lord with us for:
- Continued growth in the church, both in numbers and in people’s lives
- New ministries that God has begun in the church
- Fruit in the worship ministry, as members grow in their service and walks with God
- A healthy pregnancy and baby!
- Better health overall this winter
- God’s blessings on our marriage, drawing us closer in the past months
Please pray with us for:
- Galya’s father, for his healing and salvation, and for provision of all their needs
- Salvation for our friends and for those attending English
- Physical healing for one of the worship team members
- Continued protection of the baby and a healthy delivery
- Encouragement and emotional strength, as we continue to face a great deal of spiritual attack in these areas
- God’s will to be done in our housing situation and for renters in Indiana