Ukraine 2001 – (Scroll down for the┬ábeginning of the updates)

Posted October 17, 2001

Dearest Friends,

Your prayers were incredible! I have never had a trip to Ukraine where I saw God do so much. Each trip in the past has been awesome, but this trip was especially blessed. I know that this is the result of your intensive prayers.

The Ukrainians that traveled with me were wonderful. Two of them were members of two different Ukrainian puppet teams that we had previously trained. One of our translators became so excited about all that she saw God do; she has decided to become a puppeteer! Sometimes when we would sit down for a meal and talk, there would be members of four or five puppet teams in attendance. They would share ideas, discuss the ministry, and best of all become friends who will pray for each other. Truly, this has become their ministry! For all that I saw God do in Ukraine, this is what thrills my soul the most.

One day we visited a sanitarium where children were being treated for severe asthma and TB. We had a wonderful opportunity to tell the children how Jesus could heal their broken hearts. They were sick in body but even they realized that their greater problem was that they were sick in spirit. Afterwards the director thanked us for the program and begged us to come again.

In a youth prison, we were amazed at the way the young men, guards and even the prison commander listened. The young men were especially excited over the gift of a cartoon illustrated New Testament. When the program was finished, the commander picked me a bouquet of flowers, kissed me on both cheeks, posed with me for a picture and told me that I would always be welcome. God is a great God!

During the last two days of our trip, we visited an orphanage where the children were very responsive to the Gospel. They were so hungry for attention that they crowded around us so that we could hug them. We told them there was a Father who loved them, who would keep all of His promises. More then 50 children raised their hands and said they had become Christians.

Even as I traveled home, I saw God’s faithfulness. On the train in Amsterdam, traveling to the airport, I shared a word of testimony with a Muslim from Kuwait. Flying to the States, God gave me a chance to talk with a man who puts out oil fires in the Middle East. He kept insisting that God had done nothing to show the world he cared. I reminded him about Jesus and His sacrifice. He told me that no one remembered any more. His statement challenged me to live before the world in such a way that shows that I remember. Finally, as I was in Memphis preparing for the last leg of the trip, I spoke with a young woman from Denmark for thirty minutes about true hope.

We saw hundreds of children publicly confess Jesus Christ as Savior. I am confident that the Ukrainians will see God do much greater things!

In Christ,

Linda for Oksanka, Natasha, Oksana, and Pasha


Posted October 5, 2001

Dearest Friends,

This is the first opportunity that I have had to write you myself. Until now, Mike has been taking dictation over the phone. Ukraine, as always, continues to frustrate my best efforts to send messages, but please know that your prayers are powerful.

Then, we shared at three puppet shows, two for schools in town, and one in a remote village. At each place we were warmly welcomed and allowed wonderful freedom in sharing Christ. More than 250 children had already gathered in one school and were waiting on us. Their interest and willingness to wait for us to come, gives us the energy to keep going.

In one of the schools, I spoke to a high school class today and talked with them about Jesus as their only hope. You must have been praying, because they really listened. The children loved the new Russian puppet dramas that we recorded this year. When the puppets ask questions, they answer them out loud.

At the same school, I spoke to all of the teachers at a meeting, as it was a special day for them in Ukraine. It was a sweet privilege to tell them about Jesus Christ and the forgiveness that He offers. A Television station recorded both opportunities, though I am not sure who will watch it. Since I was a teacher, they recognized me as one of them and gave me an armload of flowers.

I have been in villages so remote, that I do not think that they even know that there are other places in the world. The roads are crowded with cows and chickens, geese, horse drawn wagons, and people walking. It is as though I have stepped back in time. Still, there is never a place that God sees as remote or too far away to hear the Gospel. These people are hungry to hear about God. For many, it is the first time! The pastors that seek to serve in these places are humble men who love the Lord. They have little and ask for nothing, simply trusting God.

Thank you for praying! Please continue to pray and especially thank God for the Ukrainian team They are awesome!

In Jesus,

Linda Summer for Oksana, Pasha, Natasha, and Oksana

Thank you for praying for The Agape Puppet Ministry.


Posted October 4, 2001

Dearest Friends,

I am in Awe of our great Father. We have seen God do many things that show His greatness.

In the last few days, we have had numerous programs in Schools and Orphanages where we have passed out many Bibles. I was able to buy the Bibles that I had ordered in Ukraine. They are written like comic books, with Bible stories in pictures.

When they were delivered, I was very disappointed and didn’t like them because they were English on one side and Russian on the other, however, God had gone ahead of us. The teachers liked program and the Bibles so much that they are going to use the Bibles to teach English to the students.

