Merry Christmas

Truth.

“But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”    John 18:36-38
Pilate’s question is still as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago. In fact, with our rapidly changing culture and advances in technology that can spin facts faster and farther than at any other time in history, we need the bedrock of truth more than ever.

Olya and Kostya enjoy a picnic after church.

For the past few years, each week’s lesson presented in our international English Club was followed by discussion group questions designed to explore and test each student’s worldview and where those views ultimately led. Our team often repeated 2 questions: “Why do you do what you do?” “How do you know this is true?” As we developed closer friendships with students we found that many of them were spiritually uninformed, apathetic or bankrupt. As a result, the majority of our students had put their trust in their flawed cultures or fallen selves to give their lives meaning and guide their life-decisions. But Jesus’s own words regarding the reason for His birth – what we’re celebrating this Advent season – challenge us to look someplace else for timeless truths that transcend culture. More intimately, His claim invites us to know Someone infinitely capable of revealing the physical and spiritual reality about ourselves and the world in which we live in relation to a holy and merciful God.

When we first met Kostya (a 27-yr old customs agent), Olya (a 24-yr old restaurant server) and Anna (a 43-yr old lawyer) through our English club and summer camps, they were surprised by the genuine community they encountered among believers. This piqued their interest in spiritual truth and they became hopeful of finding wisdom for their future. Over the last several years they, along with other precious new friends, have searched the Scriptures and found much more: they’ve met and put their trust in Jesus, a Sovereign King willing to lay down His life for them. This Christmas they now celebrate the One who has welcomed them into His kingdom!

Through your prayers and sacrificial giving, you have enabled us and our team to bring the good news of God’s Word to the people of Ukraine so that they can listen to His voice.  Thank you!

On the road and praying for God’s provision.

Anya (l) becoming a new member of Covenant of Grace!

We’ve now been in the States for almost half of our one-year “home ministry assignment” and, so far, our family has visited nearly half of our supporting churches to share what God has been doing in Ukraine.  We have MANY more churches already on the schedule to visit in January and February (see schedule below) and look forward to getting to all the rest before heading back overseas summer 2017!  Bob is also seeking to recruit new team members to help meet the abundant opportunities for evangelism and discipleship in our region. We feel blessed that we only need to raise 10% more for our own monthly ministry funds and we’ve received an incredible matching fund to help finance a facility for our North-Odessa church-plant, Covenant of Grace! If you would like to increase your current giving by 10% (a HUGE help to us!), are interested in how to pray for our ministry, or desire to begin partnering with us through financial support or an end-of-year donation, please click here.

End of year giving or perhaps looking for that perfect gift?

This time of year, we often ponder how blessed we have been, and it moves us to charitable giving. Maybe you’re looking to give to a ministry in need, or perhaps you’re wanting to take advantage of year-end tax breaks, or possibly you’ve got someone on your list who is really hard to buy for, and you’d like to give a gift in their name – a gift with eternal rewards. Here are a few options that might help you out. 🙂

Burnham family ministry  In order to return to Ukraine with our ministry fully funded, we still need to raise an additional $1,200 per month.  We are in need of monthly donors as well as one-time gifts.  If you’d like to help our family continue expanding God’s Kingdom in Ukraine, you can do so by going here:  https://mtw.org/missionaries/details/bob-and-andrea-burnham .

Ukraine church-plant “Covenant of Grace”:  This fledgling church is raising funds to purchase a building in north Odessa.  When we first started talking about this particular building, the idea was that the pastor (George Kadyan)  and his family could live on the first floor, and the church could meet on the second floor. Last month when I was meeting with George in Ukraine, he excitedly told me that he has changed his mind.  “We’ll use the first floor for the church, and we’ll use the second floor as a center to reach out to young people in the community.  No one is helping the youth here and we can make a huge difference!”  “That’s great,” I said, “but where will you live?”  “In the garage!  We don’t need very much room!” was his response.  If you would like to help this church purchase this building, and help us retrofit the garage to house the Kadyan family, you can Click here to donate online and help this church to establish a place in the community “Ukraine: Odessa Church Building #95990).

Help for Ukrainian refugees:  More than a million people have fled fighting in eastern Ukraine, and our counseling and humanitarian aid ministries are there to help as many as we possibly can.  Our counselors have received training in PTSD, and our Humanitarian Aid center provides critical medicine, medical supplies, clothing, and more, but we’re limited by funds.  Here’s an MTW article that tells more ( https://www.mtw.org/stories/details/forced-to-flee-refugees-in-ukraine ) and if you are interested in helping out,  Click here to donate online and help refugees in Ukraine (Ukraine: Odessa Humanitarian Aid #95969).

