Standing Shoulder To Shoulder Together As We Fight the Good Fight of Faith A personal letter of encouragement to you, written solely to "lift up hands that hang down". TO SUBSCRIBE send a blank message to shoulders-subscribe@... . TO UNSUBSCRIBE send a blank message to shoulders-unsubscribe@... . IN EACH CASE you will receive an automated request for confirmation which you must answer. FOR BACK COPIES go to www.associate.com/digests/shoulders . Click on "Read Messages" SHOULDER TO SHOULDER #209 ---- 12/31/01 TITLE: "A Vision For the Appointed Time" My Dear Friend and partner in ministry: I rejoice in the Lord that He has been faithful, steadfast, and all sufficient for us both this past year. As you look back, I know your heart must sing with gratitude for the special blessings God has given you, His beneficent grace during hard times, and His assured presence in all circumstances. Whether it has been blessing or bane, God has been ever faithful to us. It is true that the "steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness!" Today I write my last letter of 2001 to you knowing that Tuesday morning Jo Ann and I will be joined by nine students from a Christian university as we board our flight to Kiev, Ukraine where we will minister for nearly three weeks among homeless children, village churches, city youth groups, and university students. Jo Ann and I will be teaching four classes at St. James Bible College in Kiev. She will teach Henry Blackaby's "Experiencing God" material to two freshman classes while I will teach "Reaching Your Cities Through Strategic Ministry and Prevailing Prayer". I have just revised the syllabus on my study, increasing its size by some 45%. In addition our team will sit in on the two classes, will assist in teaching as needed, and will share testimonies and music during the 35 hours of classroom time. On week-ends we will be going to three villages in a region of Ukraine about an hour from Kiev which has a very long history of ancestral worship, cultic practices, horrendous atrocities, false religions, and New Age philosophy. There is a new struggling church in each village, barely hanging on. Last October a prayer walking team ventured into that region for the first time, and discovered enormous demonic oppression and bondage. We hope to continue the spiritual victory which they declared and initiated last Fall. Please remember particularly Brussilov, Kagalyk, and Obukhov. We were in Brussilov last year, but will make our first visit to the other two on this trip. One of last year's class members and graduates is the youth leader at the little church in Kagalyk. While we are in those villages, we will speak, share testimonies, and sing in the three or more small churches in the mornings, and then go up and down the streets Christmas caroling and bringing Christian greetings to the people there. Next week-end we will be in Brussilov and surrounding villages. I wrote about the four young men, graduates of St. James, who went there several years ago. Then the following week-end we will be in the other two villages. On Saturday of that week-end I will be teaching a seminar in Kagalyk on prayer walking and spiritual warfare to people from both towns. We will also be doing some intense prayer walking at strategic centers in Kiev including the Lavra and the caves beneath where futile and lifeless religious activities are carried on by the Orthodox Church which has a mixture of Christianity and cultic practices. In our spare time we will be meeting with missionaries, working with the national Youth For Christ director as he ministers to teens through a coffee house, ministering to homeless street children both on the streets and at an orphanage, and working with some churches in the city of Kiev. So, this is a very busy time for us. And, I want to urgently ask you to undergird us with prayer. Just yesterday there was another episode involving air traffic security, so I know our team and their parents are a little on edge right now, as is my own Father. I cannot stress strongly enough just how desperately we feel the need for your prayer support. Both of us are already very tired, and we know the international situation now is adding only more stress to an already full schedule. We ask you to cry out to God in our behalf and that of the team, that He will protect us, sustain us, empower us, and give us wisdom and boldness for the task ahead. We have never seen the abundant provision of God so overwhelming and evident as in this trip, and yet we have never felt the need for constant intercessory undergirding in our behalf. We can only throw ourselves on the grace and sufficiency of God, and trust Him not only to see us through the next three weeks, but to make them fruitful beyond all comprehension. We believe that is going to happen. Something powerful is afoot in Ukraine, and we are excited to discover how we fit into that divine scheme. We have been reminded again of Henry Blackaby's great statement that "God is always at work around us." THE APPOINTED TIME IS NOW: One of my favorite promises of God is Habakkuk 2:3 ---- "The vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come; it