I find myself breaking out in tears all through the day. For those who know me well, I’m not one who cries easily. My heart is broken. I’ve been in contact with many I know who live in Ukraine. I feel so helpless living so far away. I’m so grateful for so many of you […]
On February 28th, 2022 / by Glen Elliott | Subscribe
I find myself breaking out in tears all through the day. For those who know me well, I’m not one who cries easily. My heart is broken. I’ve been in contact with many I know who live in Ukraine. I feel so helpless living so far away. I’m so grateful for so many of you who are praying and have opened your heart to the people of Ukraine.
Our family served as missionaries in a city called Kherson, Ukraine. CNN put a correspondent in Kherson so I’ve watched the invasion of “my” city on television. Both of my children have an amazing tattoo of Ukraine as they spent some of their childhood there. Kherson (the same size as Tucson) is the first major city on the main road out of Russian-annexed Crimea. It has the main bridge across the Dnieper River from Crimea to Ukraine so it’s a strategic point. It appears that the Russians now control Kherson.
We went to Kherson when it was part of the Soviet Union. We helped start churches. We saw thousands come to faith. We helped start Tavriski Christian Institute in 1997 which is training church leaders in Ukraine and Muslim Central Asia. We watched Ukraine declare independence in August 1991 and were there when the Soviet Union broke up.
Here’s what I want you to know. Ukrainians are the most peaceful people I know. Let me be clear. There are good and bad people in every culture and society. There are really good Russians. But Ukrainian culture as a whole loves peace and cherishes freedom. Before this week, I would tell people that Ukraine was the freest country in the world! Ukrainian and Russian languages are similar but different (like Portuguese and Spanish). But even the language tells us about the culture. Ukrainian is much softer than the guttural sounds of Russian. It reflects the softness of the people who love to be hospitable and cherish relationships. Ukrainians are loyal and very spiritual. To this day, my best and closest friends are Ukrainian.
Ukraine’s independence has lasted 31 years. Now get this. That is the longest Ukraine has ever had independence. Ukraine has no natural borders to protect it (the name Ukraine means “borderland”). It has been conquered and ruled by the Mongols, Poles, the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and now an attempt by the Russian Federation. Ukrainians love their freedom and independence and they won’t stand for Russian occupation. Look at their recent history to keep their independence from Russia:
Orange Revolution – Winter 2004-2005 – The nation protested and overthrew a rigged election that put the Russian-backed Victor Yanukovych in power. The “Orange Revolution” removed Yanukovych.
Maidan Revolution– 2013-2014 – The Russian-backed Yanukovych was re-elected but ousted through a violent revolt. This was because Yanukovych refused to sign agreements that would bring Ukraine into the European network. The Ukrainian people rejected Yanukovych’s attempt to deepen ties with Russia. His massive corruption was exposed. Yanukovych is now in exile in Russia.
Crimea annexed – 2014 – Putin decided to get even and advance his plans to control Ukraine. Russia invaded and annexed the Crimean peninsula that was part of Ukraine.
Russian Instigation of the Donbas region – 2014 to present. Russia instigated and armed a militia in the breakaway area of eastern Ukraine that borders Russia commonly called the Donbas region. This was the pretext for the current invasion.
The cost of lives and property is immense. But there is another cost as well. It’s close to my heart. In 1997 we established the Tavriski Christian Institute (TCI). We were to celebrate its 25th anniversary this fall. It is the first Christian college in Ukraine that has received state accreditation. TCI is sponsoring Christian training for pastors and leaders in central Asian countries where believers there are under constant persecution. TCI professors and teachers can go to these restricted places because they hold Ukrainian passports. TCI is helping support church planting movements in Muslim countries where few can go.
