by Summer Kelley
Last May we shared a story and some photos about Steve and Adi’s travels in Ukraine.
You may have been wondering, “Ukraine? Where did that come from?”
Well, I’m about to tell you!
It Starts with Adi and Ema’s Church
The Ban Family
Gabby comes from another Emmanuel Baptist family, who have been part of the church for years. Gabby graduated from Emmanuel University with a degree in social work. Gabby’s married to John Patras, who also graduated from Emmanuel University, with a degree in Theology.
They’ve been married 15 years, but have been unable to have children of their own.
In January of this year, Adi and his son, Edu, were part of a mission team from Emmanuel Baptist that went to serve and Romanian-speaking Baptist Church in Chernivtsi, Ukraine.
Gabby and John were there, too, and extended the invitation to visit them in Poroshkovo, which is located in the western part of Ukraine, above Hungary.
The Young Couples’ Fellowship Does Something Remarkable
Adi and Ema lead and mentor two groups of young couples from their church. These are young couples and families, many still in the building phase of their lives and careers - in a post-communist economy.
In May, when John and Gabby were in Oradea visiting family and supporters, Adi and Ema invited them to share with their Young Couples’ Fellowship about their town and their ministry to children and families.
John pastors the church in Poroshkovo, as well as overseeing 3 other village churches in the area. What the Lord has impressed upon Adi and Ema's hearts is the impact John and Gabby are having with the children in their rustic village.
Gabby teaching the children of her church in Poroshkovo.
Life in this part of the world is hard, and survival is more of a question mark than something they take for granted. They are isolated from the rest of their country due to their Romanian ethnicity.
Families live in one-room homes. Some do their cooking in make-shift kitchens on partially covered porches. Many have outhouses for bathrooms. Stoves are heated by chopped wood. Horse drawn carts seem to be more prevalent than motorized vehicles. Grass is cut with a two-handed scythe.
Horse-drawn carts seem more prevalent than motor vehicles.
John and Gabby's door is always open for village youth.
John and Gabby's door is always open and village youth are free to stop by.
John and Gabby teach them many things, from Personal Care 101 to reading and writing in Romanian. Some children come to their door because they are hungry. Others because they are hurt and need a bandaid, others because they want help with homework.
They help the community in many ways, but mostly by leading a godly family life in front of the community, with an open heart to the needs of those around them.
At the end of the meeting, two of the women from the Ban's Young Couples' Fellowship proposed the two groups work together to raise funds to provide the 51 children grades 1-5 in John and Gabby’s church with a backpack, school supplies, a school uniform, tennis shoes, athletic jackets and athletic pants.
Adi and Ema's two Young Couples Fellowship groups gave sacrificially and met that goal!
Why We Can't Out-Give God
That one idea is that you can't out-give God.
"God's bank account is the type that can never, never be drained," Steve says. So he wants our partners to seek out their own partners in ministry. Partners they can work with to expand their reach and ultimately reach more people.
Visiting Poroshkovo; Stepping Into Another World
In May, when Steve visited Eastern Europe, he went with Adi and two of his sons, Andy and Tommy to Poroshkovo.
They were slightly delayed by an adventure in Oradea's historic town square, but drove the 6 hours to Poroshkovo and arrived toward nightfall on a Saturday.
They preached shared in John's church via a translator the following morning.
Steve Evers preaches at Poroshkovo church on Sunday, and Andy Ban translates.
Adi Ban shares with the church on Sunday.
"If the Lord gave you a heart for children and children’s ministry you simply cannot visit Poroshcovo and not fall in love with them!"
The Bans shared, "If the Lord gave you a heart for children and children’s ministry you simply cannot visit Poroshcovo and not fall in love with them!"
Steve mused, "It feels like being in the hills of Virginia in the 1900s. The people live in basic log houses, often in groups of 10-13 people."
Poroshkovo really is like a different world.
But their hearts are in the same need of the saving grace that Jesus offers as ours.
And now, believers from all over the world - from Adi and Ema and their Young Couples' Fellowship, to ITMI supporters who made Steve's trip possible and support Adi and Ema's work in Romania, to Gabby and John who left the comforts of home to minister in Poroshkovo - are being used.
Used to reach this community where life is hard, and hope is always needed.