At a glance…
The last three months are what I call “Mission Conference Season” – a time each year that most PCA churches host missionaries to participate in a church-wide conference- and it’s been AWESOME! I’ve been on the road (often with my family) over the last 10 weeks taking part in these conferences, and we always drive away encouraged by the passion that our churches have for taking the good news of Christ to the unreached. We’re also encouraged by hearing stories from other visiting missionaries about how God is working in their part of the world. It’s been an exhausting yet glorious time. Our sincere thanks go out to all of you who have hosted us, ministered to us, and sought to understand more about our ministry in Ukraine.
When she’s not been traveling with me, Andrea has been hard at work preparing our home to be rented out again when we leave for Ukraine this summer. I call her my “wonder woman” because she always attacks these projects so strongly! Siding, painting, windows, doors, carpet, toilets, faucets, plumbing, yard, deck, shed…it seems like she never tires. I think her attributes have now surpassed the Proverbs 31 woman!! 🙂 Please pray for her stamina and wisdom to know which projects are most crucial to accomplish in our remaining time. – I think even she is starting to get weary.
Even though the season for missions conferences is coming to a close, our travel is still continuing. This weekend we’ll be in Sevierville, TN, then Monday I’ll head to L’viv Ukraine for meetings with other leaders, and the day I return from Ukraine we take off for a week in Virginia to meet with supporters / friends. Please pray for safety as we travel, and again, for stamina.
Back in Ukraine, members of our north Odessa church, Jacoby and Lera Nelson, have again started up “Elevate” (weekly english club) and the numbers are high! Traditionally, high weekly attendance results in a good turnout for our evangelistic English camp in early June. I’ll be going back to Ukraine for that as well, but now we’re busy making plans for it. Please pray that God would give our team wisdom and insight for what is needed, and that He would bring many to this camp to learn about Him.
Ukrainians in our heart
Walking along the streets of Odessa, nearly twenty years ago, George Kadyan overheard some foreigners speaking English. He slyly moved near them, trying to hear what they were talking about. Apparently he wasn’t being as sly as he thought, though. The foreigners, American missionaries with Mission to the World, saw his movements and approached him. “Hi there, do you speak English?” “Uh, yes, a bit.” was his reply. George, originally from Armenia, had come to Ukraine with his brother looking for work and spoke Armenian, Russian, English, a bit of Ukrainian, and even that curious language, Esperanto. The young American woman told him, “We’re teaching an English class, you can come if you’d like to practice.” George did go, and found that they were using the Bible to teach English. George was a product of the Soviet system, and knew that the Bible was just a bunch of ancient myths, but it was good English practice, so he kept coming. Over the next several months he acted as the devil’s advocate, arguing with everything that missionary, Doug Shepherd, taught. Doug wasn’t flummoxed, though, and patiently went deeper with each of George’s challenges. There wasn’t a clear time that George can remember it happening, but at some point during those months, he began to believe that what he was hearing was not a bunch of myths, but rather the word of God. Eventually, George trusted Christ as the One who could forgive him of sins and reconcile him to his Creator.
From that point on, things moved quickly. George attended seminary to learn more about this God who has loved him so much, became one of the first ministers of Ukraine’s only Presbyterian denomination, and eventually planted three churches. When he was planting his second church in northern Ukraine, he fell in love with Snezhana (who was part of his team) and they soon married. He is now pastor of Covenant of Grace church in northern Odessa, and he and Snezhana have two fantastic children, Richard and Katya.
The thing I continually pray for, when asking God to send leaders our way, is that they be passionate about God’s name, humble, and have a love for people. That’s George and Snezhana to a “t.” Recently, when a woman in the church could not appropriately care for her tween daughter, George and Snezhana agreed to have the child come live with their family for several months while the situation was being resolved. Any time there is a chance to go deeper with someone, George is always ready with a smile and a listening ear. Even his experience as “devil’s advocate” has served him well. He’s now known for his apologetic prowess and has found himself as the “go-to” guy for challenging all the new devil’s advocates we meet. He speaks softly though, and doesn’t use Scripture as a baseball bat, but rather as a loving instrument to help seekers understand who God really is, and how He loves them so deeply.
So what is George up to these days? He continues to shepherd his flock in north Odessa, but now his dream is to begin a youth center for the teens in his community. This evangelistic program would help young people navigate through the muddy waters of youth and pop culture by counseling them how to discern where God is leading them spiritually, relationally, and vocationally. I’m trying to help him achieve that dream. I’m raising funds now to purchase the building you see below. The first floor will serve as Covenant of Grace’s worship center, the second floor will be the youth outreach center.
Currently, George’s family lives on the first floor, but they’re so passionate about this ministry opportunity, that they have decided to move into the GARAGE! (shown below) Would you move out of your home and into the garage to further God’s Kingdom? Honestly, that’s a tough question for most of us to even consider! I am absolutely thrilled with the passion this family has for applying the truth of the Gospel toward transforming their culture! I really want to make this the coolest garage apartment ever! Please pray for God to provide the resources and direction needed to make all of this happen in a way that brings glory to Him. If you’re interested in helping us purchase this property and renovate the garage, you can contribute here, or paste this into your url: https://mtw.org/projects/odessa-kotovskovo-church-building . If you’d like to talk to me about it, call me at 850-346-4858. Thanks!
Month in Review through Photographs!
It’s baaaaaack!!! If you’re interested in seeing some of the things that made our life more interesting these past couple of months, click on the picture or click here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/75323491@N00/albums/72157681427569226/show . You can see the captions for the pictures by clicking “show info” at the top right corner.
Will you help this ministry continue?
Every four years we raise needed funds for our ministry in Ukraine. Perhaps you’ve been following us for years, and even praying for our success. If you’re not already helping financially, we need you now. Would you prayerfully consider helping us?
Praying for 16 people!
Before we can return to the field we still need about $1,100 per month in pledges! If you or your church would be willing to help us out, would you contact us? You can reach Bob at (850) 346-4858 or BurnhamSnapshots@gmail.com
You can also give directly through MTW by clicking on the picture above.
We will not raise more than is needed, so if we’ve already met our goals, we’ll tell you. Please consider whether God is calling you to be a part of this ministry in Ukraine. Thank you!
What’s next for us?
Once the girls are out of school and we have all of our support raised, we’ll pack up our things and head back to Odessa. Until then, here’s where we’ll be:
- March 25 – 26 Sevierville, TN (Evergreen Pres)
- March 27-30 L’viv, Ukraine (Meetings with Ukraine leaders)
- March 31 – April 8 Charlottesville, VA
- April 21 – 29 Crete, Greece (Europe Area Retreat)
- May 7 Lawrenceville, GA (Restoration Pres)
- May 14 Atlanta, GA (ChristChurch Buckhead)
- May 21 Birmingham, AL (Cahaba Park Pres)
- May 28 Jackson, MS (Highlands Pres)
- June 3-12 Odessa Ukraine (Evangelical English Camp)
- June 18 Lawrenceville, GA (Restoration Pres)
- June 25 Rock Hill, SC (Westminster Pres)
We praise God every time we think of you,
and are grateful for your part in this glorious adventure.
In His grace,
Bob, Andrea, Abigail, Emily & Iris Burnham