#145 News & Notes

“Don’t take the escalator. See the line – you will never make it to your flight. Go around the corner and down the hall, there is an elevator, take it up and get through security, and then get to your gate.”

Welcome to London Heathrow and a delayed arrival because of fog and therefore a race to our connection for Calgary. As we jogged towards our gate, the only people standing there were BA staff. As we got closer, one called out “are you the Paetkau’s? (and he even pronounced it correctly!). “Yes.” “Welcome aboard”. phew, made it.

News from Ukraine

The continued conflict in Ukraine has been causing havoc with the economy and with the country’s infrastructure. Much of the country’s electricity is supplied by coal, and this is in very short supply as the primary source for coal is in the area that is in conflict. Thus the entire country is experience daily periods of “brown outs” – where the power is shut off for a few hours at a time.

I was speaking with one of the members of SGC and he told me of the road trip that they had just completed to the Donetsk region. Churches from around Ukraine have been collecting food and taking it to the conflict area in the southeast where individuals from churches there will distribute it to the needy. Two SGC members loaded a van full of staples, potatoes etc, and drove the 500+ km to the south, through numerous checkpoints until they met a contact who had also driven through numerous checkpoints (coming out of the conflict zone). The situation there is dire, and people are doing what they can to help their fellow countrymen. Pastors are risking their lives, staying in the conflict zone to minister to those who are left. People are hosting refugees, helping them to find housing and work in the new places that they have found themselves. A number of refugees were housed at Sumy Grace Camp until late in the fall when they were able to relocate to new homes and jobs etc.

Ministry Opportunity
This is a bit of short notice, but with how life in Ukraine and here has been plans were not able to be finalized until late in December. I will be leading a work team of 4-6 people to minister at Sumy Grace Camp leaving Feb 12 and returning Feb 23. The work project will be to finish the ceiling in the 2nd floor chapel (insulate and put up the wood). I will also be teaching at a session one weekend at Sumy Regional Bible College which will be meeting at the end of the week when I and the team are there. Please read and pray about being part of the ministry that will be taking place there (both with possibly joining the team and/or giving to the project). Read more regarding this opportunity here.

2nd floor chapel 2nd floor chapel

Spain
When most people think of Spain they either think of warm beaches and sand or bullfights. Well, where we were wasn’t anywhere near the warm beaches or the bullfights. We were a bit southeast of the city of Toledo, at a small resort set on a hill surrounded by thousands of acres of olive groves. Beautiful country and a great setting to get together with our SEND Ukraine teammates. The time together was very special for us, especially the kids, as we had not had the opportunity to really say goodbye when we left so quickly this summer. Here a a few short video clips and here are a few photos from our time there.

No bullfighters, but I did find a bull

No bullfighters, but I did find a bull

Retreat center surrounded by olive groves

Retreat center surrounded by olive groves

We are thankful for how it all worked out. We had already contributed the amount necessary over the past year for the conference and flights from Kiev through a monthly budget item, and so by topping up the extra needed for the flight portion it made it possible for us to go. It was a fast trip – departed Calgary Monday evening and were back in Calgary the following Sunday evening. Not enough time to really enjoy the effect of getting over jet lag, but well worth the effort.

For those who are into the whole Lord of the Rings thing (movies especially) drop by here for an interesting story about the swords….

toledo swords

What will our ministry role be now?
Leanne wrote an update which explains very well what our new ministry role will be

“…Now we are into a new role for a minimum of the next two years.

This entails John serving out of the Canadian office for SEND as part of the western Canada mobilization team. What does that mean? It means willing and active participation in being part of the answer to the prayer “Lord of the harvest, send out labourers into Your harvest field.”

John recently returned from meetings in Ontario at our Canadian office and a seminar near Toronto. There he took part in brainstorming, sharing and learning what is needed in Canada to facilitate the raising up of more workers to go cross the barriers of different cultures and languages in order to share the Gospel. John’s primary role in western Canada will be to work at connecting with churches, seeking to facilitate them as they seek to follow the Great Commission. Helping them in the process of reaching out across cultures, languages etc, be that across the street or across the world. This will take on a variety of formats – from spending time with pastors and leaders one on one, preaching and speaking at various events and services, seminars, conferences etc. It will included spending time at different campuses here in western Canada, spending time with students, building relationships with people who may be prompted at a later date by the Lord to answer the call “whom shall I send?” (Isaiah 6:8)

John & I know how we feel when we contemplate the harvest field in just one region of eastern Ukraine – Sumy region – where it is just less than 1% evangelical (similar stats as Japan). We need more dedicated workers! But that is the Lord’s doing to send them – and our job to pray to Him to send them and also to get the word out there about what the opportunities are, and what it looks like to be called and to be ready to go!

Well, here I get to the crux of the matter. When John and I got back to Canada we were wondering “what would you have us to do Lord?” While John was out in Ontario he learned that staff at SEND Canada have been praying for an experienced couple (in both Canadian and international ministries) to become part of the mobilization team, in order to be catalysts and to serve in a capacity of helping churches and individuals in following God’s call of missions. One staff member told John, “God has answered our prayers through you and Leanne. We are so thankful for you joining our team.” It is humbling to see that we are part of God’s answer for this time period. SEND Canada has a vision to partner with local churches and individuals in order to send out more workers to reach those who are the Lord’s but right now are still lost – be it across the world or across the street. We as individuals and as an organization want to be part of what God is doing in this time period of history. With this opportunity also comes opposition….”

I have written a bit more here how God has been working in our lives and bringing us forward into this time of life and period of ministry.

Upcoming ministries

This month I will be spending a lot of time doing “prep work” as we plan for the upcoming ministry year. I will also be preparing for a course that I will teach while in Sumy later in February.

January 23-Feb 1
Ministry trip to Lower Mainland. Both Trinity Western University and Columbia Bible College have missions events taking place that week which I and others from SEND will be part of. On the weekend I will be a Missions Fest Vancouver as part of the SEND ministry team there. I also hope to connect with some of our supporters if it works out with their schedule and mine.

February 12-23
Work and Ministry team to Sumy Grace Camp (see here for more details)

Family Update
Lanae is going back to Miller College of the Bible for her second semester. Thank you to all who took part in helping her to do that. God worked a miracle there through all of you, as we just asked for prayer because she was trying to figure out how to make it work because of expenses. God provided through a number of people, and we are very thankful.

We all took a quick trip to Saskatoon, in order to celebrate the wedding of Rachel Guenther.  Rachel and her parents are part of our SEND team in Ukraine, and it was joy to spend some time with Ken & Bertha & Rachel.

b0a01657-96fc-4ce5-bf76-6723060b5dd6

The four of us are here in Cochrane, getting more orientated to life and living in Canada. We enjoyed going to the mall in Calgary during the Christmas rush to get our “crowded market” feeling fix.

Support Update
Go here for an update on our monthly support needs and for our work expense project update.

Thanks for standing with us.

Have a great day,
John
4 the 5 of us

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