DISCIPLE-MAKING MINISTRY THROUGH 1:1
By Dr. Peter Kim, Ukraine UBF Director
"'Ifyou can?' said Jesus. 'Everything is possible for him who believes. "(Mk9:23)
Ukraine is located in central Europe with 50 million people and is the second largest territory after Russia. Recently, Ukraine got a new president who is very pro-West; in fact, his wife is American. He also promises freedom of religion. Many people are happy to have this new president. Ukraine's capital, Kiev, was the first capital of ancient Russia and is a center of politics, culture and economics. In 1990 I went to Moscow as a missionary. In 1991 I went to pioneer Kiev, Ukraine, and Msn. Sarah Kim joined me from Korea after several months. There are two more missionary families and one single missionary, Hanna Choi, in Kiev. Msn. Esther Kim came to Kiev as a student and studied the Bible with Msn. Sarah Kim and became a good missionary coworker; she established a house church with Msn. Mark Kim in 2003. Msn. John and Maria Peace from Chicago came in 2003. They have clear mission spirit to join the remaining suffering of Jesus Christ. God blessed their simple faith and decision to become missionaries together with four children. God gave Msn. John a very good job within one month after coming to Kiev, blessing his faith like Abraham. Msn. John works in Kiev International School as a teacher and supports his family and UBF with materials sacrificially. His children study in a missionary school with my three children. They enjoy being in school with many missionaries' children. With Msn. Maria Peace's coming, suddenly, our Kiev UBF became a very loud center because of Msn. Maria's laughing and funny Ukrainian language in which she repeats, "Da, da, slava Bogu". Frankly speaking, at first, I was a little bit afraid of her because she looked like an army field commander; but I soon learned that she is very mild and humble. Especially, she likes and respects Msn. Sarah Kim and coworks with her very well like a best friend in Jesus. Msn. Maria is raising one sister "Olena" as a disciple of Jesus. Olena is a very able sister and speaks English very fluently. If Msn. Maria has a rabbit's spirit, Msn. John Peace has a turtle's spirit. Msn. John is very patient and sincere. Our brothers like him very much. He studies the Bible with his sheep, brother Pasha. Msn. John Peace's family became a blessing for us and they are an exemplary missionary family.
From Kiev UBF we sent Anastasiya to New Jersey in 2003 and she established a blessed house church with Shp. Jason Perry; together their family is serving Princeton pioneering ministry. Shp. Jacob and Joan of Arc's family was sent to pioneer Markov, the second largest city in Ukraine. Shp. Vladimir Point and Rebekah's family was sent to Istanbul Turkey to pioneer Bosporus University, the top university in Turkey. Another family— Heart-moving Noah and Anna are preparing to also go to Turkey to pioneer Istanbul University. From Odessa Ukraine UBF, Shp. Abraham and Sarah were sent to Dneprpetrovsk, the third largest city in Ukraine. Our Kiev UBF has about 130 l:ls each week and there are about 35 committed disciples who are praying to go out as missionaries any time God calls them. This year we are praying to send out three missionaries, and to send 1000 missionaries by 2041. I want to report how God has done disciple-making ministry through 1-1 Bible studies.
First, early morning prayer. In the beginning of Kiev ministry I prayed two things: first, that God may bless our disciple-making ministry and make it a UBF model of the third world country ministry; second, to live a missionary life with early morning prayer, with joy and willingness in any situation. I thank God who established a beautiful early morning prayer meeting with 35 disciples. Psalm 57:8 says, "Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn." When David wrote this, he was a fugitive in a cave. David had faith to thank and praise God in any kind of adverse situation. He had a decision and vision to awaken the dawn and overcome the darkness. The world cannot do anything to a man of prayer who prays in the early morning with praise and decision.
I have survived spiritually until now because of early morning prayer. One sheep said to come to early morning prayer meeting was like overcoming the Great Wall of China. Many leaders who came to the morning prayer meeting learned sincerity and hardworking spirit. Also their mentality was not complicated in the early morning and we could meet everyday. It has been the most effective way to have daily Bible study and very useful for training in godliness as disciples of Jesus. Also, leaders take turns to prepare breakfast. This is very useful for leaders to learn practical serving and have good eating fellowship everyday.
Second, all things are possible for him who believes. Mark 9:23 says, "'If you can?' said Jesus. 'Everything is possible for him who believes.1" With Jesus' power the evil spirit in a demon-possessed man was driven out. Jesus' power can be manifested through those who believe in Jesus' power. If we have faith, God reveals his power to us. I had to be healed of my unbelief and have absolute faith. When I wanted to serve discipleship ministry, the main enemy was unbelief. Satan continually tempted me so that I might despair and fall into unbelief. I struggled to serve disciple-ship ministry, invite sheep day and night, stay at the center from early morning to late evening, and to serve sheep with God's word and food. I thought that after two or three years our discipleship ministry would have a strong foundation. But every sheep ran away, one by one, when we did not raise them based on the word of God. The sheep we had hope for, all ran away. One sheep who had lived with us ran away during a meeting and took expensive things from our house.
My coworker experienced much stress because of the poor conditions of Ukraine. For six years she had several miscarriages. When sheep ran away, the other four missionaries also got very grumpy and went back to Korea. After three years of pioneering, my house church was the only one left. And nobody paid attention to us for eight years. In such a situation, to serve the disciple-making ministry alone was like digging a hole in the ground with my forehead (so I lost many hairs). I thought to serve world mission was in vain. I was so discouraged that I lost my spirit. I often prayed, "Lord, I cannot serve world mission anymore if you won't ask others to serve world mission; I can't do it by myself." But every time, God rebuked my unbelief: "If you can?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes." I never thought that the problem was my faith. But Jesus said, "Everything is possible for him who believes." The reason I could not raise up disciples was my unbelief. I cried out like the father, "I believe, help my unbelief!" I could accept that this was the way to be healed of my unbelief. When I practically repented of my unbelief and believed in the Almighty God, God began to work.
The first disciple was Shp. Abraham Vlad. After his mother died he was lost in fear and got very sick. When we first visited him in his dormitory, he was like the dead son of the widow in Luke 7. God gave him new life through common life with my family and Bible study from Isaiah 53:4,5, and raised him as an Abraham of faith. Shps. Sarah Maria was like the Samaritan woman because of her deep thirst for love. She was bound by the power of sinful desire and nobody could put hope in her. But the word of God had power. She was born again through John 4, and she established the first house church with Shp. Abraham, and has co-worked with us wholeheartedly for 12 years.
Dr. Vladimir Jacob was very proud. He is very sharp and has a hardworking spirit. He graduated from Radiophysics in Kiev University with the highest GPA. Through Bible study, he accepted John 1:4 and confessed that Jesus is his Lord and Christ. But it was very hard to change his inner mind because he tried to live the shepherd life with his own ability and will. When we played soccer, there was always fighting because of his sense of competition. He ignored other brothers who couldn't feed sheep and despised them. So I helped him to memorize Romans so that he could open his spiritual eyes to God's love and his one-sided grace. Though this training he accepted
Rom 6:11, "In the same way count yourself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus", and he solved his deep-rooted sin problem. He miraculously changed and became an excellent Bible teacher. He went with his wife Joan of Arc to pioneer Harkov last March as an exemplary missionary.
When we held on to this word, "All things are possible for him who believes," and kept faith and believed in God who is almighty and alive and who works through believers, God began to do his great work through us. Through this I learned that it is most important in disciple-making ministry that a leader have immovable faith. But often our faith is moveable and changeable. When can we have immovable faith? Only when we believe that the Bible is the word of the living God and the master key for all problems. If we have such faith we can resolve all kinds of problems for everyone. So our hearts must always burn with passion that God resolves all problems through the power of his word. With confidence in the word of God and a burning heart for raising disciples, there will absolutely be fruit. That is why disciple-makers must be courageous. How can we be courageous? When we believe the word of God is the word of God; when we believe absolutely in the cross of Jesus and the gospel of the resurrection; and when we have clear faith in the kingdom of God. When I have faith, I can preach the gospel and raise disciples of Jesus and die knowing that the kingdom of God is waiting for me. Then I can teach sheep the word of God without compromise and raise them as disciples who have absolute faith.
Third, "Five loaves and two fish" faith. John 6:9 says, "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?" We call this, "five loaves and two fish" faith or "Andrew's faith." Humanly speaking, such a faith is ridiculous. But through this faith, we can overcome any difficult situation and make disciples. When we first came to Kiev, we had nearly nothing; a lack of language, materials and food. Because of the fall of the USSR we had a hard time even to buy food. In order to buy bread we had to wait for one or two hours, but after waiting for two hours they often said that there was no bread left. When a foreign shepherd visited us, we served him until there was nothing left for us to eat. He asked us why he had to eat alone and we answered, "We already ate."
Most of all, people were afraid and desperate because of the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, one of the greatest world disasters. It occurred 110 miles from Kiev in 1986. I wondered why I had to suffer in the cold, hungry and desolate situation, and I became sorrowful. At that time, God helped me to hear Jesus' voice, "You give them something to eat." Andrew's faith encouraged me and gave me the direction, "Okay, I must not think about what I don't have but think about what I do have. With that I can come to Jesus and please him." God blessed us to begin the discipleship ministry. When we thought about what we didn't have and looked for excuses, we were always sorrowful. When we wanted to obey God's word and learn "five loaves and two fish" faith, we could experience how fruitful our life of faith could be.