One of the Directors came to Pastor Sergi and said. ” I do not understand why the children listened so quietly while Linda spoke. I do not understand what is different about the way she teaching. I do not think she has chains on her heart.”

Sergi was able to share with her the difference that Christ can make in all areas of life. She asked him to come to the school and teach the teachers to speak to the children like we had done and also to regularly teach the children.

At another school, the director did not want us to come. She had cancelled the show last year, but she finally allowed us to come late one afternoon. At the end of the program, God had touched her heart and there tears in her eyes.

I met an older lady at the school who had brought her grandchildren to the puppet show. She had only become a Christian herself a couple of years ago. As she talked with Linda, she said, “I am so sorry that I wasted all those years for Jesus.” Linda’s hands were very dirty after sharing with chalk talks at three shows that day, but the lady grabbed her hands and kissed them.

At one of the orphanages, the power of God poured out on their hearts. During the invitation, over 100 children indicated a decision for Christ. The Director asked the team if they could begin a weekly Sunday School for the children. Linda was able to introduce a group of local believers, who “happened” to be traveling with the team that day, to the Director and they agreed to begin weekly Sunday School immediately.

Last year Linda visited a children’s hospital and the team returned to present a puppet show this year. The Director was an Atheist. We had given her many small toys to give the children when they came to the hospital. She told her friends that she didn’t understand such kindness. Through those small toys, she had begun to consider that God might really exist. Linda got a chance to visit with her yesterday and talked with her more about Jesus. Please pray for her.

In everything we see, God is doing amazing things. Please keep praying.

In Christ,

Linda Summer For Oksana, Pasha, Natasha and Oksana.

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PRAISE: Answers to the previous prayer requests. Thanks so much for your prayers…

……… Linda has slept well for the last several days and she sounded very rested ……… Pasha’s wife is doing fine now, so he can continue to travel with the team.

In Christ,

Mike Summer


Posted October 1, 2001

Dearest Friends,

I talked to Linda again last night, because I knew where was, so I have another update fairly quickly. The next update will be on Thursday.

SUNDAY

Sunday was a special day. We are working in small villages north of Herson The main pastor for the area, Serge, has a heart for reaching the many small villages. The people have very little transportation and most of the roads are dirt and in very bad shape, so each village needs to have it’s own church.

During the day, the team visited two churches, one is meeting in a house and one meets in a store front. In conjunction with the puppet shows, Linda was able use the overheads again to give a Missionary Report. The Christians in rural Ukraine get very little news about the work that is going on in other parts of the world. They were so excited to see the pictures and hear what is happening to their brother and sisters in other places. Everywhere the team goes, they meet people that tell them, “We have been praying for you since we heard that you were coming.” and many pray for us regularly. Linda talked to me about the people she met today, ” I cannot describe the sweetness of these people. Their faces are radiant with their Love for Christ.”

Many non-believers came to both puppet shows, one was inside a building and one was outside in a large field. For many, this was the first time that they had ever heard the story of the Gospel.

The puppet team is now becoming their own team, as they use their individual skills to enhance the presentations. Pasha is a local pastor and he is preaching at some of the meetings. The ladies are singers and have been using their talents with music during shows as well. For those of you who know about Linda’s “musical ability”, you can rest assured that NO ONE, even in Ukraine will allow her to sing. Linda has many talents, but singing is surely no one of them.

Please pray for us to be faithful, wise and loving as we share in many more small villages during the upcoming days.

PRAYER AND PRAISE

……. Linda’s strength. They are very busy and Linda has not slept well the last two days, so she is getting tired.

……. Pasha’s, one of the puppet team members, wife is pregnant. She is at home while Pasha travels wit the team. Two days ago, she had to go to a relatives house because of a high fever. They don’t know what is wrong with her.

In Christ,

Mike Summer for Linda, Oksana, Pasha, Natasha and Oksana.


Posted September 29, 2001

Dearest Friends,

THURSDAY

Today we had four puppet shows in Shostka. This area is in deep eastern Ukraine where few Americans ever come. We told over 50 children at a hospital show that Jesus was the Great Physician and we told them how Jesus could heal no only their bodies, but also their hearts. Then we were invited to a rehabilitation center where many older people, a few mentally handicapped young people and some physically handicapped people heard about the hope that Jesus gives. We loved sharing with these people. Our third show was at a public school for over 200 young people where we were given the freedom to talk to the children about Jesus. We finished at an orphanage where many children told us that they had trusted Christ as Savior. They found God to be a good Father. Praise God for the Ukrainian puppet team. They are awesome! This is only the first day, keep praying!

FRIDAY

Today, we had two puppet shows. After one show, an old man told Linda that “his heart had melted inside of him” as he heard the stories and testimonies from the team. The young people and adults are very interested in everything. As the team left one show, a young man was eagerly reading the material that they had given him.

