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We conducted a Bible School and pastoral visit to a brother on a collective farm, resulting in the baptisms of ALEXEI, LUBA and TAMARA. We were graciously looked after on our journeys. But the plight of our brothers and sisters, especially pensioners, is very bad. The Ukrainian Grivna is now relatively worthless, but pensions and many wages have hardly increased - whilst prices have at least quadrupled. Infrastructure is broken down, with the Government bankrupt, economy at a standstill and the roads outside Kiev covered with serious potholes; health care is now extremely expensive. Several at the Bible School have various health issues which they need advice and help with. Others were desperately worried about sons and grandsons who are now at the front; another was terribly upset at having no money to bury a relative. Unless the war finishes soon, there are going to be really major needs for our brethren and sisters in Ukraine, many of whom are pensioners. Many of military age have received callup papers, as the Ukrainian military seeks to raise an army of 200,000 men to take control of the country from the rebels, who have claimed to be raising an army of 100,000. These are big figures. With the West supporting Ukraine and Russia supporting the rebels, poor Ukraine is caught in the middle of a terrible conflict. The Police are going around to the homes of those called up and taking them away to the barracks if they don’t report themselves. And nobody who has been called up can now leave Ukraine. Please do pray for this terrible situation and for our brethren who are now in hiding. With Ukraine now filling up with tanks and all kinds of military technology, the largest scale war in Europe since 1945 is now underway, with East pitted against West with Ukraine in the middle, including over 200 of our brethren and sisters. We were able to distribute welfare to those in need.

Bro Artem follows the study with brethren and sisters who had made long and difficult journeys to be with us

It was good to see brethren present at the Bible School who were baptized over the last year, and everywhere there is evidence of the great spiritual blessing of the Russian NEV Bible with commentary - thank you all so much for enabling it.

Bro David Corbin describes the Ukraine Bible School: “On the 28th January, Bro Duncan, Bro Nathan Badger and me boarded an Air Baltic plane heading from Riga, Latvia to Kiev, Ukraine. After we cleared customs we thought to get some Ukrainian cooked food. Well we soon found out that was not going to happen. Apart from a couple coffee stalls, there was no cooked food anywhere in this sprawling airport to be found. We walked with our luggage to the nearby airport hotel and was told that due to no guests, they had closed the only restaurant in the hotel. So we headed back to the airport. On our way back Bro Duncan was able to negotiate with a taxi driver a reasonable price, to take us to our destination at a Ministry of Defence sanatorium building in the suburbs of Kiev. We arrived around 9:00 pm (I am still curious how the driver found the location with no visible signs on the secondary roads, minimal lights and rain - but again, God was in control). After Bro Duncan checked us in to our rooms, I guess he had enquired of the caretaker about some where to eat, honestly I had given up finding anything to eat for the night ! My reasoning was that if there was no restaurant around the main airport in Kiev, then surely there wouldn’t be any in what seems like an abandoned town. But were we in for a surprise... About a third of a mile walk down some deserted roads patrolled by an army of stray dogs and the occasional person walking by, there was a restaurant that served some of the best salads and pizzas! On Thursday morning, 29th we were up by 8:00 am, so we could have some good Ukrainian breakfast and be ready to share the daily readings together at 9:30 am sharp. I was surprised by how many brethren had trickled in overnight and during the morning, despite the war in the east. With Bro Duncan translating, I heard of many twenty plus hour rides by bus and train to reach the Bible school venue. It’s really inspiring and an exhortation in itself to see what these mainly elderly brethren are willing to go through to share fellowship together for a few days. The first two and a half hours were spent doing the daily bible readings each day which was led by Bro Duncan. After the daily readings we had three classes each day. Two by Bro Nathan and one by me. After dinner we had another class by brother Nathan and finished the rest of the daily readings. Each evening we finished around 8:30 pm. A full day of spiritual fellowship. This was also my first experience of fellowship with baptized Jewish sisters, well educated in the law and the prophets, and boy do they know their Bible and the Hebrew root words and meanings! For me this was a glimpse of the kingdom. Natural Israel finally embracing their Messiah and the gospel of the kingdom and name of Jesus.

I had to ask why there were so few young men to be found around Kiev. All the military aged young men are either in hiding, have fled the country or are at the warfront in the east. This war is seriously under reported in the west. Please be not discouraged from visiting because of this war, as I was at first. Here in western Ukraine, where the capital is located, it’s as quiet as the proverbial church mouse. I haven’t encountered any problems. The weather was great, even much warmer than in USA. I seriously over packed, expecting Siberian like weather conditions. The prices are much cheaper here if you have Western currency because the Ukrainian UAH has lost much of its value. So please make your next vacation here in the Ukraine and help with the spreading of the Gospel.

