Odessa in October: Deepening Our Odessa Partnership

—Byron Peters, Pastor

From October 8–15, David Stepp (ruling elder), Mike Allen (deacon), Byron Peters (pastor) and Ruby Bea Peters (pastor’s wife) will travel to Odessa for an exciting global ministries partnership opportunity.

Over a year ago, God began working in our hearts (both here and in Odessa) to pray for an opportunity to gather with Ukrainian church leaders for training. Covenant of Grace church (our sister church) is one of eight churches in the country which form their own Presbytery. Most of these pastors are first-generation Christians. The Ukrainian culture has not historically been deeply influenced by a Presbyterian form of church leadership. The biblical design of a plurality of leaders (elders), under Christ as the head, working together to teach and shepherd God’s people under the authority of God’s Word and aligned theologically under confessional standards (Westminster Confession of Faith, Larger and Shorter Catechisms, Book of Church Order) with deacons giving “deed ministry” leadership is a new way of thinking about church governance for most Ukrainians.

Indeed, that is a lot to figure out! How do church sessions function? How do you pray for, recruit, train, and organize new church leaders? How do you practically apply biblical principles to real-life ministry? How do elders and deacons relate? How do pastors and elders relate? How does church discipline work?

And let’s add another layer to all of this. How do the wives of pastors, elders, and deacons function within the church? How do they keep their walks with God fresh, their marriages and families a priority, and how do they wisely negotiate relationships within and outside of the church? How do they live alongside their husbands who experience the heavy demands of ministry and the attacks of Satan?

God has orchestrated the opportunity for the four of us to spend an entire day with the Ukrainian Presbytery, sharing together what God has taught us, grappling with the questions that vex all of us who are called to ministry, and growing our relationships. While the men meet, Ruby Bea will gather with the women to learn and grow together. Additionally, our team will meet with youth workers and youth, help at an English club outreach, gather for a second morning of training with the Odessa churches, and Byron will preach morning and evening on Sunday. Plus, we will get time with our beloved sister (and CCC missionary) Robin Price.

I find it difficult to express how amazing this trip really is. This sort of collaboration does not happen overnight. It comes only after years of God building relational trust, personal friendship, and genuine gospel love. This is not “CCC riding to the rescue.” No, this will be a gathering of servants of the Lord Jesus Christ who are loved by him, love one another, and are prayerfully asking God to build his church for his glory and praise.

Would you please pray for us? Ephesians 1:15–23 would be a great text to anchor your prayers.