Posted by: Bonnie | September 21, 2007

Small but Significant



Work horse in Myaki, Ukraine


Nothing prepared me for life in Myaki, Ukraine. And yet conversely, even ironically, everything in life prepared my family for the spiritual marathon that stretched before us during our first year as missionaries in the former Soviet Union. Today we look back on those cold winter days of hardship with great warmth—even exuberant praise—as we remember the life that sprang out of the death of our feeble efforts during those difficult times. 

My first visit to Myaki made me feel like I was on the set of a “Fiddler on the Roof” play. Its mud-brick houses and thatched roofs seemed surreal and shot me back a hundred years in time. I found myself looking for Tevye, the traditionalist and star of “Fiddler,” who delivered milk in the market square. Myaki’s roads are unpaved, and her people are frozen in time just like the Ukrainian ground in winter. They are stout hearty and fear nothing, like old Tevye, but change. Small but significant, and yet somehow bigger than life, God chose Myaki as the birth place of the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute.


Light house in Odessa, Ukraine Seaport

Myaki means “lighthouse” in Russian, and this small, rustic fishing village became a spiritual lighthouse for the country. It holds an historic and hallowed place in the hearts of believers as the birthplace of the Pentecostal movement. God used a Russian-born Baptist pastor, Ivan Voronaev, who received the Pentecostal experience in New York City in 1919.

Through prophecies, he returned with his family to the fSU where he established the first Pentecostal church in the Soviet Union in 1922. Although he was arrested, imprisoned and eaten by dogs in a Siberian, Communist prison in 1943,Voronaev’s churches survived incredible persecution to become a major religious force in Russia, and the former Soviet Union by 1993. To this day, Soviet believers fondly remember Voronaev and the kindling of spirirtual fire that smoldered in Myaki and eventually burned across the Soviet states.


Wayne in a Pentecostal church in Myaki, Ukraine, with Varonaev’s Bible


In the 1980s, many Russian believers returned to Myaki to pray for fresh revival and relief from the spiritual oppression they had endured under the reign of Communism. Some Russians prophesied that Communism would fall soon and there would be freedom to worship and evangelize. Again God used this seemingly insignificant fishing village as a place to encourage and prepare the Soviet people for the next phase of life.


In the 1990’s Communism fell. Gospel teams rushed in with the Good News. Thousands upon thousands came to salvation. Many of these were Jewish people. Refreshing winds of revival  swept through the fSU, just the believers prophesied in Myaki during the 1980’s.


In 1996 God sent Wayne, Julia and me, along with the Sviontek family, to live in Myaki and pioneer the first MJBI. We didn’t learn of its spiritual significance until after we had settled there. Although we endured many physical hardships, and we often felt dark spiritual forces trying to stop us, our hearts grew strong in faith in Myaki.


In those early days, we awoke nearly every morning to the sounds of the MJBI students interceding, singing, and worshipping God in that humble place. Communism had successfully stamped out their freedom to worship, but it had not eliminated the white-hot fervency and faith of the stalwart people. Little did we know just how far those important prayers of intercession and songs of deliverance would catapult us in the years to come.



  1. First of all I greet you in Jesus name. I visited your website and be pleased with it. Now if it can be possible we can have a Partnership with you. This will be a blessing to our Nations and even to you. I hope the Holy spirit will explain more to you as you continue to think about it. God bless you. Pastor Ruramutswa john from Rwanda kigali. Phon. +250 08739653 Grneral secretary Birori clement phon. +25008453840

  2. […] We brought our two cats with us, and they snuggled with me under the covers. They were my companions and comforts in those difficult months. Still God was at work and in charge. He stripped us to our lowest point, so we would utterly depend on Him. You can read the whole story here and here and here. […]

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