“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Though this description comes from Herodotus, a Greek historian who lived 2,500 years ago, it aptly describes the delegates who attended a recent three-day conference for theological school and evangelical church librarians in Kremenchug, Ukraine.
Traveling from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Belarus, The Russian Federation, Moldova, and throughout Ukraine, approximately 50 librarians attended a professional development gathering conducted in partnership by READ Ministries and the Euro-Asian Accrediting Association (EAAA) and hosted at the Kremenchug Evangelical Seminary (KES).
Despite the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, March blizzards that paralyzed much of Eastern Europe, and thousands of miles traveled by planes, trains, and buses, these librarians attended seeking new ideas, encouragement, fellowship, and new titles to take back to their libraries. The devotion of these dedicated librarians to serving as “media specialists” among God’s people in their nations and for the sake of His Kingdom was an inspiration for all!
Camel cigarettes have long cursed children, as well as teens and adults, in Ukraine and other countries of the former Soviet Union. But now another kind of camel, a set of three books about the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ titled “The Story of a Camel,” is being urgently requested by leaders of the public-school system in the region of Dnipro, located in south central Ukraine.
In the city of Dnipro, the capital of this region, there is an evangelical Baptist church which has been asked by the Department of Education to place this collection of Christian literature in every elementary class room in their region! And the pastor of this church, Pastor Viktor, has reached out to READ for help in responding to this open door for sharing the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here is Pastor Viktor’s plea for our support:
The Education Department of our region, having read the books "The Story of a Camel", appealed to us with a request and expressed the desire to have this set of books in all schools of the region. They see and believe that these books will be useful in the spiritual education and development of students in the educational institutions of the region. This is good news for us! But our concern is that there are more than 1000 (one thousand) schools in the region!
One thousand schools are great. If we count only junior grades: 1-5 grades - this is about 5000 grades of 25 students in one grade - we can reach 125,000 children. Even if the books are read by a third of the children, it will be more than 40,000. It's worth it if we do it for Christ's sake.
I write to you openly, fraternally and with hope - for Christ's sake and in the name of Jesus, we have an excellent opportunity to reach many children in the Dnipro region with the Gospel. I thank God for this opportunity and His trust. If the Education Department asks for this, then I think the Lord does not mind.
READ has replied to Pastor Viktor and committed to provide an initial 800 sets of this Gospel-centered trilogy for distribution into public school class rooms in the Dnipro region. Please pray that the message of the Gospel will be received in the hearts of many young readers and their family members in Ukraine.
Please help READ help Pastor Viktor respond to this amazing opportunity that God has opened for the advance of His Good News! For a total of $3,000, READ can provide 800 sets (2,400 books) of these brightly colored, biblically-based evangelistic books.
Join us in support of this evangelistic outreach to young readers in public schools in Ukraine! Click here and you will be taken to a page where you can indicate the amount of your financial gift. Please choose "Camel Trilogy Project" as your Designation. Thank you for your partnership with READ Ministries!
Over the last several years, Ukraine’s government has mandated several increases in the monthly minimum wage. At the end of 2016, the minimum wage was about 1,550 hryvnia (about $60 per month). As of January 1, 2018, it is about 3,720 hryvnia (about $143 per month). This increase of 138% in the last two years is making it very difficult for many of READ’s Ukrainian ministry partners to meet their budgets for 2018.
READ supports the training of 20 church librarians and 12 cross-cultural missionaries at the Kremenchug Evangelical Seminary (KES) in central Ukraine. KES has a record total enrollment of 208 students for the academic year 2017-2018, despite Ukraine’s ongoing war with Russia and its troubled economy! Last year, 2016-2017, their budget of $63,000 was met by the grace of God and generosity of God’s people in Ukraine and around the world.
At harvest time, Christians from churches in central Ukraine donated scores of sacks of potatoes and other produce from their kitchen gardens. Their sacrifice helped feed the students and staff during the winter months and freed up cash donations to meet salaries, taxes, and utilities.
For 2017-2018, this seminary’s projected budget has grown to $86,000, due in large part to the government mandated increases in minimum wages and taxes, as well as escalating costs for food and utilities. This is $23,000 more than what was needed last year!
In response, the leadership of KES is asking their staff and students, local churches, and individual donors in Ukraine and around the world to pray that God would again meet their needs through the generosity of His people everywhere. And, potatoes will again be welcomed at harvest time! But, this strategic seminary needs more than spuds. They can’t pay their increased salaries and taxes or utility bills with potatoes! Cash donations are needed.
For 2018, READ has made a commitment of $13,000 to KES to help our partner of twenty-plus years meet the challenge of training and equipping of a new generation of church leaders in the former Soviet Union. The average cost per year to train one future pastor or cross-cultural missionary or church servant at KES is $415. We believe that collaborating with KES to train and equip servants of Jesus Christ and his church is crucial for the advance of the Gospel in Eurasia. Please join with READ in this important investment opportunity for building up the Church of Jesus Christ in in the former Soviet Union.
Will you pray that God will provide what His people need? And, will you consider a financial gift to READ designated for the support of Kremenchug Evangelical Seminary in 2018?
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.