Recounting, Reflecting, Rejoicing
By Paul Sanders, Chair
Over 20 years ago, God began working in the hearts of several Minnesota Christians to begin a ministry producing and distributing Christian literature in a small portion of Ukraine. Initially, we began as a Christian literature arm of The Shepherd’s Foundation. As we continued to expand, we were led to the formation of a new and independent organization, READ Ministries, Inc.
In 2017 we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the incorporation of READ Ministries and the expansion of work beyond Ukraine into Russia, Belarus, Georgia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and throughout many parts of the former Soviet Union. We're excited to host two celebrations this fall. The first on September 28, 2017 at Bethel University in Arden Hills, MN and the second on October 5, 2017 at Calvary Community Church in St. Cloud, MN.
In 2007, our 5th anniversary, we celebrated the expansion of a bookmobile ministry that provided thousands of opportunities for Ukrainians to read Christian books. This ministry led to the development of at least two new evangelical churches. We celebrated the expansion of librarian counselors and pastor’s training in several new Ukrainian oblasts.
Our 10th anniversary in 2012 found READ Ministries at a time of crisis as political events in Ukraine produced chaos and concern casting doubts on READ’s future ministry. But God proved faithful and we moved into electronic distribution of Christian literature through small personal computers and flash drives significantly expanding our area of service beyond Ukraine.
Our last five years have been times of great opportunity. Librarians and pastors continue to receive training and resources. Partnerships with several Bible colleges, seminaries and the Euro Asian Accrediting Association have produced new opportunities for service. Desire for additional distribution of our Print-on-Demand systems continues to grow.
We are awed by what God has done and continues to do. Almost 450 librarian/counselors have been trained and 130,000 books have been distributed to their church libraries, orphanages and prison ministries. Pastors participating in READ sponsored conferences have received 170,000 theological volumes! Almost 200 digital libraries have been distributed as well! God is using faithful Euro-Asian partners to expand His work.
Please plan on joining us on September 28, 2017 at Bethel University or on Oct. 5, 2017 at Calvary Community Church in St. Cloud to help us celebrate 15 years of God's ministry. We are excited and can only imagine what God will do in the next 15 years!
“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy!” Psalms 126:3
By Bill Arvan
Soon I will head to Ukraine, God willing. While there, I will have the joy of speaking at a two-day gathering of 70 literature specialists in Rivne who will be attending an annual enrichment conference for church librarians in western Ukraine. In the past, each of the churches where these spiritual pharmacists serve have had their library shelves stocked by READ Ministries with starter church libraries of 300 volumes each. Through the generosity of READ partners, these spiritual pharmacists are dispensing spiritual medicine from their spiritual pharmacies to satisfy spiritually hungry hearts.
I also plan to visit the Kremenchug Evangelical Seminary (KES) in central Ukraine. With the assistance of READ Ministries, KES has been training church librarians since the fall of 2000. To date, 215 church librarians have been trained at KES and 90% of them continue to give leadership to literature ministries in their local churches. Last September, 18 students enrolled for training in KES’s Department of Church Library Ministry and will complete their two year training in May-June of 2018.
Over the next two years, READ is committed to stock the library shelves of each of these students’ home-church library with 300 volumes of Bible-based literature for children, youth, adults, believers, and non-believers. During my trip to Ukraine, financial resources from READ will be shared with KES so when these 18 students visit their home-churches near the end of March they can carry back home an installment of about 30 of these 300 volumes. It is hard to imagine trained spiritual pharmacists with empty shelves.
The cost of one 30 volume installation is $150.00. If you'd like to help with the costs of these library installments, just click on Donate Today and make a donation designating Church Libraries.Your continued support of READ makes these shelve-stocking deliveries possible! May God bless you as you partner with READ to satisfy hunger of another sort.
In Ukraine, Belarus, and the Czech Republic, church libraries are like spiritual pharmacies. Church librarians are trained to be spiritual pharmacists, and the shelves of church libraries are stocked with Christian literature and media resources or spiritual medicine.
Larisa, from the Cherkassy Region in central Ukraine, wrote about what happened in her life when she went to one of these READ-assisted spiritual pharmacies in her small town:
I am 38, divorced, mother of 2 teenage daughters. There was a time when I was at a very low point in my life. My marriage had just ended. I felt that nobody cared and I was a failure. I blamed my former husband in all my problems. I was very depressed.