will not delay." Blackaby's statement ties in to this in profound reality. To illustrate that, I want to share a story with you that relates to the birth of St. James Bible College where we will be teaching next week and the following. In doing so, I have turned to Natasha Ilyin Westcott, daughter to the school's founder, Dr. Paul Ilyin. She wrote the following material at my request so we would have information we could share with our team members in helping them prepare for our mission trip. I hope you will be thrilled as you read the story. ------------------------------------- The Story of St James Bible Institute, Kiev, Ukraine In January 1994, Bob and Jo Ann Tolliver, vocational evangelists, had concluded a pastorate three months earlier and, in need of spiritual refreshing and restoration, decided to attend a Bible conference being held in Dallas, Texas. They knew their ministry was in transition, and that God was in the process of opening new doors of service for them. During one of the conference sessions, the ministry of a relatively new Bible school in the Ukraine was introduced to the audience, along with the ministry of a Christian organization in Croatia that was ministering to the victims of the Bosnian and Croatian War. With Bob's special gifting in teaching, the thought of being able to invest their years of experience and insight into the lives of young men and women preparing to saturate the countries of the former Soviet Union was a thrilling answer to prayer. The following day the Tollivers visited the offices of the conference's host ministry and began inquiring about the school and also the refugee facility in Croatia. Less than a year later Bob and Jo Ann were on the way to Kiev, Ukraine, to spend two weeks teaching a class of some 40 students. As they sat in orientation two days before classes began, they were astonished at some of the stories they heard regarding the family who began the school and the founding of the school itself. Following several years of continued contact with the school leadership, the opportunity arose to take a team of university students to St. James in a "spiritual cultural exchange" type of program. The first such team traveled to Kiev in January 2001. They not only sat in classes which Bob taught, but also attended numerous churches in Kiev and outlying villages, ministered in an orphanage for homeless children, and participated in various other ministry activities. In trying to prepare that team for the trip, Bob and Jo Ann attempted to recount some of the stories about the school's beginnings. Current administrator David Ilyin, son of the school's founder, also shared similar stories. Out of that experience a standing invitation was issued from St. James to bring teams on a regular basis. Because of the unique circumstances surrounding the school's beginning, the Tollivers felt the story needed to be in print ---- at least a brief sketch of it. They contacted Natasha (Ilyin) Westcott, daughter of the school's founder, and she consented to gather information that could be used. What you read below is the result of her compilation of information she gathered from her father, grandmother, and other sources. Added to that is some information gathered from St. James' new website at www.sjbi.org. Though still in its infancy and early development stages, it provides helpful information about the school and how it operates. As you read the following material, your heart will be amazed and filled with praise for the extra-ordinary evidences of God's sovereign purposes being carried out through multiple generations. Who would ever have believed that a family born more than a century ago in Ukraine would migrate to America where the vision for training young men and women would be born even before Communism had fallen? It is an amazing story. May you be blessed as you read it. And, would you consider the possibility of teaching in the school? Or becoming a prayer partner? Or perhaps becoming a financial contributor? Details about those needs, and how to contact St. James Bible Institute, can be found on their website. Short History of the Shevchenko/Ilyin Family Compiled by Natasha (Ilyin) Westcott 1915 - Vera Shevchenko was born to Ephraim and Anna Shevchenko in Southern Ukraine. Ephraim and Anna were peasant farmers living peacefully in the region. They were Orthodox Christians but not particularly religious. After the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, the policy of state atheism began to infiltrate even the villages, and attending church services was becoming unpopular. 1920's - Meanwhile, the newly formed Soviet Union was experiencing a huge industrial boom and they opened up their borders to the West; especially to western journalists since they wanted to "toot" their horn about their amazing progress. Many journalists jumped at the chance to see if the Bolshevik government could outsmart and out produce that of the former Royal family. 