Today, TCI has been evacuated. The TCI property is right on the Dnieper River and is just a mile or so from the main Turupinski Bridge. This bridge is the main way to cross the river from Crimea to the rest of Ukraine. 20 helicopters of Russian special forces landed right by TCI. They burned and cleared all the cattails and brush from the river to make sure they can protect the bridge so their tanks and military support can cross the river. Russian snipers are controlling the bridge currently. Will TCI students and staff ever be able to return? Will TCI have to become remote and relocate? The future is unknown for TCI and 40 million Ukrainians.
Russia also invaded the south of Ukraine to get water. Their first main target was the hydroelectric dam in Kahovka (some 40 miles from Kherson). They needed to open up a water canal that is the main source of freshwater for the entire Crimean peninsula. When Putin illegally invaded Crimea and took it from Ukraine, the Ukrainians cut off their water supply in response.
Yes, in some ways there are two Ukraines. Western Ukraine (basically from the Dnieper river west) is predominantly Ukrainian-speaking. Eastern Ukraine is predominantly Russian speaking – however, almost all can speak and understand each other’s language. But even Eastern Ukraine is split also. Many who speak Russian identify culturally as Ukrainian and love their country. There are those who speak Russian who watch only Russian propaganda television and side with the Russian Federation. That’s why there have been the breakaway regions (instigated by Russian operatives). In general, there’s been peace between Ukrainian and Russian-speaking Ukrainians, until the Russian operatives began their work of disunity.
When Putin invaded Crimea in 2014, he sent Russian operatives into Kherson. They were driven out by a united city. Part of the unity in that city developed through the faith community. For decades, the Protestant churches and the Orthodox churches have worked for unity. Every Sunday, leaders, and congregants would meet in the central square where the statue of Lenin used to stand. They would pray together for their city and country.
So what can you and I do? We can pray. Like believers for the last 2000 years who have faced persecution, it seems so little. But do we really believe in a God who is greater than an invading army? I do. I’m praying daily that Putin repents and surrenders to Jesus. I’m praying for the Russian and Belarusian people to stand up and revolt against this tyranny. I’m praying the Russian oligarchs will take a stand against Putin (even if only for selfish reasons). I’m praying for a miracle of resilience on the part of the Ukrainian people. I’m praying that the West fully support and supply the Ukrainian people. I’m praying that the believers still in Ukraine will stand strong in their faith as they love and serve all and be a witness to the life-giving Jesus. I’m praying for peace as other bad actors in the world might be tempted to use this to further aggression in other parts of the world. Pray for peace. Pray that in the midst of chaos and conflict that the kingdom and influence of God will advance.
Many of you have asked how you can help financially. We’ve been able to set up a way to get the funds into Ukraine! The funds you give will go to help Ukrainian refugees and the churches and Christians who remain in Ukraine to serve their people and advance the love of Christ. You can give at https://pantano.church/give/. Select the Ukraine fund.
I’m now in daily contact with Ukrainians (thank God for the internet) and we have ways to ensure that help gets to those who need it. Thank you for your love, prayer, and support. Please keep praying. I’m confident that God will not ignore the prayers of tens of thousands of believers.
I want to thank you all for the kind words and ways you honored Jolene and me on Sunday during Pantano’s 60th anniversary. We are so grateful to be a part of a church that has loved us so well. We are blessed! Sunday I announced that I’ll be ending my active time on our […]
In January of 1962, Pantano Christian Church had her first public meeting held in a home on 31st Street. There were 32 people present that Sunday for its beginning. Today, after 60 years, several building projects, and eight Lead Pastors, we have grown to average over 3100 people. We’ve started three thriving congregations in southern […]
This week is National Teacher Appreciation Week. Wow, what a tough couple of years it has been for our teachers, school administrators, and staff. I can’t express how grateful I am for all who serve our kids in education. Thank you for loving your students and families in some of the most difficult circumstances. You […]
Sunday I preached on one of my most cherished and helpful passages of scripture – Matthew 11:28-30. I felt so inadequate to teach the power and depth of this passage. I’ve come to see it as Jesus’ great invitation. Here’s the passage: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will […]
Located under a tent in front of the welcome center
Won't start until 15 minutes before each service to allow time for cleaning
Volunteers will ask you health screening questions
If your kid has noticeable symptoms or says yes to screening questions, we will ask you to join us online that day
Masks are recommended for kids age 5 and older.
