September, 2011 – Lemke Update
9/11: Where were you ten years ago? I suspect all can remember exactly where they were when they heard of the terrorist attack in New York City. We were in Ukraine. Someone called to tell us to turn on the T.V. I did and watched with disbelief the constant replay of those events. Friends called us to express their grief.
The Bible says God makes all things work together for good. What good has come out of that evil deed? As Cory pointed out in his sermon this morning, God comforts us, but He is concerned for more than just America. We got just a taste of the vulnerability people in many countries feel every day. As we know His love and grace, we can offer it to others.
In the last 10 years, more Christians are giving more attention to the Muslim world. And in the last 10 years, more Muslims have come to Christ than any other period of history. Muslims are becoming disillusioned with what they see of Islam and more are open to considering other ideas. During the last ten years Muslim countries have experienced natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis. Infighting among Muslim groups have led to refugees. Relief organizations with Christians have responded with love.
The following story, which comes from Christianity Today refers to Afghan refugees who fled to Pakistan.
In one of these camps outside Peshawar, conditions were dismal. Since refugee children ran around barefoot in intense heat and cold, a Christian organization brought in hundreds of sandals. The group decided it would not just distribute the sandals but wash the children’s feet first. To do this, they enlisted as many Christians as possible, including our daughter-in-law, who carefully washed the children’s filthy feet, put medication on their sores, and prayed silently for them before giving them the sandals.
Some months later, a primary-school teacher in the area asked her children who the best Muslims were. A girl put up her hand and said, “The kafirs” (“disbelievers”). After the teacher recovered from cardiac arrest, she asked, “Why?” The girl replied, “The Mujahideen killed my father, but the kafirs washed my feet.”
FAMILY: We took Alicia to Corban University in Salem two weeks ago, where she has a roommate from Indonesia. When Alicia’s R.A. first saw Alicia, she asked, “Are you okay with that?” She seemed relieved when Alicia assured her that she grew up on the mission field. Alicia discovered a nice patch of blackberries and brought some back for her roommate. She likes most of her classes and wrote on her Facebook page: “My Bib lit academic integrity policy according to my prof: “Don’t lie, it’s a sin. Jesus died for you. Act like it.” This is why I love Corban ”
Janelle has the same roommate she had last year, an MK (missionary kid) who grew up in Ukraine. She felt a bit like she was coming home when greeted warmly upon her arrival. She has a heavy load of hard classes, but fun activities of “extended orientation” added a lighter touch — floor bonding exercises, events with their brother floor, and a community service project. To get homework done, she’s been going on 6 hours of sleep. She wrote that her cousin, Gary, was going to point some guy out at the cafeteria, “and I have to go pour my heart out to him in Russian.” In the end, he never made her do it, though.
I haven’t had time to feel “empty nest” yet, but then, my niece is staying with us. She helped us off and on with projects related to getting our house ready and is helping my dad for another week.
I finally got the chapter done I was asked to write on perseverance in missions — coping with culture shock and other stresses. The opening paragraph: “Good intentions for mission work can be derailed by unrealistic expectations of the culture, co-workers, and God. Perseverance requires growth in how we relate to our host country, people close to us, and the One who asked us to go in the first place.”
Cory has been helping CMI (Coaching Missions International) with administrative tasks via the internet, like helping register people who sign up for training. This part of his role doesn’t give me any interesting stories, like when we lived in Ukraine. He also does coaching of missionaries, helping them think through issues. Since it’s confidential, that doesn’t give me any interesting stories either…
UKRAINE: Nicholi missed his weekly phone call with Cory last week, since his nephew and the wife died in a car accident, and the family went to the funeral. Dima, the pastor in Sudak, reported that their church was kicked out of the public building they had been using. We have not heard if they have found a suitable replacement. In my last update, I wrote that our former language helper’s husband had cancer; since that time, he died, leaving her wondering why God didn’t heal him. June attended the funeral.
