In 1 Peter 4:17, Peter makes an interesting statement; he says: “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”
Judgment might seem like an odd word to use in regard to the people of God… Hasn’t Jesus already taken our judgment upon himself on the cross? What is Peter referring to here, and how should we understand this statement?
The Waters That Buried Some, Lifted Others
In 1 Peter chapter 3, Peter referred to the judgment that took place in the time of Noah, and said that the waters of that flood were a type, or a picture, of baptism. The judgment of the flood, which was a judgment upon human wickedness, did effect, touch, and impact even those who were believers. However, because those believers were in the ark, the waters of the flood did not crush them, but rather lifted them up.
The ark, in this case, is a picture of Jesus. When we climb into Him by faith, and are hidden in Him, He takes the brunt of the storm of God’s judgment, which, apart from Him, we would not be able to survive on our own. As we are in Him, the waters which destroyed those outside the ark actually serve to lift us up and they have a cleansing and purifying effect.
The Fire That Destroys Some, Purifies Others
Along with water, Peter uses another word-picture in this letter: fire, which is used to purify precious metals, like gold.
Paul uses this same analogy in 1 Corinthians 3, where he talks about how our actions in this life will be tested by God as by fire; those things which were pure in motive will withstand the test, and those good things we might have done for the wrong reasons will be burned away like wood, hay and stubble.
Essentially, Peter is saying that the judgment of God will have the effect on believers, not of destroying them, but of purifying them, and clarifying who is really in the faith.
This makes sense, especially in light of the fact that earlier in the same chapter (1 Peter 4:1-4), Peter called his readers to holiness and to separate themselves from the sins which formerly enslaved them.
In his commentary on 1 Peter, Edmund Clowney says that in these verses (1 Peter 4:12-19), Peter is alluding to a prophecy of Malachi:
See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,’ says the Lord Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. (Malachi 3:1-3)
God’s judgment has a double purpose: to purify his worshipers and to consume the wicked.
In Hebrews 12, the writer says that it is proof of God’s fatherly love for us that He disciplines us.
Rather than cleansing us in purgatory, God’s cleansing of his people is a process which takes place in this life through our trials. Our suffering in this life does not atone for our sins, Jesus’s suffering did that for us, but God uses our trials in order to form us into the image of Christ (cf. Romans 8:29), purify us like gold, and prepare for us a weight of glory to be revealed.
This week Mike and I sat down to discuss this verse in more detail. One of the things we talked about was how persecution and hardship has the effect of purifying the church and “weeding out” those who have come to Jesus for the wrong reasons. One example we bring up is my experience with the Roma (Gypsy) population in Hungary and the false promises of the “prosperity gospel.” Check it out:
Come back in time with me, all the way back to the magical year of 2007. I had a beautiful, thick head of hair… My wife was pregnant with our first child. I was living in Eger, Hungary, where we had planted a church which I was pastoring, and I had just gotten broadband internet hooked up in our flat. There was this new thing around at that time called YouTube, we weren’t sure if it was going to catch on or not… I mean, who wants to watch videos on their computer???
There on YouTube, I came across this video called Zeitgeist, which is basically a big conspiracy theory that says that everything you’ve ever been told about everything is a lie, conjured up by people who want to control you. Overall, I didn’t take the movie seriously, but… the beginning of the movie made some pretty serious claims about Jesus and the Bible that gave me pause when I first heard them…
For example, the video claimed that 3000 years before Jesus, the Egyptians had a god named Horus who was:
Born on December 25
Born of a virgin
His birth was marked by a star in the East
He was adored by 3 kings
He was a teacher at age 12
He was baptized and began his ministry at age 30
He had 12 disciples
Sound like anyone else you’ve heard of before? They went on…
The basic premise of their claims is that all the stuff the Bible says about Jesus was just ripped off and plagiarized from other ancient religions. For a moment, these claims surprised me and shook me, because I had never heard this before, and I realized that if these claims were true, then Christianity is just a myth and is not true…
The Reality: the “Christ Myth Hypothesis” is a misinformation campaign
I figured it was pretty important to find out whether the things this video claimed were true, so I immediately went and did some research.
