On September 30, 1952, our United States Postal Service issued a 3-cent stamp commemorating the 500th anniversary of the printing of the first book with movable type. Johann Gutenberg (c.1397-1468) invented the moveable-type press and printed his version of the Bible with 42 lines per page in 1452. In the providence of God, this advanced printing technology paved the way for a publishing priest whose ideas and publications would dramatically change the world forever.
The Protestant Reformation was ignited when Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church on October 31, 1517. It is impossible to overestimate the role of Gutenberg’s cutting-edge technology to the spread of Luther’s reformation-call to return to the ancient truth. Dr. Barry Waugh in his two-part article on the Importance of the Printing Press for the Protestant Reformation on the website of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals has observed, Martin Luther embraced printing technology and efficiently used it for the distribution of his writings, but most importantly for his readers, the printing press provided the German Bible so that all could read the Word of God.
The need for people to read the Word of God in their own language is greater than ever before. In many countries of the former Soviet Union, the Russian language is beginning to fade as the theological language of choice, and at the same time there is a growing demand for the Bible and other Christian literature written in indigenous heart-languages.
For example, in one of the restricted-access Central Asian republics where READ supports the theological education of church leaders, there is a new training track being offered in the native language. The need for literature resources to support this training will not be met by traditional, expensive publishing technologies. But digital libraries and print-on-demand printing systems can provide low-cost, locally produced materials for this new generation of reader and church leader.
This spreading of ancient truths through advanced technology is a passion of READ Ministries and the theme of our two upcoming Fall Fundraising Events. READ embraces this new technology and seeks to efficiently use it for the distribution of God’s Truth so all can read the Word of God. I believe that in God’s providence, new technology can do for God’s truth what Gutenberg’s did 500 years ago!
It is a joy to announce the addition of the first Ukrainian to READ's Board of Directors!
In April, our brother Vladimir Degtyaryov visited in Minnesota and Nebraska at the invitation of READ. After attending a directors meeting in April, Vladimir was wholeheartedly invited to join READ's leadership team. And he has enthusiastically accepted-for which we are grateful and praise the Lord!
Here is some biographical information about our newest board member:
Vladimir and his wife, Inga, live in Zaporozhye, Ukraine and have two adult children.
They became Christians in Soviet times and were baptized in 1983. In 1992 Vladimir was appointed, later ordained, to pastoral ministry in a Baptist church in Zaporozhye.
In 2001 he became a full -time teacher of Systematic Theology at Zaporozhye Bible College and Seminary (ZBCS). From May 2006 till now, Vladimir has been President of ZBCS.
Vladimir is a graduate of Zaporozhye Bible College, Ukraine (BA), Columbia International University, SC (MA in Bible), and Summit University (Baptist Bible Seminary), PA (D.Min.). He is also on the board of the Euro-Asian Accrediting Association of Evangelical Schools (EAAA).
Listen to Vladimir speak about his school's partnership with READ:
According to recent statistics from the United Nations, there are over 1,000,000 Ukrainians who have been displaced by the war that simmers in Ukraine’s eastern regions of Lugansk and Donetsk, as well as by the Russian Federation’s occupation of Crimea.
Those who cross an international border seeking a safe haven are called refugees. Those who are forced to flee their homes due to the upheaval of war but remain within the borders of their home country are called internally displaced people (IDP). Regardless of how they may be labeled, those who flee are often homeless, jobless, penniless, angry, and without hope. Brother Oleg is one of these million+ war casualties, but his story is different than most, by God’s grace.
I first met Brother Oleg seven years ago when I visited his city of Bryanka in the region of Lugansk in Eastern Ukraine. In those days Brother Oleg was working in a heating and air-conditioning business, studying at the Kiev Theological Seminary, and planting a new church in his home city that had become infamous for its high rates of unemployment and consequent alcoholism and drug addiction.
The infant church gathered in an old Soviet-style house of culture that honored the coal miners of the area and a painting of Lenin observed all who entered. In spite of the wretched conditions of the building and its awful smell, there was a spirit of Christ’s love and grace that I will never forget. Invalids were assisted in climbing up the front steps by able-bodied believers and all who came were fed what may have been their only healthy meal for the week. We worshiped and sang together, I preached on the difference between Lenin and Jesus (and received an enthusiastic ovation), and we shared a most precious Holy Communion together. God’s Spirit was present in a most Jesus-exalting and God honoring way on that Sunday seven years ago.