COMING UP: An empty nest gives me freedom to fly with Cory when he travels next. I will be joining him for a conference in Colorado with CMI in October, followed by a forum for church-planting missionaries with CMF in Kenya in November. I saw that adding a stop in Ukraine adds a minimal amount to the ticket price, so we’ll spend a week there too. Our friends in Ukraine would like us to stay longer, but that’s all we can sandwich in there now — and Alicia says we have to be back by Thanksgiving. (We planned on it.) She also said, “You’re going without me?”
Before we were married, I spent five years in Kenya, so I look forward to connecting again with some people I knew there. A couple of them extended invitations to Cory to preach and teach. We will stay in Kenya a few days after the forum to make time for that.
Oct. 26-30: CMI conference in Colorado Springs
Nov. 1-8: Ukraine
Nov. 9-19: Kenya
Cory and Janice Lemke
8130 Bliss Rd.
Bonanza, OR 97623
Christian Missionary Fellowship
PO Box 501020
Indianapolis, IN 46250
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August, 2011 – Lemke Update
BLESSINGS: While unpacking, I found a card with this note: “The Lord has good things in store for you.” It’s unsigned, but I know we received it while preparing to leave Ukraine. Indeed, we have seen God’s provision and guidance. The Bible says that if we have food and clothing, we can be content — but God has provided much more than the basic necessities. Before we left Ukraine, Cory and I wondered what kind of car we should get and where. When Cory’s sister offered to sell us their four-year-old Toyota at trade-in cost, we knew we found our car.
Then God cleared the way for us to put a house on my parents’ property. But what kind of house? We didn’t want the time and expense of building from scratch. We didn’t like the used mobile homes we saw. New manufactured homes cost more than we wanted to pay — until the local dealer decided to retire and sold us a lot model for less than what she paid for it. It’s bigger and nicer than what we hoped for. God is good. The help of friends and relatives sped up the set-up time and we moved in not long ago. After living in temporary homes for so many years, it’s still hard to believe it’s really ours.
Cory now has an office and has started working with CMI (Coaching Missions International) via phones and the internet. (Though we remain with CMF, they seconded us to CMI.) I now have the satisfaction of putting things away. With summer almost over, I finally found my shorts and sandals.
GIRLS: Alicia seems to have thrived in the midst of the challenges of working at a camp all summer. She had one week off, which she spent with us. Each week and each age group has brought different joys and demands. Games. Songs. Homesick kids. Purple patrol at high school camp so pink and blue (girls and boys) maintain appropriate distance. Kids encountering Christ. Supportive co-workers. Late night clean-up of a cabin where the toilet overflowed during campfire. She actually volunteered for that. They sang as they worked…”Lord give us clean hands.”
Janelle had an internship with my brother and another mechanical engineer — and did well enough that they asked if she could come back next summer. Since she is studying electrical engineering, she may look for a different role, but we enjoyed having her around this summer. It’s fun to watch her take on new responsibilities and I enjoy learning something of her life at college via Facebook photos she shares of friends. She took a couple summer classes (calculus and statics), so she didn’t get much of a break from school, but the extra credits advanced her to Junior class standing.
We honored my parents 60th wedding anniversary this weekend with a family reunion. Janelle left early this morning to head back to Texas for college — driving with her cousin the long way, through Iowa, in order to visit another cousin. Alicia has two more weeks of camp, then starts classes at Corban, outside Salem.
UKRAINE: Cory talks with Nicholi almost every week using Skype. Even though tourism is down this summer in Crimea, the Efas Center has gained a good reputation and is nearly always full. Churches are busy with camps. Some people we know died (a young woman with cancer and an old man.)
Energy behind the accusation of heresy against the Training Center has died down. Most church leaders in Crimea thought the heresy claim was rooted in a power-play instead of reality. The leader making the accusation wouldn’t let up. When others wouldn’t agree with him, he accused them of trying to leave the Union. Instead, his church recently left the Union. Instead of gaining the upper hand, this leader has lost respect and influence. The other churches are standing together and moving ahead. Pray for renewed sense of purpose and ability to fulfill God’s goals.
Nicholi asked Cory when we will come back. We’re discussing that question and may try to combine it with another trip this fall.
