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Ukraine: Eleven Pillows

(The story below comes from The Voice of the Martyrs Canada, a ministry that is part of The Voice of the Martyrs’ family of missions.)

This is the story of Pastor K and his wife, who found themselves ejected from their home in Turkmenistan. Because of their faith in Jesus and the husband’s role as a pastor, the government had taken away their house with no warning. Then they put the pastor in prison. A year later, they released him, but kicked him and his family out of the country.

The 11-member family moved into a three-room home in Ukraine. (See the photo above.) “Eleven of them sleep over every inch of the floor,” Bruno, a Christian friend, told Floyd, a worker from The Voice of the Martyrs. “Pastor K and his wife sleep at the entrance by the door. They don’t even have pillows to rest their heads on at night.”

There was a shower stall and toilet outside the house. “If anyone has to go to the bathroom at night, they have to climb over all the bodies and wake up the pastor and Mrs. K to go outside,” said Bruno. The bathroom arrangement might not have been so difficult if they had lived in a warm climate. But winters in Ukraine can be harsh.

Bruno told Floyd that the family didn’t even have a proper stove. If they had a stove, Mrs. K could make goods to sell at the local market to provide income for the family.

So Bruno and Floyd went to purchase a stove for the K family. Then Floyd said, “Let’s buy 11 pillows.” They took the stove and pillows to the family’s house in a truck. But they kept their purchases a secret at first.

The pastor’s family welcomed their guests and even managed to fix them a simple meal. The children sang, and everyone listened to stories. Despite all their troubles, they family loved each other and found ways to praise Jesus amidst their hardships.

Then Floyd asked the older boys to help him unload some things from the truck. He was eager to see Mrs. K’s face when she saw the stove.

The family was stunned and grateful, and happy to have a way to provide for themselves. But when the boys brought the pillows from the truck, Mrs. K began to weep. What no one else knew was that her mother had made 11 pillowcases for the family. As she had handed them to Mrs. K, she had said, “These are for when the Lord provides the pillows.”

“God does not leave us or abandon us,” said another VOM worker who learned about the pillow story. “He knows your heart. He rallies the Body of Christ from halfway around the world sometimes, just to let you feel His love and to experience true abiding joy, regardless of your circumstances. What a privilege to be a part of His family!”


A Ukrainian Treat

A Christian family who left Ukraine when it was part of the U.S.S.R. (see the previous post) shared the following recipe for a Ukrainian treat with Christians in their new country.

Angel Roll

Needed
4 eggs
½ cup of sugar
½ cup of flour
Strawberry jam

Instructions
1. Separate the 4 eggs and beat the whites until stiff.
2. Add the sugar, yolks, and flour one at time, beating until smooth after each addition.
3. Pour the mixture on buttered wax paper in a 9- by 13-inch cooking pan, spreading it to the edges.
4. Bake at 275 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes until a toothpick stuck in it comes out clean.
5. Spread strawberry jam on top. Roll it up, separating it from the wax paper as you go.
6. Slice into pieces ½- to 1-inch thick. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and nuts if desired.

Photo: The Ukrainian church in the photo above, first built in the 1800s, was destroyed by the Soviet government in the 1930s. It was rebuilt in 2005.


Ukraine in the Past and a Quiz

A church in Ukraine built in the 1700s

Before the U.S.S.R. split into smaller countries (see the previous post), many Ukrainians worshiped God secretly in hidden churches. The Christians knew they could be imprisoned for their faith.

Some of them left their homes and moved to countries that were safer for Christians. They had to learn to live in places with different cultures and different languages. One Christian who moved to the U.S. said the first words he learned to say in English were OK, no problem, Coca-Cola, hallelujah, and amen!

When U.S. officials asked the man why he wanted to leave his country, he told them he had faced persecution as a Christian. In such cases, officials in some countries quizzed people to find out if they were really Christians.

Questions they sometimes asked were:
*Who were the 12 disciples?
*What are the Ten Commandments.
*What are the first five books of the Bible?
*Who was the first king of Israel?
*Who wrote the Book of Acts?

The Christians could not look in a Bible for answers.

To Talk About
Do you think you could pass a quiz like the one above?
Do you think a quiz is a good way to decide if someone is a true follower of Jesus? Why or why not?


Ukrainian Children Encourage Prisoners

Christian children in Ukraine have been writing letters of encouragement to Christian prisoners and former prisoners. They are mailing the letters in the yellow mailbox to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. (See the photo.)

The Soviet Union (also called the U.S.S.R.) used to be the world’s most powerful Communist country. It split up into smaller countries in the early 1990’s. Ukraine, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan are four of the smaller countries. The Ukrainian children want to encourage Christians who have not been treated fairly by their governments.

You can also encourage Christians in prison for their faithful spreading of the gospel. To send greetings to a Christian prisoner in another country, visit prisoneralert.com. Click on the name of a prisoner, then on “Write a Letter.” Follow the instructions to complete the process.

Or, to send your own greeting, continue the process until you get to the step in which a prisoner’s address is shown. Then instead of finishing the process and printing the letter, use the address provided to mail a greeting. (Find more instructions here.) Go to a post office to ask how much postage you will need to mail the letter.


Current Events in Crimea

Ukraine
Crimean Tatar children’s Bible

Crimea, a part of the country of Ukraine, has been in the news recently. Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled the country after protesters and opponents demanded that he be removed from office. Then Russian soldiers moved into Crimea.

Ukraine and Russia used to be part of the Soviet Union until the Soviet Union broke up into smaller countries in the early 1990s. Many Ukrainians speak Russian.

But thousands of Crimean Tatars, who are mostly Muslims, also live in Crimea. The Voice of the Martyrs is printing a children’s Bible in the Crimean Tatar language. The printing is expected to be complete in April.

“Please be in prayer that the book can be safely shipped into the Crimea given the current political turmoil there,” said a VOM contact in the region. ” And of course, pray … that many little hearts will be changed through this book.”