The next Bible School is scheduled for six months from now. Flights are cheap, no visas are necessary from the US and European end. The brethren here are so happy when they get visits from western brethren. They appreciate that we choose to share fellowship with them rather than the beaches of some tropical area. These brethren are our family also and they spend almost the entire year in isolation from the brotherhood. Those who do the will of God are our REAL FAMILY and Christ family (Matt 25). Nathan and I left for our respective homes from Riga, Latvia on Tuesday. The joy and pleasure we shared with our brethren in eastern Europe will not be soon forgotten. Two lessons I learned from my visit is that there is so much that can be done even if you don’t speak a word of Russian. The second is the extreme amount of work involved in running the centre in Latvia, answering and contacting requests from interested persons and co-ordinating a brotherhood in isolation.

Bre David and Duncan giving a class

Thanks Bro Duncan for all the good you have done and keep doing in the eastern European vineyard. May God bless you and all the helpers of the missionary work here. God willing, yes I will be back. Love in Christ, Bro David Corbin

Bro Nate Badger reports on the journey to baptize Tamara: “Part way through the 2015 Winter Bible School in Ukraine, we received a call from Bro Alexei to baptize his grandmother who had been studying Bible Basics with him for several months. With only a couple of days left in the Ukraine, it became evident we would need to make some creative plans to reach her.

We hopped in a taxi, spent 1.5hrs fighting through traffic to Borispol airport, and then rented a car for the remaining 8 hrs southeast. With the recent fighting in Ukraine, the country’s rural roads have not been maintained and the majority of the trip was tediously slow as we dodged thousands of large potholes in the decaying asphalt. Several times, we considered turning back Bro Alexei was so full of joy as he welcomed his grandmother into fellowship but we persisted, believing God had sent his angels to guide our journey. Late that night we arrived in the general vicinity of the Soviet-style ‘collective farm’ that Alexei and his grandmother live on. The farm was located in the middle of nowhere. With no streetlights or street signs we were fortunate to have limited access to a mobile WiFi and could vaguely find barren country roads using Google maps. Eventually we found Alexei flashing his flashlight at a crossroads in the middle of farm fields where he led us the remaining miles to their apartment, in the worker’s accommodation of a crumbling collective farm.

The joy of sis Tamara and her grandson bro Alexei was so great it turned from deep smiles to tears of joy ...

Bro Alexei was encouraged to research Christadelphians by Messianic Jews, whose doctrines he disagreed with. He discovered the Bible Basics website and read through the book slowly using his cellphone. He was baptized in August 2014 by Bro Maxim and has since been teaching the Truth to Tamara, his grandmother. Thankfully, he has now purchased a very old computer (intact with a floppy drive!) where he is able to Skype with other brethren and sisters and join in breaking bread online in Russian. Sis Tamara welcomed us into their one-room flat and provided us with a bowl of mashed potatoes, beef and sweet-bread. After discussing her convictions, she was baptized in a tub of warm water in their bathroom. We then shared in a breaking of bread and were inspired by talking to Bro Alexei about his enthusiasm for the Truth and the ecclesia he dreams of developing in that remote place. He is isolated from other Christadelphians in Ukraine and has little means to travel around. He is, therefore, very excited to now have his grandmother to break bread with and share the Truth. After 2am it was time to leave. We drove home, dodging potholes like we were playing a computer game. Then, just as the sun began to rise, one of our front tires collapsed after hours of pounding on the bumpy, unlit roads. We managed to change it for a spare and find a 24hr tire repair shop to see if we could salvage the tire. Around 11am we arrived back at the Bible Centre. We were very excited that Sis Tamara and Bro Alexei are baptized. God had blessed our journey and the persistence of us all. Given the current uncertainty in the Ukraine, we don’t know if this would be the last chance to baptize our new Sister. Alexei as a farm worker and with health issues currently has been exempted from military service but that could easily change as the demand for young men becomes more acute.”

Bro Nathan Badger

We don’t consider a trip to Ukraine unduly dangerous as long as one doesn’t go near the front line nor into the East. We plan to continue with the July Bible School, God willing, and to afterwards go visiting our brethren and sisters and practically assist them with things like repairing homes against the Winter, and simply encouraging them. This would be a great adventure for younger folks especially - do contact us if you’d like to come.

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