Thursday, July 1, 2010

Summer Prayer Update

Dear Praying Friends and Family,

It's hard to believe that it is already the first of July!! We want to share some things with you in order to praise the Lord together, and also to take before Him in prayer. Psalm 105:1-3 says:"Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds. Exult in his holy name; rejoice, you who worship the Lord." Please take a moment to praise the Lord with us for all that he has done in the last few months:

1) Given us faithful supporters who encourage us by their care and encouragement. Without you, we could not be here! Because you pray and give, you are a vital part of this ministry. We have seen many specific answers to requests that we asked you to pray for (especially concerning acquisition of the language and finding a local Ukrainian church with whom to partner in ministry).

2) Unbelievably our first year of language school has been completed. Both of our teachers expressed satisfaction in our progress. Our ability to understand when people speak to us also has noticeably improved. We do the best when we are together, because what one misses, the other catches (it's a team effort!!). We rejoice in God's grace and the power He has given us to persevere.

3) Our long-anticipated visit with our whole family was just completed. We had 10 days together with harmony and great joy. We were able to do a lot, and everyone was glad to see just what it is like for us here. It was also very refreshing both emotionally and spiritually. We should have pictures on facebook soon (at least Karissa and Michelle will!!)

Psalm 105:4 says "Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him." We will need God's strength, wisdom and love in the next 3 weeks as we go to Sumy to work at a camp.

Karissa is already there, working with sports, crafts, and helping for swim time. Please pray for her to show God's love to the kids, and to have good relationships with other staff members.

We leave tomorrow on the train for a six-hour ride. There will be 2 ten-day sessions with about 100 kids for each. Jerry will preach some the second week (July 8-17) to the older kids. We will be doing anything that needs to be done to help (maintenance work, cleaning, mowing grass, painting in new areas of construction). We should have meal times and evenings to interact with the kids. Please pray that we will put Jesus on display in the way we work, play, serve and worship. We also hope to really be able to use our Russian with both Ukrainian staff and campers. Please pray especially for boldness for me (Kellie) and that my love for them overshadows my fear of failure.

We will return July 18 for a couple of weeks with Karissa before she leaves for school. Please pray for wisdom for her as she makes plans for the future (she wants to go into nursing, and will begin taking the prerequisites she can at Boyce College this semester.) She also needs a car, which is a big request for this summer so she can have it this fall if that is God's will for her.

We will need to study diligently when we return from camp and for the month of August. Please pray for discipline and perseverance to keep moving ahead with Russian.

Again, we thank the Lord for you and for the ministry He has given us all. We are so glad that you are partners with us. God has blessed, and we are confident that he will continue to work out the plans He has for us. We will not be able to communicate from camp, so after the 18th, we will be back to get messages and hear from you. We keep you in our prayers, as well.

With gratefulness and joy,

Kellie and Jerry

Monday, May 10, 2010

Wars, Rumors of Wars....and No More War!

It sort of caught us by surprise when we arrived at church yesterday and saw that everyone else was dressed for a picnic rather than the usual Sunday attire. Besides feeling conspicuously overdressed, Kellie and I were both wondering how we had missed the casual dress memo. Then it suddenly dawned on us: “Of course, it's Victory Day!” For those of you who are not WW II veterans or who didn’t get an A in Western Civilization, “Victory Day” is the celebration of the defeat of Nazi Germany on May 9, 1945. Americans typically use Memorial Day to remember those who gave their lives for their country—not only in WW II, but in all of America’s wars.
In the former USSR, however, Victory Day stands alone--and for good reason. While America sent many of her sons to spill their blood on foreign soil in defense of freedom, many more in the former USSR--combatants and non-combatants alike--perished on their their own soil during the so-called Great Patriotic War.
No country suffered more casualties than the people of Ukraine. Their recent geopolitical history sandwiched them between two of the world's most ruthless dictators, Joseph Stalin and Adolph Hitler. Under Joseph Stalin's forced starvation (1932-34), between 7-10 million Ukrainians died for their refusal to work on the communist-controlled collective farms. Just a decade later, Nazi forces obliterated thousands of Ukrainian villages and murdered more than a million of Ukraine's Jews. And these figures don't even include the hosts of combatants who lost their lives in defense of their homeland! If you are interested in a brief but insightful summary of Ukraine's tragedy during these years, click on the link at the end of this blog for the radio report from NPR radio. It is worth the six minutes of time to listen to it.

 What is amazing to me is how all this can be so easily forgotten. For many, this nightmarish tragedy has become little more than an occasion for a picnic. But what is perhaps most amazing is that all this can happen again. The same desires that drove dictators to such inhumane actions still lurk in every human heart (See James 4:1-2). They may not always culminate in mass genocide--but their effects are nonetheless devastating for individuals, families, communities, and nations. In the context of James' remarks, they can even invade and cause devastation among God's people.

The only hope (and answer) for all this is the Gospel of Peace. It alone has the power to transform hearts and reconcile people to God and each other. But until the Prince of Peace comes and brings to final fulfillment all of God's promises to redeem His people and restore His Creation, we (God's people) must live and proclaim that peace. Pray for us as we prepare to work with churches here in Ukraine to live out God's Gospel peace and be a trailer for God's coming blockbuster production--To End All Wars!