Tatiana, our former language helper, requests prayer for her husband, Sasha, who has cancer. He has lost 60 pounds and spends most of his time in bed now. Breathing is difficult. Tatiana hopes for a miracle. Our friend June visited him today and wrote to us: “I told them that we were all praying for him. Tatiana asked if we were all praying for his
healing? I told her yes but that we were all first praying that Sasha, Tatiana and Olga would trust God with their hearts and lives. Secondly, we were praying for Sasha’s complete healing. In a few short words I reminded them that we all die and that there are only two roads after that. Where we spend eternity is the most important question.”
CONTACT INFO: Note our new address and phone number
Cory and Janice Lemke
8130 Bliss Rd.
Bonanza, OR 97623
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June 7, 2011 – Lemke Update
TRUST: I didn’t hear the whole program — I’d just turned on the radio — but the phrase stood out to me: “God isn’t looking for you to impress Him, He wants you to trust Him.”
It applies to both Christians and non-Christians. It applies to different phases of life. When I went to Ukraine. And when we returned to the U.S. When my girls were born…and as they prepare to leave home. Faith is stretched in both exciting times and in the mundane. The journey of life regularly unfolds new opportunities to lean on God. Examples of His faithfulness in the past bolster my confidence for the future.
UKRAINE: Cory did get back from Ukraine. His three weeks there were very full, with a seminar, meetings with leaders of the Training Center, and the funeral of a close friend. What were highlights for him? “I saw new growth in the guys on the leadership team. They are thinking through ways to move forward in the midst of opposition. I was able to meet with Alexi for about eight hours — our conversations were some of the most profitable and enjoyable we have had. He talked most of the time — with me asking just a few questions. The seminar, with 60 guys attending, went over extremely well. The three from Wichita presented good material and it was very well received. And I was glad I could be there for Victor’s funeral. It was hard, of course, but I was part of many major events in his life during the past 15 years.”
Cory’s return trip took longer than expected, with a canceled flight from San Francisco to Eugene. Wanting to get home, he flew to Portland, shared a rental car with another traveler, and got here around 2:20 a.m. It added up to 33 hours in cars, airplanes and airports since he left Feodosia. “Oh the posh, posh traveling life…” to borrow a favorite line from Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang.
HOME: Cory had enough functioning brain cells to take care of some office work the next day, and then we headed to Klamath the day after that in order to work on our house site. We’re putting a manufactured home on my parents’ land near Bonanza east of Klamath Falls. Our ultimate goal is to be helpful to them, but we brought in a whirlwind (or hurricane forces?) in our push to get cement poured the following Friday. I stayed ten days to help Mom feed extra people who helped with the project — plus a brother’s birthday and my sister came down from Alaska and Janelle returned from Texas.
Janelle did well in studies at LeTourneau in electrical engineering (getting a 4.0 last semester!) She took the scenic route home and rode with her cousin, who came to Ukraine one summer and also studies at LeTourneau. They stopped at the Grand Canyon and visited a couple other cousins on the way home.
I returned to Eugene in order to be near Alicia as she finishes up her classes at Lane Community College, and to pack up and clean the missionary house we’re staying in at Camp Harlow. It has been a huge blessing to be able to stay here during each furlough from Ukraine — fully furnished and all. Nevertheless, I look forward to having our own house, and to finally getting some of our wedding gifts out of storage, tucked away at my parents’ house for over 16 years.
Our new house is coming together — literally. They got the parts moved on and Cory was helping the set-up man put it back together. Much faster (and cheaper) than building from scratch. They got a well dug but still need to put in the septic system.
Alicia finished her finals today. Cory arrived this evening so we can move out tomorrow. I still have a ways to go to get packed up. Another missionary family moves in to this house next week, but the timing of their arrival gave Alicia time to finish school. We’ll then head to my sister’s house, where we’ll celebrate the graduations of Alicia and two cousins with a barbeque and barn dance on Friday night.
ALICIA: Alicia is passing many milestones this year: leaving home, first summer job, off to college this fall. She will be staying in Eugene and working at Camp Harlow this summer as a camp counselor. She seems excited and I expect it will be a good experience for her, but we’ll miss having her around!