Limited personal items will be allowed with your child in the classroom - we recommend a small diaper bag or Ziploc bag containing 1 diaper and 1 bottle
If your kid is over the age of 3, they will wash or sanitize their hands as they enter the room
Please remain outside of the classroom
If your kid is over the age of 3, they will wash or sanitize their hands as they exit the roomp
In The Classrooms
Volunteers and staff will wear masks
Snack time will be done as normal, with snacks being prepared only by volunteers wearing masks and food handling gloves
Cleaning between Services
All larger toys will be wiped and cleaned between services
All rooms will receive a deep cleaning between services
God made me & God loves me!
Our Sunday classes are designed to incite wonder, provoke discovery and help your child develop a passionate love for Jesus!
Our curriculum is built around simple, but powerful truths, simple crafts and age-appropriate activities that meet little ones
where they are at spiritually, cognitively and socially.
All Bible lessons focus around 3 basic truths:
God made me
God loves me
Jesus wants to be my friend forever
Worship music, crafts, prizes and games
Our Sunday classes are all about digging into the Bible! Kids will be challenged in their spiritual growth through
Bible lessons taught personally and through creative teaching techniques. We also incorporate upbeat worship music,
as well as crafts, prizes and games that help kids remember the lesson and keep them engaged and excited to come back to church!
We want the church to be a fun and safe place to grow, develop friendships and learn about our amazing God!
Safety Info for KidZone
Screened & Background Checked
All teachers and helpers must be regular attendees of Pantano Christian Church, (having attended regularly for at least 3-6 months or past church attendance is verified if new to the area), and must have a Confidential Application and Background Check on file.
Parents are encouraged to have their kid use the bathroom before class.
If a kid has to go to the bathroom, we always have one teacher/helper take up to 3 children, particularly for the preschoolers.
In the elementary department, children can be sent in pairs or groups.
Our policy is to never have one kid alone with one adult in the bathroom
For Benevolence info, please call the church office at 520.298.5395.
Financial Peace University
Take control of your money with Financial Peace University! This nine-lesson class uses Biblical wisdom and common sense to help you tackle budgeting, pay off debt, and make your money work for you!
FreedUp is a six-week program that’s focused on your financial habits and freedom from debt! You will need a cell phone (android or Iphone) or a tablet to participate in this new Biblically-based financial class.
Personal financial coaching in available upon request at no charge. A coach will work along side of you in preparing personalized financial statements,
establishing a budget, a debt-reduction plan, or whatever else in necessary to get your financial life in order. The goal is to assist you in becoming
more effective stewards of the resources God has provided.
We're excited to work with you on your upcoming wedding, and look forward to making your day special. Our goal is to
equip you for a lifetime marriage and to partner with you to have a marriage that reflects Jesus Christ. With that in mind,
we have designed a pre-marriage process for couples desiring to be married by one of our pastors.
Peer counseling is first and foremost a relationship between you and the counselor. It is a free short-term, solution-focused care in a safe and confidential
environment, designed to help you move forward on your personal or family journey.
Times: 6:30 - 8 PM Dates: January 15 - Apr 29 (No class on Feb 19, Mar 18, Apr 8) Location: Zone 45
When our eyes are set on God, we act right, think right, and live right. God created us to love Him and love others well! This Spring,
our preteens will be studying practical lessons from the Bible in order to put God at the center of their lives and guard their hearts
and their minds in Christ Jesus. Through games, activities, and small group discussion we will check our heart condition and discover
ways to get our spiritual hearts in the best shape possible!
Kinder - 3rd Grades
Finding Jesus under the Sea
Times: 6:30 - 8 PM Dates: January 15 - Apr 29 (No class on Feb 19, Mar 18, Apr 8) Location: Rooms KZ 11-13
The sea contains many wondrous sights created by God. When we go under the sea and take a closer look, we see that the sea
has much to teach us about God. Join us as we DIVE deeper into what the Bible says about who God is and how he made us!
