Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Confidence for the future because of what God has said, done and who He is.

God is good ! As a team we have taken a small break to refresh, regroup, recuperate, and refocus. God however never needs to do any of these things. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Today we reflect on God's consistent goodness and outrageous grace. Transition House (Fontanke) is now open, and the home of 24 young people.
What seemed at times an impossible task is now complete.  Not so long ago we were up to our eyes in basement dust. At that time we studied the book of Joshua as a group of 22 men around the kitchen table. The message of Joshua is simple; be confident in your God, humble in yourself, and ready to do what he asks of you. In Joshua 3 we read of the miracle mainline God provided for his people to walk through (the roaring river Jordan) in the confidence that he was going before them (3:8) as they walked into his purposes. In chapter 4 the people are instructed to build a memorial with a message ( 4:3). The message was simple... your confidence for the future comes from what the unchangeable God has already done for you... (4:6) remember it!
God indeed went before us, and today we stand on solid ground, amazed again at who he is and what he does. 

Today God has been good to you and me. The question is what will we do with this goodness? We could sit around leisurely enjoying it. We could just tell the great stories of God's provision over and over again (and there are many such stories of the journey God has brought us on so far.) God, however doesn't want that from us. He wants to use our memory of his goodness as fuel and confidence to advance further forward and walk further into his promises with greater joy and delight. He wants us to be strong and courageous... and move on. 

2019 will be such a year for us as a team. 

I am delighted to share with you that next year we are planning a number of team trips in partnership with our precious church family in Eastern Europe.

Black Sea Camp 
28th April - 13th May 2019

We want to complete the family block and accommodation work at the Black Sea camp.
Why is this project our priority ? 
It is very strategic for a number of gospel ministries in Ukraine...
1) It encourages the fostering shelter work and youth ministry across the country- It provides good quality facilities to show love to all those families and churches who are trying to minister love to many (thousands) of children and young people. 
2) It encourages gospel work across the nation of Ukraine as a retreat and training centre for gospel workers, caring for those who spend their lives caring. Expressing care and encouragement to those on the gospel front line is what we are all about (Galatians 6:9) - This is the only facility of it's kind in the country (that we are aware of). 
3) It will in due course (when we finish this accommodation) provide a venue for Pastor's conferences and training / study. Ukraine is enjoying a season of spiritual health and freedom. Its great need at this time is for many more pastors to be trained, encouraged and mentored. This facility will provide a huge boost to this critical and high priority ministry. A much needed practical help.

 At present 8 men and women are already signed up for our trip next year. We have need for many more. 
Could you help us by thinking about coming with us ? Would you and a few mates come or support a small group of helpers from your men's ministry group ?

  • Please get in touch and we will help you to see if it would be appropriate for you.  We are in need of many building materials if this dream and prayer is to become a reality. In particular we need to kit out 7 bathrooms (water boilers, tiling, basins etc) Would you be able to help us minister encouragement to gospel ministry in Ukraine by giving towards the cost of materials ? It may seem too obvious to say but we can only build if we have materials to build with. 

"Good news shelter" Kremenets
28th Sept -13th October 2019

This is our dear friend Victor Pugach and his lovely family. 
Viktor is lead pastor of Kremenets Baptist church. He, his family and church family have welcomed 7 young people into a home they have built to show the love of Jesus Christ. We are so encouraged with what these wonderful people have done in the name of Christ that we would love to help them complete the task which they have started with confidence in God. To encourage this ministry we are praying for 3 things...
1) That you as a church in the Uk would consider partnering with the church in Kremenets at the outset of this significant partnership project in North West Ukraine. Please don't hesitate to get in touch with us if this is something you would wish to consider in more detail.
2) That men would come forward to help us in this new building project. The work / skills needed will be familiar to all who have worked on transition house. Please don't hesitate to get in touch if it is a possibility that you could take some time to join us on this venture - it will help us immensely in our planning and success of this project. 
3) That we would be able to purchase building materials to kit out the interior of the home, and clad the exterior to look welcoming. For these needs we are dependant on God and your gracious generosity.

We are actively involved in supporting a number of other situations. At this stage, for a number of reasons we won't yet share them with you. But maybe you would be kind enough to pray for them, as we look to God's timing as to when to help.

