To Ukraine Again . . . Fall 2012

In case you have not heard, the Singing Men of Texas are returning to Ukraine for another mission with Michael Gott.

This time it is the combined chapters of the Singing Men of Texas, not just the North Central chapter. There are about a dozen from North Central that are making the trip.

The group leaves this Sunday, September 23 and will return on October 4.

As in the past, we need your prayer support. We know that the prayers of those back home are important, and we want to see God work again in the lives of the people of Ukraine.

This trip is being led by Tim Studstill, director of the Music and Worship Team for Texas Baptists. About 80 singers, wives and other ministry partners will share the gospel along the Dnieper River in Ukraine.

Our prayer and trip updates will be held on two different blog sites this time. We won’t be using this one as much, though we’ll send a reminder every now and then.

Derrel Thompson will once again blog and give updates, but this time he is posting for Michael Gott International at their website.  http://michaelgottinternational.com/smot/

Brent Trahan will be posting blogs and updates on a special Singing Men site at: http://smotukraine.wordpress.com/

You can subscribe by email to both of them and you will receive notice when we do post something. Our hope is that those that are subscribed here, will subscribe and follow us at our new locations.

Both sites are up and running and already have things to read. Come join us and pray for us as we spread God’s love once again to the people of Ukraine.

Here is a link to a prayer guide that you can print and follow along with us.

Reflection from Michael Gott

The following is an article that Michael Gott has sent out to the participants of the Ukraine/Crimea 2012 Mission. It is worth your time to read and to hear his heart and reflection on our mission together.

Reflections on Ukraine/Crimea 2012

All of us who participated now have had time to think about what we were just involved in during Ukraine/Crimea 2012.  One experienced music minister tearfully said simply, “It was the most supernatural mission I ever personally participated in.  It was something you might read about in some inspirational Christian book on missions and evangelism.”  We saw tears of triumph daily.

Without totally falling back on numbers to indicate effectiveness, what was the unique spirit that dominated?  It seems to me that our theme could be chosen from Paul’s words, we are “Christ’s ambassadors … as though God were making his appeal through us” (II Corinthians 5:20).  What an amazing privilege we had during those unforgettable days to be just that, ambassadors who expressed the good news of Jesus clearly and compellingly.

This is what was said by us together, it seems to me.  We came before everyone not with a closed fist of judgment but with an open hand of reconciling love.  Recently I read where historian/theologian Martin Marty suggested that Billy Graham’s ministry would have had little lasting impact if he had been a belligerent and “mean person.”  He exemplified conviction but with love and compassion, kindness and warmth of spirit.  We too, in that spirit called people to Jesus.

To return to Paul’s image of “an ambassador for Christ,” he went on to say, “We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path”—rather, as “servants of God we commend ourselves.” How did he do that? By a servant spirit and by a lifestyle that supported the message proclaimed.  It was through purity of heart, through humble knowledge, through gracious kindness and holiness of life plus heartfelt love and truthful speech in the power of God (read II Corinthians 6:3-7 in The Living Bible or The Message).

That was Paul’s secret, and it seems to me that it was our message too during our entire time in Ukraine and Crimea.  I saw us weave together a beautiful fabric with dynamic singing and simple preaching which was done with respect for the culture and evident courtesy and with a warm heart for every pre-Christian present.  This was not evangelism that entrapped people, this was not “ugly American” heavy handedness, nothing of that; rather, it was a message that “Jesus is wonderful, He loved sinners like me and you, and He welcomes you.”  It was evangelism of an open hand, an open heart that pointed to an open door where Jesus stood to welcome all comers.  All manipulative, humanist activity was totally rejected and pushed aside; the focus was on the Christ who invites sinners to repent and respond, the Jesus who welcomes us sinners into His open arms.  So it was “faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6).

To use the words “evangelism done with His grace and for His glory” is, to me, most fitting.  We worked hard and loved it, we served side by side in unity, and we opened the Word and let it speak to us before we spoke to them.  And we prayed together in complete unity of Spirit, Ukrainians as well as Americans, God answered.

Call us all evangelists.  Some of song, some of words, some of prayer, and some of service—but all reflected the welcome generosity of Jesus, making the Gospel as attractive as it was life-changing.  That is what I remember about Ukraine/Crimea 2012.  That’s what I sensed; it was “as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, receive the love he offers you—be reconciled with God” (II Corinthians 5:20, Living Bible).

Thank God we saw them in great numbers respond with a “Yes” to God’s call and welcome; night after night they came.

