Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Tribute to My Dad (by Kellie Benge)

             On November 5, my father, Don Lesh finished his journey on earth and went home to be with the Lord.  He left a godly heritage of faithfulness, joy and contentment.  He showed us how to finish this race well even in very difficult circumstances.  Dad was always a god-fearing man and made sure that we were in church every Sunday.  He was familiar with the Bible, but it wasn’t until I was 15 years old that he became a believer in the promise  that God sent His Son to pay the penalty for his sins.  From that time on, I don’t remember a day not seeing him up early reading his Bible.  He had a passion for God’s Word, especially the message of the gospel.  Many times as he met with people in their homes and talked about life insurance, the topic would inevitably turn to life “assurance.”  He met with many different men’s Bible study groups to learn more about the Bible. He was faithful to His Lord who gave him the desire and grace to faithfully lead, provide for and love his family.  Not only was he faithful, but he had joy.

            He loved to tease people and make them laugh. So many people commented about his sense of humor during calling hours before the funeral.  He used humor to lighten many tense situations; his laughter was contagious.  We have many memories of fun family times camping, playing games and just enjoying being together.  Even in his last year when it was hard to communicate, he would try to say something to make one of his nurses laugh.  God gave him the ability to see the humor in different situations.

            Probably one of the most remarkable things to me is his total contentment, especially after being diagnosed with MSA (Multiple Systems Atrophy). This disease gradually weakened all of his muscles so that at the end he could not talk, walk, eat by himself or do anything for himself.  He was basically trapped in his body, but he never complained.  That was amazing to all of us, but it just pointed to the greatness and abundance of God’s grace in his life.  I am so thankful for the great God in my dad’s life who enabled him to life faithfully, rejoice in all kinds of circumstances and live in submission believing that his God was working out His perfect plan in his life. Thanks to all of you who kept him and our family in your prayers.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A great start to a new academic year at Kiev Theological Seminary!

Dear Friends and Partners in Ministry,

My teaching 2013 Fall teaching schedule is now in full swing.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with this current group of students in in my favorite course: Pastoral Ministry. We have been discussing topics such as: a biblical theology of shepherding; a brief church history of shepherding (looking at godly examples such as the great Puritan pastor, Richard Baxter); the character and calling of a pastor;  and what God expects of a pastor (know, feed, lead, and protect the flock). These students have an evident love for the Scriptures and a passion to shepherd their flocks on behalf of our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.  I am blessed by their hunger, challenged by their questions, and humbled by their commitment in spite of many challenges. 

One challenge is that the vast majority of these men are bi-vocational. So, in addition to being husbands, fathers, and pastors, they must work in a secular job during the week to provide their income.  The totality of all these demands makes their task difficult to say the least.  One or more of the above-mentioned responsibilities often suffers.  The result has been weak preaching, insufficient discipleship and inadequate equipping of deacons and other church leaders (see Ephesians 4:11-16). So these students are seeking to sharpen their skills and augment their effectiveness in ministry. And we are working through these challenges and asking God for wisdom to help the churches share the financial burden that is often disproportionately borne by their pastors.

A unique way that our seminary helps the men and women who come for training is to offer a non-traditional schedule that allows the students to come for two weeks at a time (four times per school year).  In each two week module, students can take up to two classes (40 hours per class) for each session. That means four hours of class in the morning followed by another four hours of class in the afternoon. There are, of course, breaks and meals in-between (and a chapel service each Tuesday).  This approach makes education more flexible and accessible for students who travel here from all over the country without having to quit their jobs. But the schedule can be grueling—for student and professor!

We also try to have the students in our homes for meals and fellowship. And often we have the opportunity to travel to their churches (later in the year) and be with them in the context of their families and church ministries. All of this to say that, by God’s grace, we are seeing growth in the lives of the students which in turn improves the health of the churches and the promotion of the Gospel in Ukraine and the Russian-speaking world. To God be the glory. 

Thank you for your prayers! And please keep us in your prayers for the upcoming classes (see schedule below).


Jerry's Teaching Schedule for Fall Semester (2013) (KTS - Kiev Theological Seminary)

1. Pastoral Ministry (September 9-20) KTS
2. Introduction to Pastoral Leadership (First week; October 7-11) KTS
3. Biblical Counseling (October 21- November 1) KTS
4. Homiletics 1 (November 4-15) KTS
5. Small Group Leadership Training at Heart of Jesus Church In Chernivtsi (November 22-23)