Dear Friends of RITE Canada,
Greetings to you from the Board of Directors.
In April of this year, Rita Ferguson and I, (Thea Van Dixhoorn) were privileged to travel to Kiev, Ukraine to visit the seminary that is supported by RITE (“Reformed International Theological Education, International Reformed Seminary of Kyiv”).
RITE rents accommodations and classrooms in an old “sanatorium” in the village of Kozyn about 35km outside of Kiev. The sanatorium was built in the Soviet era and was used by people who needed rest and health treatments. The students stay there two weeks of every month for their classes. We also rented rooms there for our stay so that we could spend time with the students. We tried to interview each student and we found them to be very open and forthcoming in their conversations with us. We gleaned much information about the students that attend and especially their needs. Their overall attitude was one of extreme gratitude for the opportunity to learn at the seminary.
Valery and Natasha Roslavsev are one of the four married couples who are students at the seminary. They had a two room suite at the sanatorium with a small sitting room and their room was the gathering place for many visits. Lisa Akimova, another student, acted as our translator as they told us about themselves and about the ministry work they were doing. Valery and Natasha lived in the Donetsk area and had to leave behind a small farm with some animals when the war erupted. They lived for a while in a shelter – one family to a room. Valery said that at that time he felt he heard God more clearly than ever before and that he saw His hand in all things and that He will provide all things that are needed. He had served in the church for 12 years before that but this caused him to have a much deeper relationship with God. Valery was one of the three students who graduated this spring and we ask you to pray with us that both he and his wife will be used by God to have a great impact in Ukraine.
Other information and personal stories we heard have been detailed in each of the student profiles that can be sent to you upon request if you wish to join those who have committed to pray for the students. Additional information about some of the students may be found on the RITE USA website which can be linked through ritecanada.ca. The students were very open, friendly and generous. They expressed such gratitude at being in the seminary that we were very moved and felt more than welcomed. We also heard first hand of some of the trials that many of the students and staff have gone through because of the war. There was no bitterness, nor complaining of how God dealt them this hard challenge even though many lost everything they owned.
Our 2018 graduating students (l to r): Vladimir (Vova) duBashov, Sasha Melnikov and Valery Roslavsev.
We were also privileged to sit in on some of the classes given by Dr. Merle Messer, president of RITE USA, and by Mr. Bob Beasley. Dr. Messer was teaching Hermeneutics One and Advanced Hermeneutics and Bob was teaching Definite Atonement and The Book of Acts. We can attest to the dedication and eagerness of the students to learn this often challenging material. The need to translate each sentence being taught, each question asked, and each response given, did not prevent the students from asking relevant questions and making sure they understood the concepts being presented. They also asked for specific guidance on questions that they often encounter, for example requesting courses on the person and the work of the Holy Spirit and on the development of the canon of scripture.
Rita and I also had an opportunity to let the students know we were inspired and encouraged to keep working all the more after hearing so many of their testimonies and realizing what an impact the seminary has on the spread of the gospel in Ukraine. We felt that in just a short time they had all become family, true brothers and sisters in Christ. We are most thankful to the Lord for having allowed us to go on this trip.
We appreciate your continued prayer and support for the work of RITE seminary in Ukraine. Although we have had a couple of instances of returned mail, we do ask that you continue to send any mail to our new address in St Thomas (see top of the page). We have spoken to Canada Post and hope the issue has now been resolved. May we also ask that you provide us with an email address so that we can send these newsletters to you electronically in the future and save on postage costs?
Please send your email address to: firstname.lastname@example.org
In His Name,
Thea Van Dixhoorn
On behalf of the Board of RITE Canada