Church and Ministry News
In early December, our family celebrated two full years here in L’viv! We recently attended a leadership meeting at our church where Mike Pratt, Nicole’s dad and our pastor, reminisced about the early days of Calary Chapel in Ukraine. Nicole’s family first moved to Ukraine in 1995, and he was recalling that in those days, the church met in a Soviet style building with no heat and dim lighting. It was so cold that the worship team members wore full coats and gloves and you could see your breath in front of you…and yet, the church was full of eager, hungry people, longing for a real relationship with Christ. Things have changed alot since then…we’re toasty warm on Sunday mornings…but people still need Jesus and His healing touch…they still need the support of a loving church family. We feel privileged to be a part of God’s work here in L’viv.
New Horizons once again has two Sunday services to accommodate the growing Body. This is both a blessing, as so many new people are coming, and a challenge, because there are greater ministry demands as a result. Sunday morning ministries include ushers and greeters, worship and sound, children’s ministry, coffee shop, set up, clean up and tear down, as well as the many random needs that arise on a given week. We’re blessed to have hard working volunteers, and we’re looking for more and more people to get involved. Even before going to two services, many of our volunteers helped out in three or four different ministries! We continue to hold occasional trainings, where the goal is to disciple volunteers and church leaders in servant-minded leadership. The church also continues to hold youth group every Friday night, and we have two home fellowship groups meeting in different parts of L’viv.
In September we held the annual Western Ukraine Calvary Chapel Conference, where four churches participated and over 100 people attended. This year we had Pastors Bill Goodrich and Dave Kosobucki from Indiana speak on the theme “seeking first the kingdom of God”. The conference is always a sweet time of fellowship, worship and sharing the Word, especially as we get to visit with friends from different cities and share in the blessings and challenges we all experience.
Josh’s primary responsibilities in the church remain the same. He’s a staff member, participating in weekly meetings and church planning. He is also continuing to serve in sound ministry, both as a technician and in training others. Josh and two other missionaries run the church’s English club each week. In addition to their weekly conversational theme nights, they regularly have special events. They recently held their second annual Thanksgiving dinner at English, where over 50 people attended, bringing food to share in a traditional (with a Ukrainian twist) feast! It’s been exciting to see some of the English students starting to attend church services, too. During the Christmas season, the English club will take a break from meetings, and the leaders will focus on planning for 2017.
Nicole stays very busy at home with a three year old and six month old. Compromise seems to be the lesson she is learning as she figures out what are the most and least important things to accomplish on a given day! Most household tasks generally take longer to finish in Ukraine, since we often face small challenges like losing water, electricity or Internet. In addition to being wife and mama, Nicole oversees the worship ministry in a spiritual and administrative capacity. Her brother, Josh, leads worship for our Sunday services and is developing the musicians’ talents and skills. Nicole provides him with support by meeting with the team biweekly for devotions and prayer, organizing/hosting times of fellowship and team building, and participating in administrative decisions. Nicole also continues to meet or communicate with a number of young women from the church for discipleship and support.
While these ministries will remain in 2017, our family is praying about other ways God might want to use us. When we moved to L’viv, we committed to an initial two years, and we feel that God is calling us to further remain a part of the work here. Moving forward, we’d like to start having people over more often for fellowship and discipleship, now that Titus is a little older. Most likely the worship ministry will meet monthly at our house for team building. We’ve also noticed an increase in young couples and families in the church, which we previously had very few of. Our hearts are burdened for them, and we’re praying about opportunities to bless and encourage them in healthy family life.
We’ve also decided that Nicole and the kids (and Josh, when he is able) will travel twice a year to Dnipro, a city that is roughly 19 hours from us by train. Nicole spent many years there when her dad planted a church in the city in the early 2000’s. During their time in Dnipro, Nicole’s family grew close to an older woman, “Babushka Lida”, who is now in her 80s and does not have family close by. We stay in touch with Babushka by phone, and several young women from the church there make sure she has everything she needs. We’re committed to travelling there twice a year to visit her in person and help out in practical ways. At the same time, we feel completely blessed to be with her!
The Lord graciously provided us with a new rental home and a car in the last couple months! We had been house hunting for about eight months with no progress at all and had been praying and looking for a car for almost that long. Some friends of ours introduced us to another missionary family who had built a house here and were relocating for a time back to Germany. They blessed us incredibly by renting us their home and even leaving their car for us to drive here! We believe the house will be much better suited for ministry than where we previously lived, and we’re so thankful to God for providing!
Our family is relatively healthy, other than occasional colds and flu bugs. Nicole continues to have some issues post partum, but we are praying and doing what we can to take care of those.
A young woman from the church, Ilona, now comes twice a week to work with Nora on Ukrainian language. Nora looks forward to these times and has developed a special relationship with Ilona. We feel there are so many blessings from this – Nora gets to learn Ukrainian, she has some special time that’s just for her, without sharing attention with Titus, and Nicole is able to get some things done on those days while Titus naps.
Titus is doing great, a healthy, chunky 6 month old boy. From birth he has been a pretty sensitive baby, wanting lots of attention and to be held most of the time. In the last couple months, he’s started becoming a little more independent and is working on crawling. He loves his family (especially Mama), but he has a special smile for Nora. They’re going to be best buddies, we can tell!
Nora is thrilled about our new house and about Christmas coming! She loves the snow and the cold and playing outside with her Papa. She’s picking up Ukrainian slowly, but she jabbers on in her own little language that shows us she’s at least very interested! We hope that starting in the spring she can attend a preschool one or two days a week, both to make friends and to practice Ukrainian.
As we look back on 2016, here are some blessings and challenges that we recall…
New blessings or victories:
- Continued growth in the church and English club
- New families and young married couples in the church
- A new rental house and a car for our family
- Ilona’s working with Nora
- Growth in our marriage
- We notice that marriages and families seem to be under a lot of attack, both in the church and in our own family.
- Discouragement in our family and related to Nicole’s health
- We’re losing a key volunteer in the “words” ministry (puttings lyrics on the screen for worship). Arthur has been a tremendous blessing, with his dedication and servants’ heart. God is moving him on to another city. We will miss him greatly!
We are so thankful to all of you who read, pray and support us in any way! Please continue to pray with us!
- Growth and spiritual maturity for church leaders and volunteers
- Unity in the Body and in the worship ministry
- Continued relationship building and salvation in the English ministry
- Blessings and continued guidance for Arthur as he follows God’s plan
- Strengthening of families and marriages, including ours
- Health for Nicole
- Provision for Babushka Lida’s needs