Until the Final Victory Day,

Jerry and Kellie Benge

PS Don't forget to listen to the radio report from NPR at the link below:

Monday, March 8, 2010

My Shortest Blog....Ever!

This is my shortest blog ever! Well, actually it is not a blog. I just need to let you know that I am changing my e-mail address from to  This will be effective as of this Friday, March 12. Please make the change in your address book.


Jerry Benge

Friday, February 19, 2010

Pyromaniacs Blog Entry About Ukraine

The following blog entry by John MacArthur was brought to my attention because it mentions Russia and Ukraine in regards to the negative impact of bad theology being imported from the Western church:

I posted the following response to it:

I serve as a missionary in the Russian-speaking world. I agree with Dr. MacArthur's analysis as far as it goes. There are indeed unhealthy influences here from the West. But the problems are not only from without--but from within. Man-centered theology permeates the church here too with its strong Anabaptist roots. And the top-down style of leadership inherited from the Soviet era does not always lead to an appeal to Scripture as the final authority when matters of faith and life are in question. But my biggest concern is how these two weaknesses converge to weaken the message of the Gospel of Grace. While justification by faith is taught as necessary for salvation, it is not expounded in terms of its relationship to everyday life and as the basis and motivation for the pursuit of holiness. Without that, the church can never grow as it ought. The best antidote to confusing or even dangerous theology is leaders and congregations who are Gospel-driven and Cross-centered. The next generation will not be easily distracted by hype or lured away by the empty promises of a pragmatized Christianity when they are being amazed and transformed by the Gospel as a way of life. Please keep the church in this part of the world in your prayers. Pray that leaders (and missionaries) would guard the Gospel in our lives as well as our lips.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Ukraine Election News Videos

Below are several links to videos from the Reuters News Service regarding the elections that are taking place in Ukraine today:

Ukraine decides

Ukraine presidential showdown

Cash-strapped Ukraine goes to polls

New videos will be posted as they are available on the New Feeds page of our website:

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Please Pray for Ukraine This Sunday

On Sunday, February 7, there will be a presidential runoff here in Ukraine. What ought to be a normal part of the electoral process threatens, however, to further divide a country that is polarized over its identity and its place in Europe. People who live in central and western Ukraine tend to favor Yulia Tymoshenko (who is currently the Prime Minister and who advocates a closer relationship to the West). People who live in eastern Ukraine (where there is also a high percentage of ethnic Russians) strongly support the current front-runner (and an advocate of closer ties to Russia), Viktor Yanukovych. Tensions are mounting between the two candidates and their supporters. Even though the election does not begin for several hours, there are already many rumors and pre-emptive accusations by both candidates of widespread efforts at vote tampering and fraud.  Consequently both candidates are poised to call their supporters into the streets of Kyiv for mass demonstrations in the event that they lose the election.  The US embassy has warned American citizens to stay away from the downtown area on Sunday to avoid any possibility of violence.

Of course there is much history behind all this: Russia's domination of Ukraine during the Soviet era (which included the genocidal starvation of millions of Ukrainians in 1932-1934); Ukraine's independence in 1991; and the recent Orange Revolution in 2004 which heralded a major step away from its Soviet past and toward a brighter democratic future. Unfortunately, that never happened. What has happened over the past 5 years has been political infighting which has left the country mired in corruption (Ukraine has been rated one of the most politically corrupt countries in the world according to Transparency International), an increasingly lower standard of living, and a very disillusioned populace.

So what do believers do in times like these? We pray. We pray to the God who rules over the nations and who positions their leaders (I Timothy 2:1-3). And as we pray, we pray for the advancement of the Gospel. So what does that mean here in Ukraine? Well, it doesn't necessarily mean that you should pray for the election of a particular candidate in the runoff here. Each has personal and political baggage. Neither seems to have risen above self-interest and the "politics as usual" of the past. What it means is that we go before the King and ask Him to act in a way that promotes the Gospel in Ukraine. He knows better than any of us what that involves. Usually (as Paul points out in I Tim. 2:2) that involves a governance that brings about peace and stability which is generally advantageous for evangelism. But Paul's own imprisonment (largely due to unjust politicians!) illustrates well that God knows best what will further His Gospel (Phil. 1:12).

So pray for Ukraine. Pray for the election that it will be conducted fairly and peacefully. Pray for the people--that regardless of the outcome, they will be more predisposed to the Gospel. And pray especially for the Church here in Ukraine. Pray that whatever happens, God will fill and empower His church in a way that puts Jesus Christ on display. I personally long to see good leadership here in Ukraine (and back home in the USA for that matter!) But what we need even more are Christians who have a passion to  reflect the Light of Jesus in dark places (Matthew 5:16). Pray for a single-minded devotion to Christ that longs for His Kingdom to come and desires to be an accurate foretaste of that kingdom now. Pray as Jesus taught us: "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done...."

May it start with us,


PS For more information on what is happening in Ukraine, check out the link below to the Kyiv Post: