Posted October 19, 1999
We are home and safe and very tired, but blessed beyond measure. We finished our time in Ukraine with so many incredible ministry opportunities. God opened a door for us to share at an orphanage where the children are visually impaired, some can see little at all. It was the first time that I ever told a story where I needed to describe what I was drawing. Imagine telling a child that God is light who can not see light. We spoke of His love and watched their faces to see that some had truly heard. He is an awesome God! this was an especially dear time because we worked with Yuri and his team that we had planted in May!
In a small village outside of Kiev, we invited widows to come and visit with us. We presented small gifts( thread, ibuprofen, scissors, needles, embroidery thread, cough drops, gardening gloves and potato peelers } The potato peelers were their favorite! Gina and I shared our testimonies. I actually shared my Mom’s since she is a widow. God’s spirit moved powerfully through that place and even though I was there I have trouble finding the right words to describe what we saw God do. We left that time together certain that He had moved in people’s hearts. All but one of the ladies who came were not believers. We do not feel that that was true when they left.
Our last opportunity to share was at a small church that is beginning in the place where we worked in the spring. We enjoyed a special time of fellowship and were amazed at all that the Lord is doing in their lives. i spoke and challenged them to reach the children for Christ. Igor is a young man who attends that church and trusted Jesus in the spring at an outreach to boys. He has since led his mother to faith in Christ. Praise God!
There are so many more stories that I can not write , but God knows. your prayers were powerful and effective. we presented the Gospel to over 5,000 dear people and saw hundreds trust Jesus. Most important, we left behind 5 fully equipped puppet ministry teams and we know that the Ukrainians will do a great job telling others about Jesus!!!!!!!
Please continue to hold us in your prayers. The work continues as on Wednesday of this week , we saw more than 40 precious children trust Jesus. Today, the Agape puppets are headed to a mission conference. Please pray!
A door has opened to train and equip 2 teams in South Africa in late January. If you are interested in supporting these national believers with the tools they need , please let us know. The plane tickets have already been provided and so we will need $2000 in equipment for these brothers and sisters.
I want to finish by commending Cheryl Nelson and Gina Yuille for their hard work and sacrifice. The work that was done in Ukraine would not have been possible without them. I praise God for their friendship and their love for Jesus.
Love in Jesus,
Linda Summer for the Agape Puppets
Posted October 16, 1999
This will probably be the last update until they return next week. I have lost email contact with them and will not call again until Sunday night when they are in Amsterdam. The will arrive in Atlanta International Airport on Monday afternoon, October 18th, at 2:35 PM on KLM flight 621.
All the new pictures and all newsletters are now up on the Web site. Special thanks to Jan Thompson for doing such a wonderful and quick job of updating the First Baptist Web site. Also, thanks to First Baptist Church Atlanta, where Gina is a member, for providing the web site.
Just click on the link below and click on the different dates marked in red on the calendar to the left of the page to see the pictures and reports for each day.
Yours in Christ, Mike Summer
Posted October 16, 1999
Special Report – A boy named Andre
I have been in many orphanages, some twelve in the last two and a half weeks alone. I have seen many hungry, cold children, but nothing has ever affected me as powerfully as one little boy that I met today named Andre. We shared in a church where we were planting one of our puppet ministries. All of the children had prepared gifts to thank us for coming and bringing the puppets. We all received pieces of pottery and I was given a stack of beautiful hand made drawings from the children. After the puppet show, we trained the church’s puppet team and were packing up our equipment.
This small little boy with eyes bigger than his face came up to me and handed me two photographs. These were pictures of him when we was younger; the kind that a mother would cherish and never want to lose. Through the translator he said that he wanted me to have them and then walked away. God spoke to my heart and I chased after the little boy. We sat down and talked with him and heard his story. Please remember that none of what you are about to read did he tell me when he handed me the pictures. If I had not chased after him, you would have not been able to read about it.
I asked him why he wanted me to have the pictures, and he said that he didn’t have a mother and he wanted someone to have them who would really want them. There was no one in his life who would want his pictures, so he gave them to me. His mother had just died a few months ago and his father is an alcoholic. He said, “While my mother was alive I could bear it, but now there is no one. I want someone to love me and be tender to me.”
I have seen a lot of children that needed a mom and dad, but this little boy’s need overwhelmed me. I would gladly have taken him home. I found myself thinking that I would love to adopt this little boy. Please pray for Andre. He is only 10 years old and he is a believer, but he is in a very bad place. Whether or not I am able to do anything about my heart’s desire, I shall also view him as my son and in my prayers I will not cease to beg God for mercy in his life. Before we leave, we will buy him a winter coat and give him a few toys and some gloves. But what he really needs is someone to hug him. When I return home, I promise to put his pictures on the web page so that you can see him and remember him in your prayers.
Love in Christ, Linda
Posted October 11, 1999
Work in the Rivne Region
We traveled two hours to a village where the children knew little about Jesus and had never seen puppets. The villages are very hard places for the Gospel and they are some of our favorite places to share because there is such hunger.
Sunday night we trained the Costapol puppet team and did a show for their children. Cheryl was very tired so Gina taught this class and did a wonderful job. These people were incredible! They had not understood that we were giving them all of this equipment. They thought that we were just coming to do a puppet show and they were very, very excited about that! They had gathered the children from the villages, and we had more than 100 children come to hear about Jesus. Some of these children trusted Christ as Saviour that night.
However, it was the unrestrained joy of the believers who received these ministry tools that was the greatest blessing. One man put his hands over his face and laughed and seemed to be at the verge of tears — all at the same moment. Some of you contributed money to send these children to a Bible camp last summer. They had prepared and enormous thank you for all of us for the puppet show and for Linda for sending help for their camp. They presented each of us with flowers, gifts, candy and Linda received a special medal from the camp! They also gave us a certificate of appreciation for helping them tell the children about Jesus at their summer camp. Their enthusiasm knew no bounds.
They have a tremendous vision for ministry. They immediately began planning how they could go into the schools, villages, and orphanages with the puppet equipment. Please pray for these very excited friends that God will enable them to do all that they desire to reach the children for Christ. In a country where many people do not understand that children can make life-changing decisions for Christ, they stand out as being very special.
Today we are going to an orphanage and Cheryl is teaching a puppet making class. One of our translators has put all of the directions into Russian. This has really helped Cheryl with her instruction. One week from today we will be home. We are tired, broken, often sick, and more blessed than we have words to express. Please pray especially for this last week as we seek to finish the work that God has given us.
Love in Christ,
Gina, Cheryl, and Linda
Posted October 6-9, 1999
Please continue to pray for the team, three more days of ministry and a lot of travel:
Wednesday – last ministry day at Rivne
Thursday – Travel to Keiv
Friday-Saturday – Ministry in villages around Keiv
Sunday – Fly to Amsterdam – spend the night with missionary friends
Monday – Arrive in Atlanta – Get a biggggg hugggggg from me!!!!!!!
Thanks again for your prayers,
There are two reports in this message
Official Ministry Report
— This is the final report on the Cherkassy Region – working with Hope Now…
October 6th was a busier day than we could have possible imagined. First we had a puppet show at School 16. This is a wonderful school! They have provided woodworking and sewing classes in addition to academic classes. They were so proud of their facility, and we literally toured every single room! It is interesting how God works things out. We were worried that we were going to be late to the school due to some confusion regarding our transportation. When we arrived, we discovered that they did not even know we were coming. And so we were not late! They quickly organized two puppet shows for us and allowed us to share with both the younger and older children. These children had been labeled as mentally challenged and we did not find this to be true among most of the students. Most are victims of a system that once you enter, you never leave. If you are misdiagnosed, then that is the label that you wear for life.