1923 - Meanwhile, back in the United States, God was working on the heart of a man from New York. Brother Voronayev was an evangelist from a Russian family and seized this opportunity to travel to his parents' homeland to preach the Word of God. He sailed to the port of Odessa, Ukraine and began holding tent revival meetings throughout southern Ukraine. 1926 - When Brother Voronayev came to the Shevchenko's hometown, they decided to see just what this American had to say. God moved mightily that evening especially in the heart of young Vera Shevchenko who was only 11 years old. She had accepted Jesus as her Savior. She remembers that evening there was an incredible prophesy, "Children, you need to go to China. Children, do not plant in Spring because you will not reap a harvest." The congregation was astonished: "China? Why, that's the end of the earth! Not plant? People will think we are sorcerers." This was difficult for many to understand, since the people were farmers, bound to their land. Even worse, they would experience much public humiliation from the locals if they didn't sow their seed. Still, these new Christians believed that God would send calamity to their homeland and that they must flee. Many had relatives in the East, toward Siberia and China. Believing the Word of God, the small congregation of 40 families packed up all their worldly belongings, their children, their covered wagons and set out on foot in the Spring of 1928. 1928 - The group traveled East toward the Ural Mountains and eventually to Alma Ata, Kazakhstan, stopping at relatives and other Christian families homes along the way. 1931 - Vera and her brother Sasha were walking home from a church meeting and reminiscing about their good life in Ukraine. Had they really heard the Word of God? Vera remembers, "After the service, I looked up and saw a falling star. I was captivated but then incredibly frightened. The star exploded and the sky opened up like a huge panorama movie screen. There I saw guns, tanks, huge aircraft, bloodshed and war. Out walked a huge insolent woman with a sickle cutting the grass. I knew that she represented death. I did not understand what I was seeing, since I never saw a tank or an airplane. I thought that God was showing me Armageddon. My brother Sasha ran to get the elders of the church and then I began to prophesy, 'Children, look - this is now Ukraine, the land I brought you out of.'" We could not believe it." The group was living in Alma Ata, Kazakhstan when Vera's aunt Maria, recently from Ukraine, told them of the incredible tragedies that began after the group had left. Eleven years later, they received their first newspaper that again confirmed the atrocities under Stalin's rule. 1933 - The group moved on to Djerken, 40 km from the Chinese border. They had no official papers of identification or permission to cross into China. They were all frightened since the border was heavily guarded with dogs, soldiers and guns. The group was discouraged and they fell on their knees to pray. Vera remembers "God spoke to us through this prophesy, 'Children, I will take you across the border tonight. You will cross with singing and jubilation.' We took our pots, pans and little stoves and hid in the forest near the border. At midnight, a huge windstorm arose and the pots and pans, etc began clanging. There arose such a deafening clatter that the soldiers were confused and the dogs scent was thrown. At that moment God said, 'Children -- Go!' I remember as we crossed into China, every single one of us was singing praise to God. I was 18 years old." "For 8 days we traveled through the desert among huge sand dunes. We hid in a dry canal bed because we knew that the Chinese soldiers would send us back. There was such a great famine in the land and all we had to eat was broken wheat kernels. In those days, the bran was thrown away because you could not make bread with it. I remember mom sprinkling flour over the kernels to try and hold it together. "We ran out of bread, and finally water on the 8th day. We fell on our knees, lifted our hands and shouted, 'Our Heavenly Father, your children are asking you for water.' God answered, ' Children, take the path that I will show you and I will satisfy your thirst.' We walked over the sand dunes and saw a patch of dark gray sand. Frantically, we began digging and soon it turned into a pool of water. We drank for several days but still had no bread. "At this point, we were all exhausted and began to again doubt God. Some were contemplating turning back. Then we heard this prophesy, 'Children, they will greet you and will bring you food.' Again we were puzzled. Soon a man approached us and said, 'Good people, don't stay in this dry canal, come to my home and I will hide you in the straw and in the morning, show you the road to the city of Kuldja.' [There was a small Russian Christian settlement there.] "So he brought us to his home and the locals started coming out quietly and greeting us with food. We made galushkiy (potato dumplings) and leplioshki (flat bread). Then we fell asleep on beautiful white straw. It was 100% better than any American mattress I ever slept on." The next morning the group set out for Kuldja, Xingiang Province (present day Yinning, NW corner of China). A group of Christians met