Before Janelle went off to college, I gave her with a book with encouraging verses and greetings from friends. I’d like to give Alicia something similar for her 18th birthday in a few weeks (since I didn’t have my act together enough to give it to her for the graduation party.) Those who wish to send a note for her “blessing book” can either send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or a card addressed to Janice Lemke; 8200 Bliss Rd; Bonanza, OR 97623.
UP NEXT: Cory got acquainted with an organization called Coaching Missions International (CMI) when he took some training with them. A few months ago, they asked Cory if he would consider being part of their ministry. After further discussions with them and our current organization, Christian Missionary Fellowship (CMF), we all decided the best route is to remain with CMF, but CMF will second us to CMI. This gives Cory the freedom to continue helping with the ministry in Ukraine (he’s still on the board of directors for the Training Center) but he can branch out in new ways, serving with CMI.
CMI’s website says, “We serve global missions by coaching mission leaders to greater effectiveness, mature character, multiplication of service and the fulfillment of their call…Because (coaching) is normally done at a distance, professionally certified coaches with cross-cultural experience and a heart for the nations can provide high-quality individualized coaching to multiple missionary leaders in several different countries at the same time.”
Why coaching? Cory says: “I benefited from life coaching when I didn’t know it had a name. We stayed on the field during difficult years because someone came alongside us, providing outside perspective, support, and encouragement. I’ve seen how coaching improves retention and effectiveness. God wants people of all nations to know Him, and coaching is a way to provide support for those on the front lines.”
Besides coaching missionaries, Cory will help CMI with administrative work. He’ll rely on internet phones and the computer for most work, but travel some too.
ME: We held our last tea and Bible study last week for International students. I felt a little hesitant when I started last fall but soon felt privileged. Some students who came had no previous exposure to the Bible. I appreciate Jan Jones’ invitation to help out!
Besides getting settled in our new home, I have a writing project. I was asked to contribute a chapter for a new missions text book. My topic: perseverance in missions. I thought I could get off easy by submitting an article I had written for something else. I found out they want something much longer, but I have a few months to work on it.
June 28 – July 3: Oregon Christian Convention, Turner, OR
Note our new address:
Cory & Janice Lemke
8200 Bliss Rd.
Bonanza, OR 97623
Christian Missionary Fellowship
PO Box 501020
Indianapolis, IN 46250
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April 15, 2011 – Lemke Update
“How are you adjusting?” We wanted to help our daugthers adjust to America for college, but they help us adapt too. I would never have known what a Justin Bieber haircut is if Alicia hadn’t shown me a Justin Bieber video on UTube. Otherwise, it still feels like we are on a typical furlough. We live in the same missionary house we usually live in. We visit churches to talk about Ukraine and missions. Cory keeps in contact with Ukraine and will return to Ukraine later this month.
“What’s Next?” Part of us returning to the U.S. was wanting to be close enough to be a little more helpful to aging parents. (We are ALL aging, I know. I also know that if they live to be 100, we won’t be able to pay back all the good they’ve done for us, but we can at least try to even the score a little.) Cory has had some interesting job offers, but has dismissed whatever hasn’t fit with the understanding that “we need to move to Klamath.” We plan to move a manufactured home onto my parents’ property east of Klamath Falls and move down there after Alicia finishes school in June. Cory became a Christian in Klamath and lived there for 10 years, so it feels like “home” in many ways. Even though he enjoys rural life, he wants to stay involved in missions and ministry however.
Early in our furlough, when people asked us, “What’s next?” we thought our plans included another organization that trains Russian-speaking leaders. Cory could maintain contacts in Ukraine, travel over occasionally and work over the internet while in the U.S. In November, however, we understood that plan wasn’t going to turn out as we thought.
Late in December, Cory got a call from another organization, Coaching Missionaries International (CMI.) He had taken some coaching training from them, and they wanted to know if he would consider coming on staff with them. The organization seeks to coach “mission leaders toward greater effectiveness, mature character, multiplication of service and the fulfillment of their call.” We knew we still had responsibilities with Christian Missionary Fellowship (CMF) through the end of June and didn’t feel the need or desire to jump into anything too soon, so we simply sat on the idea.
