This report of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland’s witness in Odessa, Ukraine, was shared with me by a friend of the ‘Burning Bush’ and I thought that I would share it with you all as it may help you get a perspective of the gospel witness in that troubled land and aid you as you remember the saints of God there in prayer.
Odessa is particularly under great pressure from the Russian invaders so keep the believers in that city particularly in your prayers. Remember too, Mr and Mrs Timothy Sloan who are Brethren Missionaries serving the Lord in Lutsk since 2004.
“Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ,” 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12.
Sincerely in the Saviour’s name,
EASTERN EUROPE MISSION REPORT 2020
Rev D Levytskyi
(Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, Odessa witness)
ANOTHER year has come to an end and it is time to give a summary of the mission work done in the past year. The situation in Ukraine for any unprejudiced observer would seem to be better since the previous year.
However, there are things that have not changed for the better, but in the good providence of the Most High the Eastern Europe Mission of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland is still present on Ukrainian soil and works from its Mission here in Odessa.
During the year, the Mission was engaged in some printing projects and the distribution of the Scriptures and sound biblical literature. We have translated into the Ukranian language and published The Shorter Catechism and The Children’s (or Mother’s) Catechism. (We have, of course, already published them in the Russian language.) At present, we are able to get good quality printing of literature at a reasonable price. These latest editions, as people’s requests show, have generated interest among the Ukrainian speaking part of the population.
Bible distribution is continuous, as Bibles are always in great demand and Ukrainians are sending their requests to the Mission by post, email, phone or simply by coming to the Mission building gates. It is a great encouragement when they come in person to the Mission with their requests, especially when some of them ask for an explanation of the different doctrines we believe.
In October 2019, the Odessa congregation was once again privileged by having the sacrament of remembering the Lord’s death. The deputies who came from Scotland to the communion season were Rev Donald Ross and assessor elder Mr Edward Ross. Also, we had visitors from Scotland, Mr and Mrs David Norris and some of their family. The small gathering of local people enjoyed the preaching of the Word of God during the communion season.
The enjoyment of this privilege is a reminder that it is 25 years ago that the Most High in His kind providence, through the Free Presbyterian missionaries from Scotland, sent us a copy of The Shorter Catechism and then The Westminster Confession of Faith. This made a great change in our lives and brought us to a right understanding of scriptural doctrine, worship and practice. Before then we were tangled in the tenets of Arminian theology and practically did not know anything about the fundamental doctrines of the Reformation.
Since then, missionaries from the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland have used the preaching of the gospel of Christ as the main direction of their activity in Eastern Europe for the enlightening of the people who sit in the spiritual darkness of superstition and prejudice.
The distribution of Bibles and literature is a secondary but most important work. We are greatly indebted to the Trinitarian Bible Society for its generous help and are especially grateful for its gift of 5,000 copies of the Ukranian Bible in the Kulish translation. In addition, we were able to purchase 139 copies of the Bible in the Russian language in the local Christian bookshop at a reasonable price. Those who receive Bibles and literature from the Mission express their gratitude.
For example, one lady in the city of Kharkov wrote: “I have received a parcel from you, with the Westminster Confession of Faith. Thank you very much! I hope that through this literature God will work in my heart. I am glad that I have obtained such literature.”
A student of the theological faculty of Poltava Bible Seminary wrote: “I am very grateful for the invaluable works that you have sent me! Your books are a valuable contribution to our family library. My daughter is getting older and I will read to her with pleasure the book Line Upon Line by F L Mortimer and teach her the Children’s Catechism . . .”
During the past year, professing Ukrainian believers, living mainly in rural areas and among them soldiers, officers and chaplains of Ukrainian Army Forces, as well as ministers of the gospel of different denominations, were sent by post and free of charge the following Bibles and literature: 400 Ukranian Bibles (big format); 41 Russian Bibles (big format); 22 copies of Sermons by Rev D MacFarlane; 228 copies of The Westminster Confession of Faith; 146 copies of Catechism of the History and Principles of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland; 2,448 Scripture calendars for 2020 in Russian and Ukrainian; 1,234 Russian Golden Thoughts calendars; 94 copies of An Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith by Robert Shaw; and 130 copies of Line upon Line by F L Mortimer. We sent 204 parcels throughout the country. Total donations from Ukrainian correspondents for the compensation of postal expenses in 2019 came to £102.29, sufficient for postage and distribution expenses.
A new service has been introduced by the Post Office of Ukraine whereby recipients of our literature can pay postage at their local post office. Ninety per cent of correspondents have agreed to pay postage in this way.
The present situation in Ukraine can be described as an ongoing war which has now lasted for six years. Every day, one or two Ukrainian servicemen die, shot by snipers or killed by exploding mines. There are also many injured among the civilians.
But with regard to the spiritual situation in Ukraine, there are multitudes who are dead in their trespasses and sins. They need the gospel of Christ that they might live.
It is our appeal to the Church – brethren, pray for the cessation of war in Ukraine, but especially for the blessing of God on our gospel work. These activities of the Eastern Europe Mission, that is, the preaching of the gospel and the distribution of Bibles and literature, could not exist or continue without the Lord’s blessing on those who support the Mission with their free giving, for which we are thankful.
“Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days” (Ecclesiastes 11:1)