Ukraine Update #8
Well, although we are all packed and ready to catch the plane in just a few hours, I wanted to send you a final update on our last couple of days.
On Sunday we all attended Salvation Church where both Roman and Vovo are pastors. Roman is not in Ukraine due to family matters, but Vovo kept us focussed and was a great encouragement. We really enjoyed meeting the people of Salvation Church and, quite honestly, we felt like we were attending Gateway. The time of worship was respectful and meaningful and the spirit of the people joyful. We all felt very much at home.
Vovo took time after I preached to share via a slide show about his "missionary trip" with Ivan to the military front (with Russia, aka the anti terrorist army) where he as a dentist was able to work on over 30 soldier's teeth. Of course, what else do you talk about when you are under the control of a dentist - your soul of course... But the truth of it is that Vovo had the opportunity to share the Gospel on a couple of occasions to all the soldiers stationed at a particular location, a place where they men live under the ground in dug out bomb shelters in the ground. This was the second front of soldiers who, in the next couple of days would be entering the front lines where bullets would be flying and death a real possibility. The soldiers were primed to hear God's truth and some of them responded to the Gospel.
Another young lady, Tanya Martin, is a young African-American lady from Maryland who about 10 years ago came to Ukraine on a short-term missions trip. She returned a few years later as a full-time missionary who attends Salvation Church but works with Student Ministries and Womens Ministries. She is a sweet young lady with a big heart for the Ukrainian people. She has been a big help the the church in many ways. It was a great reminder of the unexpected - that God could use a single person with a heart for God and a love for a certain people group to strengthen, support and uphold a ministry in that land. If she can do it, then many others can too.
After church we met for a final lunch with the leaders of Salvation Church and their wives. Although the food took longer than any restaurant I have been to - and the food was really good - it allowed us to talk in depth about the needs in teh Rivne rigion and how a church like Gateway could best support and help them with the work God has called them to. We rejoiced together about our fellowship in the Gospel and then it was time to say goodbye. It has been a good week and one we will all remember with great fondness. We couldn't have asked for better hosts and our efforts were greatly appreciated by the pastors and the church that hosted the conference.
We leave in a few hours, having spent the last day with Jerry & Kellie Benge, friends of mine who are serving here in Kiev as missionaries. For the last seven years Jerry has been teaching at the Kiev Theological Seminary. They have been great hosts, making sure we are rested, feeding us with delicious food, and taking us on a tour of the beautiful city of Kiev. I only wish that we could have spent more time with them.
Thank you for all your prayers. We love and appreciate all of you and are looking forward to being back with our families and our beloved Church...