Besides our other furlough activities, Cory has been coaching some men (around 10 or 12) most of whom are involved in ministry as missionaries or pastors. He doesn’t try to tell them what to do, but simply asks questions to help them figure out what they should do. Whether or not we work with CMI, it’s something he enjoys and will be able to do wherever we have internet service, since most conversations take place over internet phones.
We still don’t know “what’s next” but have begun discussions with CMI about what might be involved in a role with them. We’d appreciate prayers for wisdom and God’s guidance. You can learn more about CMI at http://www.coachingmission.com/aboutus.htm
Home: We returned to the U.S. with the steady understanding that we needed to move closer to my parents. We still don’t have everything figured out for the future, but it’s fun to see some details coming together. The County granted a permit for a house on my parents’ property, so I began calling mobile home dealers all over the state. Dealers sometimes sell lot models at a discount, and I wanted to see what homes might fit our size and price range. The best deal I found was in Klamath Falls. When we stopped by a month ago, those homes were way out of our price range, but the owner now wants to retire and is selling her stock at invoice price. The home is much nicer and bigger than what we planned to get, but the price is less than what we’d expect to pay for a smaller home of less quality. It even has a steep roof pitch and regular house siding, so it looks like a regular house. After Cory gets back from Ukraine in May, he’ll work on preparing the foundation and laying the septic system.
Kindle: My newest book, Steppes of Faith, is now available on Kindle. If you’d like it (as an e-book) go to
If you’ve read the book, I invite you to submit a review. You can use the same link and scroll down. If you’d like a hard copy of the book, you can contact me directly at email@example.com.
To review Five Loaves and Two Bowls of Borscht or get a cheap copy used, go to: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1579213200. I wrote Five Loaves after our first four years in Ukraine, hoping to encourage people toward perseverance when life or ministry is difficult. It shows how God sustained us through challenges. Steppes of Faith is the sequel. It contains more examples of God’s faithfulness and includes stories of people we got to know and love.
Missions Conference: Alicia agreed to help us with a missions conference being held at Turner on April 16. She will be part of a panel discussion of missionary kids led by Tim Smith, who grew up as an MK and works with MK’s for Pioneers. Tim Doty, Debbie Doty, Cory and I will also lead sessions and be on a missionary panel. For more information,
check http://www.oregonchristianconvention.org/2011MTS.html. If you want to attend, please register using that link, so they will know how much food to buy and prepare for lunch.
Schedule:April 10: Creswell, OR
April 16: Missions Conference: Turner, OR 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
April 19 – May 11: Cory in Ukraine. A team from Wichita, with Larry Wren, Kenton Cleveland and Milt Pippenger will join him April 27 – May 2 to lead some training for church planters and other men in ministry. Cory looks forward to meeting with leaders for the Training Center. Pray for these leaders, since they are still facing opposition and are feeling the stress of it. Pray for wisdom and the ability to move forward in ministry. Pray for those who still don’t know Christ and for effective outreach. Pray for safety for Cory and the other team, and for wisdom as they share.
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March 12, 2011 – Lemke Update
Weekends Away: By waiting so long since the last update, it’s harder to know where to begin! The last month held several long weekends away from home, speaking at churches who invited us for their focus on missions. Three of these churches, we had never been to before, which provided free rein to tell old stories and old jokes without wondering if they’d already heard them. We met some great people and appreciate seeing how different folks are doing what they can to show love nearby and around the world. A couple weeks ago, we got to share the stage with June Johnson, our nurse teammate in Ukraine, who is on furlough. I enjoyed the drive to Klamath with her and the chance to get caught up. She plans to return to Ukraine in April, just one day before Cory goes over.
We’ve had some interesting encounters too. Not long ago, Cory and I met with a man and his Ukrainian fiancé — they hoped Cory could perform their wedding ceremony in June. The man was attracted to the woman’s story of survival, but he’s getting a taste of some cultural differences. He said he had already made a large down payment for their reception, when she informed him that according to the “lunar calendar” it would be bad luck to get married on that day. She looked at me like I would fully understand her position. I know enough to know that some people in Ukraine consult certain old women for guidance, but none of our friends do. He explained that as a compromise, they decided to hold a private ceremony one day and a large reception the next.