The children responded with great enthusiasm to the Gospel. We asked them if they had prayed with us to commit their lives to Christ to come up and tell one of the Ukranian team after the program. Many did this. One young boy was particularly excited that he had trusted in Christ. He told many members of the Ukranian team and even told Linda – even though she had difficulty in understanding since he only spoke Ukranian.
Later this day, we trained the Hope Now puppet team. They had all traveled with us to School 16 and were very enthusiastic to learn more about how to use the tools we had given them. They had already been doing puppets for about a year, but they only had a few people puppets. Now they had a stage, curtains, and animal puppets and more people puppets. Because of your faithfulness, they were also given balloons and pumps and chalk. Please pray for these excited Christians as they travel across Ukraine and tell others about Jesus.
In the evening, Hope Now organized a very special dinner. They invited the families that they work with who are having difficulty because of financial, spiritual, or personal problems to come to a cafe for dinner. This was an incredible treat for the children and their families. The tables were beautifully decorated and mounded high with pastries, chocolates, and things that they should eat as well! We realized how much this meant to many of the children when we looked across the tables and saw that no food was left on them. The English and Americans were sitting at a table on the end, and our table was full of food. We weren’t really hungry, but these children were. Following the dinner, we had a puppet show and told the children how they could find their hope in Jesus. Vic shared his testimony and some Ukranian singers praised God with their music. You should have seen Vic Jackopson wearing a large balloon hat and leading the boys in a lion roaring contest with Linda. He lost! Please pray for these children and their families to trust in Christ as their Saviour.
October 9th — We have spent the last 2 days finishing up details of our work in Cherkassy, enjoying dinner with Yuri and his family and shopping. One whole day was traveling from Cherkassy to Rivne. This is a lovely 8 hour drive, but becomes longer when you factor in the large pot holes in the roads and the incredible rain. Our translator from Zhytomyr, Vera, is with us again, and we praise God for that. Today we begin the work in Rivne.
Thank you for your prayers,
Linda for the team
Posted October 5, 1999
Yesterday we shared Christ at an orphanage. It wasn’t as bad as many as we have been in, but it was still not a good place. The children stare at you with big eyes; so hungry. . .hungry for food, hungry for love, hungry for hope. Only a precious few of these children responded to the Gospel. Sometimes I imagine that wonder if what we say about Jesus is the truth. We tell them that God will be their father and they can always count on Him to love them and take care of them. It must be very hard to believe these promises when so many people have lied to you and hurt you. Ask God to help the children to believe that what God says is true.
We also shared yesterday at a school in two programs – one for younger children and another for teenagers. This was a very different group of children than before. This was a private school where most of the parents are financially very well off. It’s interesting that the need is the same in this place as in all of the other places we have visited. Their #1 need is the Gospel even though they are well dressed and fed.
One of the English teachers there was very interested in the program we presented. At the beginning, she said that the children knew English and we did not need to use a translator. We insisted that we did need to use a translator, and were concerned that she would be annoyed with us. However, at the end of the program, she came up and thanked us for using a translator because she did not know all of the religious terms that we were using. She asked for English as well as Ukrainian Bibles so that she could use them to teach the students. She is not a believer. Please pray for Svetlana to come to Christ.
While there we met a young man who is working with the Peace Corps as an English teacher. When Linda tried to talk to him about the Gospel, “I believe in God. I go to church. It’s the same.” She had another conversation with him before we left and gave him a tract. Please pray that he, too, will come to Christ.
Today we visited the Cherkassy Rescue Shelter. This is a place where children are brought when found living on the streets, in the cemeteries, or in the sewers. There is no way that we can describe to you their faces or the pain that fills their eyes. They have lived in places and seen things that no adults should experience or even read about. For a brief period of time, we sensed God’s spirit moving powerfully among the children, but this is old ground for Satan. It is so hard for them to believe that we are telling them the truth. No one has ever told them the truth before, so why should they believe us?
There was one little boy there that was so adorable. He couldn’t have been more than 5, but looked like he was 3 in size. His eyes lit up when he saw the puppets. All of the children’s faces showed how much they enjoyed the story telling, the puppets, and the balloons. It is no small gift to make a child smile in such a place.
Thank you for providing us with this opportunity. None of us will ever forget what we have seen and we pray that it will motivate us to love Jesus even more.
Love in Christ,
Cheryl, Linda, and Gina
Posted October 1, 1999
Please share this with your church in the morning. A special prayer request from the team: Please pray for rest and strength. The needs are so great that it invades every area of the teams lives including sleep. Pray for restful sleep.
The fist message was written last night. The second messages was written last week, but was not able to be sent until this morning.
Mike Summer for the team Linda, Gina and Cheryl
Thank you so much for all of your prayers. We are overwhelmed at what we are seeing God do. In the last 5 days, we have been extremely busy. Our schedule has taken us across 12 villages and cities. In the last 2 days alone, we have done 6 puppet shows in 5 orphanages in 5 different cities. There is a tremendous response to the Gospel. At every show we see children, teenagers, and even adults confess Christ. One teacher spent a long time talking with us and admitted that she is not a believer, but she is very close. She came to both of the puppet shows at the orphanage where she works. Please pray for her to come to Christ.
It is very difficult to see the things that we are seeing. Some of the orphanages do not have running water and most have outdoor bathrooms. The pictures that you are seeing in your mind are nothing like we are seeing; it is far worse. Most are hungry and all are in need of clothes. Their greatest need is still the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have been working with local Baptist churches and Hope Now, who have works in these places. We are paring physical aid with the love of Jesus Christ.
Small things are greatly appreciated here. We stopped on the side of the road and shared with two little boys and gave them some gum. They were overwhelmed at our kindness. The spools of thread have been quite a blessing to many people. At one of the cities, we were able to give a few simple gifts to the family of believers at a church. Only a few pencils, some ibuprofen, and triple antibiotic ointment, however, their gratitude is very hard to describe. They were overcome that we would give such things to them.
This is a very difficult time. The ministry opportunities are tremendous and we are very tired. Pray that we will put our eyes clearly on Jesus and focus on the children. If we gave all that we had it would not be enough. The need is bigger than we are can describe. We are only able to be here and do this work because of your faithfulness. Thank you very much.
Your brothers and sisters in Christ send you their warmest greetings. They tell us that they are overwhelmed that you would do so much for them. It is very good to be working with so many grateful people.
Love in Christ,
Cheryl, Gina, and Linda
This is an update that I have not been able to receive by Email until this morning. Some of these thing were reported by me from phone conversations, but this is their report in their own words.
Posted September 27, 1999
This morning we went to a small village, Korostishiv, and shared in an orphanage. The children were so well behaved and eager to see the puppets and hear the story. Our translator, Vera, told us that she did not think they had ever seen puppets, balloons, or chalk drawings before. An incredible thing happened. We talked with many of the children before the program began and looked into eyes that were dark and full of pain. I think their sad faces will haunt us for a long time, but we praise God that we saw that sadness disappear as they trusted Jesus. Their eyes filled with light. They children sang for us to thank us for coming. We had brought pencils and pens and candy for the children. You would have thought we had given them a great present. In truth, they gave us a great gift. We were the ones that were the most blessed by their hunger for the Gospel.
The pastor that we worked with in this place has a small church that is very active in ministry. They have planted 3 other churches and have 2 works at orphanages. I asked him what his greatest need was in terms of physical help. The roof on their church must be replaced. The cost is $170.00. This is so much money that they can not imagine how they can get enough money to fix their roof. We would like to meet this need while we are still here in Ukraine because winter is coming and the building may not survive the cold weather, however, we need someone to commit to this project. If you are interested in helping these dear brothers and sisters with their work, then please contact my husband, Mike Summer, at 706-397-2956 and tell him that you are willing to do this. He will get in touch with us and we will hand deliver the funds. It is not possible to mail this money at a later date, as it will not be delivered through the regular mail. (NOTE: $50.00 HAS BEEN SENT SO FAR)
Tonight we were in a village called Cherniakhiv where we experienced a especially sweet time with the believers at the church there. They filled the room with children from the village who were mostly unbelievers. More than 30 children publicly said that they had trusted Christ. When we started to leave, they presented us with flowers and sang to us. They were still singing for us as we pulled out of the parking lot and headed home. They were so grateful we had come. The gratitude of the people here has been very convicting to all of us. They truly appreciate everything that we do.
Hold this is your prayers. Our schedule is about to get really busy. Every time we stand to present the Gospel, it is as though you are standing with us.
Love in Christ, Gina, Cheryl, & Linda
Posted September 26, 1999
We have seen God do so many amazing things that nothing should surprise us. You will remember how we shared about our second puppet show that 200 children were expected to attend and God sent 1,200. This was an incredible witness in the village. We have already seen in just a few days, hundreds confess Jesus as Savior. Most have been children, but some have been teenagers and adults. Also, we have been able to encourage many believers. Still, we were not prepared for what God did on that Sunday night.
We went with Peter, who is our host here in Zhytomyr. He has started a church in a village, Lishin, where there in no church of any kind. It is very hard ground for the Gospel. In 2 years, only 9 have been willing to publicly repent. This is not normal, usually the number would be much higher. He told us that there are more than a thousand villages where there is no witness at all for Jesus; so it is very special to be able to help one of these small, struggling churches.
They organized a puppet show in the local community hall. They building itself was incredible, but it had fallen into decay. The church has sent invitations to all the people in the village to come see the puppets and hear stories about Jesus. One hundred and fifty people accepted their invitation and some of those trusted Christ as their Savior. We gave the children candy and small gifts which they appreciated very much. The most amazing thing happened that night. Linda’s chalk had been accidentally left behind. She had nothing to draw with, and when we asked if anyone had crayons or markers, there were none.
You can not imagine being in a place where it is not even possible to find a magic marker or crayon. When one lady came running up with a large navy marker, we were praising God! We were able to draw the pictures and tell them about Jesus. In this small thing, we saw God’s Great Hand move on our behalf.
The church that Peter is starting is meeting in the community hall, but will move to the oldest house in the village. It has a good bit of land and they are in the process of restoring it. When we asked them what we could do to help, they told us their needs. They had no benches to sit on and they could make these for $50.00. They had no lights to hang in their meeting room and the price of these was $35.00. Also, they were in desperate need of a used piano which costs $25.00. Because you loved Jesus and supported us in this trip, we were able to meet all of these needs. It is a tremendous witness to the people of this village that Americans would come and help the Christians there with their church. Ask God to make them a bright light for Him.
After the program we met with them briefly and gave them a few small presents. . . thread, pencils, ibuprofen, needles, and some packs of antibiotic ointment. These gifts were nothing, yet they received them with the greatest joy. Their faith and their kindness constantly challenge the three of us to love Jesus more.
Posted September 25, 1999
This morning we had the special privilege of training the Zhytomyr puppet team. This was a day we had worked for and prayed for a long time, but it was sweeter than we could have imagined. They were so excited about the puppets, sound equipment and other supplies we brought them. One lady had been trying to do puppets for the children with two old puppets that she had in some humanitarian aid that came to her town. They all enjoyed getting behind the stage and singing with the puppets. They were very good!
This afternoon we enjoyed shopping as this was the only time we would have for this while we were in Zhytomyr. We have a very busy schedule. It gave us an opportunity to hand out Gospel tracts to many of the people in the bazaar and the shops.
Tonight Linda had a special opportunity to speak to a youth cafe. Most of the young people in the room were not believers. Yet they listened attentively to the Gospel. She was a little concerned when they asked her if she would speak for an hour! She began the program with a balloon contest with some of the young people so that they would feel more comfortable with talking with her. There were no young people who were willing to publicly confess Christ, but it was the feeling of the youth leader that many had repented but were too shy to publicly announce it. Pray for these young people that they will have the courage to stand for Christ.