One day I met a Christian lady. She was very caring. She gave me a book about marriage and the family. Reading that book, I found answers to many of my questions, such as: “Why am I living?” “What is real happiness?” “How can I have a real Christian family?”
I can’t imagine what my family would look like today, if I didn’t find help in such books as “Exhaustive Answers, “How to Deal with Anger of a Child,” “Face to Face,” “How to Become a Hero to Your Children,” and “Five Ways to A Child’s Heart.”
My wages are very low, so I just cannot afford such wonderful books. I am so grateful to the Baptist Church for allowing me to read the books from their library. Folks, I am so grateful to you. If at least one book helps to lead a lost sheep out of darkness, it’s worthwhile doing!
Your donation to READ will help stock the shelves with Christian literature resources in 18 new church libraries/spiritual pharmacies being established this year in Ukraine and the Czech Republic. One book costs approximately $5.00 and our goal is to stock the shelves in each of these spiritual pharmacies with 300 books.
A spiritual pharmacy can provide a wealth of spiritual resources to share with hungry seekers like Larisa. As Larisa said, “If at least one book helps to lead a lost sheep out of darkness, it’s worthwhile doing!”
UKRAINE’S WAR BOILS
Tragically, within 24 hours of President Donald Trump’s first phone conversation with the Russian Federation’s President Putin, war has exploded once again in Eastern Ukraine. While there has been continuous low-grade fighting during the Minsk “Peace Treaty”, Ukraine has not seen this kind of might thrown against it since the war began in 2014.
You may not be hearing the news about Ukraine because Russia’s attacks in Syria are a great distraction. But war in now boiling once again in Eastern Ukraine. In the city of Avdiivka, 12,000 residents are at risk, including more than 2,500 children, because water, electricity, and heating supplies were all targeted for destruction. In the below freezing temperatures, this is disastrous. Propaganda is rampant and rabid against Ukraine. Daytime is eerily quiet, by many accounts, but as soon as dusk comes, the shelling begins. Even OSCE observers can no longer keep count of the thousands of violations of the Minsk agreements. Read more about this crisis at this UNICEF website.
THE CHURCH MUST BE THE CHURCH
The Ukrainian Church is called to be on the front lines physically and spiritually. One of the many ways the Ukrainian Church has responded to this latest crisis is by setting up “heating tents” and providing hot food for the residents of Avdiivka, located not far the line demarking Donetsk and the “Donetsk People’s Republic,” backed by Russian separatists.
The American Church is called on to be on the front lines on our knees. Or by sending our resources or workers. God can show the American Church how it can respond. But, above all, it must pray!
PRAY FOR UKRAINE
The decisions made in Washington DC and Moscow have a real impact in Ukraine and around the world.
PRAY for wisdom for President Trump and his new administration.
PRAY for the peace of Ukraine.
PRAY for divine intervention.
PRAY for the rescue of widows, children, orphans, and those with special needs.
PRAY for the efforts of commanders, soldiers, and volunteers.
PRAY for the response of God’s people.
PRAY for the salvation of many souls.
I am confident that God is in control of all nations and their leaders. He has His plans and purposes that will be fulfilled. This latest war has not caught our Sovereign God off guard or surprised Him. He told us that there would be wars and rumors of war, and that these would be the beginning of the pangs of birth, then Jesus would return. So, we hope in God and pray to Him as Ukraine’s war boils.
The above article was written with some excerpts and photos taken from a recent newsletter from a missionary colleague in Ukraine, our sister-in-Christ, Renee Flory.
Your Gift Has Been Doubled!
A very generous supporter of READ Ministries offered a matching grant of $35,000 if we could raise the same amount of money prior to March 31, 2017. We are happy to announce the challenge has been met! Your gifts and this grant will allow us to boldy step into 2017 by providing resources for church leadership training in Central Asia, resources for Muslim Evangelism and resources for ministry to people with special needs and at the same time, supply the needs of our on-going programs. Thank you for your generous support in Taking Truth to Tough Places!
"God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them." Hebrews 6:10