Here’s what I found: these claims are nothing new, they have been around for hundreds of years AND they have been disproven and are not taken seriously by anyone who knows anything about history because their claims are false.
Several books and films have been produced by “evangelical atheists” such as Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher, and Tim Harper which promote these claims as the basis for why people should abandon belief in the Bible.
Not only are the claims of the “Christ Myth Hypothesis” not true, but they are intentionally misleading, which is even worse. This is no mere misunderstanding, this is a misinformation campaign aimed at swaying people’s opinions using underhanded and dishonest means.
The Reality: Historical Facts Disprove the Christ Myth Hypothesis
One of the big claims of those who promote the Christ myth is that Jesus never actually existed.
How Do We Know that Jesus Really Existed?
Edwin Yamauchi, Professor of History at the University of Miami says this: “Any argument that challenges the claim of a historical Jesus is so ridiculous in the scholarly community, it is relegated only to the world of footnotes.”
Why? There are at least 10 sources, other than the Bible, that talk about Jesus as a historical person. Here are 2 examples:
Tacitus (Roman official): “Nero fastened the guilt . . . (for a great fire that happened in Rome) on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of the procurator Pontius Pilatus.” (Tacitus, Annals, 15.44)
Josephus: “About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he . . . wrought surprising feats. . . . He was the Christ. When Pilate condemned him to be crucified, those who had come to love him did not give up their affection for him.On the third day he appeared . . . restored to life . . . and the tribe of Christians . . . has not disappeared.” (Josephus, Antiquities, 18.63–64)
Bart Ehrman is not a Christian, and yet he explains, “There is more evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ than there is for nearly any other person from antiquity,” and “Mythicists as a group, and as individuals, are not taken seriously by scholars,” because “the idea that Jesus did not exist is a modern notion. It has no ancient precedents. It was made up in the eighteenth century. One might as well call it a modern myth, the myth of the mythical Jesus.”
Another reason we can be sure that Jesus really existed is because of the rise of the early Christian church.
The rise of early Christianity doesn’t make any sense if Jesus never actually existed. It was a movement of people who claimed to have known, lived with, and witnessed the life, death and resurrection of this man, and as a result they willingly suffered persecution and death, including the torture and murder of their wives and children. Not even the leaders reaped any personal benefit from these claims at all. The history of early Christianity makes no sense apart from the fact that these people actually saw their leader crucified and then rise again.
Examining the Claims of the Christ Myth Hypothesis
Problem #1: Lack of Primary Sources
Problem #2:Gets basic facts about the Bible wrong
Let’s look at some of the specific claims, starting with the most popular: Horus.
Born on December 25 I hope I’m not ruining your Christmas, butJesus wasn’t born on December 25th. Nowhere in the Bible does it say when Jesus was born, in fact it is most likely it was not in winter, but in fall because it says in the Gospels that the shepherds were sleeping outside with their sheep – which they don’t do in Israel in December because it’s too cold.
It was around 400 AD, when Pope Julius I changed when the day when Christians celebrated the birth of Jesus, to December 25th — in order to subvert a pagan holiday which was celebrated on the Winter Solstice.
Christians have never actually believed that Jesus was born on Dec. 25th — that’s just the day we chose to celebrated it.If you want to celebrate it in August, go for it!So, December 25 is not an actual parallel.
Born of a Virgin
Here’s how Horus was conceived: His mom was a goddess named Isis — his dad was a god named Osiris. Osiris got into a fight with another god and lost (it’s such a bummer when your god loses…) The other god cut Osiris up and chopped him into pieces, and thenHorus’ mom came along and found Osiris’ severed phallus — and yada, yada, yada — she got pregnant, and that’s how Horus was conceived.
I’m pretty sure that doesn’t count as a virgin birth, and it’s certainly not a parallel to Jesus.
