Our Ukraine Aid Trip

On March 21st, I left Spain on a trip with 3 other Spanish pastors with aid for the people of Ukraine. We coordinated with a ministry in Poland that provides support to over a dozen churches in Ukraine. Churches all across Spain took up offerings of food and medical supplies, and though the original plan was to take a single vehicle, we ended up tightly packing 2 large, nine-passenger vans with supplies, which, after about 25hrs of driving, we were able to deliver in Krakow, Poland. We had arranged to bring back 14 refugees from churches in Ukraine on the way back, but by the time we arrived, most of them had been able to find alternate transportation, so our passenger space wasn’t needed. Still, we brought back the wife and children of a pastor in Odessa, as well as a young boy who’s the brother-in-law of another pastor in Spain. Even though I didn’t mention the trip to people in America until a week before we left, it was wonderful to receive donations from a number of individuals and churches. To those of you who gave, thank you so much. With that money, I was able to purchase boxes of medical supplies at a discount from the pharmacy Raquel used to work at, as well as battery packs and portable radios. What was most encouraging about the trip was seeing first-hand how pastors in Ukraine and Poland were working tirelessly (and at personal risk) to help those in need. Knowing that what we sent went to churches that keep faithfully preaching the Gospel is wonderful.

Boxes of medical supplies
Boxes of medical supplies
Unloading in Krakow, Poland
Unloading in Krakow, Poland
The supplies we brought
The supplies we brought
The 3 on the left and 1 on the right are refugees we brought to Spain
The 3 on the left and 1 on the right are refugees we brought to Spain

Last month, we were able to have a regional men’s prayer breakfast for the first time in over two years. People were so excited to come to a group activity at church that we barely had space for all the men in our church building. One man who joined our church during the COVID period was able to come to the first meeting of its kind, and he is looking forward to our next breakfast in May.

Men’s prayer breakfast

Another first for us was a choir number in church! We are still a small group, but I do hope to start teaching music one day and have that be an important part of our ministry. For the time being, however, I’ve encouraged those who would like to start learning to join the bi-monthly choir practice at our sister church in Irun. I was very much involved in the choir ministry there before we came to the Puerto church, and though we had a 2-year sabbatical, as soon as choir began again I continued to help. So for the time being some of our church members are practicing with Irun. Currently, two church members are in the choir, one more wants to join this next Sunday as well. None of them can read any music yet, but choir is a great place to learn! Since those of use from the Puerto can’t sing the prepared numbers with the Irun church (due to our own church services), we sang the first number the choir prepared in church. I played a recording of the Irun choir singing in their church, and we sang along with the recording! A few Irun members visited us to fill out the voices this time, but I plan to keep doing choir numbers in this way for the time being.

We 3 on the right are the church choir

Last week, during Easter weekend, we had an apologetics conference at Aierdi. There were 8 sessions about topics such as: What is Truth?, The Isaiah Scroll, and Designed with Purpose. I taught a session about the “search for the historical Jesus”, in which I went through the literary and archeological references to Jesus, and what the scholarly consensus is about Him. The goal was to help believers to think through and understand their faith. We had a large group, and I believe it was a blessing.

Apologetics session at Aierdi

Thank you all for your prayers as always. God bless!

Ps. 34:3

A meal with one of our church members

Back in Spain, all four of us!

Hello everyone, this is the first update I’ve sent to those we met during our 2-month trip to the US. I’ve been trying to get this update out since we came back at the end of October, and I guess it has finally made its way to you! For those of you who are new to our ministry and would like to know more from recent years, I encourage you to visit bonikowsky.org to read some of our previous ministry reports. I generally edit my letters before posting them online to remove personal details, but they will still give a good overview of what the Lord has been doing here in the Basque Region.

After 2 months, 7,000 miles of driving, and 20 churches visited in the USA, we made it back to Spain and the Puerto church ministry we love. We’re so grateful for the missionaries and nationals who led our church services while we were away. Immediately after we arrived I set up and started my English classes again (I had had to push off the beginning of the teaching year because of our trip), and this year I have new classes and more hours than ever.

Almost all of the churches we visited were supporters of the Keisers before they retired from the field
In one church we were able to present the ministry with the Keisers being present

Of course, by the time we got back, Raquel was almost in the final month of her pregnancy. And in fact, one week early, on December 2nd, Sofia Bonikowsky was born! We are so grateful for a quick and healthy birth. Leire loves her little sister and we couldn’t be prouder of them both. We were able to introduce her to our church members and of course they love her. One way or another, our church is growing!

The family right outside Puerto (Seaport) Baptist Church

Our trip to the US was a huge blessing. The lord provided transportation for us while we were there, and He kept us safe on the roads as we traveled. We had opportunities to visit many new places in between church visits. Among them was Jamestown, where Raquel was fascinated to find out that Pocahontas was a historic person and not just a Disney character! Of course, the highlights of the trip were meeting new people who promised to pray for us and reconnecting with friends who have followed the ministry for many years. There was so much outpouring of love and generosity everywhere we went, and for that, we are tremendously grateful.

In an elementary school class at one of the churches we visited.

So far, as a result of our trip, we have had 6 new churches take us on for missionary support. This is a tremendous blessing as it will cover some of the income Raquel was earning by working at the pharmacy up until our trip. We are confident it was God’s plan for her to leave her job to work full-time in the house and the church ministry, and we believe God will continue to bring in support as it is needed. We thank all the churches and individuals who are so involved in our ministry here, both through prayers and support.

Us with the Moyano family, missionaries the church supports

As far as the ministry here, church matters are moving forward well. I continue to meet with believers for one-on-one discipleship as often as I can, and I believe the members are continuing to grow. I especially see growth in Iñaki and Juan, our two recent baptisms. In particular, it is great to see them getting more involved in the prayer ministry at church. In addition, a new couple has been coming for some time now. They came to church a few services before we went to the US, and they have been coming faithfully ever since we got back. We recently went to their house for a wonderful time of conversation around the dinner table.

With some of the believers from the Irun church, the ministry we were previously part of

One thing to mention. I plan to start sending, in addition to these online updates, an updated prayer card every time I write a report. All of those who have supported us financially should receive a prayer card soon at their mailing addresses, and I would love to send them to anyone else who would like to start receiving them. They’re postcard-sized and easy to fit inside a Bible so you always have our up-to-date prayer requests. If you would like to start receiving them, just give me your mailing address and I’ll send one each time I write an update. Thanks for your prayers!

Please keep us in your prayers. We need them!

God bless,
Ps. 34:3

Us in front of a tiny part of a city-block-sized nativity scene in San Sebastian
One of our church members is retired and helps build these nativity scenes all year long. (Not connected to our church ministry)