Dear Friends,

I can hardly believe it but I am at the seen of my first missionary emails. Some of you may remember when we lived in Odessa, Ukraine…most of you were added to this list after we left in 1999. It is so amazing to be back…the site of the Mandolin lady, the Reebok Mafia, the wild dogs and charming cobblestone streets. (You can read all about it in our book: You’ve Got Mail From Odessa) I will send pictures as soon as I can upload them.

The city has changed so much. The very fact that I have a WiFi connection in a local restaurant tells it all.

Most importantly, our former co-workers, Valentine and Tatyana Sviontek are still here prospering in the work to which God has called them. They are leading a vibrant Messianic Congregation (they had 300 people at their last Hanukah celebration) and the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute.  In addition, Valentine is overseeing four other congregations in Ukraine.

One of those is the one that we will be partnering with them to plant in May. Sergey and Olga, graduates of the MJBI, are already there building relationships with local pastors, garnering support for our outreach and preparing to lead the new work. Freddy and I traveled with Sergey to Kemenets-Podolsky from Kiev on Sunday. We arrived by train at 6am, and then drove two hours to the city. I preached two services at a local church. The pastor is the senior man in the city and he has pledged his full support.

Their building is a former synagogue and he has given Sergey the entire lower level to use for the new Messianic Congregation. He will also serve as a mentor and local covering for Sergey, partnering with Valentine in this.

Valentine’s brother Roman, had just graduated from the MJBI when Elana and I lived here. He and his wife Natasha are two of the sweetest people you will ever meet. They were hoping that we would do a Messianic outreach in the city where they lead a congregation, Khemelnitsky. Nevertheless, he will be working hard to make sure that the outreach in Kemenets-Podolsky succeeds.

On Sunday night after we returned from Kemenets-Podolsky to Roman’s house, I told him that maybe at the end of the summer or fall we can come to Khemelnitsky and do an outreach to help strengthen his congregation. He looked down and became very quiet. I wondered what I had said—if I had offended him. Then Natasha said in her broken English, “He is cry.” It was such an amazing moment. He was so moved that we would come that he began to cry. Now we must go!

Friends, we can’t do these outreaches without you. We are not just reaching Jews here in Ukraine, but raising up leaders for ministry in Israel by bringing Israeli young adults here to participate in the ministry.  We need to raise about $40,000 by May. Please consider joining with us in this vision—becoming a partner with Messiah’s Mandate.

Everyone has his or her role to play, and I love to doing what I am called to do. I love to preach the gospel. I love to reach my people, the people of Israel, as well as those in the nations. I love traveling in Ukraine, sleeping on trains, going from city to city. And I know that our team of Israelis is going to be blessed as they are sent from Israel to Ukraine to reach their own people, as well as the non-Jews in the city.

Thank you for standing with us in whatever way the Lord leads you, as together we play our small part in fulfilling the Messiah’s Mandate to preach the gospel, to the Jew first and also to the nations.

To the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8),