Star in the East — Attended by 3 Kings
Again, I don’t want to ruin your Christmas — but the Bible doesn’t say that 3 kings followed a star and arrived at the birth of Jesus. The only people who came at the birth of Jesus were the shepherds from the nearby fields.
In the Gospel of Matthew — it says that a group of magi came from the East, when Jesus was about 2 years old, but nowhere does it says they were kings… “Magi” were magicians, sorcerers, practitioners of Zoroastrianism (Persian traditional religion).
Furthermore, nowhere does it say that there were 3 of them. It says that they brought 3 gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh —but there were probably more than 3 of them. There could have been 15 or 20 or 100.So, again: this isn’t a parallel.
Teacher at 12 and Baptized at 30
There aren’t any references to any of these things in ancient writings regarding Horus.
The Hieroglyphics show that Horus actually had 4 disciples — and they were: a turtle, a bear, a lion and a tiger. Also not a parallel
Some people say that Horus was crucified and then resurrected on the 3rd day. However, crucifixion didn’t exist in Egypt — it was invented by the Romans thousands of years later. Furthermore, in most stories of Horus, he didn’t die. In one story, he was killed and cut up into pieces, then thrown into a swamp, in which the pieces turned into a crocodile – and THAT is claimed to be a resurrection which was supposedly copied by the Gospels!
Mithra: Born of a Virgin
Mithra, legend says, was actually born fully-formed, out of a rock. That’s not exactly a virgin birth.
Another resurrection parallel that is sometimes claimed is the Greek god Attis, but if you look at his story, here’s how it goes:Attis gets killed by his father, then his father asks Zeus to resurrect him from the dead, and Zeus said: “No. But, here’s what I’ll do: I’ll make Attis’ pinky finger move eternally, and his hair will grow forever.”
Again that’s not resurrection, and there’s no parallel at all with Jesus.
Conclusion & Further Resources
It’s probably not a great idea to get historical information from YouTube videos and blatant propaganda materials, and yet many people do.
What makes Christianity unique is that it is not based on abstract ideas, feelings, or concepts, but it is based on historical events which either happened or they didn’t. The good news is that because of this, the claims of Christianity can be studied and researched from a historical perspective. Actual scholarly research and material refutes the claims of the Christ Myth Hypothesis and corroborates the claims of the gospel.
15 years, 2 countries, 3 cities, 4 kids. It’s been great. I am so thankful.
In addition to both being disciples of Jesus and committed to His mission, one thing I’ve learned over the past 15 years is that intimacy is created through shared experiences.
When we lived in Hungary, we had some friends from Finland who were medical students. They later became doctors, and we had the opportunity to visit them in Finland and teach at a retreat their church put on for students. Even though they were doctors, our friends lived in a nice, but modest apartment. They explained to us that they would rather live simply so they could spend their money traveling, having experiences and making memories together.
That stuck with us, and we’ve generally followed the same pattern throughout our marriage. Parts of our house are stuck in the 1970’s, yet we’ve chosen to spend our money traveling and having experiences rather than remodeling our kitchen.
We are firm believers in the idea that intimacy is created through shared experiences. When I see married couples who live separate lives even though they dwell in the same house, I get concerned, because I know they are having shared experiences with someone, and the power of shared experiences can be so strong, that they inevitably draw people together. If a husband and wife aren’t being drawn together through shared experiences, they are likely being drawn towards other people.
This principle is true outside of marriage as well, and therefore a wise person will be intentional about how, and with whom, they spend their time and create shared experiences.
I believe this is important when it comes to Christianity and a life of faith as well. Though our world is more connected than ever by technology, our society is increasingly lonely; I’ve written more about that here: “Toxic Loneliness and How to Break Out”.
How do we break out of this loneliness? How do we build a healthy kind of intimacy with other people that will help us grow? By getting out of our comfort zone and having shared experiences with other people.
Currently at White Fields, we are kicking off our fall season of Community Groups. If you’re in or around our local area here, we would love to help you get connected to a group of people with whom you can build shared experiences through prayer, fellowship, and Bible study. More information here.