Thank you for having a vital role.  Thank you for helping make it a time that you and I will look back on with personal pleasure and eternal gratitude.  Thank you again for your contribution.

Photos A Plenty

The Singing Men of North Central Texas all made it safely home over the weekend. Most of them led worship in their respective churches on Sunday, despite being a little jet lagged.

We will be updating pages in this blog with some corresponding pictures, but wanted to share a special link with you.

SMONCT member Stephen Passmore is a great photographer and is sharing his pictures via his dropbox account.

The link is: http://www.dropbox.com/gallery/1494333/1/150-Ukraine%202012?h=5261fe

Just click and you will be taken to a webpage that will display over 600 pictures of the trip.

If you don’t know about Dropbox and would like to sign up (it’s Free!) I know that Stephen would appreciate you using his referral link to sign up. You get some free space and he gets to add to his free space. The link for a drop box account is: http://db.tt/VcpznwsA

Once again, if you are in the Metroplex area, we have our final concert of this season Thursday night, May 10, at FBC Sunnyvale at 7:00 p.m. You can check out our website for directions and more detail.

http://www.smonct.org

We All Share In the Victory

The crowd at our final concert in Yalta

Our final day has come to a close. We sat sail at noon today, leaving Yalta behind and are still sailing overnight to Odessa. We will all scatter from Odessa and head home.

This morning we had our final devotional time with Michael Gott. He gave us a great reminder from a story of David in I Samuel 30. We were reminded that we all share in the victory that God has given.

This trip is not just about the Singing Men who stand on the platform and sing. It is not just about Michael Gott who preached each night. Some of the greatest heroes of this mission have been our Mission Partners and wives. They have worked behind the scenes doing the small but very important things. We could not have done this without them.

We also could not have done this without you back home praying for us. God calls some to go, but He also calls some to stay back and pray and support. Many of you that have followed us these two weeks have prayed earnestly. Many of you have given money to someone so that they could go. Without you, this would not have been possible.

God gets all the credit, but we are so grateful that He chose to use each of us in this wonderful mission in Ukraine. We cannot say thank you enough for your support. This victory report is as much about you as it is about us. And it is all about God and His amazing work all around us.

This afternoon we had a time of thanksgiving and several shared stories and gave testimony as to how God had worked in their lives. It was a sweet time.

We have much to be thankful for and have seen God’s hand in so many ways.

One great answer too many prayers was the fact that the Black Sea was as calm as it was while we sailed. That may seem like a trivial thing, but many were anxious and nervous about this river boat and how much motion would be on the journey. Many were concerned about getting sick and it affecting us. We have had virtually no real sickness this entire trip to speak of. The Black Sea has really been almost smooth as glass. The hotel manager aboard the ship, Henry Seilers, told some today that he has been on this vessel a long time and he’s never seen the Black Sea like this. We praise God for taking care of us like this.

I hope that you took time to watch the video of Michael Gott earlier today explaining the process for the decisions. That is very important to us that we report with integrity all that has happened, and not just report for numbers sake. But it is the tangible evidence of what God has done. So here is the recap of how God has moved in the hearts and lives of the people of Ukraine and Crimea.

FBC Odessa, 1,000 attendance; 547 decisions

Nikolaev, 1,700 attendance; 757 decisions

Kherson, 1,500 attendance; 596 decisions

Eupatoria, 1,000 attendance; 367 decisions

Sevestopol 1,300 attendance; 738 decisions

Simferopol 1,300 attendance; 574 decisions

Yalta (2 concerts) 1,000 attendance, 419 decisions

On board concert for ship’s crew, 50 attendance, decisions are unknown, but God is working in the lives of many of the crew on board this ship.

Totals: Attendance: 8,850

Decisions for Christ: 3,998 Praise the Lord!!

Once again thank you for praying for us. As soon as we can, we will update these blogs with pictures and more videos. Sorry that we didn’t get as many pictures up as we had hoped for. Check back and they will be there.

2012 Ukraine Mission Team Group Picture taken in Sevestopal, Ukraine

If you are in the Metroplex area, we have a concert on Thursday, May 10 at 7:00 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Sunnyvale. We would love to have you come join us.

Sailing Away From Yalta

Today at noon we sailed away fromYalta. In many ways we didn’t want to leave. I took some random photos on the top deck as we sailed. Tried to get a sampling of lots of our singers and partners.

Here is the link to the photos.

https://skydrive.live.com/redir.aspx?cid=43a35fc2e6a5d0ae&resid=43A35FC2E6A5D0AE!388&parid=43A35FC2E6A5D0AE!103&authkey=!AMv-NwNPPdtFMmg