My name is Paul Miles. Perhaps you have read some of my Bold Grace articles. I live in Kiev, Ukraine with my wife, Lena. We got hitched here in Ukraine last summer. Lena has a master's degree in English translation from a linguistic university in her hometown of Dnepropetrovsk (almost as difficult to say as it is to spell) and a bachelor's degree from Word of God Bible College where she has been working as a translator for two years. I have a bachelor's degree in Russian from UT Arlington, a master's degree from Liberty Seminary and am working on a D. Min through Tyndale seminary. I'm currently employed as an ESL teacher, but Lena and I are bringing our skills and experience together to start an Eastern European branch of Bold Grace.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Christians from all over the world came rushing into this part of the world, planting churches and bringing Bibles to a world that spent 70 years under a regime of oppression. Now, here we sit, 20 years later, after the excitement has calmed down, the missionaries have turned everything over to the locals, 2nd and 3rd generation Christians are running the show now, the missionary work is done, and the dust has settled, right? Well, not quite. Eastern Orthodoxy is the official religion of Ukraine, and atheism is still more prominent in society than any organized religion. There are Protestant churches, many of which were planted, turned over, and abandoned by Western missionaries. Most Christians, including pastors, are severely lacking in theological training. A casual browse of Christian bookstores will reveal that most books available to Russian speaking Christians either teach Eastern Orthodoxy or they are translations of English books that often have rather poor theology. There are many excellent resources in English, and we seek to make them available in Russian, but another passion we have is to encourage and equip local Christians to produce solid theological materials in their native languages.
Our plan to write and translate in Russian is strategic because the Russian language is spoken in 16 different countries, with estimates of 144 million native speakers in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus alone, making it the most common native language in Europe. It is the third most popular secondary language in the world, with 125 million secondary speakers. It is spoken by atheists in communist-run Belarus, Islamic extremists in Central Asia, and everything in between. Just as Greek was a strategic theological language for missionaries reaching multiple people groups in the first century, Russian can serve as an excellent interface language for reaching a variety of people today.
While the main thrust of our ministry is writing and translation in Russian, there are some peripheral ways that we would like to serve. Translation is not restricted to written materials, but can also be applied to live lectures and sermons and media. Lately, I've been using some of the articles that I've written for Bold Grace and have been modifying them into English lessons that some friends have been testing in volunteer English classes. The ESL/EFL industry is huge, and I believe we have an opportunity to tap into the market in a way that will further spread God's grace. There are countless possibilities for ways to serve the Lord here in Eastern Europe, and we are looking forward to our future in ministry with Bold Grace.
Lena and I are planning a trip to America soon to raise support and get things rolling in this new venture. We have faced some difficulties concerning visas, but we have enough options that I'm sure something will work out. We would appreciate your prayer as we make our preparations to launch this new branch. Please pray for our visas, health, and finances as we prepare to head over to America.
Paul and Lena Miles