This past Sunday at White Fields Church, we began a new series called Upside Down, which may or may not be a reference to Stranger Things, but definitely comes from what was said about the Christians in Thessalonica, that “these people who have turned the world upside down have now come here also.” (Acts 17:6)
One of the interesting aspects about the church in Thessalonica is that Paul never actually intended to go there. His plan was to go somewhere else: to the province of Asia. When that didn’t work out, he tried to go to the region of Bithynia. In other words, going to Thessalonica, in the province of Macedonia, wasn’t even Plan B, it was Plan C! And yet, God did an amazing work there, so much so that Paul tells the Thessalonians that they are his glory and his joy. (1 Thessalonians 2:20)
Closed Doors that Changed History
David Livingstone, the great missionary who brought the Gospel to the interior of Africa,originally wanted to go to China as a missionary, but it didn’t work out. That’s how he ended up in Africa. The rest is history.
William Carey, who pioneered the modern missionary movement in India, originally planned to go to Polynesia.
Adoniram Judson, who brought the gospel to Burma, originally wanted to go to India, but the doos were closed.
Closed Doors and God’s Leading in My Life
I spent 10 years as a missionary in Hungary. They were wonderful, fruitful years. But I didn’t originally intend to go to Hungary.
Check out this video in which Mike and I discuss how God led each of us to Hungary. Spoiler alert: Mike didn’t intend to go to Hungary either. Watch the video to find out where we were each intending to go, and how God led us, and how we feel about our plans not working out.
We are also now podcasting not only our sermons, but these Sermon Extra discussions every week as well. You can find them on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify.
Michael Payne, who serves as worship pastor at White Fields Community Church in Longmont, just released an original song called “My Times”. Check it out on YouTube here:
Here’s what Mike wrote about the song:
The story of this song starts back in 1996 when I arrived in Debrecen, Hungary with my backpack and guitar. It comes from Psalms 73 and 31 and encapsulated the start of my journey as a missionary. This song would become a mainstay for our Monday night English language Bible study with the medical students. But then I left the song behind in Debrecen as we moved to Budapest where I felt God call me to invest in Hungarian songwriters and song-writing. Since our move to the States 21 years later, this song has taken on new meaning as my family declares this same endless truth to God again – “My times are in Your hands”, stepping out into a new chapter in life.
Music is not only about the song itself, but who you play it with and it was a great joy to record this with great friends.
I hope the story and the words of this song resonate with you wherever you are in your walk with God.
Mike is going to be featured in the Longmont Times-Call’s 100 People of the St. Vrain Valley feature, in which they highlight notable people from the area.
This week I’m teaching at a Bible College in Estes Park.
I had driven by their sign on Hwy 36 many times coming into Estes Park, but was never quite sure what Ravencrest was, or what their Bible school was like.
Last year I got a call from the director, inviting me to come up for the day; it turns out we have some common friends in Hungary, and several people I know had studied here.
Over the past few months, I’ve enjoyed getting to know Frank and the staff here at Ravencrest, and they invited me to come up these week as a guest lecturer. I’m teaching Genesis for the first-year students and teaching “Leadership in the Local Church” for the second-year students.
They have a great facility up here, and a good ministry that brings people in from all over the world. Along with the Bible School, they function as a conference and retreat center and in the summer they organize camps for youth, including some backpacking retreats into Rocky Mountain National Park.
One of the things Daniel wrote about in his book and talked about at the conference is the idea that discipleship is a direction, rather than a destination. While there is an ultimate destination to our discipleship: experiencing the glory of God in the fullness of His Kingdom forever, as long as we are here on this Earth, being a disciple of Jesus is about direction, not destination.
A destination is a place you can arrive at. Once you’re there, then you’ve arrived.
A direction implies active and sustained movement towards something.
What is the measure of maturity?
What is it that makes a Christian disciple “mature”?
Consider this: in the Bible, we read about many people who encountered Jesus, from ultra-religious pharisees to prostitutes, extortioners and even thieves.