The next week, when I met with with international students for Tuesday tea and discussion of cultural differences, I told about this encounter. A fellow from China nodded vigorously and said that the lunar calendar is consulted in China for very many decisions, such as when to open a business or when to go on a trip. Someone might leave home months early in order to travel at the right time of year for taking an important test. I eventually pointed out that people want to have success and live confidently. God, who made us, gave guidelines in the Bible and often said, “If you follow My way, things will go well for you.” We shared that with this couple, too.
Ukraine: Cory has tickets to fly to Ukraine April 19, to arrive in time for Easter and the many church services surrounding it. (For instance, they hold a service for ”The Second Day of Easter” on the day after Easter.) He’s getting phone calls from people who look forward to his arrival, and just a few “can you bring me something” requests. Right after Easter, three men from Wichita arrive, who will help with a seminar for people involved in church planting and evangelism, held at the Efas Center April 28-30. The Wichita team will stay just a week, but Cory will stay until May 11, in order to have enough time with leaders of the Training Center and some church planters.
Family: Alicia is working on another paper for her literature class and has finals next week at the local community college. I enjoy hearing tidbits about her classes. Her American lit teacher is an aging hippie, but even he affirmed her point in a paper that without moral absolutes, it is not possible to say that slavery is wrong. (A Christian world-view camp she attended last summer still gives fuel for helping her evaluate ideas.) The teacher has given other positive feedback on how she thinks and expresses her ideas. She enjoys her American history professor, and plans to take another class from him next term. He never comes out and says he is conservative but includes plenty of material from a conservative point of view and often points out that even though people are trying to rewrite history, it’s a fact that America was founded by Protestant Christians. Unexpected gem for liberal Eugene, Oregon.
Janelle reports that she didn’t get much sleep for a while when she had some major projects and exams, but she’s doing very well with a challenging course load. (She’s studying electrical engineering at a Christian university in Texas.) I can’t claim credit for getting her through higher math during homeschool, since she figured it out on her own, using a textbook. She has spring break next week, but she plans to stay at the college along with her roommate, also an MK from Ukraine. They expect to study some, make their own food with a few others in their dorm and have a movie marathon. Her semester ends the first week of May. She will return to Oregon this summer, but plans to take a couple classes, in her goal to get a degree in three years.
In other family news, Petrovich, the parakeet likes to watch the birds outside and is learning to speak “Robin.” He chirps along nicely, but his feathered friends simply ignore him. He beak-boxes with me when I stick my finger in the cage and wiggle it, tapping on my fingernail. He likes carrots and lettuce to supplement his seedy diet.
Prayer: Pray for those seeking to share Christ’s love in Ukraine and fresh vision for believers who don’t. Pray for Cory’s trip to Ukraine and that the seminar, held April 28-30, will be a source of encouragement to those who attend. Pray for clarity of mind for teachers as they prepare. Pray for the Tatar, a Muslim people group, and others needing hope. Pray for leaders of established churches and for those working on new ground. Pray for clarity of mind for Training Center leaders as they plan for the next phase of ministry.
Schedule:March 13: Tigard Christian Church: Tigard, OR. speaking 9:00 – 10:00
April 10: Creswell, OR
April 16: Missions Conference: Turner, OR 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
For more information or to register go to: http://www.oregonchristianconvention.org/2011MTS.html
April 19 – May 11: Cory in Ukraine
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January 28, 2011 – Lemke Update
Ukraine: Some have written to say they have been praying for the Training Center in Ukraine. Thanks! A small but persistent group worked to discredit the Training Center by accusing Alexi, the director, of heresy. National church leaders got involved and joined in condemning the Training Center. In the last update, I wrote how three representatives from Kiev traveled to Crimea, visited several churches and learned there is another side of the story. Since then, we received more good news.