them with white bread. They were in heaven! Vera Shevchenko's family befriended a Tartar man and eventually rented a one-room apartment along with 4 other families. Many Tartar's speak the Russian language, so they were able to communicate. During this time, China was experiencing ethnic uprisings between the Muslims and Chinese/Russians. Tartars are mostly Muslims. However, this landlord was very kind and had befriended these new Russian families. A new Mullah (Muslim leader) came into power and issued an edict to execute any Russian or Chinese person since they were unclean, ate pork and did not bow to Allah. Several times, the Mullah approached the Tartar landlord and demanded he hand over his Russian tenants to be executed. The landlord refused many times and continued to protect his friends. Finally, the Mullah surrounded the landlord's home with a group of his thugs and proclaimed that unless he gave up his tenants, he would begin executing the Tartar's family, first his children, then his wife, then him. At hearing this, the Russians all fell on their face and wept before God. They did not care for their own safety, but interceded on behalf of their kind landlord who gave them shelter. Vera remembers that she saw the landlord's face turn white with fear: "As we prayed, we heard this prophesy, 'My children, you are like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery flames. Fear not, I will send my Angel to cool the flame.' Within 2 hours we heard people shouting, 'Kash, Kash' and then loud booms. Our landlord urged us not to go outside, so we peered out the window and saw Russian troops with pushkins (Russian canons), charging the uprising and liberating the village. We were no longer afraid! We ventured outside and then began to live our lives." Apparently China and Russia had an agreement to protect each other's border towns. What a miracle of God! 1937 - Vera Shevchenko married Kiril Ilyin and settled in Kuldja until 1950. By this time the Ilyin's had four small children, Paul age 10, Peter age 8, Ruth age 5 and Lily 4 months old. The Russian community had grown to several hundred people. Kiril was a successful entrepreneur working with metal: building bicycles, baby carriages, and metal flour sifters. Eventually, he opened up his own metal factory. Vera opened up her own sewing shop and was known for designing elaborate wedding dresses throughout Kuldja. 1940's - Civil war came to China. God again spoke to the group "Children, you must leave China. Ahead of you is a very long path. Yet, do not fear, you will sing praises to Me on the deep waters." 1948 - Part of the group left Kuldja. Many were skeptical about leaving in the winter and decided to depart in Spring. However, those who stayed behind were eventually captured, and sent to Siberian labor camps. As a young boy, Paul Ilyin remembers, "We began filling up our covered wagons. The first layer was all gold bricks. Both dad and mom were hard workers and very successful. The second layer was foodstuffs, the third blankets and clothing, then us 4 kids piled on top with mom. I was 10 years old. I remember mom washing Lily's diapers in the snow then passing them out to the grandmothers to put under their coats until they dried. I also remember that mom nursed not only Lily but other infants who lost their mothers or whose mothers were too weak to nurse." They made it to Lanzou by foot then by troop transport trucks to Shanghai. The whole trip took 1 year. 1949 - They sailed to the Philippine Islands and were taken to an American Military Base as refugees of war. Kiril and Vera and another girl, Nida. When Nida was 4 months, many representatives of countries approached them in hopes that they would come and farm their land. They chose Paraguay, South America since they offered several acres of land, plus all of the farming equipment. They hitched a ride on an American Military Cargo Ship and sailed for 3 long months. The group asked the captain to give them a room were they could hold a church service. Vera recalls, "Only after we had formed a choir did we remember that prophesy, 'you will sing praises to Me on the deep waters.'" The cargo ship sailed to Australia, Indonesia, Ceylon, South Africa, France, Italy, and down to Brazil. Then they took a bus to Paraguay and settled in the village of Kolonia Fran on a 13 acre cotton farm. Paul remembers the monkeys, baboons, panthers, anacondas and piranhas. Most of the kids did not wear shoes. Kiril and Vera had another boy, Alex. 1955 - The family moved to the capital city of Asuncion. 1957 - The family arrived in San Francisco and Vera was surprised to find herself pregnant again at age 45 with John. Because Kiril and Vera were already elderly and did not speak the language, Paul took it upon himself to support the family. 