Expect great things from God. Attempt great things from God.
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January 1, 2019
And so it begins...
The struggle to remember to write/type 2019 instead of 2018. The struggle is real, people. Haha. Can you believe a new year has begun, already?

I recently saw a little comic online that showed a man crying and saying, "You mean there is going to be another year?" I can honestly say that I am happy we have another fresh start. Another new beginning. There's something refreshing about waking up to a new year that has no mistakes or regrets. Last night, as I lay in bed waiting to fall asleep, I closed the book on 2018. It was a rough year for many reasons. But I went to sleep with the knowledge that the Lord has been with me/us all the way - every moment - and that nothing that happened was a surprise to Him. It makes the hard stuff bearable and profitable when we cling to the knowledge that He is at work - even when it hurts. 
Romans 5:3-5
3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

We begin this year by remembering what is behind, but with our eyes on what lies ahead - straining toward the goal.
Yes, we have snow.  

A look back at 2018

There are so many things that we are thankful for from 2018. Here are a few of the highlights:
  • Our dear friend, Lynette, made the trip to minister with us in the late winter. We had some wonderful "events" and she made a big impact on the moms. And she was a huge encouragement to us!
  • We (Chris and Mary) got to travel to the States together in May. We attended Chris' seminary graduation, Hannah's college graduation, and Blakes college graduation. We also had the chance to speak at some churches and to some groups about the work in Ukraine. And we were away together - without kids. 
  • Two weeks after we returned from the States, we celebrated Bethany's high school graduation.
  • We experienced rich blessings from all the camps this Summer. We saw several moms accept Christ as Savior. We were also joined for one week of camp by Mary's sister, Robin, and her son, Sergei.
  • Bethany and Seth had the opportunity to go to the States for a couple of weeks with Robin and her family in Colorado.  It was a huge blessing and we are thankful for Matt and Robin and their love for our kids (and us).
  • In September a young Ukrainian, Simon Vitenko, came to live with us and serve with us. He works with the boys three days a week on "school work" and also is hands-on help in our daily routine. He serves in the special needs ministry, as well. We had been praying God would us more help and Simon has been a big answer to that prayer!
  • In October, James and Trudi Sang came and served with us for 3 weeks! This was their second trip to Ukraine. We met them in the summer of 2017 when our colleague June invited them to be part of a family camp. They also have an adult son who has fragile-x syndrome.
    Trudi is a professional clown and uses her talent to share the Gospel. In their time here, Trudi and James participated in our Friday night Bible studies by sharing their personal testimonies, helped with a birthday party for  all the Spring, Summer, and Fall birthdays, held several clinics on parenting children with disabilities, took all of our ministry workers to a museum and lunch, and took a group of special needs teens to the circus! It was an incredibly fruitful season of ministry.
  • Right after James and Trudi left, we (Chris and Mary) were able to get away for some time together in Lviv for two days. It was a sweet time away for us!
  • Hannah was able to join us for the Christmas holidays this year. We never know from year to year how the holidays will work out. We are so thankful to have time with our stateside kids as the Lord gives it.  Blake had a winter trip planned and did not get to come this year, but we are very glad for FaceTime.
  • Also, another big blessing of 2018 was that Bethany decided to take a gap year and serve here with us and she is an incredible blessing to many!
  • There is so much more that we are thankful for and so many more ways we have seen God at work in the last year. But these are the highlights.
  • Lastly and mostly -  we are so grateful for the Lord and His faithfulness and nearness through the past year! And we are grateful for each of you holding the ropes of prayer and financial support. You are making a difference here. Thank you for investing in what the Lord is doing in Ukraine!
We wish each of you a happy new year and our desire and prayer is that each of you will know the nearness of God and that He will be more real to you than ever before.
We are also thankful to the Lord for these very dear people with whom we live and serve. Clockwise: Jamie, June, Sveta/Yuri, Tanya.
We would LOVE to hear from you!
You can reply to this email or email us directly at or
Giving Options:

You can give securely online at:

Online giving can be set up for RECURRING gifts,
as well as ONE-TIME GIFTS

or checks can be mailed to:
c/o Gus Downing
1417 Old Mill Road
Moore, Oklahoma 73160

Alternatively, you can give through First Moore Baptist Church
If you attend there, you can give through your regular offering and mark it for Ukraine Missions or anyone can mail a donation to First Moore Baptist Church, 301 NE 27th Street, Moore, OK 73160. Be sure and memo the contribution for "Ukraine Missions". (
Please do not give your tithe anywhere but your local church - even to us.)

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  • A new season of ministry will begin in a couple of weeks. We are wrapping up our many holiday ministry "events" in the next 8 days. Then we will have a week "off".
  • Pray for our summer preparations that will begin sometime this month.
  • Pray for peace in Ukraine.
  • Please join us in asking the Father to provide the final $32,000 we need to complete the payment of our home and the UMO Ministry Center. Because we don't know exactly who in Ukraine will end up reading this, I won't share details of why this is necessary now. If you would like more information, you can email Chris at .
  • Pray for our teammates Jamie and June.
  • Pray for our friends and Ukrainian "teammates", Yuri and Sveta.
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Thank YOU for your prayer support, your financial support, and your encouragement.
We could NOT do this without you.

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