Pluses and Minuses (September 2012 Update)

We are back in Kiev to begin another semester.  Our return trip had its “pluses and minuses.”  On the PLUS side, God gave us an amazing encounter in the airport at Atlanta. While looking for a place to sit down and eat between flights, Katya and I stood surveying the limited possibilities.  Then the couple at the table nearest to us asked if we’d like to join them.  We did and soon began conversations about our faith.  We discovered they were believers – from Rogers, AR – From Fellowship Bible Church.  We asked if they knew some people we knew from there and explained that my daughter had attended the Grove (church plant from Fellowship) but that she and her husband now attended New Heights in Fayetteville.  When they asked her name and we said “Meredith Cooper,” they said they knew Sean very well!  We had a wonderful time with them, and later we reflected on how wonderful (and mysterious) the providence of God is!

 

On the MINUS side … we flew on to Amsterdam to make our connection to Kiev.  When we arrived, we walked past a flight boarding for Kiev at 9:25 am.  Katya asked if we could get on that flight and I said, “No, we have the 12:55 flight.”  Since I have flown this route many, many times and always have the 12:55, I didn’t even bother to check the tickets until we sat down to wait for our flight (at 9:30).  I checked the tickets and guess what?  Our flight was the 9:25 one!  It was an expensive mistake ($500) and we had to wait until the 8:25 pm flight because there was no room on the 12:55.  “Pride goes before a fall.”  Next time I’ll check my tickets!

 

BIG PLUS … We arrived in Kiev and back home after 1 am in the morning – tired and knowing that we had no food or milk for the next day.  We opened the refrigerator and it was full along with a note from our pastor and his wife welcoming us back home!  We had them over for dinner (Tacos!) the next night and had a wonderful time just talking about our summers.  What a joy!

BIG Minus … after being home just one day, I awoke with a terrible pain in my stomach.  Eventually we headed to the clinic when the pain was too severe to wait any longer.  Interestingly, I was released from this clinic just one day before we traveled to America; now one day after return, we were headed back.  This time I had an acute attack of diverticulitis so I had a couple of days in the hospital while they gave me IVs and anti-biotics.  I was better in a couple of days but the bill was not cheap!

 

The following weekend, we had our annual church planning retreat (Friday-Saturday).  This year we really accomplished a lot and have many good ministry plans for the coming year (PLUS).  (We are especially excited about Home Group, ESL Clubs and our Church Retreats for this year.)  However, Katya and I also have many ministry commitments now that will mean much less free time for us (MINUS).  For example, because of church and family, we will be travelling to the right bank (between 1 hour and an hour and a half, one way; 3 hours each night) 5 out of 7 nights a week!  That’s 10-15 hours each week just riding on buses and metro.  We are looking for alternatives but we are preparing for a busy semester ahead.

 

I begin teaching in a week (September 10th).  I will be teaching Theology 3 (Christology).  Be praying for me as I prepare.  I will also be preaching at our church the next two Sundays.  Additionally, I am trying to keep up with Russian studies.  With 3 classes this fall and 4-5 next spring, I have a very busy schedule ahead.  I am grateful for the opportunity to serve (PLUS) but I need to remember to say, “no,” sometimes because the needs are greater than my time (MINUS).  Please pray for my preparations, my students, and my time schedule.

 

Continue to pray for our finances.  God always surprises us by meeting our needs in various ways, but we are consistently about $1000 below our needs each month.  For example, the day after I got out of the clinic, we received an email notifying us that a friend had given us $500—almost exactly what the hospital bill cost us!  God knew our need and put it on the heart of a friend who did not know our need!  How awesome is that?  Clearly He is Jehovah-Jireh!

 

Thanks for being our partners in ministry!  Katya and I are amazed that we have people like you helping us to serve God through your monthly gifts.  Your faithfulness and generosity continues to humble us and to give thanks to God for you whenever we think of you. “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” Philippians 1:3-5.

 

Posted in Jim Ehrhard's Ukraine Updates

Spring is Here — Summer is Close! (May 2012)

Spring has finally come to Kiev!  Or maybe we should say summer.  After some unusually cold weather at the beginning of April (around 30 F), the temperatures here have gotten to nearly summer levels (in the 80s) rather quickly.  No complaints here!  I really miss the warm weather of Arkansas and I am looking forward to the hot (and even humid) summer in Arkansas when we return home in June.

 

Our Visit to Crimea …

We had a little over a week this year for spring break so we decided to take a 13 hour train ride and head to the Black Sea and Crimea.  The temperature was chilly, in the 30s most of the time, but it was refreshing to have the time away.  During our time there, we got to relax and see many very interesting sites.  We visited castles and mansions and exhibits that belonged to the Romanovs and we were able to see the palace where the Big Three (no, not from the Miami Heat), Roosevelt, Chamberlain and Stalin met to discuss the ending of World War II.

 

We also had many unexpected surprises at churches.  When we came to the retreat center, Katya was surprised to see the director’s wife.  They had met this fall at a woman’s conference in Kiev and the lady invited Katya to come to visit sometime.  She did not know this was her retreat center until they saw each other!  Also, at church, we were able to see a number of KTS students that we did not expect to see there.  The next week, we were in Bakhchisarai for Easter so we tried to find a church on Saturday night.  Bakhchisarai is a Muslim community and no one knew if there was an evangelical church.  We even tried the internet but we could only find a possible address—no phone number, no directions, no information.  So we decided to just show up.  The church was full, the service was wonderful, and there were even two KTS students there!  What a surprise!

 

From Yalta, we traveled to Sevastopol.  We were able to visit Chersonesus, an ancient Greek settlement over 2500 years old.  It was amazing.  Then we visited some military sites like the Panorama of the Siege of Sevastopol (Crimean War, 1853-54).  The weather had improved and we had a couple of wonderful days of sunshine and fresh breezes from the Black Sea.  For our final day, we traveled to Bakhchisarai, an old Tatar palace.  It was quite interesting.  Afterwards, we were also able to hike through the beautiful cave cities of Chufut-kale.  We slept in a small hostel with sheep and cows grazing in the yard outside!  Even with the 13 hour train trip back, we returned refreshed and excited about going back again sometime in the future. (We haven’t had time to post any Facebook pictures yet…coming soon).

 

Classes and Graduation

I am almost finished teaching the theology classes on Pneumatology (the Holy Spirit) and Eschatology (Last Things).  It was a lot of working getting prepared but the class sessions have been great.  We have had good discussions and covered many important issues.  I will still have papers to grade in June before the class is officially finished.  Also, next week, I will begin preparing for Research and Critical Thinking class that I will teach in two weeks.  This class ends on June 1st.  Hopefully I can complete all the grading in June also.

On June 2nd, we will be having our graduation.  It will be an exciting time to see all the students (nearly 40) I have worked with over the last 4 years who will be graduating this year. Then the week after graduation, we will head to the US for our summer vacation.

 

Also, in July and August, I will be teaching a “Life of Christ” class at John Brown University (in Little Rock).  It has been a few years since I’ve taught this class so I will have prepare for it in the coming months too.  But I’m excited about teaching the class and I also know it will provide some finances to help us too.

 

Praises

Thank you for praying for our “English Coffee Club” (ESL) this year.  We have had more students than we planned for every meeting and the responses have been great.  We left them with something spiritual to think about including a Bible verse to translate and discuss.  Pray for the many seeds that have been sown!

 

Also, thank you for praying for our “Key to the Heart” seminar/retreat (about men/women relationships).  Katya and I were involved in getting speakers together and in organizing the details.  We delegated most of the details to university students in the church and they did everything with excellence!  Also, the messages and studies were great. All the messages had a common theme: It is more important to be serving the Lord than looking for a marriage partner.  Jim even taught a seminar on Ministry and Marriage, showing how the same character qualities necessary for a good marriage are the same skills that are developed in ministry.  Thanks again for praying for us!

 

Finally, keep praying for me and my Russian studies.  As usual, I have not had much time to work specifically on Russian.  I try to read daily and work on new vocabulary words but I need to put in a more concentrated effort.  We are planning to work on Russian every day while we are in the states and I will be giving greater priority to this in the fall too.

 

Finally, be praying for my daughter, Joy.  She has been going through some great difficulties and her husband has moved to New York.  We are looking forward to being home this summer to encourage her and also to be grandparents to the kids who desperately need a father-figure.

 

Also, be praying for us as we raise support and visit supporters this summer.  Our plans are to use most of June for this.  We will travel to see friends and supporters in KY, NC, VA, CT, NY and OH.  (If we can find time in July, we might try to see supporters in FL too and also visit family there—but we’ll see).  Pray for good travel together (we will be camping again most of the time to save money—and we like it!) and also for encouraging visits with friends and opportunities to share our ministry with new friends too!

 

Thank you for being our support team members!  We are so blessed that the few who do support us are so generous and so faithfulMay the Lord bless you for your partnership with us in this ministry!

Email: tri.org@gmail.com
501-588-2977

Teaching Resources International

20 Sunrise Place

Cabot, AR 72023-2047

Posted in Jim Ehrhard's Ukraine Updates

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! (April 2012)

In most Slavic countries, Easter is a very big event (and very controversial—we have two Easters, Orthodox and Catholic).  One thing that Christians have done here since Christianity first came to Kiev in the 8th Century was greet each other on Easter morning… We you meet someone, you shout: “Christ is Risen!” The other person responds, “He is risen indeed!”

 

But even though nearly everyone will celebrate Easter here, very few understand its significance.  Most do not understand that Jesus died on the cross to pay for sins.  Most don’t understand that the resurrection was God’s proof that the sinless sacrifice of Jesus for our sins was accepted by God!  Thus, the grave and death could not hold him!  Very few understand the need to put their faith in the resurrected Christ for salvation.  Please pray for Ukraine as the country prepares to celebrate two Easters this year—April 8th and April 15th.

 

Class Preparations

I’m still scrambling to finish the PowerPoints and lecture notes for my class.  But I’m getting close.  Be praying that I can finish these in time for the translator to get them complete too.  And be praying for me.  This is the first time I have taught these sections: Pneumatology (The Holy Spirit) and Eschatology (The End Times or Last Things).  It has been a joy to remember all the promises of Eschatology and to see what the Holy Spirit does in our lives.  Pray for me as I teach these classes beginning April 23rd.

 

Praises

Our “English Coffee Club” (ESL) has been wonderful.  We have had more students than we planned for every meeting and the responses have been great.  We always leave them with something spiritual to think about including a Bible verse to translate and discuss.  There are many non-believers present.  Pray for the many seeds that are being sown!

 

A Time to Rest …

We are looking forward to heading to Yalta during Spring Break for a much needed rest.  I am really tired and I will be teaching all of May before we head back to the states in June.  We decided to go to Yalta because it is the off-season and everything is cheaper (Right now the temperatures are in the 30s and 40s F).  We will be taking a 15 hour train ride (one-way), followed by a 3 hour trolleybus ride from Simferopol to Yalta (the longest trolley in the world).  We will be staying at a Baptist Retreat run by the parents of one of our students at KTS.  I am looking forward to seeing many historical sites from WWII and also from the Crimean War (1853).  I planned to work some while there but, my wife said that I cannot take any books (except for relaxed reading)!  She really wants me to rest!  Okay—I know I need it.  We’ll let you know how the trip turns out.

 

Prayer Needs

Be praying for our “Key to the Heart” seminar/retreat (about men/women relationships).  It takes place April 20-22.  We are organizing topics and speakers this week.  Be praying for the speakers, the seminar and for the young people who will be attending.  This is always a very important retreat because we minister to so many college-age students and they need to know how to have biblical relationships.

 

Also, keep praying for me and my Russian studies.  Lately I’ve been so involved in ESL lessons and lectures for classes that I have not put much time into Russian.  Fortunately, I get to hear it (and Ukrainian) every day.

 

Thank you for being our support team members!  We are so blessed that the few who do support us are so generous and so faithfulMay the Lord bless you for your partnership with us in this ministry! 

 

PS.  For some student prayer needs, go to the link on our website and learn what our students are doing!

Teaching Resources International
20 Sunrise Place

Cabot, AR 72023-2047

www.teachingresources.org

Posted in Jim Ehrhard's Ukraine Updates

Kyiv Theological Seminary March Update + Prayer Requests

Kyiv Theological Seminary March Update + Prayer Requests

Posted in Jim Ehrhard's Ukraine Updates

March 2012 Update From Jim & Katya

Some Much Time, So Little to Do… Stop, Reverse that! (March 2012)

 

This line comes from one of my favorite movies: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971, with Gene Wilder).  It accurately describes how I often feel.  Both short on time and often getting everything backwards.

 

Time in Ukraine is different from time in the US.  And I’m not referring to the time zone difference.  I’m thinking about how time is viewed here.  For me, I have always tried to be very efficient, and, if I’m not early, I’m late.  But in Ukraine, time is much more fluid because there are so many intangibles.  And everything takes much, much longer than in the US.

 

So as I’m trying to get prepared for my next class, I’m looking at everything I still have to do and wondering, “Where does my time go?”  Much of it is consumed in with transportation issues.  If we had a car (I don’t want one – other headaches with upkeep and crazy drivers), we could get most places in about 15-20 minutes.  But with the transportation system, it takes us at least an hour—if everything runs on time.  Since we travel to other side of Kiev 4-5 times a week, this takes at least 2-3 hours away from my time.  But, зто жизнь (it’s life here).

 

Second, personal relationships and birthdays, and holiday celebrations are very important here.  There is a social obligation not just to congratulate people but usually to sit down and “drink tea.”  Drinking tea always includes eating—a lot, for a long time.  It seems like we have something almost every week.  That means 2-3 hours of transportation plus a couple of hours to “have tea” and congratulate someone. Зто жизнь.

 

But few things bother me more than the fluid way time is seen here in Ukraine.  Waiting in line here is normal and so you have to factor that in for almost anything also.  And when something is scheduled at a certain time, it will rarely start then—adding more time than I originally planned.  I could write much, much more about how time seems to fade away here but I don’t really have the time to do so! 🙂

 

Preparations

Right now, I am working on Powerpoints for Eschatology and Pneumatology.  I have to get these finished before April so the translator has time to get everything translated.  But I’m enjoying working on lectures about heaven, hell and the death of believers.  It is encouraging to be reminded that this world is not our home—we are only passing through.  (But this is hard to remember when I seem to be wasting time waiting in line!)  Fortunately, in heaven, we will have all of eternity and won’t be rushed by time and schedules.  Be praying for me as I work to get these lectures finished this month.

 

Praises

I am always amazed to hear the stories of the students that attend our seminary.  One new student is a retired Pentecostal chaplain.  He is only in the diploma program but he is taking classes that the degree students have to take—not because he has too but because he wants to learn.  He chose to come to our seminary (Baptist) because we see the importance of education and reading.  He hopes that he can help people in his ministry to understand the importance of theology, church history and proper hermeneutics.  How exciting to see his enthusiasm!

 

Prayer Needs

Thank you for praying for new support team members!  We added a number this fall and this has helped our finances.  We still need to add a few more so please keep praying.  We are so blessed that the few who do support us are so generous and so faithful!

 

Be praying for us as we start up a new approach to ESL.  One very talented lady in our church is beginning an “English Coffee Club.”  We will be trying to reach out to university students near our church with a conversational format that involves a coffeehouse format.  We begin on Wednesday, March 14th.  Be praying for us!

 

Katya and I are also organizing our “Key to the Heart” seminar/retreat (about men/women relationships).  It takes place April 20-22.  We are organizing topics and speakers this week.  Be praying for the speakers, the seminar and for the young people who will be attending.

 

Also, continue to pray for my time for Russian studies.  I am definitely making progress but not like I want.  Sometimes it is very frustrating.  Sometimes, I can understand a lot and even carry on simple conversations.  At other times, I feel like my brain doesn’t understand a word!

 

Thanks for your prayers for us and for your support!  May the Lord bless you for your partnership with us in this ministry! 

 

Thinking of Heaven’s Rest … Here is a quote from Richard Baxter about our rest in heaven:

We shall rest also from all the trouble and pain of duty.  The conscientious magistrate now cries out, “Oh, the burden that lies upon me!”  The conscientious parents, who know the preciousness of their children’s souls and the constant pains required to their godly education, cry out, “Oh, the burden!”  The conscientious minister when he reads his charge and views his pattern; when he has tried awhile what it is to study, and pray and preach; to go from house to house, and from neighbor to neighbor, and to beseech them night and day with tears, and, after all, be hated and persecuted for so doing—no wonder if he cries out, “Oh, the burden!”

And seldom does a minister live to see the ripeness of his people.  But one sows and plants, another waters, and a third reaps and receives the increase.  To inform the old ignorant sinner, to convince the stubborn and worldly wise, to persuade a willful, resolved wretch, to prick a stony heart to the quick, to make a rock to weep and tremble, to set forth Christ according to our necessity and His excellency, to comfort the soul whom God dejects, to clear up dark and difficult truths, to oppose with convincing arguments all gainsayers, to credit the gospel with exemplary conversations, when multitudes do but watch for our halting.  Oh, who is sufficient for these things?  So that every conscientious Christian cries out, “Oh, the burden!  Oh, my weakness that makes it so burdensome!”  But our eternal rest will ease us of the burden.

 

I guess that is the answer to my time-struggles here and now.  Still … so much to do now… so much to look forward to later!

 

And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.” Revelation 14:13

Posted in Jim Ehrhard's Ukraine Updates

Let it snow, Let it snow…February 2012 Update

Posted in Jim Ehrhard's Ukraine Updates

Christmas is Coming! (December Update)

The Visa-Go-Round continues (see previous updates to catch up on the story) … Realizing that it would be impossible for me to get my new visa before the old one expired, I decided to fly out of the country and then back the next day to start another visa process.  But, after buying non-refundable tickets, I was advised by many (including by one Ukrainian lawyer who is a believer) not to try this.  They said that I would probably not be re-admitted to the country because I did not complete my visa process.

So we decided to try to process my documents one more time.  We went through all the steps again, including having Katya’s mother and sister in person at the жек this time.  We wanted to get the documents submitted before my visa expired on Sunday, November 27th hoping that they would not consider me as violating my visa if they had the documents.  But, as always happens here, the strange and unexpected happened.  When the Baptist Union representative took my documents to OVIR, they could not receive them because it was the birthday of lady who receives these documents (no one else does this; she does not do anything except receive documents but it is obviously such a difficult job that they can’t train anyone else to do this).  But he was told that they would consider receiving my documents on Monday even though my visa expires on Sunday.  They did not … not on Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday, but finally on Thursday, December 1st.  It takes at least two weeks for them to process them and then we have to go back to the local OVIR and the local жек (and both are not open every day and they are open on alternating days) to get them to process my final documents.  That means December 14th or later.  We have tickets to fly home on December 13th.  We have been told it would be impossible to get the documents in time (they have my passport so I can’t go anywhere until they are finished).  Keep praying …

I just finished teaching the second of two classes this month, Church History (November 7-18) and World History (November 21-December 2).  It was a very busy month and now all I have are about 60 papers from the two classes that I will be receiving and grading over the Christmas holidays.  I will also be working on notes and Powerpoints for my Theology 4 class that I’ll be teaching next.  It covers the Holy Spirit and Eschatology.

Katya continue to try to get the Registrar’s Office more efficient.  She is requiring students to check things posted on-line and making them register ahead of time for classes.  It has been difficult getting students (and sometimes professors) to change longtime habits but it is working.  All of the last group was registered by the 2nd day of classes!  The Executive Council is also working on hiring someone to help her with all she is doing.  But most of all, the school needs to have the money for a software program that integrates all records so data doesn’t have to be re-added and updated to multiple programs for every change.  Be praying for the Executive Council as they make decisions.

ESL Clubs have been going great.  It is one of the highlights of my week.  We work with a number of students every Sunday morning before church.  Please pray for us as we prepare to teach and build relationships with these students.  We have one more class meeting before the holidays.  Our lesson will be on American holidays so we will talk some about Christmas and Christ too!  Be praying.

We continue to lead our small group Bible Study.  The number of people attending varies a lot depending on jobs and classes (which students are in town).  But we have really enjoyed having people in our home each week.  I (Jim) have been writing the Green Sheets (Bible Studies) weekly for the church also and teaching the small group.  Continue to pray for us as we prepare and as we minister to those who are part of our small group.

I’m hoping to work a lot more on Russian over Christmas and also in the beginning of the new year.  My Russian has definitely improved even though I have not had time for any lessons.  Because I hear Russian every day, I am hearing and understanding much better.  We try to read a short story in Russian every night which helps me with pronunciation and some new vocabulary.  One night I was too tired to read so Katya said she would just tell me the story of the Three Little Pigs in Russian and I would listen and translate.  She started telling the story and mixed up a few things and could not even remember what the second house was built from!  When I kept correcting her, she said, “Do you think you could do better?”  And I said, “Yes!”  And she smiled and said, “in Russian?” Ugh!  I said, “I’ll try.”  To our amazement, I was able to tell the whole story with lots of details and only a few corrections!  So I am learning, but I have a lot to learn.

Please continue to pray about our support levels.  This month we added another new person to our support team!  I will be sending out some more letters this month to ask for their support.  We are hoping to add 9 more.  Please pray that God will put a burden on the hearts of some to become part of our support team and help with the work we do here in Ukraine!

Thank you again for your support and your prayers.  Hopefully, we will be home for Christmas to see some of you!

 

Posted in Jim Ehrhard's Ukraine Updates