  • Pray for the Pastors and churches in the middle of conflict who are unable to meet together in their normal way / building. 
  • Please Pray for Serbia, and the growing number of churches being planted in rural areas. This situation prompts a growing need for help, with exciting developments, yet little resources. We look to update you in the future.
  • We are so encouraged by many wonderful churches building shelters for children, young people, the elderly and vulnerable. Please pray that these great ministries will yield a great spiritual harvest across Eastern Europe and Central Asia as the gospel of Jesus Christ is seen in its beauty, action and grace. 

NB All of these plans could be accelerated if volunteers and materials become available. 
Are we biting off more than we can chew? Should we just stay at home and tidy our "man-caves" one more time? Should we just stay by the fire and watch yet another champions league match? Or should be get off our well fed frames and get on a plane in the confidence that God will continue to do amazing things. We have opted for the latter. We want to be...

  • Strong and courageous, because we see that GOD goes before us.
  • Humble and teachable, because we see that anything good God accomplishes through us, only happens as we surrender to his purposes and goodness.
  • Expectant and faith driven, because we know that THE LORD OUR GOD is with us, and he is able to do immeasurably more, even the impossible. (Eph 3:20, Matt 19:26)
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. 
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, 
for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

Are you up for coming with us ...

as we step forward into the promises and plans of God ?

Sunday, 3 June 2018


The day is finally here!!! I can't communicate it all to you now for a number of reasons...
1) I have no emotions left, 2) There is too much to tell and I don't want to miss anything out 3) Everybody is trying to download photos on the wifi.

Let me say just for now that the most amazing time has taken place in the company of the children who are always the highlight of every trip. You may not think this little piece of ribbon is very impressive but to 65 men who have poured their heart and soul into this project it is cause for great praise and glory to God. Today I am pleased to say that with the children we were pleased to take a pair of scissors and  declare this wonderful, massive, grace filled, trophy of God's help officially open.

I will write more after landing tomorrow and get opportunity to collate the photos and video.
Much cake, ice cream and even more cake was eaten. The greatest parts where the testimonies of the children and the recounting of how 1 man's prayer became a vision of faith and a reality of ministry which blesses many. Thank you for all your partnership. For churches and team members we have something very special on its way to you - see you soon. For everyone else, the hundreds of folks who have given in joy, and blessed young lives, we humbly thank you and praise God for you. We are at this point today because of your involvement and faithfulness.
Slava Bor

Speak to you soon about the glorious things that have unfolded here and how God is guiding clearly in the next stage of this adventure way bigger than our understanding. We have a Big God with a Big heart, his plans are good and his way is perfect, He provides for those who trust in faith and rewards those who follow with joy and love,
All thanks be to GOD

Saturday, 2 June 2018


Hi friends,
It is always a joy to write a blog and recount how good God has been to us. However this is a sepcial privilege. After a fortnight working on the Black Sea Camp block we have made our tearful fairwells knowing that we were able to achieve much more work than expected and that the folks were really pleased by what was accomplished in God's strength. Here is the team (with the cross on the hill in the background)...

  • All stud walls and cross members were completed (8 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms/ storerooms). with the exception of access panels and areas of the toolroom which is still being utilised.

  • All of the walls are now complete in plasterboard and wiring.
  • All of the ceilings are now complete in plasterboard with apart from some small bathroom areas.
  • Mo,Liz and Dad have done the bulk of the filling and plaster preparation.
Although there is plenty to keep the team busy here (Igor, Vitali and "Genja") , we have undoubtedly been able to take a huge stride forward to completion on a stalled project. Plastering and tiling can now be done as time and funds allow.

This has been a superb team to work with... great humour, strong banter, brilliant fellowship each morning, and some great moments I will not forget.
Here are my top 6.
  • The time Dennis has broken into appropriate song. I think my favourite was his rendition (through mask and wearing gloves as we put up the rockwool)... to the tune of "you are my inspiration" - he sang full pelt ... "YOU ARE MY INSULATION!"

