June 27, 2005
Next Stop - Venezuela 2006
Our next stop in Sports Evangelism will be Venezuela next May 15-26, 2006. I have accepted an invitation through the Tennessee Baptist Convention Partnership Missions department to work with a missionary in Venezuela. We met in early June during his short stay in Tennessee to discuss the logistics. Plans are already underway for the venture into South America. I shared some video of what we do with the missionary and he was so excited to get home and begin preparations.
Begin now to pray for this upcoming mission opportunity for Belmont Sports Evangelism. It takes a full year of work and planning to make these trips happen. Pray for financial support, for the missionary and his preparations, and for God’s leadership as I begin thinking about who God wants to be a member of this team.
June 24, 2005
Some final thoughts
The trip and ministry is now over and we are making the transition back to our daily routines. It does not come easy. Part of me is still in the Ukraine and my life won’t ever be quite the same. I continue to process the trip, the ministry, the divine appointments, and all that happened to our team. The faces of street children and orphans fill my mind and cloud my sleep. The Ukrainian language rings in my ears. The sights and sounds of another world keep haunting me. It will take more time than usual to get beyond these two weeks of mission work.
Team members drop by the office daily to hug, remember, process, and shed more tears. They, too, are readjusting and trying to bring closure. God did a mighty work in these students’ lives, taking them out of their comfort zone and forcing them to unzip their hearts and let Jesus shine. They learned things about themselves they never knew. Their relationship with Christ took on a new and deeper intimacy. I watched as they “let go” and let God work in their lives. They gave their all, and yet, they received so much more. It was a beautiful thing to behold.
It was a joy to work with Belmont Trustee and Pastor Don Dixon and his team from Highland Baptist Church in Tullahoma. The blending of two teams only enhanced the ministry and opportunities. Pastor Don has a beautiful heart and passion for sharing Christ. I watched as tears flowed while telling of his personal experiences. Someone else in the Belmont family now truly understands the impact of these Sports Evangelism Mission Trips. Thank you, Don, for initiating conversation and following God’s lead in the invitation to go to the Ukraine.
We estimate, conservatively, that over 100 people came to Christ during the week; maybe even as many as 150. There were many who prayed to receive him in groups, and others came to Him one by one. Lots of seeds were sown and we’ll never know the true impact in terms of numbers. God knows and that is all that matters.
Thank you to parents, families, friends, coaches, donors, and so many others who have shared this journey with us through the journal, your prayers, and support. Thank you, Belmont University, for allowing us to represent you as we shared Christ in the Ukraine. We have been blessed and changed. We give all praise, honor, and glory to God!
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 03:00 PM
Thank you, Paul & Debbie!
I must thank Debbie & Paul Chenoweth for their roles in this mission endeavor. Debbie is a steady rock, always in the background but ever on the front lines. She paid the bills, ordered food, kept up with the schedule, and was a wonderful support to me. Basically, she freed me up to work, witness, and minister. She truly has a servant’s heart.
You have all benefited from Paul’s expertise. He is totally responsible for the Ukraine Journal and allowing you to be a part of our ministry through the web site. The upcoming videos he will produce will serve us well as we attempt to share the story through the lens of his trusted camera. Debbie and Paul give an added dimension to this ministry through their efforts.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 02:59 PM
A special memory - divine appointments
It was Tuesday afternoon and we had finished two days of play and ministry with a group of maybe two hundred kids. Before we left we all sat down for drama, testimonies, sharing of the gospel, and an invitation to pray a prayer to receive Christ. It was evident that the Holy Spirit was upon us as we felt God’s powerful presence. Many prayed the prayer to receive Christ.
Following the session Debbie pointed out to me three women with babies outside the fenced-in court. She said they had wondered off the street and had listened through the fence. I immediately went outside the court to them and asked if they understood what we had said. They said they understood. I asked if they would like to ask Jesus into their hearts and their response was, “We already have. We prayed with the children.” They received Christ that day as they wondered down the street and stopped to listen through a fence to some Americans sharing Christ with kids. We never know how God will use us when we are bold enough to stand up and profess His saving grace. It was a divine appointment!
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 02:58 PM
June 19, 2005
Good-byes have begun
In about 7 hours the team will be picked up in front of our hotel to begin the journey back to Nashville. The 2:00AM pick up hour will mean very little sleep in anything that resembles a bed for the next 24-36 hours...but we are ready and doing well
There is so much to be said for the translators that we worked with all week. They have all been wonderful and have become an integral part of the team. Saying good-bye is not an easy thing to do for a member of the family and these good-byes will not be easy.
Pictured here with me is Vlad and his son Eli. There are more stories to tell about this special man than there is space to fill. He is the epitomy of Christian service and the perfect picture of the struggle that individuals in ministry here. Pray for Vlad, Eli, his wife Maya, and their daughter. They deserve our prayers and support.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 02:29 PM
June 18, 2005
Friday evening - posted on Saturday night
Friday's ministry took us north to the town of Corosten, an hour and a half of bumpy bus ride to Grace Baptist Church and Bible College. This was once a Soviet hospital but abandoned and left to collapse and decay before the church expressed interest in it. Waiting for us at the church were 50 youth leaders from across the region who had been on retreat for several days. Our devotional time for the day focused on surrender, individually and, as a team...and that proved to be appropriate for the day. We played volleyball, court soccer, and youth-focused games all day with little apparent time for ministry...until the evening meal time arrived.
Today I learned that playing sports is much more than being competitive...and getting emotional and sometimes angry. Playing sports can be done in a way that honors God, I saw that today in this team from America. I could see this in the faces of these players. I could feel God's presence in our games today. I am so thankful thatGod brought this team here today, it has changed forever the way that I will play sports.
Serge - Youth Minister, Ukraine
Our team was the special guest at a festive banquet. Decorations were hanging around the room and a band played at one end of the room. The dressed up youth ministers were quite the contrast to the Belmont team who cleaned up as best they could following a day of exercise and play. Dan, Brittany, Josh, Jennifer, and John gave their testimonies and then it was time for their leaders to speak. Several spoke of the importance of finding new ways to reach out to youth. Youth do not naturally gravitate toward churches...and the platform of sports is something that meets these young people where they are. It helps to build trust and relationships that can then lead to opportunities for sharing. The Belmont team surrendered their agenda for today and by doing so, found a place in the future ministries of these youth leaders.
June 13, 2005
Pulling together as a team
It has been fun to watch this team bond and come together in such a short time. That is always one of the great joys of trips like this. we have four different sports teams from Belmont represented, and they now are one in purpose, calling, and ministry. Each day brings new insights and personal growth. I am blessed to be their leader and observe the transformations taking place in their lives.
I wish everyone could have experienced this morning's circle of prayer as team mates prayed for one another by name. There was a powerful sense of God's presence as each one shared from their hearts.
Parents, families, coaches, and all of Belmont University can take great pride in the commitment and ministry of these student-athletes.
Continue to pray for all of us!
P.S. Pray for the two new Christians pictured in this post.
June 12, 2005
Sunday Morning Update
We're up and running today. The team will split up to visit two small village churches on the outskirts of Zhitomir. Here are just a few scenes from yesterday when we were making plans for the week and playing with some of the children from Central Baptist Church:
This afternoon, the team will get a few hours to work on the jet lag before leading the worsip service at the home church. All are feeling great and doing fine. Your prayers are working. Keep 'em up!
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 01:51 PM
June 10, 2005
Amsterdam - but hurried
This will be a quick note. We were delayed in Detroit due to bad weather and arrived in Amsterdam 30 minutes beyond the expected arrival time... all are well, semi-rested following the 8 hour flight and ready to get to Kiev, our next stop.
A sleepy version of Happy Birthday filled the transit lounge...it is Rebekah's birthday today.
Thanks for all of the comments, by the way. Keep 'em up!
...live from Amsterdam,
UPDATE: Picture addition - a little xtra time in Zhitomir to catch up with posting, without all the hurry.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 09:24 AM
June 09, 2005
Meet the Team - On our way
We are on our way. Please pray for us by name!
|John Baldwin||Dan Oliver|
|Destri Bockey||Andrew Preston|
|Brittany Card||Jennifer Rix|
|Debbie Chenoweth||Brooke Sunday|
|Paul Chenoweth||Kimb Ulloa|
|Jenny Conkle||Andy Wicke|
|Josh Goodwin||Rebekah Wilson|
|Justin Hare||Betty Wiseman,|
Every one arrived safely at Nashville International Airport this morning. Following a lengthy check in process where we helped 'train' a couple of new check in staff, we settled in for a light lunch in the concourse waiting area. The adventure of air travel unfolded shortly thereafter when taxi to take off was interrupted by an announcement that the radar in Indianapolis was down and we could be facing an hour and 45 minute delay. No sooner that we arrived at the gate, a new announcement..."Indianpolis is back up and running". All are in good spirits. We are on our way!
...safe in a cyber cafe in Detroit,
June 01, 2005
Our Ukraine Partnership - One week and counting
One week from tomorrow (June 9) we will embark on the journey that began for us approximately fifteen months ago, March 2004, when Belmont Trustee Don Dixon called me with the idea of partnering with his church for a mission trip. Don is Pastor of Highland Baptist Church in Tullahoma, Tennessee. He told me of the Zhitomir Central Baptist Church in Ukraine and Pastor Peter Chernyavsky’s request for a Sports Team to come and work with them. Thus began our year-long process of organizing and processing this trip.
Pastor Don and eight of his church members will accompany our team and work specifically with Pastor Peter’s church while staying in the homes of church members. Our team will stay outside Kiev in a hotel close to the outlaying areas where we will conduct ministry in local communities. The two teams will come together periodically during the trip to go into orphanages, conduct worship services in the evening, and lead worship in local churches the two Sundays we are there.
This partnership will be a first in our decade of sports evangelism mission trips. Don has been a joy to work with and get to know. The two teams will come together for the first time at the airport when we gather for our long flight next week. However, both teams have prayed for one another by name for several months. It is exciting to anticipate getting to know our partners in mission. As you pray for us we ask that you remember Don and his group who will have their own ministry in addition to ours.
Posted by Betty Wiseman at 01:41 PM
May 06, 2005
Ready to GO!
The Ukraine Team had our last meeting, along with a cook-out, at my house yesterday evening before dismissing for exams, graduation, and some much needed R&R. Plans for this trip, June 9-20, actually began over a year ago. The team will convene at the airport on June 9 for departure at 1:29 p.m. Paperwork, passports, visas, tickets, and all the logistics are complete and the word now is GO!
Following last minute instructions the team enjoyed a devotional and prayer time. The prayer of Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4: 9-10 was claimed as our prayer for the trip.“…that God will bless us…that God will enlarge our territory…that God’s hand will be upon us, and that God will keep us from harm…”
I challenged the team to pray this prayer daily as they continue to seek God’s blessing and preparation for the ministry that is before us. Just as God granted Jabez’s request I am confident that He will answer our prayer.
We send our thanks to all of you who will pray with us and for us in the next month before we depart and during our stay in the Ukraine. This team is much larger than the 16 members who will actually go. All of you have supported us with encouragement, prayers, and financial gifts, and YOU are a valuable member of this team. Thank You!
Posted by Betty Wiseman at 06:53 PM