In mid-January, ten church leaders from Kiev traveled down to Crimea to sort things out. For two days they met with a smaller group, and then on January 14, met with pastors from all of Crimea. Since that meeting, Cory talked with six different men, each with a little different slant, but in patching the parts together, we learned the following: The head over churches for Ukraine said that “we all make mistakes” and acknowledged that they condemned Alexi too quickly, without gathering adequate information. They have taken back their call for Alexi to be excommunicated. They also took back their expectation that the head of Crimean churches to be removed for his support of Alexi. That office is up for a new vote this spring anyway, so he will serve out his term.
The Training Center leaders are grateful but still cautious, since the conflict has taken quite a bit out of them. I think the tide has genuinely turned, however. The Kiev leaders said they could see that Alexi conducted himself with humility and sought peace, not revenge. On the other hand, someone from Kiev sat next to the main accuser during the pastors’ meeting to keep him sitting down and quiet. When someone asked in that pastors’ meeting, “What about the heresy?” the person from Kiev leading the meeting said, “There is no heresy.” We heard that the main accuser told his congregation on Sunday, ”Praise God. Alexi repented.” I therefore assume he is ready to drop the heresy charge, but he could still save face.
This conflict has taken time and attention, but that’s certainly not all that’s going on. Churches have continued their outreach. Men Cory talked to told of various programs and outreaches held for Christmas, which comes on January 7 in Ukraine.
Coryplans to return to Ukraine in April, right before Easter. He wants to celebrate with them Christ’s resurrection, our foundation for hope. After Easter, the Training Center will hold a seminar, with help from at least two men from Wichita. Cory expects to stay until mid-May and spend time with the Training Center leaders and church planters.
Cory now meets with eight men, either weekly or every-other week, to help them think through ways to move forward in life and ministry. Many of these conversations take place using internet phones, since half are missionaries serving in various countries. As a people person, Cory enjoys these contacts, but said, “Most of them are introverts. But I’m learning that as I keep my mouth shut and simply ask questions, they have lots to say.” He continues to develop as a coach in a class that meets weekly using a conference call feature of the internet.
A few weeks ago, we got a letter from Northwest Christian University, saying they wanted to give Cory the “Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award” at a banquet February 5. It’s an honor, of course. Cory’s reaction: “I’m not sure what I’ve done, just tried to be faithful.” God uses ordinary people. We’ve had a rich life in the process.
Home: We recently rented the movie “UP.” Though supposedly a children’s story, it moved me deeply. The old man had longed for adventure and travel since a young age. When he finally gets it, he understands the most important thing in life is relationships. I’ve had more than my share of adventure and travel, but simple moments are the gems in my memory bank.
I won’t get rid of our suitcases yet, but I look forward to poking around the garden with my mom. If all goes planned, we hope to put a modular home on a chunk of my parents’ property. We applied for a housing permit with the County and are waiting to hear back from them. We need to be out of the house we now live in by June 10, when some other furloughing missionaries will need it. That date keeps us settled until Alicia finish school. Nevertheless, the coming months include enough factors outside our control to keep us dependant on God — not a bad place to be.
I’ve started to make an audio recording of my newest book, Steppes of Faith. Personally, I’d rather listen to a book than read it. Audio books are good for long distance travel, tedious kitchen work and those who can’t see well. Since Janelle isn’t here, I turned her closet into a recording studio by lining the walls with comforters and hanging a microphone from the clothes rack. Cory has an audio editing program that works well. I try to do a chapter or two a day.
I’m still helping with a ministry to international students and enjoy the Bible study for non-Christian students. I love hearing their questions. Our overview of the Bible has finally taken us to Jesus — what He did and what He said about himself. As we discussed the final events of Jesus life this week, I saw shock and horror on their faces. “Why did he have to suffer that way?” “Couldn’t He have stopped it?” It was all part of His decision to give His life for us, so we might live.
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January 15, 2011 – Lemke Update
Home: Shortly before midnight on New Year’s Eve, we took time as a family to read Psalm 103 and reflect on God’s faithfulness during the past year. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits.” We have seen God’s help with many of life’s details: a good car (purchased at trade-in price from Cory’s sister), college choice, the girls’ adjustment, new friends. Remembering such expressions of God’s goodness gives confidence for whatever lies ahead.