Later, I told my ministry partners, “If Jesus came to earth some Sunday to attend a service in His honor, I believe He would chose to attend worship with His church in Bryanka.”
Last summer war came to Bryanka and today Bryanka is occupied by Russian-backed troops and tanks. Due to the war and the targeting of evangelical church leaders for “special treatment” by those now in control, Brother Oleg and his family were forced to leave their home and church and seek safety in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine.
Even though Brother Oleg’s family has a very small apartment in Kyiv now, it has become an oasis for others who have been displaced. They invite people to share their apartment, and then when a family is able to find work or move on, another family arrives. They have been able to access humanitarian aid and some food supplies as well. English conversation groups are another of the strategies Brother Oleg is using to reach out and assist these needy IDPs. You can imagine news of this kind of activity spreads quickly and consequently the grapevine is growing.
As a result of his God ordained forced relocation to Kyiv, Brother Oleg has begun to plant a new church among the IDPs in Kyiv. God willing, I will be in Kyiv on Sunday, May 24th, and I plan to visit Brother Oleg’s infant church on that Lord’s Day. If his current church plant is anything like the first one, the time together will be memorable because our God is sovereign and gracious and our Brother Oleg is one in a million!
Your support allows READ to resource effective ministries to the victims of Ukraine's simmering war.
I’ll keep you posted,
More than five million people in Ukraine live in conflict-affected areas, and more than a million others have fled their homes to try to reach safety. Fear, anger, and uncertainty prevail. The winter has been harsh—in more ways than one.
Government benefits have been suspended in some parts of the rebel-held regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. Children and the elderly are at a critical disadvantage, as they lack the physical stamina and the financial resources to move to safety.
Gas and water has been cut off in some areas, and the price of food has skyrocketed with rising inflation. Many employers are reluctant to hire displaced persons because they have no idea of how long these people might stay around.
Many Ukrainian evangelical churches have stepped up and sacrificed so that refugees can have food and shelter. Believers also go to the front lines with food and warm blankets for the soldiers, praying with them and encouraging them in the name of Jesus. Some of the Bible colleges who partner with READ Ministries have housed displaced persons in their dormitories, and congregations have opened their church buildings to give refugees a warm place to camp out.
Zaporizhzhya Bible College & Seminary (ZBCS) is one of READ’s partner schools. Located less than 150 miles from eastern Ukraine’s war zone, ZBCS is on the front lines of Gospel ministry as Ukraine’s war continues to simmer.
Vladimir Degtyaryov, director of ZBCS and one of READ’s valued partners, recently reported, “We took our freedom for granted, and for many years the government was pretty open to Christianity. But now things are changing, and we see more restrictions and opposition.” He went on to thank READ for the many ways the organization has made it possible for ZBCS to continue to provide theological training for church librarian/counselors and Christian literature during Ukraine’s crisis.
Many evangelical congregations in the area of Zaporizhzhya have joined forces and opened a local aid center in their city for the estimated 90,000 of Ukraine’s internally displaced persons (refugees) who have fled west to Zaporizhzhya seeking help. Brother Vladimir has also shared how evangelical families have taken refugees into their own homes and hearts, feeding and clothing them in the name of Jesus, and this has made a profound impact on refugees. On behalf of the churches and his school he expressed their gratitude for the gifts of North Americans who helped so many of his hurting countrymen during this time of war.
But if there is anything good that can be said about the situation, it is that people are coming to Christ. “Hundreds of frightened families came west to Zaporizhzhya to escape the dangers of the war zone, having lost everything,” Degtyaryov said. “But because of the compassionate way Christians ministered to the displaced persons, the refugees got much more than physical food and clothing. They found Bibles, forgiveness of sins, and church families who reached out to them in love.”
Your support allows READ to resource ZBCS's effective outreach to the victims of Ukraine's simmering war.
On Behalf of READ and Our Partners,