Izmail Life Care Center: For more than a decade, this crisis pregnancy center has been providing hope for young moms.  They’re also the ONLY organization that has been given permission from the regional school system to teach health and abstinence in Izmail public schools.  The women and volunteers that lead this are itching to do more, you can make that possible here: Click here to donate online and help refugees in Ukraine (Ukraine: Izmail Life Care Center #95999).

Several of you have asked how we and our girls are adjusting to life in the States:

Bob has particularly enjoyed safer neighborhood streets and trails through which to run with Emily. Their current goal is to run a 15k race in Pensacola this February and Atlanta’s half-marathon in March. Bob just returned from Ukraine where he met with church leaders and members to discuss new community ministries. Also, on American Christmas (Dec. 25th) our central and north Odessa churches will host a special outreach for soldiers that have been fighting on the Russian border and their families. They anticipate 200 people – please pray for their ministry to these war-weary men and women!

Andrea has given free reign to her inner architect and has been spearheading the renovation of our rental home during this HMA. (She’s thankful that our hammering and daily stomping and dancing can’t bother any downstairs neighbors! Haha.) It’s been encouraging to attend a wonderful adult Sunday school and women’s Bible study locally and she is looking forward to hosting some more get-togethers in our house – especially during Christmastime so she can show off our first-ever, live fir tree!!! Andrea misses close friends in Odessa and singing Russian worship songs. We were all sad to hear about the passing of our Odessa art-park friend, Anatoly Pavelovich (the maker of the kopek-earrings many of you have received as a gift).

Abigail (16 -10th grade) really enjoyed her first H.S. Homecoming dance and loves singing at her church youth worship time each week. She also had a blast singing with Georgia’s Honor Choir this fall. In the absence of a piano this year, Abby has been learning to play guitar. She’s also learning to drive – so stay away from parking lots at night :)! She Skypes or sketch-texts regularly with close friends from Ukraine and misses walking along the familiar streets of Odessa, enjoying the city’s beautiful seasons. It’s been especially hard to leave behind her cat, Zoobie.

Emily (14.5 -9th grade) also misses her school friends and our 3 cats (especially Mango) waiting in Ukraine, but has been meeting a lot of new people at church and at school Bible studies. Emily seems to be a magnet for other foreign students also adjusting to school in America. She’s grateful that our family has a car in the U.S. for when it rains or we’re running late and will also be learning to drive this year. She LOVES our cozy home and decorating her own room here in Lawrenceville and last month she started learning to play cello!

Iris (12 -6th grade) has been excelling at school, and recently made it into the top 5 contestants of her middle-school spelling bee. Due to her language arts teacher’s encouragement, Iris entered and won a district sponsored 6th grade writing contest! She also loves to draw original characters and makes homemade gifts featuring her sketches. On her birthday, this month, she got her ears pierced!  Iris also qualified to sing in Georgia’s District-wide Honors Choir this Fall.  She loves her teachers and has made some good friends but dreads saying goodbye to them at the end of this year. Iris deeply misses Odessa where her friends and cats, particularly our plush gray cat, Ksusha, have remained behind.

Odessa (2 years old) (our dog :-)) has loved having her own yard but isn’t crazy about all the hammering that’s been going on here!

Fall in Review 2016 through photos

Here are some of the things that made life interesting for us over the last three months – click and scroll on the pictures below to see captions.

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Where will we be next?

During the summer we were able to travel as a family to Florida, Oklahoma, and Colorado, but with our three daughters in school now, Bob (and sometimes Andrea) will be doing most of the remaining travel. We’re still working out our calendar, but here is what we know for sure:

  • Dec. 28-Jan 3       Pensacola, FL
  • January 29            Houston Lake, GA (Houston Lake Presbyterian)
  • Feb. 5                    Pensacola, FL (McIlwain Memorial Presbyterian)
  • Feb. 12 (Bob)        am: Atlanta, GA (ChristChurch PCA)  pm: Birmingham, AL (Covenant Pres)
  • Feb. 12(Andrea)   am: Birmingham, AL (Covenant Presbyterian)
  • Feb. 13-15 (Bob)   Birmingham, AL (Covenant Presbyterian)
  • Feb. 17-19             Atlanta, GA (ChristChurch PCA)
  • Feb. 22-23            Jackson, MS (Highlands Presbyterian)
  • Feb 25 – Mar 4      Birmingham, AL (Briarwood Presbyterian)
  • April 2-9                 Denver, CO (Deer Creek Presbyterian)
  • April 23-30             Crete (Europe Area Retreat)

If you don’t see your area or church on the list, contact us! We would love to work with you in connecting personally with as many of you as we can during our time on this side of the ocean!

Our prayer for you is that you will draw nearer to the One who came into the world for this purpose –

to show us truth and invite us into His kingdom.

Jesus, alone, is the Way, the Truth and the Life,

ruling His kingdom as the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace;

the greatest gift we’ll ever receive.

Merry Christmas,

Bob, Andrea, Abigail, Emily & Iris Burnham

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