God's Little Artist
Times: 6:30 - 8 PM Dates: January 15 - Apr 29 (No class on Feb 19, Mar 18, Apr 8) Location: Rooms KZ 4, 5, 6
God created the Heaven and the Earth; and God created you!! He designed us to be creative and use our imagination! This
Spring, our preschoolers will have fun making Feathery Friends, Mini Maracas, Crazy Creatures and much more as we learn
some amazing stories from the Bible. Come join us as we color, paint, glue and draw our way through God’s amazing world!
Resources For Life’s Issues
We've complied a listing of resources from support groups to hotlines to websites to books for anyone in need of
assistance/help with a particular life issue.
Alcohol & Substance Abuse
Tucson Area Intergroup Inc.
Local Help Line – Available 24/7
800.622.2255 (National Council on Alcoholism)
God, Help Me Stop! A 12 Step Bible Workbook for Recovery from Compulsive Behavior (Claire W.)
12 Steps: A Spiritual Journey (RPI Publishing)
It Will Never Happen To Me by Claudia Black
Abuse & Relationship Issues
National Domestic Violence Hotline, 800.799.SAFE (7233)
Community Crisis Center, 847.697.2380
Child Abuse National Reporting Hotline, 800.25.ABUSE (22873)
National Child Abuse Reporting Hotline, 800.4.A.CHILD (224453)
The Emotionally Destructive Relationship: Seeing It, Stopping It, Surviving It by Leslie Vernick
Who’s Pushing Your Buttons? Handling the Difficult People in Your Life by John Townsend
Boundaries (When to Say Yes, How to Say No, to Take Control of Your Life) by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse book & workbook by Dan Allender
Into Abba’s Arms, Finding the Acceptance You’ve Always Wanted by Sandra Wilson
Mending The Soul by Steven R. Tracy
Pornography & Sexual Issues
Sex Addicts Anonymous
Out of the Shadows by Patrick Carnes
False Intimacy by Harry Schaumburg
Breaking Free: Understanding Sexual Addiction & the Healing Power of Jesus by Russell Willingham
Every Man’s Battle by Steve Arterburn
Suicide & Depression
National Crisis Help Line, 800.SUICIDE (800.784.2433)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800.273.TALK (800.273.8255)
Southern Arizona Mental Health Corp (SAMHC) (520.622.6000)
Happiness is a Choice: Symptoms, Causes and Cures of Depression by Frank Minirth and Paul Meier
Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee
The Freedom from Depression Workbook by Frank Minirth and Les Carter
Grieving A Suicide: A Loved One’s Search for Comfort, Answers and Hope by Albert Y. Hsu
A Symphony in the Dark: Hearing God’s Voice in Seasons of Grief by Barbara Rainey and Rebecca Rainey Mutz
When Life Changed Forever by Rick and Judy Taylor
If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil by Randy Alcorn
When Bad Things Happen: Thoughtful Answers to Hard Questions (Mini-book) by William P. Smith
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What We Believe
Our vision is to be a catalytic force to bless Southern Arizona and the
world and all of our ministries are dedicated in accomplishing this vision. It is the passion and
calling of our staff to carry out our vision and core values each and every day.
We are part of a group of churches often referred to as the “Independent Christian Church.” We have no formal connection to a denomination – hence the word “independent.”
There are about 5,600 churches like us around the US, with more than 150 averaging over 1000 in attendance.
Mission: Loving people to Jesus, launching passionate people to make a difference.
Our vision is to be a catalytic force to bring God’s influence to Southern Arizona and strategic places in the world.
This is our dream – the dream that God has given us. It currently does NOT exist. It is something we are reaching for in the next 10 to 20 years. It is what we are seeking to become,
a long-term view. This vision describes our preferred future. It is bigger than any of us and dependent on God. Our vision is that Pantano would become a catalytic force to bless
Southern Arizona and the world.
