Fall 2020 Update
Hus Presbytery and Individual JEEP Ministries
As most of you are probably aware, this summer the 2020 CREC ad hoc Council approved the Anselm Provisional Presbytery to convert to a permanent CREC member presbytery. The new presbytery named “Hus”, is composed of several Eastern European churches as well as Mitaka Evangelical Church in Tokyo. We rejoice in this work of God on behalf of our sister churches in Eastern Europe, and yet we recognize that the establishment of Hus Presbytery will not eliminate the need for our churches to support and minister to our Eastern European brethren for the foreseeable future.
JEEP ministries and churches continue to be affected by the recent COVID-19 crisis and ensuing regional government responses. Most of the EE churches are back to meeting in person, but are facing ongoing financial challenges, and in some cases significant political unrest. Following is an update regarding the several JEEP ministries and churches.
Rev. Bogumil Jarmulak (Poznań, Poland)
Pastor Jarmulak continues to serve as pastor at Evangelical Reformed Church, which continues as a healthy and active church. ERC has been able to worship regularly, although at times they have been limited to a certain number of attendees. Bubu is also the Presiding Minister of Hus Presbytery, and remains JEEP’s “man on the ground” in Eastern Europe, visiting and assisting various JEEP-supported ministries throughout the region.
This August, despite restrictions and strict testing requirements, Bubu was able to travel to Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine for the annual International Youth Conference (see below). With the travel limitations in place, the IYC was limited to just Ukrainian youth, but nonetheless was a blessing to all who attended. Bubu delivered several talks on “Stories and Heroes” and preached there as well. He will be visiting other CREC churches as well this fall, to encourage and deliver support and needed equipment and medical supplies.
Rev. Attila Hajdu (Erd, Hungary)
Rev. Hajdu labors as a bi-vocational CREC church planter in the Budapest area, pastoring Trinity Evangelical Church, a small but faithful body of believers. Of late, with COVID cases rising, new restrictions have been implemented in Hungary, but thankfully they do not affect the church there. With their local Christian school temporarily closed due to regulatory restrictions, both Attila and his wife Kati are teaching from home. Attila also continues to do translation work, making Christian books available in Magyar, the Hungarian language. We rejoice to report that Attila’s mother, after a bout of cancer, has been declared cancer-free.
Visitors to Trinity Evangelical, Erd these days are uncommon, though Attila’s online sermons do attract about 100 viewers on average each week. Attila and Bubu recently met and discussed starting a new English-language bible study in order to extend the church’s ministry. Another outreach consideration is a seminar on child-rearing. Please pray for Attila and his family, and for wisdom as he seeks to evangelize and to facilitate the growth of the body there.
Rev. Yavor Rusinov (Burgas, Bulgaria)
Pastor Rusinov continues as the bi-vocational shepherd of Presbyterian Reformed Church, a small congregation on the Black Sea coast. Pastor Rusinov has remained faithful through difficult circumstances over the past 10 years. Earlier this year due to COVID lockdowns, Yavor’s frozen yogurt business was forced to close. Since then, Yavor has been teaching in a local school, and has been blessed with many opportunities for gospel influence.
Yavor’s self-published book on child-rearing, “Timeless Principles for Raising Successful Children,” is now published in English and available for sale on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions. Please pray that this excellent and well-received book will continue to sell well in Bulgaria, as well as in the U.S., and that the Lord will bless Yavor in his pastoral ministry so that the church might grow both in numbers and sanctification.
Rev. San Sanych Orlov-Koshchavka (Rivne, Ukraine)
Reformed Church of Christ the Savior was the first CREC church in Ukraine, having joined in 2010. Rev. San Sanych is the founding pastor of this congregation, and continues to serve as the Senior Pastor. He also serves as pro tem elder at Reformed Evangelical Church of Ivano-Frankivsk, providing counsel and direction for that ministry. Moreover, San Sanych is acting as mentor to San Sanych, Jr. as he prepares for future ministry as a seminary student and as Associate Pastor at the Rivne church.