  • The time BIG VIKTOR turned up with more ice creams than we could count, at last count most of us had 2 some had 3 (between morning cakes and lunch).
  • After Ken had played football with his young friends, the many times they kept turning up with a ball asking "Is KEN coming out to play today ?". Of course I replied "no Daddy says he needs to stay inside and do some work!" (We thought this had a higher probability of survival.)
  • The Cavalry arriving. We started with a team of 3, grew to cross-national cooperation of 8 then ended up with a working party of 15.
  • Mo's plaster mixing has a recipe handed down through generation to generation. By far the best mix of the fortnight, it had a special something extra (which was superb in corners and veiling gaps). Someone has said that next trip she has a sponsorship deal with "kenwood chef".
  • The time one of our Ukranian non church friends asked why would we come 3000 miles to do such a job when we could be realxing at home (awesome opportunity that Dennis and Dad grasped with both hands). 
Along with awesome food (great cooking Svetta and Katya) the air conditioned taxi service for the less young (thank you Big Viktor), and the very helpful translation (nearly as big Viktor you did an awesome job as usual) we have many things to be grateful for.
Last night was awesome, getting time with our young friends at church. We were able to leave a few goodies and 5 large suitcases were emptied onto the sofa. I got wooped at table football (because I had to use the red team and they were allowed to use the blue). My fine art collection for my study increased with another Paulina masterpiece of an Autumn scene. By far the outstanding contibution of the night was the presentation the young people gave. They sang two stunning songs and interwove readings and recitations all centred on the glory and beauty of Jesus Christ. It is difficult to describe the depth of emotion in our response. We are blessed people. 
Today has been a vintage day of rest before the busy celebrations and day of thanksgiving tomorrow. We started with a celebratory breakfast, and were joined by several special guests. Firstly by our wonderful friend Pastor Igor Bandura, and then by our wonderful friend Luba Orlova on her wedding day complete with bridesmaids and most importantly bridegroom. With 4 pastors in the room, we avoided the temptation to do the ceremony prematurely and offerred words of encouragement and got to pray with the happy couple on their joyfilled day.

This is a prayer truly answered for this house. The first "graduate" who has grown up, fled the nest and married a good man to raise a family of her own. God is good.
Today has been an awesome weather day, and some sightseeing with our wonderful tour guide Viktor. Three further special treats...
1) A children's ballet performance of Alice in Wonderland at the opera house.

2)  Peter's special marinaded BBQ tea.
3) Alex's special strawberry cheescake.
We will be in touch,  as we celebrate even more wonderful things tomorrow,
and more photos when bandwidth enables to upload, 
Much love,

Monday, 28 May 2018

Look who just dropped by...

Hi Friends,
It's incredible who you bump into at airports. Emlyn just happened to be passing through and thought he would pop to Odessa just at the same time as us - what a coincidence !!!

For the uninitiated - Emlyn has consistently won 3 prizes...
1) The most Odessa trips on a working team
2) The heaviest case competition (I think Sergiy just got a hernia helping him up the stairs with it)
3) The most presents and goodies for our young friends.
It sounds like Emlyn has packed and unpacked with his military training precision a very many times, but only ever to take his own stuff out and include more stuff for our friends here. No wonder he is so loved in this neck of the woods. Pray that Emlyn will have his usual gift of encouragement to the good folk here, this is undeniably the greatest gift he has travelling around with him.
God is good, sleep well, I know Emlyn will be - man that case is HEAVY!!!!

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Another wonderful day at Grace Church

Good evening friends,
Just wanted to give you a potted summary of a packed and joyfilled day before I crash!
Thank you those of you who have prayed for us today. We had a wonderful time thinking about the Holy Spirit and his desire to make us more like Jesus this morning. I was particularly encouraged by the amount of younger folk in the congregation who said it really connected with their hearts and lives - PRAISE GOD!. This morning there were 3 sermons and a extended Baby dedication.

 It was wonderful to hear Mum, Dad and Pastors pray. Another highlight for me was meeting Tim Murphy and his lovely family.

Tim is a wonderful brother in Christ from Kentucky, a retired GP, him and his wife (a dietician) come to Odessa for a couple of months at a time to work on a roving medical facility. The aim of the mission is to share the love of Christ with folk, and Tim has a passion for disicpling 1:1. Pray for my brother and his family, what they are doing is a marvellous thing after the heart of Christ. Also pray for their 2 young boys and little girl, all of whom are picking up Russian at a pace, and lovely company.

The highlight of the afternoon was being introduced to Black Ice-cream.

Peter has been tryong to feed it to me for days. When I finally took the plunge today (after changing out of my "Sunday best")  the cherry taste was gorgeous, but I am still trying to take the stains of my skin (- not exactly what they use to get it that black :).

This evening at church was the graduation of young people from Sunday school to youthwork. It was a great encouragemnt.

The young people sang, recited scripture, did drama. We also had 2 sermons, 1 from a young friend who preached his first sermon last time I was here (I was really encouraged by his development and the opportunity / encouragement he has been given). The second sermon was a typically warm hearted and well communicated sermon from our brother Roman Kalashnikoff on the theme of being filled with the Spirit.
All this was finished off with one of Alex's monster home made Pizza's . Alex is our hard working brother who cooks for the shelter every day of the year. As a trained chef, his skills bless many people, as a brother with a tireless servant heart he is always a challenge and encoruagement to me. As a friend he is a gem. Hearing of Ken's footy fascincation, he presented him with a commorateive plate from the fanshop of Odessa FC who play in the Ukranian premier league.  Ken's smile was too big for the camera but lets just say there is a display cabinet in Poole, Dorest which will soon be putting the precious gift on show.
We are looking forward to many things...
1) "Emile" *Emlyn Newman coming from Worcester tomorrow.
2) Working at the black sea again tomorrow.
3) Liz, Mo, Dad coming Tuesday
4) Seeing our Illinke church family Wednesday (a plant from grace church we have had the privelige of following and praying for from its inception as a pile of bricks)
5) Ian, Anna, Sam, Naomi and Sarah coming Thursday
6) Our 8 friends getting baptised next Sunday and the celebration at transition house.
7) The highlight of every trip our visit to see the children (I think Friday - the plans have changed a number of times)
Chat soon,
Much appreciation for all your encouragement and prayers,

Saturday, 26 May 2018

A full week of progress in a superb location with outstanding people.

Hi friends, thanks for tuning in, and sending your encouragements / telling us you are praying. We are overwhelmed by the encouragement which means so much.

Due to the astounding progress at Transition House (Priyt), we relocated our working team to the Black Sea Camp. Our mission is to do as much as we can to complete the interior of a family accomodatoion block. The layout consists of 8 bedrooms (which can sleep 4 people in each) which are set out as 4 on either side of the building. This is seperated by a central aisle which will provide 8 seperate rooms- each alotted  to a bedroom - to provide 6 bathrooms and 2 storerooms.
This picture maybe gives an idea of the layout from the central channel (coridor at the moment).
 During the week the team has worked exceptionally well together. We have completed a number of stud walls. The proces goes something like this
1. We stand and scratch heads working out the plan
2. Dennis measures up and goes outside under the beating sun in a beautiful hat to chop  wooden planks with a table saw which would slice through granite.
3, To help  Dennis and Victor  (translator) accomlish (2) various bottoms take it in turn to sit on said wooden plank. We notice the plank is much more stable after we've filled up from lunch - Svetta and Ekatya are feeding us far too much nice food.
4. Ken bores holes in cut planks.
5. Paul exercises anger management and belts massive nails into cut cross members and tries to build an accurate resemblance of a straight and right angled structure. In the main we are succeeding (especially if you squint , stand on one leg and can find a "straighter" plank to start with.
6. We then fill the wall with double core insulation (much needed in the severe winter and clear nights)
7. We then measure plaster board to cover what resembles an explosion in a candy floss factory.
8. We then present the board to the wall
9. We then remeasure the board, wondering where we got the first measurement from and if we are standing in the same room as we started (A number of us have got confused at the labyrinth once or twice).
10 We then ty again and hey presto with a multitude of screws (which resemble a gnat invasion) the drywall looks complete and ready for plastering when we jolly off.