If the measure of spiritual maturity is simply knowledge or religious observance, then it’s no question: the pharisees were more mature. They knew more about the Bible and their record of religious observance was spotless. The only problem was: the pharisees were far from God in their hearts. (Mark 7:6 – “These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me).
On the other hand, you have people like Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), an extortioner who hasn’t got everything in his life sorted out, but he’s changed directions and is moving towards Jesus even though he’s just now at the beginning of his journey.
Who is the greater disciple? The answer is: Zacchaeus, because he is moving towards Jesus, as opposed to the pharisee who isn’t.
The implications of viewing discipleship in this way
Viewing discipleship as direction rather than a destination has profound implications. It means that you don’t become a disciple by successfully learning a block of material or completing a discipleship workbook or 4-part class. Rather discipleship is an ongoing process.
Unlike justification, which is an outside, definitive, unchanging status that is bestowed on a believer by God, discipleship by definition implies sustained movement. So, if at one point in your life you were passionately seeking God and following Jesus, but are not currently doing so, your past discipleship doesn’t make up for your current posture. Knowledge, longevity nor familiarity equate to having “arrived” as a disciple, in other words. Discipleship is about direction.
A Case Study: the Cussing Christian
When I was pastoring in Hungary, we had a young woman come to our church. She had grown up in an atheist family and her father was a musician. She was a bohemian herself. At our church, she heard the gospel, and she received it – and immediately she began to grow and change. She was at every Bible study, taking copious notes, so hungry to know God and understand His Word and His will for her life. She was all-in, whole-heartedly following Jesus and asked to be baptized.
She also cussed like a sailor. My wife and I learned some new Hungarian words from her… You see, we were fluent in Hungarian, but being in church settings, there were certain “colorful” words, which we had never been exposed to. That all changed when this woman came around. Every Wednesday, after Bible study, there was a time for people to ask questions and then we would pray together. She would often have questions or comments, a praise report or a prayer request – and as she would speak, we’d hear her say some words which didn’t recognize, and then we’d watch as the others in the group grimaced from the words she chose to use. Quickly, we learned what those words meant.
Although we didn’t love the fact that she was using this language, we were happy to see the change in her heart and in her life and her obvious love for Jesus. This was how she had talked before she came to know the Lord, and we trusted that the Holy Spirit would do the work of sanctification, and as she followed Jesus, she would be transformed in every area, including this one.
One day a middle-aged woman from the church approached me. She was angry that we allowed this woman to come to our church and be baptized, considering that she used foul language. This middle-aged woman had been raised in a Christian home, but had a penchant for gossiping about others and slandering them. Unlike with the young woman, I had not witnessed any of the fruits of the spirit in this middle-aged woman’s life, but instead had distinctly seen judgmental and legalistic tendencies.
Which of these two women was the greater disciple? Clearly the older woman knew more about the Bible and had been a Christian longer, but if discipleship is a direction, then the answer is: the younger woman.
What direction are you moving in?
If discipleship is about active, sustained direction, what direction are you moving in? Have you perhaps stagnated?
The good news is, you can change direction. That’s what the word “repentance” means: to change direction.
That was, after all, the first message Jesus preached: “repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Change directions, whatever you’ve been pursuing, running after – instead, change directions and follow me.
In Part 1 of this mini-series on Making Sense of Different Bible Translations, we looked at the fundamentals of how Bible translation is done, why so many translations exist and some guidelines for choosing a good translation.
Here in Part 2, we will be looking at the King James Version (KJV) specifically. In Part 3, we will look at the New International Version (NIV) and the question of gender-inclusive language.
When it comes to the King James Version of the Bible, some people feel very strongly that it is the only Bible that English speakers should use. Why is that, and is that a good position to hold? Let’s consider the main issues at stake in this discussion:
Manuscripts: Textus Receptus
The King James Version was translated based on a collection of Greek New Testament manuscripts called the Textus Receptus (Received Text). The Textus Receptus was compiled in the 1500’s by Erasmus Desiderius of Rotterdam, a Catholic priest and humanist.
