(Feature photo courtesy of wikimapia.com and additional photos courtesy of Janette Carter)
Janette Carter: Missionary in Ukraine
By Selma Komisky
Janette Carter has served as a missionary in the Ukraine now for about seven years. She is happily married, a mom of two and a pastor’s wife at Calvary Chapel Vinnytsia. This is her story.
“From my earliest recollections, I recall scribbling in my moms Bible. My family went to church every week and I went to a Christian school. In Deuteronomy 6, it commands parents to speak of God when they walk, sit, stand and my parents are living examples of that,” Carter shares. “At four years old, I wanted to accept Jesus. I repented by my bedside and ran to tell my mom the good news. She inquired for some time but realized that I was bound and determined to have God in my heart and I told her no one could take him away.”
Also as Carter grew up, she learned the importance of partnering with other believers as her church supported many missionaries from around the world. She notes, “One woman came and spoke of smuggling Bibles behind the Iron Curtain (in eastern Europe). I read a book entitled, Behind the Iron Curtain. It spurned my heart for missions. I thought that I would always support missionaries financially but never go to the field. I figured at twelve, where would I get the money?”
In edition to her church family, Carter’s mother was also used to make a mark in her spiritual life and calling as a missionary. She reflects, “My mother used her gift of hospitality and invited many of these missionary families over to our house and I was able to get to know their children personally. My mother had a passion to support missions in every way possible. She realized that many missionaries need practical help. Her family lived in Papua New Guinea and she told me about the indigenous people.”
It was these influences that caused Carter in her words to always have her head “stuck either in the Bible, a history book or a true to life story.” And this interest and heart for missions also caused her to look to people like Jim and Elizabeth Elliot, Hudson Taylor and many other missionaries as inspirations.
Later, Carter earned her degree which allowed her to do psychology or social work as an area of focus. It was at this time that God began giving opportunities to share His love with others and Cater began to travel. She stated, “I worked at a psych hospital. I found most of the patients were hopeless and they really needed Jesus. I then found that I wanted more training to help counsel people. So, I decided to go into another helping profession – I learned to sign for the Deaf and made frequent trips to visit Rancho Sordo Mudo (a free home and school for deaf children in Baja California, Mexico).”
This then lead to a trip to Peru that also led to an unexpected blessing in her personal life. Upon arrival in the States, her best friend Daniel (also a sign language interpreter) met her at the airport and later that evening told her that he was in love with her. This was the beginning of their courtship and they were married within the year.
“We were friends for 11 years before we were married. Always friends but never in love and then God changed his heart. He is a rock when I am a mess which is great because sometimes we take turns,” she says. “Our life is zany and I love it. We would have it no other way.”
Together they have lived in the Middle East, Ukraine, and the U.S. within the last eight years and moved six times in their marriage. Together they have also shared good times and hard times such as when they were held in a detention center for two days in the Middle East. Today, her family serves in Vinnytsia, Ukraine. Her husband is now the pastor of Calvary Chapel Vinnytsia and they have two kids Ethan (7) and Shiloh (5). Her children are home schooled and go to Ukrainian class twice a week.
Serving in Vinnytsia, Ukraine Carter shares, “We love deaf people (to interpret/sign – it’s our passion). We have been able to minister to deaf orphans, at the baby hospital, disability school and go to the village to help with Sunday school/summer festivals. In the future we hope to do a weekly outreach in our city (Bible Club). We teach the Bible, disciple, play with our kids, want to adopt, be hospitable (have an open door policy- which can be hard but rewarding – including the use of our washing machine), play board games, and have concerts (my husband plays violin, guitar and piano). As a family, we love to laugh.”
Carter follows by stating, “Some older women here have shared many of their Ukrainian recipes. I have a head full of Ukrainian dishes that I now prepare for my family – summer salads, borscht, verenyky, pelmeni, and cakes. They can tomatoes, pickles, and fruit preserves. I have been the recipient of many of these canned delicacies. As people work with their hands, they tell me their stories. We’ve shared Scriptures, life examples, heartaches, tears, and triumphs. When people have passed away or are engaged, I share in their experiences as friends and sisters in Christ. Many times I have showed ladies how to make chocolate chip cookies. And they taught me how to clean my house. They showed me, I saw them mop at church and clean the toilet room each week. I saw by example and not by words. They live Jesus!”
In addition to that Carter has had the privilege of seeing other people begin the work of service at church week after week saying, “It is wonderful to watch people grow in their faith and mature. Discipleship is the key to people growing.”
But life has not been easy for the Ukrainians. WWII as well as the separation from the former USSR has left an ugly scar on the county that has resulted in their inability to recover financially. Both physically and spiritually challenging, many live in villages as farmers living off the land. But the greatest need is the spiritual need.
Carter notes, “Many Ukrainians are very traditional in their beliefs about God. They attend Orthodox churches and anyone not from the Orthodox church is labeled a sect. This was common during the time of the Soviet Union with Baptist churches. We know a Baptist pastor from Poltava who was imprisoned for his faith. People are used to working hard. They have toiled their whole lives. Some people from the villages have walked so long just to get to church. Those people who do not have a church near them and want one, do so much to have the Word preached to them every week.”
Yet in this midst of this situation, walls are being broken down and many times this has begun with the love of Christ.
“They need to see love in action. Many times walls are broken down after we have tea together, we sit and talk and become friends,” says Cater. “Our neighbors are getting to know us and we are getting to know them. Our kids play on the playground and most of the kids know my face and our kid’s faces. God is using that to plant seeds for the future.
In closing Carter shares, “People’s spiritual need is the greatest need. Some are desperate for God and others are hard hearted. Most of the ministering is first laying the groundwork with prayer. The first few months after we moved to this city, we prayed as we walked each street. Counseling one on one has become a staple as we minister here. We are watching God moves in people’s hearts.”
Find out more about The Carter Family and their church at: