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Lighthouse for the Gospel in Ukraine

Powerful things can happen when like-minded friends come together with a shared passion.

Jake Knotts and Daniel Foote grew up attending church together in California. As 19-year-olds they both dreamed of church planting and after high-school graduation trained together to prepare for this work. They arrived in Ukraine just a year apart, and by 2001 both men were church planting—Knotts in Chernihiv, in the north, and Foote in Kaharlyk, south of the capital city of Kiev.

The exodus of hundreds of thousands of Christians after the fall of the Soviet Union left a hole in church leadership.

Over the next several years, the young men remained close. They both realized Ukraine’s Christian publishing market consisted mostly of titles geared toward legalism, Word of Faith messages, or other themes lacking in substance. They further observed these messages affected a majority of peoples’ beliefs.

As Foote explains, the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Christians after the fall of the Soviet Union left a hole in church leadership. And this invited doctrinal extremes: “legalism for survival; prosperity ‘gospel’ for easy success.”

Birth of a Publishing House

Those beliefs presented problems in church planting since leaders needed foundational biblical education. But the two men saw a solution. “Solid book access seemed to be the perfect spotlight for this mission,” Foote says.

Knotts had the idea to begin providing gospel-centered resources to address the need. He started by translating articles into Russian and then publishing these in a newspaper format to give away for free. When he decided the newspaper needed a name, Knotts chose a non-English, non-Russian/Ukrainian title that spoke of being in God’s light: In Lumine.

“It would take God’s light to illuminate hearts, enabling them to see the truth,” Foote says.

After the ease that came with publishing the newspaper, books seemed to be the logical next step. Knotts contacted Desiring God in Minneapolis to inquire about translating a book that had made a huge impact on his life. He soon received permission to publish John Piper’s Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ.

In 2007, Knotts met International Outreach (IO) director Bill Walsh, who traveled to Chernihiv to help him establish a publishing house. In Lumine’s motto expressed the goal: “to produce high quality Christ-centered, gospel-focused, God-glorifying resources at a price that people can afford so that as many people as possible can read these books.”

Knotts and Foote soon began seeking to obtain rights to translate and publish biblically-sound books into Russian and Ukrainian. They also sought permission to translate various articles and sermon audios to post on their website, In Lumine Media.

Reaching the Slavic World

Knotts and Foote are now back in the states, yet their work continues through In Lumine’s current staff, whose vision remains the same. Editor-in-chief Marina Padiy says two books they’ve published have especially made an impact:

Experienced pastors and preachers are particularly grateful for [Timothy Keller’s] Center Church. Such extensive, in-depth volumes are rare in the Russian language. These readers come back to it, rereading certain sections as they consider their theological vision.

Young ministers respond with enthusiasm to [David Helm’s] Expositional Preaching. They welcome accessible books with clear, comprehensive presentation.

Through partnerships with TGC IO and other organizations, In Lumine has been able to give away tens of thousands of books, distributing them throughout the Slavic world. The materials they translate are helpful to pastors, worship leaders, seminary students, youth, orphans, at-risk children, and those who have experienced trauma.

Foote says they started 13 years ago “as a grassroots ministry barely able to publish a few books. But we have grown to be a main publishing partner for several organizations and a respected publisher in Ukraine.”

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