Although he was a humanist and his work played a significant role in the Reformation, by putting the Word of God back into the hands of the people, Erasmus remained loyal to the pope. Martin Luther disputed with Erasmus over theology, which you can read more about here.
There are two kinds of KJV adherents: those who trust the Textus Receptus, and those who trust the KJV itself.
As discussed in Part 1, the Bible doesn’t change, but language does. As a result, new translations of the Textus Receptus have been done, most notably the New King James Version (NKJV), which also uses the Textus Receptus as its basis, but which translates it into modern English. Those who are trust in the Textus Receptus are happy to use the NKJV and other translations of the Textus Receptus which use current rather than archaic English, such as KJ21 and MEV.
However, there are some KJV Only loyalists who reject any translation other than the original KJV, showing that they are not loyal to the Textus Receptus, but to the KJV itself. This brings up several problems:
KJV Only Problem #1: Which King James Version?
The King James Bible has undergone three revisions since its first publication in 1611, which updated the spelling and use of many words – in order to make them more comprehensible in the common language of the people. If you buy a KJV Bible today, you will be getting the 1769 version, unless you go out of your way to get a 1611. So the question for KJV loyalists is: which KJV are you loyal to? If you accept the 1769 (which is almost all KJV’s available for sale today), then you are dealing with what was essentially the NEW King James Version of the 18th century. There seems no reason in this case then to reject the New King James Version of the 20th century either.
KJV Only Problem #2: What About Other Languages?
As a missionary in Hungary, I remember times when people would come from America to serve at our youth camp, and they would bring English KJV Bibles to give out to the kids… Hungarian kids, who not only don’t speak English, but who certainly don’t understand Shakespearean English from the 1600’s. I have heard stories of American churches buying boxes of KJV Bibles to send to orphanages in Mexico.
Do people need to learn English, and specifically archaic English, in order to read and understand the Word of God?
Other languages have translations of the Textus Receptus which predate the KJV, including the German Luther Bible (1522) the the Spanish Reina translation (1569), and the Hungarian Vizsoly Bible (1590).
Furthermore, when the KJV was first introduced in 1611, it was criticized for being too easy to understand, because it was written in the common language of the people at that time. When the Bible is translated for the first time into a new language today, it is translated into the language the cultures speaks today, not the way they spoke 400 years ago.
Thus, it seems unreasonable to be loyal to the KJV itself, rather than the Textus Receptus. Next, let’s look at the Textus Receptus:
Is the Textus Receptus the best manuscript of the New Testament?
Since Erasmus assembled the Textus Receptus in the early 1500’s, many Biblical manuscripts have been discovered which are older and more accurate than the manuscripts in the Textus Receptus. What these manuscripts show is that the later Textus Receptus manuscripts contained several additions to the text, which were not present in the older manuscripts.
It should be noted: none of these “textual variants” have any significance for Christian theology. They were added, it seems, as forms of commentary, or to help bring clarity – but they seem to have been added nonetheless.
Do Newer Translations Remove Verses?
As explained in the section above, the Textus Receptus includes some verses which older manuscripts show us were later additions to the text by zealous scribes who were trying to help, but which were not a part of the original manuscripts.
So, rather than newer translations “removing verses”, what you actually have is that the KJV (or the Textus Receptus, rather) has added verses to the Bible – something which is also forbidden by Revelation 22:18-19.
Both the KJV and more modern translations are upfront about these facts. The KJV indicates words which have been added for clarity by using italics, and newer translations use brackets or footnotes to show places where the Textus Receptus includes text which is not found in the oldest manuscripts.
Landing the Plane
Our loyalties as Christians should be the original texts of the Old and New Testaments, written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, not to any particular translation of those words which God inspired. It is often helpful to look at several translations in order to get a full understanding of the meaning of a text.
I just got back on Saturday night from a 2-week trip, during which I was in NYC, Turkey, Hungary, Ukraine – then a quick jaunt to Southern California, before making my way back home just in time for daylight savings! My internal clock was so confused by that point that losing one more hour of sleep didn’t even register.