There are presently many challenges in Ukraine: COVID restrictions have hit the country hard, and already-low incomes have been cut for many. Additionally, there is ongoing political instability, and the war with insurgents in the East continues. Please make these things a matter of prayer, as well as for San Sanych’s continued health, as he ministers in the Rivne church and is an important partner in JEEP’s engagement with the Ukrainian churches.
Rev. Sergiy Terentyev (Rivne, Ukraine)
Pastor Terentyev serves God’s Covenant Reformed Evangelical Church, which joined the CREC in 2017. Sergiy oversees Svitlo (“Light”) Christian school, now entering its third year. Sergiy led the startup of the school, which is a cooperative effort between the two Rivne CREC churches. Sergiy currently both teaches at Svitlo, and also serves as an administrative official. This is breaking new ground for the CREC in Eastern Europe, and JEEP is providing financial support for this work.
Following initial Ukrainian COVID restrictions that forced Svitlo classes to move online, they are now back to meeting face to face. The school recently hired a new grammar teacher for the older students, which is an answer to prayer. As the school has grown (24 students now), the Lord has been graciously providing teachers, helpers, advisors, funds and prayer-partners for Svitlo. Recently, Joseph Bailey from Geneva Academy in West Monroe, LA, began meeting with Sergiy online, in an effort to support and mentor him in the ground-breaking work at Svitlo school. We praise God for Joseph’s willing service in this, as well as for the interest and support of the elders at Church of the Redeemer in West Monroe. As we rejoice with Sergiy and God’s Covenant Church over their various blessings, several of Sergiy’s specific prayer requests for the school are:
- The establishment of a board for the school, and developing a long-term strategic vision
- Covering for teacher absences – this is a big challenge
- Relationship with the public schools; without a license or accreditation, Svitlo must cooperate with local public schools and administrators
- For teachers’ labors to bear fruit, that the school will thrive and grow, and would extend the church’s ministry further into the community, and grow in cooperation and fellowship with the parents of students.
- Financial stability, to enable Svitlo to continue its education and outreach.
Rev. Sasha Pavlyuk (Dunaivtsi, Ukraine)
Rev. Oleksandr “Sasha” Pavlyuk is pastor of Holy Trinity Reformed Church in Dunaivtsi, and is a key figure in the ecumenical outreach in Ukraine. Sasha retains good connections with ministries from other Christian traditions throughout the country, and is an important advocate in CREC outreach to government officials and the military chaplain program in Ukraine. Sasha also ministers in the eastern Ukraine war zone area, working with other local pastors there in outreach ministry (although has been hindered from traveling there this fall). God has richly blessed the reputation of the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches through Sasha’s faithful ministry in this part of the world.
In September, Holy Trinity Church lost one of her members to cancer, a 54-year old woman, who passed away after being diagnosed just two months before. Additionally, COVID lockdowns in Ukraine continue to significantly impact the Dunaivtsi church, making it economically challenging for many. To supplement his pastoral income, Sasha launched a key-making business in Dunaivtsi, which has proved very successful thus far. With JEEP’s help Sasha will be purchasing additional equipment, to extend his capabilities to program automobile key remotes. Please pray for this endeavor, for Holy Trinity church, and for a continued open door for Sasha to visit eastern Ukraine and continue his ministry there.
Rev. Ihor Lishchinski (Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine)
Pastor Ihor Lischinski is devoted full-time to shepherding Reformed Evangelical Church – the fastest-growing church in Eastern Europe – as well overseeing the Nazareth House orphanage ministry. The “after-school” orphanage is supported by JEEP, with matching funds from a local Ukrainian donor. This ministry provides a vital gospel outreach and mercy ministry in the community, and has gained notoriety as a model for helping underprivileged and at-risk youth. At Nazareth, neglected and abused children encounter caring Christian adults, receive help and counseling, and most importantly, they receive the Gospel and connect with the Church. This month, Pastor Jamulak will be delivering a CNC machine to Nazareth, so that some of the older teens there might learn to operate it and cultivate desirable work skills.