I managed to take a little film of Ken finishing off one of the rooms. Obvioulsy he is sitting down as he has spent most of his day using his natural gifing to reach the higher stuff none of the rest of us can reach. Sadly his drill had so much power it made the room spin - so sorry if it makes you dizzy.
 We have had a superb week. We have started each morning enjoying working through John's gospel together. Our theme has been "knowing Jesus and making him known." Our hosts noted that the steps from higher to lower level were a lot to ask of a guy who has spent all day chopping wood... and other VICTOR (we call him big VIC but they are both pretty big) takes mercy on us and transpoerts us to meals on the lower level. Mealtimes have been filled with laugher. With any spare energy KEN has been practicing his Ronaldo impression with 3 lads staying at the camp. We have completed walls on about 5 rooms. and started another 2, and the central bathrooms.
Now back at transition house I have been asked to preach tomorrow as the church concludes a thematic systematic study on the Work of the Holy Spirit. The theme given is the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Please pray it is (anointed) and an encouragement to folks here and not just a bunch of notes cobbled together in a minibus and a tired day off.
I'll leave you with one of my favourite views of the week...
2 of the very best mates a guy could ever wish for, sitting enjoying the canvas of their creator whilst absolutely shot to pieces after serving with glad hearts and worn-out fingers.
If you are watching the little footy match from accross the park here in Ukraine, I hope you get the result you wanted. If you are doing something even more exciting I hope you have a great weekend. Speak soon, much love,

Monday, 21 May 2018

God is at work in ways beyond our understanding.

Good evening dear friends. I write at the end of a long but awesomely joyful and fruitful day. The 3 of us started the day by kicking off our studies in the book of John. It's a book which teaches us to know God in Jesus Christ, and helps us to make him known to others.

The truth about JESUS as shown to us in Ch1 -(you've gotta read it if you never have... )  is mindbending in it's extremities. We find on one hand - the hugeness of who Christ is, HE IS THE WORD - the one who existed before all things, the one who is the source of all life, the reason behind all existance, and the one who spoke us into existance. In him was life itself, Yet contrasted with the sepremecy, majesty and otherness of GOD is the gift of his intimacy towards us. This creator God who brought this world (and you and me) into existance did so for realtional reasons. He wants you and me to enjoy his power, his holiness, his love, his perfection, his joy, life giving together with him. The same God who created this world came into his creation relationally. Jesus Christ came to you and me as the light of the world. He reveals not only that our ultimate reason for living is him, but also that his reason for living and dying was to rescue us and reconect us to live with him. The Christian joy is that every new day is given to know God in the forgivness, and resurection power of Jesus Christ.

In a small room on the 4th floor of transition house, 3 blokes in their working gear were exceptionally joyful and overwhelmed, as we were reminded that we are loved by the authorand sustainer of life himself. There is no better way to start the day, than remembering the one who loves us and gave himself for us.

Today was a working day. We were enabled by God's help to complete 7 double doorway surrounds, 9 window surrounds and the decorative ceiling architrave for the two large basement halls.  We returned into the basement after evening meal to finish off some small jobs. We did so gladly and without expectation or cumpulsion, we are excited by how it looks, and genuinely thrilled with what we managed to achieve today. The guys will really sleep well toniight.  This however is nothing compared to what God has enabled his people to achieve here during our absence. I will not spoil the surrprise with photos yet, mainly because we are putting the final touches on what is a bit of a masterpiece canvas down in the basement. Peter would not forgive me if I  showed photos before the final consumate touches were completed. The standard (especially of the large communal hall) is exceptional. Everwhere oozes class. It is  a labour of love. Some hotels would be exceptionally jealous! My heart skipped a beat when I saw what young people will get to enjoy here. Prsaise GOD.
We are so grateful for our Ukrainian friends we work with. They are top notch guys of humility, hard work and good humour. They also work hard all day understanding our colloqial english. "Okay DOKY!, has become a shared cross cultural expression.

Tomorrow I will be going off air until Friday. This is for a number of vslid reasons. One of those reasons will become self explanitary to private friends on another blog. Another reason is that we have brought forward our work at the Black sea camp. A number of us will be working on inner walls of the family block. We have chosen to do this now without internet access there to be helpful to our hosts. Please do pray for this venture that we have success and that many young people will come to know their reason for living and certain hope in that place in the future.

Thank you for remembering us, it means so much. We finish the day as we started. Remembering that the one who does more than we can think or imagine is operating here. He is enabling his people , as they pray (before each activity, break, and work time) to become fruitful in his purposes. As they live for him, and look to serve him, they find their joy purpose and pleasure. We too have joined in with that Joy today. Jesus Christ is not only the reason we live and have life to the full, he is the one we want to live for. There is no pleasure greater than living for him.

Chat soon after our working trip, praying for you as you pray for us.
Much love,