Hagia Sofia, Istanbul
NYC from the top of the Empire State Building
The purpose for the European trip was to visit White Fields‘ missionaries and ministry partners in Hungary and Ukraine. I got to spend time with Pastor Jani and others from Golgota Eger, the church my wife and I started back in 2005. We also spent time in Budapest at Golgota Budapest and with the leaders of the Anonymous Ways Foundation which helps to rescue women out of sex-trafficking.
Pastor Jani – Golgota Eger
Pastor Laci – Golgota Délpest
After a few short days in Hungary, we flew to Kiev, Ukraine where Mike and I taught at a Pastors and Leaders Conference for Calvary Chapel Ukraine. Our topic was “movement dynamics” and we gave biblical and practical instruction about leading missional churches for about 50 pastors and church leaders from all over Ukraine.
After church we spent some time with George Markey, one of the pastors of Calvary Kiev, and he shared with us the vision for urban church planting in Kiev – a city of about 5 million people. Their vision is to plant 30 churches in Kiev in 5 years! This year their goal was to begin with 2 church plants, and God has already raised up people for those in the northern Obolon region of the city and in the southern Teremky region. Please join in praying for God’s work in Kiev through Calvary Chapel and for this big vision they have for church planting!
Ternopil and Kharkiv
Sunday evening, three of us got on an over-night train to Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine, near the Russian border – while Mike and his wife Marika took a train in the opposite direction, to Ternopil in Western Ukraine to visit friends from Calvary Chapel Ternopil.
In Kharkiv, we visited with friends from Calvary Chapel Kharkiv, including Pastor Victor Fisin and Assistant Pastor and missionary Nate Medlong, whose aunt is a member of our church. Nate and his wife Diana are on the front lines of ministry to orphans and children in the foster system in Kharkiv. God is doing great things through their ministry, so please keep them in prayer.
Coffee with friends from CC Kharkiv
CC Kharkiv’s new building
Returning to Kiev, I got to speak to the students of Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary on Tuesday morning, and then we spent time with one of the teachers and the director of the seminary afterwards. UETS is a doing a great work, raising up pastors and leaders from all over the former Soviet Union. They have a strategic partnership with the seminary I am currently attending: London School of Theology (LST), and they have several hundred students attending their many campuses all over Ukraine and one other former-Soviet country. Pray for their work!
While the others from the team came back to Colorado, I had one more trip before I came home: I went to Thousand Oaks, California for the first Expositors Collective – an interactive seminar for young people who have a desire to preach and teach the Bible well. As one of the leaders, I coached a group of young men who had a range of different experiences: from Bible college students to interns, to a staff pastor who sometimes preaches at his church. It was a great event, and one that was geared towards ongoing mentorship. This was only the first of what will hopefully be an ongoing collective to encourage expository Bible teaching in the next generation. For more information, check out expositorscollective.com
Based out of Berthoud, Colorado, Ukraine Orphan Outreach is a local non-profit you should know about that is having a global impact.
UOO works to help the kids who are falling between the cracks in the system, by establishing transition homes for orphans who are aging out of the system as well as helping to facilitate adoptions of older orphans with adoptive parents in the US. They also organize camps and other activities for orphans in Ukraine, to be able to have fun and hear the good news of Jesus Christ.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. – James 1:27
When we lived in Hungary, my wife and I were involved in ministry to orphans, and we saw how difficult life is particularly for kids as they get older and especially when they age out of the system and have to move out on their own.
Here are some statistics from UOO’s website:
12,000 children age out of orphanages every year with no where to go.
70% of the boys are incarcerated after only 2 years of being out of an orphanage.
60% of young girls that age out of orphanages are pulled into sex trafficking.
10% of the children who age out of orphanages commit suicide within 2 years.
Friends of mine here in Longmont have adopted through UOO, a couple from our church met on a UOO mission trip, and through UOO I have made good contacts and friends in Ukraine, including at Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary, where I will be visiting in March when I will be in Kyiv for a pastors and leaders conference.