Shp. Andrey Shpagin was a well-paid salary man. But he kept his money to himself. But when he accepted "five loaves and two fish" faith, he became a man who serves God's ministry most sacrificially. At every conference he pays for those who cannot afford the conference fee. At every international conference, he supported a poor shepherd by buying his airplane ticket.
We also became confident that we could feed and join world mission. We could be self- supporting and send out missionaries and support them. Last year we decided to build a Bible center. God worked in the hearts of the disciples and we could buy 1,000 square meters of land without any support from other chapters. Ukra-nians were accustomed to receive freely because of communism. They wouldn't pay conference fees. They had the spirit of no paying. They think they cannot because they have no money. In reality, they had many things. The problem was their beggar mentality. Therefore we continued to teach them not to think of what they did not have, but to find what they have and give it to the Lord. In reality, third world country missionaries lack material resources so there is no opportunity to help others. They usually begin from nothing in a foreign country and struggle to establish a self- supporting ministry. Sometimes they feel to live in a foreign land with a self-supporting ministry is impossible. I learned that to give and to feed sheep by five loaves and two fish faith in any situation is the most fundamental element for disciple-making. Nothing will happen if missionaries despair because of reality. Sheep want to see the sacrificial life of shepherds. Sometimes sheep want to see sweat, tears, even the blood of shepherds. Sheep follow their shepherd when the shepherd lives a sacrificial shepherd's life. For a disciple-maker there are many crosses. He must work to be self-supporting, deliver the message, raise disciples, and care for children and family. But when we have the five loaves and two fish faith, we can live a happy shepherd's life. When we can confess everyday, "I am the happiest shepherd", in faith and in the gospel there will be a disciple-making ministry. And we can live the life of a wedding banquet. There is a proverb, "For Buddha's disciples everyday is a funeral ceremony. For Confucius' disciples, everyday is a formal offering. For, Jesus' disciples, everyday is a banquet. If the shepherd's life is sacrificial and joyful, then sheep will trust the shepherd and also will grow to be sacrificial. God's work is through "five loaves and two fish" faith.
Fourth, faith in the God of vision and hope. God trained Israel to overcome their slave mentality in order to change them into a kingdom of priests and a holy nation according to God's hope. When we studied Ukrainian history, we learned that the problem of her people was that they did not have good shepherds who would bear the pain of the sheep with God's hope and vision and lead them on the right way. Although the present situation might be difficult, there is hope and vision when there is a spiritual leader. God planted Exodus 19:5,6 in our hearts, and through this word he revealed his hope. Although there was nothing that we could see directly, we prayed at every meeting with God's hope and vision to bless us to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation: Ukraine, a shepherd nation and a missionary-sending nation. We prayed and prayed with this vision day and night.
This vision of God challenged us and gave us strong holy desire. Although our situation might be hopeless, God is training us so that we can see that God will use Ukraine in the 21st century as a Zion of the gospel and as a shepherd nation. We made many spiritual slogans, shouting, "You give them something to eat"; "It is more blessed to give than to receive"; "We are not beggars but a royal priesthood"; "We are working for God's business which is worth millions of dollars. How can we be afraid of losing several hundred dollars?" We often shout a lot at the airport, "Lord, make this airport 100 times bigger, so that many nations may come and visit us!" We pray to pioneer 24 regions in the Ukraine and to send out shepherds as pioneers in God's time. God has answered our prayer and he raised many servants of God for Ukraine. God blessed our vision and our prayer and sent out several missionaries. Shps. Anastasia's inner mind was beautiful and she was an honest woman with a sacrificial mind. She was a pillar of Kiev UBF. I prayed for her to establish a house church for Ukraine mission. But God reminded me of my family's vow. We made a vow that if God raised disciples by his grace in this land we would give the most excellent disciple to the altar of world mission. Although she has some material problems, I heard that she keeps 12 1:1 Bible studies every week and serves dawn prayer meeting at 5:00 a.m.
