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It is amazing to see how God can use our past to bring Him glory. God began preparing Chris for this ministry even before he new Christ. As a young teen Chris dreamed of working on ranches or farms. In college, he majored in Ranch Management taking both animal science and ag classes. He also worked as an intern on a large west Texas ranch. But also while in college, Chris had a roommate that introduced him to Christ. One October night on the 10th floor of his dorm room Chris prayed to accept Christ as his Lord and Savior. It was that same night that Chris felt the call to go throughout the world and preach the Gospel. He shared his testimony with the pastor of our college ministry and this pastor began discipling Chris for an entire year. This same pastor began our premarital counseling for an additional year after we became engaged. Throughout the next few years Chris was blessed to have other Godly pastors and mentors in his life that helped him grow in God's word and pursue God's call on his life. Eventually Chris went to seminary to major in International Church Planting. While in seminary, Chris started his own handyman business and gained much experience in landscaping, home repair and remodeling, etc. It made sense to us that the biblical and seminary training and missionary trips and field orientations were preparing him for a life in missions.
But fast-forward to today and we can now see that his heart for working outdoors, his education and experience in ranch management and his skills in remodeling are all being used for God's glory. We have so many ministry opportunities here in Ukraine that will utilize these skills. Several Deaf families live in factory apartments that are so run down and virtually unlivable without proper plumbing and very unsanitary. The manager of these apartments has been open to allowing Chris and others come in to do repairs and improve the living conditions. We will be meeting in the next couple of weeks about starting bible studies in these apartments as well. We have also started a rehab house where Chris is teaching life and job skills to Deaf men that have been addicted to alcohol. On this property we now have a large garden, 20 chickens and several rabbits. This will not only provide food for the tenants, but also work as eggs and produce can eventually be sold. In addition to this garden, we have also been blessed with additional gardens totaling over 2 acres! This will provide food as we begin a food ministry for Deaf families.
As we have shared with others about our gardens we have learned of some elderly deaf people that are no longer able to tend to their own gardens. Without a garden, it will be very difficult for these Deaf to have enough food this winter. Chris and a couple of the Deaf men he has been working are now be helping them get their gardens ready and planted. At one home, they discovered that they had no hot water. This meant they can only use indoor plumbing for bathing and such during the spring and summer. So Chris and the other men looked at the water heater and realized it was a fairly easy fix. After some time, they got it working again. This Deaf lady and her elderly mother were so grateful for this help in addition to the garden. Another Deaf women woman from church broke down in tears when she learned that they will be working on her garden this Saturday! Her son is very ill and no longer able to help her.
When we moved here as church planters, little did we know that one of the open doors we would have for this ministry would be through Chris's ranch management and handyman experience! But God uses all of our experiences for His purposes.