1961 - Paul Ilyin married Lily Sobeloff and had four children, David ('62), Vicky ('63), Natasha ('65) and Laura ('69). Short history of St. James Bible Institute 1981 - Paul and Lily Ilyin had moved their 4 children from San Francisco to a quiet rural town in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. They raised their children in a Russian Pentecostal Church to help maintain their Russian heritage. However, Paul and Lily became disenchanted with the legalistic rules of the church and began looking for other churches where their children could grow in the Lord. Meanwhile, their oldest child, David, was rebelling in his teenage years and decided to run away from home. He left a note that said, "Dear Mom and Dad. I cannot stand our family nor the Russian church, so I am leaving. You will find the car at the airport with the keys in it." Paul drove up to the airport, retrieved the car, came home and in his own words, "For the first time, I talked to God as if he was right there in the room with me. I said 'God, if you will save my family, I promise to serve you the rest of my days in the land of my parents - Ukraine & Russia'." Two weeks later, David came home and the next night an evangelist came over the Ilyin home for a Bible study. All four of the children were saved and filled with the Holy Ghost. Natasha remembers, "After that euphoric experience, and after the guests had left, we all just stared at each other in disbelief. We knew that God was going to use us powerfully as a family." 1983 - The family moved back to their hometown in California and again attended a Russian Pentecostal Church. Things seems to be better except that a new wave of Russian immigrants infiltrated the church and demanded to return to the old legalistic ways. Paul and Lily then attended an American inter-denominational church in the Bay Area. Pastor Don Sheley was happy that Paul and Lily had arrived and could help out with the new Russian immigrants who also attended his church. 1989 - A visiting pastor from Ukraine, came to ask the church for humanitarian relief for his congregation and many others who were affected by the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. The church organized a huge humanitarian effort involving many other churches in the Bay Area. A Russian Anton Air Cargo Plane came to Travis Air force base and was returning empty. The church contacted the officials and asked for permission to fill the plane with 40 tons of humanitarian aide that they had managed to collect for the victims of Chernobyl. The officials agreed and flew the aide to Ukraine where it was delivered by government army trucks. After the distribution of the aide, the local pastors approached Paul Ilyin and Pastor Sheley with this question: "Brothers, we see that although this aide is good for our people, it is used up in a short time. Because we were denied a Bible education, what we need is a good Bible College to educate our future young men and women." Thus St. James Bible College was born. No formal Bible or Christian ministry education was available in the Soviet Union from 1917 to the disintegration of the communist government in1990. Needless to say, there was a great void in terms of well-equipped leadership for the church in this part of the world. With the new open door brought about through sweeping political change, the opportunity to create a powerful educational ministry became available. Since there was such a shortage of Bible scholars, the idea was developed to bring pastors, Bible teachers and professors from the United States to the Ukraine for one 2 week session. One subject would be taught over the 2 weeks. 1991 - St. James opened its doors to its first class of 20 students in the basement of a church in Korosten, Ukraine. More than twenty five classes have gone through their classrooms. St James Bible Institute is a nondenominational, evangelical organization. Theologically, the school's focus is on uniting the Body of Christ. Its heritage is the historic Christian Faith as shaped by the Apostolic Creed. The school and staff believe in, and teach, the infallibility of the Word of God and it's power to change lives. They believe in, and teach, salvation through Christ's death and resurrection. 1992 - Operations moved to Kiev, Ukraine. It is not accidentally that St. James made this move. Early church documents and legend have it that the Apostle Andrew stood on a hilltop overlooking the Dnipro River and proclaimed, "Behold these hills. The grace of God will shine upon them and there will be a great city here wherein God will put up a great many churches." While there are various theories as to when Kiev actually came into being, the most popular one is that three brothers (Kyi, Schek, and Khoryv) and their sister, Lybid, came down the Dnipro river and settled in the region some 1500 years ago in the Sixth Century. Kiev is named after one of the brothers, Kyi. The Ukrainian spelling for the city is Kyiv. In 988 A.D. Prince Volodymyr introduced Christianity as the state religion. The first church, the Church of Our Lady, was built. Almost all of the churches begun and buildings built in the region were of the Orthodox religion until around the Twentieth Century when non-Catholic groups of believers began to develop. In 1917 Communism was introduced into the country, and Christianity was basically eradicated except for the Orthodox Church which had become the state religion, basically tolerated by the Communist regime. When Communism fell, God began to open doors again, including the development of St. James Bible Institute. Using various rented facilities, St. James subsequently began to meet in one of Kiev's old cultural centers, used during Communism as a meeting place for training and motivation in Communist doctrine. It is somewhat ironic that an academic institution that equips students to share the very Gospel that Communism tried to stamp out now meets in the very place where Stalinist and atheistic propaganda was proclaimed. Today - 10 years later, St. James has over 540 graduates. More than 110 new churches are pastored by St. James graduates. Other graduates are involved in children's ministry, drug and alcohol rehab centers, music ministry, Salvation Army, Youth For Christ Ukraine, orphanages and homeless children ministries, etc. The St. James Bible Institute is a Bible College program that nurtures passionate and persuasive leaders committed to Jesus Christ. Students graduate from the program fully poised to become tomorrow's leaders for family, church and society. For example, in 1995 there were fewer than 20 non Orthodox churches in Kiev. Today it is estimated there are more than 100 such churches, many of them pastored by St. James graduates. Still others have St. James alumni who serve in various staff and volunteer positions. The stories of some of these courageous men and women are virtually unbelievable. Some began churches that grew from a handful to over 800 in a year's time. In many cases more than have the congregation on any given Sunday will be unbelievers who are seeking spiritual answers. Today you can find the well-equipped graduates of St. James in active ministry throughout the Ukraine and the entire CIS, ministering in a way only dreamed about decades ago. It's nothing short of a new history and legacy for this part of the world. For example, forty students of the class of 2001 were honored at graduation ceremonies Saturday, June 16th. Of that group, all but three entered a place of ministry immediately the day following graduation. What began back in 1926 in the hearts of Vera, Ephraim and Anna Schevchenko, and that which led them from Ukraine to Kazakhstan, then to China, and on to the Philippines, Paraguay, and finally the United States, and that passion which was born in the heart of Paul Ilyin, has come full circle through the establishment of St. James Bible Institute, founded in the very country from which these first immigrants fled seventy five years earlier ---- and raised up "for such a time as this." Epilogue: Kiril Ilyin passed away in 1991. Vera Ilyin is 86 years old and resides in San Francisco, CA. Their son, Paul Ilyin, is the President of St. James Bible Institute and resides in Monument, CO. Glen and Natasha (Ilyin) Westcott resided and were directors of the college in Kyiv from 1992 - 2000. They presently live in Colorado and manage the St. James home office operations. -------------------------------- FINALLY: I hope this amazing story excites you. When I think of a school like this meeting in a building formerly teaching Communist propaganda, and when I think of the more than 500 students scattered around eastern Europe and even in the United States ministering the Gospel in power, I get very excited. Then to think that God has allowed Jo Ann and me the great honor of being a small part of that incredible ministry is more than we can comprehend. We just sit around with our mouths hanging open in awe. However, there's another matter here as well. It is obvious that St. James came into existence at the appointed time. Just as John the Baptist was born at the appointed time, juxtapositioned to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, so St. James has been and still is. The same is true with you, my friend. You are hear at the appointed time. God has a vision for you at the appointed time. You are not here by accident, and your are not where you are in your current ministry by accident. It is all at the appointed time. God works on no other time schedule but that ---- His appointed time. Ecclesiastes three bears that out. So . . . . how do you fit into that concept? Are you comfortable with it? Or do you try to create your own time schedule? Would you be willing, from this day forward, to order your entire life and ministry to God's schedule of appointed times? If you will do that, I guarantee that the stress and fretting will disappear, you will learn to relax, you will enjoy your life and ministry immensely, and God will prosper you and make you more fruitful than you ever imagined. This is God's appointed time. Submit to it. Next week I'll share with you some of the events of this week and the week-end in Brussilov. Until then, I remain . . . In His Bond of Sufficient Grace, Bob Tolliver -- Rom 1:11-12 Copyright December, 2001 Life Unlimited Ministries lifeunlimited@... Do You Get "Shoulder To Shoulder"? "Those that are bound for heaven, must be willing to swim against the stream, and must not do as the most do, but as the Best do." (Matthew Henry). If this letter has blessed you, feel free to forward it, with proper credits, to any and all you wish.