By: Glenn Gerdes
I had the privilege of traveling to Donetsk and teaching for RITE during the first two weeks of January, 2007. Although it was not easy to be so far away from my wife and three young children for that length of time, I was delighted to be part of this wonderful ministry and the congregation I serve was excited to send me. Why? Because RITE is fulfilling the Great Commission in a strategic and wise way.
Concerning this, I would like to share five encouraging thoughts with those of you who are supporting or serving with RITE.
First, RITE is effectively building up and encouraging pastors, teachers and other servants of the church who are part of the Ukrainian culture. I say this to accentuate a significant difference between the ministry of RITE and that of a full-time cross-cultural missionary. Whereas it takes a lot of time, money and effort to train and send one full-time missionary into a culture other than his or her own, RITE is graduating many students who are from the culture and who desire to serve the body of Christ in it. After the recent joy of teaching for RITE, I can affirm that these students are willing and dedicated to the task that is set before them in Ukraine.
In saying this I am not trying to down-play the need for full-time cross cultural missionaries, rather I am emphasizing how RITE plays a distinct and significant role in the spread of the Gospel.
Second, RITE students are eager to test and approve what is true and minister accordingly. For instance, while in Donetsk, I taught a course titled, Hard Sayings of the Bible, and the various passages we looked at lead to profitable discussions concerning specific Reformed doctrines, Christian living, and church discipline. The students asked many challenging questions and because of the answers they discovered in the Bible they are becoming more Reformed in their thinking.
Third, Doctrinally Reformed church plants are desperately needed in Donetsk and the work of RITE is and will help fulfill this need (see thought number two). It was exciting to meet a graduate of RITE who is now seeking to plant a church of Reformed persuasion in Donetsk. Because the students are eager to learn and RITE is committed to solid teaching, by Gods grace and power we anticipate more of this fruit in the future.
Fourth, the translators who work for RITE are not only proficient in their work - they are dedicated to serving Christ and advancing the work of RITE. I mention this because they serve a vital role in this ministry. The students hear through the translator not only the knowledge the professor is teaching but also his passion for Christ and Gods Word. Therefore a Spirit-filled translator who is zealous to see Christ exalted is crucial to the process. RITE students are blessed to have such translators! And let me also testify that this is a blessing for the professors as well. The translators welcomed us to Ukraine with the love of Christ and helped us live there and enjoy their city.
Fifth, let me mention a Scripture passage that comes to mind as I write to those of you who are supporting RITE financially and in prayer. In Philippians chapter 4 (starting with verse 17), the apostle Paul writes the following concerning the monetary support the Philippians had been providing for his ministry: Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. (ESV)
Those of you who are supporting RITE should take great encouragement from this passage. None of us earn anything from God but God does graciously and eternally reward the faithful, sacrificial work of his servants (see Luke 12:32-34, Matthew 25:14-30, and II Corinthians 9:6-8.) So even though your feet may never walk the streets of Donetsk, the work being done there is being credited to your account because you are supporting it! Your gifts are a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.
May God continue to bless the work of RITE, raising up eager students to learn, gifted professors to teach, and more people to pray and support the ministry.