Nazareth House has operated in confined quarters for some time, yet has continued to grow. In April, after reviewing options for supporting the I-F church and Nazareth, the JEEP EC approved a new project to sponsor the purchase of property, and ultimately the construction of a new, larger building. This will facilitate the growth of the church, and the expansion of her ministry. Your prayers for this project are greatly appreciated.
Rev. Sergey Udaliov (Mogilev, Belarus)
Evangelical Reformed Church of Mogilev was admitted as a member of the CREC in 2015. Rev. Udaliov ministers under very difficult circumstances in an extremely poor country, beset with political and social problems. The congregation comprises a small but vital group of Christians. In spite of their own difficulties, they are active in outreach and ministry to other small bodies of believers in various parts of the country. These saints need (and deserve) our prayers and financial support, provided through JEEP.
There is presently much civil unrest in Belarus, as their current president has claimed a highly-disputed victory in the recent election. Tens of thousands of Belarusians have taken to the streets in vocal but peaceful protests over the last few months, which has drawn the ire of the existing authorities. Many have been arrested during the protests, including one of the members of the Mogilev church, a journalist who was twice-arrested. Please pray for Sergey as he serves this flock, that the believers there would remain steadfast, and that the Lord will protect them, provide for their needs, and bring justice to their country through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thank you for your continued prayers for these men, their churches, and the JEEP EC, as we consider how the Lord would have us partner with the EE churches and ministries during these trying hours and to make use of the resources He has given us, both of time and money. We give thanks to the Lord for your continued support of His work through JEEP, in the former Soviet Bloc countries of Europe. May the Lord Jesus be exalted in these churches and in their nations, so that He alone would be worshiped, loved, and obeyed as their rightful Ruler, Savior, and Judge. “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev. 5:12)
For the Executive Committee,
John Unger, Chairman
Joint Eastern European Project, www.jeeproject.net
The Joint Eastern European Project (JEEP) was founded nine years ago, as a partnership between three churches in Anselm Presbytery. Presently, the Executive Committee (EC) consists of representatives from several sponsoring CREC churches in North America. JEEP EC members include John Unger (Chairman) and Pastor Stuart Bryan, Trinity Church, Coeur d’Alene, ID; Pastor Jack Phelps and Deacon Derrick Honrud (Treasurer), Covenant Bible Church, AK; Elder Matt Dau (Secretary), Reformation Covenant Church, OR; Pastor Mike Kloss (Vice Chair), Redeemer Church, WA; Pastor Gregg Strawbridge, All Saints Church, PA; and Pastor Garry Vanderveen, Christ Covenant Church, B.C. (PCA). Additionally, Pastor Bogumil Jarmulak of Evangelical Reformed Church (Poznań, PL) serves as advisory member to the JEEP EC.
Churches in Eastern Europe served by JEEP agree to submit regular financial information to the EC, in order to remain qualified for assistance. A majority (but not all) of the CREC churches in Europe have come under the JEEP umbrella. Participating churches are located in Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Belarus.
Presently JEEP financial support comes from churches and individuals in six out of seven CREC presbyteries; we praise God for this overwhelming support. As we previously reported earlier, first half Fiscal Year 2020 giving was down, more than 10% below our budget. However, over the last two months – God be praised – there was a significant rebound in giving, which enabled all JEEP pastors and projects to be fully funded, offering an improved outlook for our next fiscal year. We are grateful for your faithful and often sacrificial giving in support of our EE brethren, their churches, and their families.
Applications for annual support have come in, and we have finalized our 2020-2021 budget. We are projecting a slight increase in giving this year, but would ask you to continue praying for those JEEP churches and ministries which have suffered setbacks these past several months during the COVID pandemic and subsequent regional responses. Please also pray for the JEEP EC, that we will be wise and Spirit-led as we deliberate and make decisions with general fund gifts the Lord has provided through you and your churches.