Bob & Judy Van Sant

Judy and I joined BIMI in June 1994 and arrived in the Ukraine in 1996. We started a deaf church in our home on May 12, 1996, with 12 deaf in attendance. Within three months our church outgrew our apartment with an average attendance of 24. We were able to rent the KGB House of Culture for the next 18 months. The deaf attendance continued to grow as we saw deaf people saved and baptized. It was during this time we received our first 40-foot container of humanitarian aid, which we distributed to hospitals.

On June 6, 1999, our sending pastor, Rev. Olen Adams, commissioned Simferopol Baptist Church. About this time, hearing people began attending our church and within a few months we realized we needed to divide the church in order to meet the needs of both the hearing and deaf congregations.

Through the 20 years we were on the field, the Lord allowed us to accomplish the following:

• Eight churches (4 hearing and 4 deaf) were started in Crimea. Six of these churches are still thriving. Two closed because of location and lack of national leadership.

• Two deaf churches were started in two independent Baptist churches outside of Crimea (Odessa and Kharkov).

• We helped start a Russian Baptist church in Ashdod, Israel.

• Twelve 40-foot containers with humanitarian aid were distributed to the deaf and blind, to villages and hospitals, to handicapped children's organizations, to a children's home, and to our own people. These humanitarian aid containers opened many doors of evangelism and built the godly reputation of Simferopol Baptist Church.

• With Dr. James Ray and his Bible distribution team, we handed out over 50,000 New Testaments in three days. Twelve years later a man came to visit our church with a copy of a New Testament in his hands—that is how he found us.

• We worked in three orphanages through the years and held regular Bible studies in each, including VBS and holiday programs. We were allowed to bring orphanage children to our church and hundreds were saved. Only eternity knows the results of these opportunities.

• Simferopol Baptist Church was one of the very few churches privileged (and blessed) to work weekly in a nursing home in our city. Several people in the church saw the vision of this ministry and many were saved—some just hours before entering eternity.

• God allowed us to help 12 families (both nationals and Americans) who assisted Simferopol Baptist Church, all of whom are now currently serving in other areas.

• Simferopol Baptist Institute was started to train national pastors and leadership within the church, including sign language and Sunday school training. Several pastors and teachers from America came to aid in the teaching.

• I worked for two years as Interim College Director at Bible Baptist Church in Bella Tserkov (after the death of Brother Doug Emr). Judy and I traveled 10 hours to the college once a month and stayed one week each time. During this time we taught and organized curriculum and mentored students.

• Judy taught ladies Sunday school classes and craft classes in order to build a community within the church. • We hosted, organized, and financed an average of four conferences a year (deaf couples, hearing couples, hearing and deaf teens, and women). Often we had campers as far away as Siberia, Moldova, and Belarus.

Our hearts will always be in Crimea. Even though we may not be able to return there, our love for the Crimean people will continue to grow no matter where we are.

At this time the Lord is moving us to the next level in a newly established ministry of Baptist International Missions, Inc. We continue to desire to be faithful and obedient to God's calling. As always, we want only to be in the center of His will. Judy and I are excited to be part of the new ARM (Assistance and Relief Missionaries) Personnel outreach of BIMI. This is a door of opportunity that will expand our ministry to include countries throughout Europe and here in the States. This ministry will involve using our years of experience to help on varied foreign fields in order to preserve, conserve, and grow new churches where the resident missionary must return to the States on a short-term furlough. It will also involve teaching, training, and mentoring national leaders in soul winning, church planting, and church growth both here and abroad. Through ARM Personnel, BIMI is working to preserve and invest their most valuable assets—their experienced missionaries—and we are privileged to be a part of this new ministry.

Judy and I are available for short-term fill in or assistant ministry for any English-speaking work. We keep our necessary travel documents current and we can leave on short notice. We truly wish to "stand in the gap" as the Lord directs.

Contact Bob & Judy Van Sant

185 Parkview Dr.
Ringgold, GA 30736

(423) 364-0421

You can email them (View Email Address)

Europe Director

Ed & Carole Hembree

Read more about the Hembrees. He can be contacted through the BIMI office (423) 344-5050.

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