Sabbath in Khust and Rokosova

Saturday, January 13, 2007
Khust, Ukraine
If you have read my earlier entries, you may want to take a look at them again. In my enthusiasm and fatigue of trying to get it all down while traveling, I made more typos than usual. I've fixed up the previous three entries and will try to add more photos to previous posts.

This is Sabbath morning. I've got my sermon will probably go about half an hour. I've read through the scriptures in the Ukrainian Bible several times over so I can read them properly in Church. There are usually three speakers for a service and lots of singing and prayers. It usually runs a minimum of two hours.

Last night we got on Ivan Yurishko's son Vladik's computer. Two weeks ago they got DSL at the house and how wonderful it was to connect. I even connected with my wife Bev on Skype and had the clearest communication you can imagine. Everyone here was happy to hear her voice even though they could not understand a word she was saying. Bev was able to hear the two month old Serhiy making noises in the background. I was able to easily post my blog updates. This is a big technological leap for Western Ukraine as I've almost written off connecting effectively to the Internet.

One point I'd like to make about the Light of Love mission is that they have been given copies of the United Church of God Russian Bible Study Course. They really love it and some of the young people have taken an interest in it. It is attractive and has captured the curiosity of some. I asked Vasyl Polichko if the course may be over the heads of some of the kids. He said that you'd be surprised how much the children understand and how curious they can be. The Polichko's have tirelessly tried to steer the children to faith in Christ and the payoff has been in the children's curiosity. They said that when he was reading the study course that it hinted strongly of a common faith. He had not put together who we were with the organization behind the Bible Study Course.

Also, about Katya in Vinogradov who may be needing a kidney transplant. Her mother is a gypsy and the father is not in the picture. I have arranged to visit Katya on Sunday about noon in Vinogradov. I'd like to know more about her condition.

We're getting ready for Church. Stay tuned.


It was another wonderful day at Sabbath services in both Khust and Rokosova.

We got to Church about five minutes before 10:00 AM when services were to start. Usually they start promptly 15 minutes late. Not today. Services began about 10:05 and Ivan Yurishko who is also a deacon was the service leader. There were three visiting ministers including myself so I was envisioning a long service and I was right.

Services began with Ivan greeting the visitors. That is followed by prayer and then singing. Everything is very intense and the prayers are sincere and from the heart. Some church prayers are on our knees, some everyone prays their own and some are led by a person. Even women pray out loud. Many prayers offer thanks for everything that God has given us.

Then there was a blessing on all the children. They were asked to come up front. It was so heartening to see how they value their children and express thanks for them and ask for God's protection and care for them.

A sermon was given by Vasyl Nemesh whom we had seen on other occasions. He is an evangelist who organizes evangelistic trips through the former USSR. He had just returned from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and spoke of their work in Islamic countries. Their stories about evangelism are so inspiring. They are not afraid to step out to preach the Gospel by doing what is needed and depend on God to open doors. Part of his sermon was exciting news of conversions in Central Asia.

While this is Ukraine, services are usually held in Russian since the people like the sound of the Bible read in Russian better. However, knowing that I was more conversant in Ukrainian than Russian, everyone tried to accommodate my preference and spoke or sang in Ukrainian. Nemesh spoke about how Church is not a prison but a hospital.

Then I was given my turn to speak. I noted that I left my sermon notes at home. In the rush to get in the car and taking a Ukrainian Bible, I left the sermon notes on the bed. I prayed that God would give me inspiration and didn't even panic. God's inspiration may be better than notes anyway. It was. My outline was basically the outline of prayer in Matthew 6 and Luke 11. I just noted some other scriptures in Matthew 18, Isaiah 9, Ephesians 5:17 etc.

It was wonderful seeing people that I have gotten to know in the past 15 years of coming to Khust.

Services lasted three and half hours. It really didn't seem that long, but I know it will be challenge to make it on time to the afternoon service in Rokosova.

After Church pastor Vasyl Mondich and I stopped by to anoint Yura, a man with Muscular Dystrophy who lived on the fifth floor of a
dilapidated apartment building. He was basically stuck living in a small one room apartment and wheeled himself around on a chair with casters. There was no elevator in the apartment building. Needless to say, it was not friendly at all to disabled people.

Then lunch at Vasyl and Svetlana Mondich's. I have always appreciated this family a lot. They are very hospitable and devout. He has been pastor on and off of the Khust Church. When I first met him, he was the Head of all the Churches of the Sabbath Day in Transcarpathia. The Mondich's son Victor and his wife Maryana along with their son Victor stopped by. We made sure to get a photo of all three Victors in the room. Also, the Mondich's daughter and her son Benjamin stopped by to say hello.

An interesting development is the beginning of the churches to adopt the Holy Days. The last time I was here there was fierce resistance to them by the pastors. That seems to be evaporating as fear that the Holy Days are taking people to Judaism are unfounded. There were questions, however, about the keeping of Pentecost. They count Pentecost differently because the Ukrainian Bible says that you count to Pentecost from the Passover and not from the Sabbath in the midst of the Days of Unleavened Bread. We had to break our conversation off because we need to drive to Rokosova for the afternoon service.

We are an hour late as we come to services in progress. Khust and Rokosova are on different time zones as Khust observes Kiev time and Rokosova European time which is one hour behind.

We walked in to the House of Prayer which is what they call their church building. Attendance was strong today. We sat in the back and I thought the pastor would not be calling on me to speak. But, he did. I gave the same sermon that gave in the morning. Afterwards, Franz Klassen, the leader of all the Churches of the Sabbath Day around the world gave the closing message. He is of Dutch origin, lived in the Russia on the Pacific ocean and settled in Tajikistan. He led the evacuation of Sabbatarians from Tajikistan in 1997 when they were persecuted by Islamics. I have that story on the web at LifeNets helped provide relief in the evacuation from Tajikistan to near Kherson, Ukraine at the mouth of the Dnieper River.

We went over to Ivan and Anya Pavliy's for dinner. They were in a bit of a rush because there was a church town hall type meeting two hours after Church. But, we still had time for dinner and some good discussion. Again, Ivan Pavliy, who has adopted the Holy Days, and I talked intensely about some of the doctrinal changes regarding the Holy Days that are taking place. They are going through confusion as some of the brethren are keeping them, others aren't and some are keeping the Passover on a different night. They want to bring everyone together for agreements because it is becoming noticed by people in the area that some work on the Holy Days while other take the time off and go to Holy Day services in Khust.

Our meeting was abbreviated. We left back for Khust. Five hours of Church is plenty for one day even though I really enjoyed the experience and feel very close to these people after coming here for 15 years.
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Victor, it sounds like a lovely Sabbath. I am so glad that things are going well!

Please do update on Katya and let me know if there is anything that can be done stateside, other than praying which I already have covered (with the help of several friends as well).