2003 Ukrainian Disciples Conference Report
Key Verse Philippians 3:8
"What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ" (Php3:8).
We thank God for granting Ukraine UBF our first historical United Disciples' Conference October 24-26,2003 at a beautiful resort in Kiev, Ukraine. Bright and colorful red, yellow and orange leaves were falling down all around us at the conference site. It was symbolic of God's grace and blessing poured out on us at our conference. God's presence was with us through powerful messages from God's servants. Kiev and Odessa coworkers were all mutually encouraged. We were very thankful for all the prayer support we received from coworkers all over the world and for delegates who came to pray for us personally, such as Shp. David Kim and Shp. Dong Hwa Lee from Korea, Msn. Kaleb Hong and Shp. Timo Sorg from Germany, Msn. Maria Ahn and Shp. Elijah Uskomirsky from Chicago UBF HQ and Msn. Peter Kim and Shp. Sergey from Moscow.
Before the conference, Kiev UBF had three and a half weeks of nightly prayer meetings. All coworkers met together and prayed sometimes three by three, at other times five by five or fellowship by fellowship. Ukraine UBF wanted to know the deep meaning of being a disciple of Jesus. There is a price and a prize associated with being his disciple. Many of our Ukrainian shepherds and shepherdesses have been feeding sheep and were discouraged when sheep ran away. They needed to renew Jesus' calling for them to be his disciples. Through this conference many renewed Jesus' calling as his disciple.
On the first night, Msn. John Lee from Odessa gave the first Lecture entitled "Faith is…" from Hebrews 11:1-7. Msn. John Lee said in his message that if we have something, then faith is not necessary. Rather faith is necessary for what we hope for in the future and is invisible for us now. He gave the example that we need faith to see Ukraine become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. May God give us the faith to fervently pray for our nation to be a kingdom of priests and holy nation.
After the message several students gave their life testimonies. Shps. Oksana L. is a Ph.D. student in Mathematics at Shevchen-ko Kiev National University. Through Bible study she met Jesus and chose Gala-tians 2:20 as her key verse "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." She feeds many sheep and is a steward of Kiev UBF, translating daily bread, preparing an environment for 6:30 A.M. daily bread and taking turns as the presider for Sunday worship services. There are many other students from Shevchenko who shared testimonies, such as Shp. Dima (1st year), Shp. Misha (2nd year), Shps. Larisa (3rd year), Shp. Sasha T (5th year), and Shps. Ruth who is a recent graduate of Shevchenko Kiev National University in Chemistry. She also feeds many sheep and was promoted to an intern shepherdess after the conference. She is now receiving intern shepherdess training under Dr. Peter and Sarah Kim. She is praying to go out as a missionary, and by God's will to Chicago.
Shps. Katya G. is a fifth-year student from the Politechnical Institute of Kiev University. She experienced many painful events in her life, but through Bible study she met Jesus who is the light of the world. Jesus' light shone brightly in her dark life and now she is a Bible teacher. Another student from the Politechnical Institute who shared his life testimony was Slava, a third-year student and the brother of Shps. Rebekah Levitsky. He has two sheep under his care at the moment. The students all looked young and sincere. There is a fire in their eyes and hunger for the word of God. Shp. Ivan also gave his life testimony and is praying that if it is God's will, his family may go out to China as missionaries.
Odessa and Kiev UBF prepared beautiful choral songs; our Ukrainians brothers and sisters are very musical. The singspiration was joyfully led by Shp. Point Levitsky. The orchestra was led by second generations Msn. Hannah Lee from Odessa, Joseph Kim, Maria Joy, Christy and Sarah Peace from Kiev UBF, with Msn. Esther Kim and Shps. Ana also.
On the next day Shp. Elijah Uskomirsky from Chicago gave a powerful morning message on "Jesus calls Peter." He delivered his message in Russian, though he had an American accent. We were moved by his one word, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will be a fisher of men." May God raise him as a fruitful fisher of men in Chicago. The second lecture was delivered by Shp. Dmitriy Sacrificial from Odessa on, "The Faith of the Forefathers," Hebrews 11:8-22. He and Shps. Olessa established the first house church in Odessa. Odessa ministry is also growing. They have many shepherdess medical students who also want to go out as missionaries.
In the afternoon and evening we had two forums. The first forum was a discipleship symposium given by senior shepherds and shepherdesses from Kiev and Odessa. The topics were "Effective 1:1 Bible Study," "Disciples are made–not born," "Ideal common life," "The study of the mentality and character of young people," "A Biblical house church," "Disciple-making ministry," and "How Jesus made disciples." One brother used a projector with pictures, others gave a report and afterwards there was a forum for discussion. It was light and many students asked questions. In the evening the forum was an international one with topics by good disciple-makers from the USA, Korea, Germany, Russia and Ukraine. Afterwards, the students again asked questions about each nation. These forums gave the audience a chance to speak and express their own views. Also, it gave senior shepherds who could not give messages a chance to study and present the many different aspects of a shepherd's life.
The third lecture was given by Shp. Andrey Shpagin from Kiev on "The faith of Moses," Hebrews 11:23-40. Moses' life of faith is heart-moving. Moses left his palace life so that he could be with God's people. He valued disgrace for Christ as greater than the treasures of Egypt. Moses had the right value system. He paid the price by leaving his palace life to be a disciple of God, and God gave him the reward of eternal life and to be a shepherd for God's people.
At the end of the evening we had a drama on Peter's discipleship. It was the same drama that was performed at the US and Canada Discipleship Conference. We were very thankful to Shps. Elena Lomahan to give us the script and the sound effects CD. Many were moved to tears by Peter's repentance. Peter was played by Shp. Jonathan Sasha, who feeds several sheep at Shevchenko Kiev National University and at the Politechnical Institute of Kiev University.
On Sunday morning God gave us snow from heaven. The conference site looked so pure and quiet as the white snow covered the trees and bushes. There was a lovely calm and serenity all around us. Shp. Vladimir Point gave us the last and fourth lecture on "For the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus." Shp. Vladimir Point is praying for his family to go as missionaries to Slovakia, but he is also free to stay in Kiev as a staff shepherd. He serves Kiev very sacrificially. In his message we learned Paul's great faith and his great desire to know Christ. We learned from his message that to know Christ is our greatest privilege and reward. There is a price to be Jesus' disciples, but the prize is beyond comparison to the little price we pay. To be Jesus' disciple is the best investment one can make in life because the reward is out of this world. Our prayer topic for Kiev UBF is to raise 1,000 disciples of Jesus and to send out 500 missionaries. Odessa UBF is praying to send out 100 missionaries by 2013. For Ukraine we are praying to pioneer 24 regions and to make Ukraine a kingdom of priests and holy nation.