“This is my dream… to see really authentic healthy communities of Jesus followers or churches throughout our city and Southern Arizona. I see these churches as primarily existing to
bring God’s influence and God’s blessing to their immediate neighborhood. I see these churches as giving so much back to their “hood” that they are an indispensable part of the
community. These churches disciple people to follow Jesus well. These churches help start and support the social agencies that serve people. These churches engage to make their
schools better. These churches make their immediate community a good and desirable place to live. These churches will populate heaven for eternity.”
There is an ancient saying, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things love.” This reflects our heart and belief at Pantano Christian Church. We are a non-denominational
church that seeks unity in Christ, based on the essential truths of Scripture while allowing for diversity, differences, and even disagreements over non-essential doctrines. Below are six
statements that reflect our corporate essentials and upon which we base our unity in Christ. We all believe much more than these statements and we encourage those who are part of Pantano
Christian Church to vigorously search the scriptures and discuss “non-essential” although important doctrines, while not making those views a test of fellowship. Therefore, we believe in
and are committed with our whole being to…
The one eternal God who is love, revealed in three persons as Father, Son and Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14).
Jesus, who is the “Christ, the son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16), who died for our sins, rose again and will return one day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Titus 2:13).
God, who is always present in all believers through the person of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is active in transforming us into Christlikeness and empowering us to make our world different (John 14:16-17; 1 Peter 4:10).
The Bible as God’s primary message or word to us, a guide for living and our trustworthy and final authority (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
A loving God who wants to save every person from the power of sin so that we may be free to do what is good. Salvation is a gift from God through Christ which allows us to be in deep relationship with our Father, now and forever. (Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:4-8).
God, who is bringing about a spiritual revolution and wants to transform our lives and our world as his kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 4:17; 6:10).
The above statements do not exhaust the extent of our beliefs. The Bible itself, as the inspired and infallible Word of God, speaks with final authority concerning truth, morality, and the proper conduct of mankind and is the sole and final source of all that we believe. For the purpose of Pantano Christian Church’s faith, doctrine, practice, discipline, and policy our Elders are the final interpretive authority on the Bible’s meaning and application.
The following are core beliefs that shape who we are as a church community and define how we do ministry.
We seek first the kingdom of God. Being kingdom first drives us beyond our own church community. We strive to join God wherever He is at work to advance the kingdom of God and his influence. We are an externally focused church that is not church-centric, but kingdom-centric. (Matthew 4:17; 6:10, 33; 28:18-20)
God created his church to be both unified and diverse (gender, race, generations, and socioeconomic status), which best reflects the heart of God and the way of Jesus. (John 17:20-23; Romans 12:16; 1 Corinthians 12:12-14; Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11; Revelation 7:9-10)
God created sex to be practiced in the context of marriage. God ordained marriage and defined it as the covenant relationship between a man, a woman, and God himself. Therefore, we recognize biblical marriage to be between a biological man and a biological woman as given at birth. (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:1-12; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5-8)
Women may minister, serve, lead and teach in any and all ministry positions, contexts, and roles except one, that of elder. Specifically, women may be ordained, serve as pastors and perform pastoral ministry, teach in groups of mixed genders of any size or location, and lead departments or programs of the church. (Genesis 1:27; Galatians 3:28; Romans 16:1-16)
Jesus called his followers to be all in and focus on making disciples of Jesus. It begins with ourselves. Being “All In” means that we are growing to be like Jesus, reaching lost people, helping others to be like Jesus, sharing life together, serving, and being generous with our time, talents, and treasures. Worship services at Pantano are designed to both reach lost people (Luke 15) and inspire believers to put the Word of God into action (James 1:22-25). True discipleship happens best in the context of a small group. (Matthew 4:19; 16:24; 28:18-20; Luke 6:38; Acts 2:42-47; Galatians 2:20; Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 Peter 3:15; 4:8-11)