TRAINING SESSION

The training session was a great success. The team members that are traveling with Linda are part of two teams that she had trained in the past. They were able to share, at the teaching session, their own experiences in using puppets with children. This made the teaching session, real and personal, to the Ukrainians that came for the training. Linda also used overheads to share what God is doing in other areas with puppets, such as Kazakhstan, Northern Ireland, South Africa, England, Scotland and inner-city USA.

We have only one purpose when we travel. That purpose is to train and supply equipment for the national Christians. The plan is to have them learn the skills and get the vision of sharing with the children. Then, they will go out own their own, sharing their own stories, with their own people.

PRAYER AND PRAISE

I talked with Linda tonight (Saturday, actually 3:00AM Sunday in Ukraine) and she is in great spirits and doing fine. Entering the country and going through customs could not have gone better. Continue to pray for strength and she and the team continues for the next week and a half. Please pray! The team has learned the new dramas and plans to use them at a church on Sunday for the first time.

In Jesus,

Mike Summer for Linda, Oksana, Pasha, Natasha and Oksana.


Posted September 27, 2001

Dearest Friends,

LINDA ARRIVED WITH NO PROBLEMS…

Thank you so much for your prayers. I just received an email from one of the families in Ukraine. They talked to her by phone last night. She arrived in good health and all of her luggage, (7 – 70-lb bags of equipment and her carry-on bags) arrive in good shape as well.

KLM IN ATLANTA

When we travel, we have to get to the check-in counter an hours earlier that the other passengers, because the airlines allows us to take extra bags. Because of this, the people that work the ticket counter in Atlanta know us. They were very upset, because of the events of the last couple of weeks, KLM is stopping direct service to Atlanta and Friday, tomorrow, will be their last day at work.

On Tuesday, Linda had a real opportunity to share with the women at the check-in desk in Atlanta. They remembered us and asked about her previous trips and where she was going this time. They were so excited by her stories of Ukraine and Kazakhstan and stories of the children that we had shared with.. They felt they had played a part in the trips by helping with the luggage and it brightened their day. We never know what impact we can have on the people that we deal with daily, “along the way”.

The supervisor was so excited, she told Linda not to worry about the weight of her bags and allowed her carry-on bag, her purse (for those who don’t know, her purse is a large leather brief case that was packed solid and weighed about 35 lbs.) and a couple of other loose items.

ARRIVAL IN UKRAINE

She was met at the airport by her translator and the Ukrainian puppet team who will be traveling with her the entire 2 and a half weeks. She arrived in Shostka at around 11:30 last night (4:30PM yesterday, 30 hours after she started).

Keep her in your prayers,

In Christ,

Mike Summer For Linda


Posted September 24, 2001

Dearest Friends,

Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 25th, I leave for Ukraine. I had planned to travel with a team of 18 other people, but it became necessary for them to postpone their trip until May. However, First Baptist Atlanta has graciously agreed to let us continue with our plans to work in Ukraine this fall. We appreciate their prayer and financial support that has made this trip possible.

When I land in Ukraine, a Ukrainian puppet team will meet me and travel with me the entire time. They are very excited about my coming and anxious to share with the children. Please pray for them to quickly learn the material. We have a 5 hour drive from the airport to the first town where we will share and they will have to practice in the van. The next day, we have 4 shows. Please pray!

As always, please pray for strength, wisdom, opportunities to share Jesus, open hearts, that the airline would not loose my bags, and no difficulty in customs. I am carrying 7 – 70lb bags, plus my carry-on and I will have to take them through customs in Ukraine by myself. Please pray that I can make friends with someone on the way who can help me through customs. Also, please be all the comfort that you can to Mike in my absence and pray for him. We always miss each other very much!

Mike has repeatedly been asked if he is afraid for me to go and if he wishes that I was not going. To both questions, he has answered yes. Then, people ask him if he thinks that I should go. He answered “Absolutely”. We have all peace about this trip and never considered canceling it. We trust our Father and believe that He has something wonderful to do in Ukraine. It is a privilege to be a part of His work!

Here is my schedule:
Sept. 25th and 26th…Traveling to Ukraine
Sept. 27th, 28th, and 29th…Working in Shotksa and Sumy, Deep eastern Ukraine
Sept. 30th, Oct.1st- 3rd…Working in villages north of Herson
Oct. 4th- the morning of the 7th…working in Zhirtomir Region
Oct.7th- 9th…Working in Rivne Region
Oct.10- 11th …Traveling Home

Hold us both and most especially the work of planting 3 new puppet teams before His throne.

In Jesus, Linda