We’ve enjoyed having Janelle home and hearing more about her first semester in college. Since LeTourneau University has such a strong engineering and aviation program, most students are male. She quoted someone who said that for every girl, “there is one boyfriend, two wanna-be boyfriends, and five stalkers.” Janelle’s cousin looks out for her and offers to beat up any guys who give her too much attention. She reports, though, that for girls at LeTourneau, “the odds are good, but the goods are odd.” Janelle got involved with intramural sports, church, and dorm activities, managed to get good grades too, but came home exhausted. She returns to Texas on Friday. She is studying electrical engineering.
Alicia returned to her classes at the local community college this week. She was happy to get accepted to Corbin University in Salem next year and got her first scholarship offer. This week, Janelle introduced Alicia to a college-age Bible study group she found last spring. Alicia said it was a lot like their youth group in Ukraine, since they freely discussed random topics of interest. This week they talked about how to present a Christian worldview without seeming intolerant.
Ukraine: Cory received some encouraging news from Ukraine recently. Churches and pastors in Crimea have been standing up to those who have tried to discredit the Training Center by accusing it of heresy. Most churches of Crimea value the way the Training Center has helped equip their members for more effective service. Three church leaders came from other parts of Ukraine with the goal of setting right the “heresy” they had heard about in Crimea. Pastors feared that the arrival of these bigwig outsiders would cause extra upheaval for church members who wouldn’t know who to believe.
At the first church they attended, the pastor told them, “Feel free to preach from the Word of God, but if you say one word about the supposed heresy, I will escort you out the door.” An elder said, “And I will take you outside the gate.” The visitors preached, but didn’t say anything about heresy. After the service and a big lunch, they asked the church leaders about their view on the “heresy.” The leaders said they knew that there was no heresy, and that the accusation was simply a power-play. “Didn’t you read Alexi’s response to the accusations? It outlines what he believes and teaches.” The visitors had not.
At another church, the leaders also refused to let them talk about the “heresy” to the congregation, but said, “If you have any accusation, those you are accusing need to be here to defend themselves.” The pastor of another church said that when the visitors came to his church, they made so much fun of them for their ignorance of the real issues that “we had to repent afterward.”
The church office in Kiev condemned the person who serves as overseer for churches in Crimea for his “support of the heresy.” When the visitors met with him, he said, “If this happened in your region — someone claimed there was heresy when you knew there was none, what would you do?” They understood and agreed with his stand — at least two of the three visitors did, and decided there was no reason to return to Crimea to continue the tour.
ANSWERED PRAYER: Some outsiders who once believed the accusation of heresy now see that there is none, and pressure has lightened. We pray for full resolution and that God would use this for good.
In Ukraine, they celebrate Christmas on January 7th. Many churches and church planters are using this week—up until January 9—to hold special events for children and adults.Pray people will be attracted to the hope Jesus came to give.
Coming Up: Cory’s former missions professor, Tim Doty, asked us to help him plan and present a one-day missions conference on April 16 in Turner, OR. Theme: “Finding and Fulfilling God’s Mission.” Tim observed that many churches have a vague vision for missions outreach, but an effective missions program is a natural extension of the purpose of the church. The conference will include some tips for strategic thinking as well as insights into choosing and caring for missionaries.
Several churches, which we haven’t previously visited, have ask us for help with missions education in the coming weeks.
Cory plans to return to Ukraine in late April or May for several weeks. During part of his time there, they will hold a seminar. Cory suggested conflict resolution as a possible topic—using principles in the book, Peacemaker.
Schedule: Let us know if you want more information about any of the following.
January 30: Creswell, OR
February 6: Trent Church in Dexter, OR
Feb. 13: Veronia, OR
Feb. 18-21: Evangelism seminar in Ashland, OR
Feb. 27: Shasta Way, Klamath Falls, OR
March 4-6: Myrtle Point, OR
March 13: Tigard, OR
April 16: Missions Conference: Turner, OR
late April – May: Ukraine