Child: Sashko Popchenko
Child: Yurko Popchenko
Child: Matviy Popchenko
Child: Audriy Popchenko
Mission Field: Ukraine
Years of Service: 21
Home Church: Central Baptist Church
Our Missionary for 9 years
Dear Prayer Partners,
Greetings from the Popchenko Family!
God has spared us the start of the cold season another month and we have enjoyed a relatively warm October. One of the challenges of Bible translation work is a lack of corresponding words for expressing Biblical ideas. Many languages lack equivalents for words like ‘God’, ‘spirit’, ‘faith’, ‘righteousness’, ‘holy’, etc. Thankfully, Ukrainian has no such problems. However, what is often frustrating is the difficulty in choosing words denoting common ideas. The word I used for ‘tanner’ in Acts 9:43 ff. received criticism from a few of our readers. And no wonder: there are as many Ukrainian equivalents for it as there are current Ukrainian versions and I used something else. The main objection was that people are not familiar with the word and had no idea what it meant. This is expected given the fact that we don’t have this trade today. However, no one understood what the other words used in other versions meant either. They mistook their familiarity with the other words to be clarity. What is the solution to this problem? I wrote a short essay explaining that this is the word our language uses for ‘tanner’ and the other words mean something else and suggested a footnote explaining its meaning. Guess what? People were happy with the solution. Thus, we keep plugging along as we proofread the trial edition of the New Testament.
My preaching ministry took an unexpected turn this past month. In addition to regular preaching, I was asked to teach a homiletics class to the men in our church. In Ukraine, most pastors and preachers do not have any Bible training and preach any way which seems right in their own eyes. This is manifested both in the content and in the presentation of their preaching. To help them in a very practical way and teach them the mechanics of sermon construction, I choose the textbook ‘How to Prepare Bible Messages’ by James Braga. We agreed to meet every other Saturday morning for a three-hour session and have already had two sessions. It is joy to have eighteen men – from the pastor of the church to those who would like to start preaching – eager to learn the art of proclaiming the word of God. Just two sessions have already born fruit: two men who preached afterwards displayed significant progress in sermon construction. I am looking forward to the time when all of them faithfully declare the whole counsel of God.
Mama’s Corner, by Wendy In October our church had its usual Harvest Day thanksgiving service. Yura was chosen to be one of the preachers, Sashko, Yurko and Andriy played in their string ensemble, and also participated in various choirs and recitations. Afterwards lunch was served and the fellowship time lasted until quite late. At the last minute Matviy got sick, so I stayed home with him, but the rest of the family had a wonderful day. One thing that we appreciate so much about our church is how much the folks enjoy each other’s company!
Dear Prayer Partners, February 2017
Greetings from the Popchenko Family! The long, harsh and severely cold winter is finally over and we are enjoying early spring weather. I don’t think we have ever looked for spring as eagerly as we have this year. It gave us hope of finally getting better. Our health woes did not end in January. In February, a very bad flu hit our family again and all of the children, one by one, got very sick running dangerously high fevers and getting bad cases of tracheitis. Then, after taking care of the sick family for two months, Wendy got sick. Amazingly, I have stayed well during this last ordeal, which is nothing short of a miracle. This left me able to take care of the sick family. Right now, all of the children are in various stages of recovery with Wendy slowly following them. However, they are still having residual effects, mostly cough. Our youngest, Matviy, has been coughing very badly for a long time and we would appreciate your prayers for him. Our oldest, Sashko, got it the worst this winter: he was sick the most frequently, the longest and the most severely. A visit to an ENT doctor revealed that his tonsils are in very bad shape and may need to be removed. We are running tests to see if he really needs to have them taken out and would ask you to pray that that won’t be necessary.
During the past month, God enabled me in the midst of the sickness of our entire family to add another book to the second draft – Revelation. We now have only one book of the New Testament left to edit – 2 Corinthians.
For over a year, we have been asking you to pray with us for God to raise young people to join us in the project. Well, I believe God has begun to answer our prayers. A year and a half ago, our second-born son, Yurko, told me that he had decided to join me in my translation work. Since then, I have been praying for God to confirm the commitment of an 11-year old boy. Over a year later, on December 20, 2016, Yurko showed up in my office with a pen and a pad. I thought he needed some help with his schoolwork. “Dad, can I start learning Greek?” he asked. I was taken by surprise but quickly got my thoughts together and enquired, “When do you want to start?” “Right now”, was his determined reply. I told him I needed to think about it. It was a hard decision to make. His request was so untimely. I desperately needed to finish the second draft! I simply didn’t have a spare moment to teach someone Greek. But then, I couldn’t help but see God at work. When I announced to Yurko the next morning that we could start after Christmas (January 7th here), he was very disappointed. “Can I at least start learning the alphabet?” he begged. I gave him a Greek grammar and he left. An hour later he showed up in my office again. “Dad, I know my alphabet. What else can I learn?” I had him say the Greek alphabet for me and sure enough, he knew it perfectly. At that moment I knew that I couldn’t make Yurko wait another three weeks to start learning Greek. I needed to strike while the iron was hot. I began to look online for a New Testament Greek grammar for children but the ones I found were too simple. So, I started using the Ukrainian translation of J. Gresham Machen’s New Testament Greek for Beginners but soon realized that it was too difficult for Yurko. I ended up reworking Machen’s grammar to bring it to the level of a 12-year old. The past two and a half months, whenever Yurko and I were well, I have been giving Yurko Greek lessons and reworking the Greek grammar in my “spare time”. Yurko has been a tremendous student and is mastering Greek very well. Once he has mastered Greek, we will move onto Hebrew.
Greetings from the Popchenko Family! The month of July presented two special ministry opportunities.
The first was our family’s visit to a church in the town of Ivankiv about 35 miles from the notorious Chernobyl nuclear power plant. This was our first visit to this small country congregation since my uncle became the pastor there a few years ago. At the service, our family sang seven songs accompanied by three guitars and I preached on “The Essence of the Christian Life” from Titus 2:12-13. Everybody said that they were greatly encouraged. After church, we visited my uncle’s very humble home where he had moved from his nice apartment in Kyiv to pastor this church. Our younger boys had a great time watching and playing with all kinds of livestock. Please pray for that church and its pastor as they try to serve the Lord in a very difficult area.
The second was the opportunity to minister at the children’s camp which our boys attended this year. The camp’s theme was “Climbing Bible Mountains”. Children were presented with the Gospel as they ‘climbed’ each day the mounts of Moriah, Sinai, Ebal and Gerizim, Calvary and the Mount of Olives. In the afternoon, I spoke to the boys on keeping their bodies pure for the glory of God. In the evening, I spoke to all the children around the campfire, drawing from their lessons and explaining the Gospel. That day at camp turned out to be the coldest and rainiest of the whole summer and we were afraid that all our plans would be frustrated. However, just before the campfire time, it stopped raining and I was able to speak. When I gave the invitation, child after child began to kneel right on the ground asking the Lord to forgive their sins and save them. Twelve children made a profession of faith that night! Praise the Lord for graciously holding back the rain and for drawing these precious children to Himself! Please pray for these young souls that God would strengthen their faith and help them follow Him to the end.
Sincerely Yours in Christ Jesus,
Yura, Wendy, Sashko, Yurko, Andriy, and Matviy Popchenko
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