IN the kind providence of God I visited Eastern Europe by air, on the behalf of the Church, last November. I spent most of the time, which included three Sabbaths, with the group of twenty people in Odessa who are sincerely embracing the doctrines of the Reformed Faith.
At the conclusion of public worship each Sabbath and the prayer meeting on weekdays, an address was given on a particular doctrine or practice which was of immediate concern to themselves. Each lecture was followed by a discussion, often prolonged, which they found to be very helpful. Among the subjects with which we dealt were Baptism, the Lord’s Supper and Arminianism.
These people appear to appreciate and love the pure doctrines of the Word of God as summarised in our subordinate standards. In fact some of them were grieving over having been so long under Arminianism without realising it. They spoke of the satisfaction they now have in their souls on account of having pure doctrine, and because they are now able to have and enjoy their Sabbath rest. In their previous religious affiliations some of them were pressurised to do unnecessary work on the Sabbath, especially in building or repairing churches. They consider it a great mercy to be now freed from this bondage.
In some cases it can take many years to grow in the knowledge of these doctrines, but it seems to me remarkable that in a very short time these people in Odessa have come to a substantial knowledge of Scriptural teaching and practice. I have no doubt that their study of the Westminster Confession of Faith every Sabbath has, by the blessing of God, largely contributed to this. The sermons and lectures I gave were well received and the people expressed thankfulness for the opportunity to learn more. We look to the Most High to give the increase.
The 20,000 Scripture Calendars in Russian which were granted by the Trinitarian Bible Society arrived safely in Odessa and Kiev, apart from a few boxes. The Odessa friends began the work of distribution as soon as they arrived. In Kiev I borrowed a car for a short period and organised the distribution of the calendars there. They were received most gratefully. Calendars in Hungarian were sent also to Rev. Horkay Lazlo of the Hungarian Reformed Church in Nagydobrony in the Ukraine. These were distributed in Nagydabrony and also in Hungary.
While in Kiev I was not able to visit our group of people in Borispol because there was no lighting in the town at the time, and it is unsafe to travel by foot through the darkened streets. Because these people work during the day, visiting is only possible in the evening. However I managed to give a little assistance to those of them who are in particular need by leaving small amounts of money with trustworthy friends.
Flying into Eastern Europe, as I did on this occasion, has its advantages. However, because I did not have a vehicle of my own it was impossible to make the usual number of visits to homes and other places to distribute literature.
The taking of humanitarian aid into the Ukraine is becoming more difficult by the year. The new law to tax humanitarian aid is meeting with much opposition. While notification of it has appeared, the Customs authorities have not yet levied the tax. We hope they never will, because it would deprive many people of desperately needed assistance.
I am much indebted to Mr and Mrs Zadoroshney for caring for me in Odessa, to Mrs Belosyorov and her son Igor for their hospitality when I was in Kiev, and to other friends in Odessa and Kiev who showed me much kindness.
All who assist in the work of the gospel in Eastern Europe are to remember the truth which says, “In morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good,” Ecclesiastes 11:6. In this verse the certainty of prosperity is expressed.
Rev. D. A. Ross