If there was Anastasia among our sisters, then there is Vladimir Point among our brothers. He is a gentleman now but he was like a Gerasene demoniac before. He came to the center with his hair in a ponytail, wearing a leather jacket and pants, a cowboy hat and boots with a guitar on his shoulder. He was a professional guitarist; so often when he came to the center, he gathered sisters and played romantic music. Sisters lost their senses and stared at him blankly. One time in a conference he acted like this and one senior missionary rebuked me, "Why didn't you drive out such a person?" Anyway, he disappeared for two years and appeared again with one Samaritan girlfriend. He said, "If this girl changes in UBF, I will give my life for UBF mission." It was a very strange request and vow, but I answered, "OK, I agree. Let's begin." By God's grace this sister changed through Bible study and later became Vladimir Point's coworker and mother of their two daughters. The change and spiritual growth of Shp. Vladimir Point is amazing. He has a great passion to give his life for Jesus with an absolute attitude to the word of God. He has a spirit like Apostle Paul. He wrote all the name of students who lived in the dormitory to visit them and then analyzed their interests and revisited those who had potential to study the Bible. In this way he raised many disciples. Especially he was able to help sisters grow spiritually and raised several shepherdesses. I wanted him to take over Kiev UBF after me in the future. For this I wanted to send him as a pioneer so that he may taste all kinds of sufferings and after suffering, glory. First I prayed for him to go to Slovakia. He immediately obeyed this direction and quit his job and tried to go as a missionary to Slovakia. But strangely the Holy Spirit did not open the way. Then after the 2004 MSU conference God gave him the vision to go to a Muslim nation and God opened the door for Turkey mission which is the main door for Muslim nations. He has a three-year old daughter Lydia and two-month old daughter Vera. He completed a two-story house beside the future center so that he could live with his family and sheep. But when he received the mission to go to a Muslim country, he immediately denied himself and gave up a comfortable life and went to Istanbul. He accepted the word of God, "Come to Macedonia and help us", and "Do you truly love me? Feed my sheep." May God bless his faith and obedience and raise him as a good shepherd and disciple-maker for Muslim nations through Turkey and make Turkey a shepherd nation and missionary-sending nation. Also, after him Shp. Heart-Moving Noah and Ana are praying to go to Turkey.
We prayed and thought about what we can do to change Ukraine into a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, a shepherd nation and missionary-sending nation. Then God revealed his vision to raise beautiful Ukrainian shepherdesses as disciples of Jesus and send them out into the whole world. We could have the vision to send out 1,000 missionaries by 2041 and to raise 24 spiritual leaders for the 24 regions of Ukraine. When we prayed with this hope in our hearts faithfully, God led many shepherdesses to us and raised them up as missionary-candidates. God answered our prayer so that 150 sheep attended the last Ukraine Fall Bible conference together with Mother Sarah Barry, entitled, "Your will be done." They learned the Lord's prayer and Jesus' discipleship, and made decisions to be used as spiritual leaders at any cost. We have learned that God blesses our hope and fulfills it, although it looks very small at the beginning. I thank God that he gave us his vision to serve world campus mission and to pioneer the whole world with the gospel.
Many times we feel human limitation to raise disciples. Especially, we are self-supporting missionaries who must take up three to four crosses at the same time. Also, sheep and disciples are in the same situation. In the beginning they enjoy the gospel and their shepherd's love. Then we hit the limitation of disciple-raising and our prayer and Bible study loses power. We become habitual and our hearts become dry and we lose the passion for disciple-raising and serving others. I learned at this time it is crucial to help sheep change their value system through deep Bible study and to deny themselves, serve God's work and establish others. This can be done by giving them world mission vision and helping them see themselves as fathers of many nations. We must help them so that they can have the ability for spiritual reproduction. When they can find a great vision in our meetings, they can become remnants. Young men quickly lose the desire to be remnants if our vision is small and our scale is not worldwide. Therefore we must continuously encourage sheep to live a vision-centered and mission-centered life and show them clearly where our ministry is going and share our dream and vision with them. For me also, because I liked the world mission vision of UBF and the great passion of Dr. Samuel Lee for Jesus and for world mission, I too became a remnant in UBF and a missionary, though it involves suffering. Therefore it is very important for a disciple-maker to be a man of vision. He must pursue the dynamic changing power of the gospel which is not habitual or formal. Disciple-makers must comfort others with the love of Christ and fulfill the needs of sheep and challenge them through vision and give them clear direction for their lives. This means disciple-makers must keep God's hope and vision burning in their hearts. Then we can help sheep to follow Jesus with joy and we can use our spiritual leadership as disciple-makers. Of course, disciple-makers must give all the glory to God and only lift up the name of Jesus Christ. I thank God who called us to be 1:1 Bible teachers and disciple-makers. I thank God that he does not use those who are fully prepared from the beginning but those who try to overcome shortcomings and adverse situations by faith. I believe God blessed Kiev UBF with his one-sided grace because we believe that our sheep, even though their present condition is not perfect, are called by God. The reason God blessed us is because we have a co-working spirit to raise sheep up as future spiritual leaders and learn from each other. Like this we tried to do our best to please God believing that, "Everything is possible for him who believes." May God bless our 1:1 Bible study and disciple-making ministry. May God bless the USA, Canada and Ukraine to be kingdoms of priests and holy nations through 1:1 Bible study.