In July, I met believers from Canada, Japan, Poland, and the U.S. to travel to Eastern Europe. Mama posted about my trip while I was in Ukraine, and several of you graciously bid on artwork that helped fund my trip. Thank you so much for your support!
We served at a camp primarily focused on equipping and refreshing pastors and their families. Our team provided theological and pastoral training, practical Christian living and ESL classes, and child care. We also performed or participated in singing, dancing, skits, and sports. Because the churches are small, spread apart, and financially struggling, most of the believers feel isolated and it is easy to become discouraged. The Ukrainian pastor organizing the camp really wanted our group to contribute to a week of rich Christian fellowship.
Much of the time, the 81 Ukrainians and our 13 team members could not fully understand each other, but we had fellowship deeper than Ukrainian, Russian, Japanese, Hungarian, Polish, or any other language. We were all part of the same Body and mission in Jesus. If we encouraged and blessed them in their faith a fraction of how exuberantly they blessed us, we accomplished more than we hoped to on our trip.
Besides our general work at the camp, several of us did projects for Evangelos, a media team focused on global missions. We took photos, blogged, and filmed interviews with pastors about their churches. This was a huge encouragement to them because they knew it meant people from North America and around the world will be watching and praying for them and their people.
The Evangelos team desires to connect believers with other parts of Christ’s body and make them aware of the needs and opportunities to serve. We hope our interviews will help Christians, especially young people, remember their brothers and sisters in prayer as well as see the amazing work God is doing globally in the Church. Miwaza, the genius and driving force behind Evangelos, is still finishing editing these interviews, but we hope they will be on the website soon and hope they can encourage you and others!
Now our whole team is back home in our relatively free and comfortable countries. But the Ukrainians are still there. They can still feel alone struggling with many needs, difficulties or no opportunities to travel, financial and medical battles, rising inflation and taxation, obtrusive government control and an increasingly difficult political homefront. It is clear God is working through all of these challenges, but these difficulties are still very real for the churches in Ukraine. Please join with us in praying for their many needs. From their commitment we can learn so much, especially as we are blinded by the magnitude of our physical blessings and freedom here.
This particular trip once more impressed upon me how easy it is for me to grow fat and lazy in my blessings. Our calling is bigger and more important than our modern evangelical trappings. It is so beautiful and integral to our existence, it makes us part of one another, even when we share little else in common.
I hope God continues to deepen my understanding of this. Whether we’re on a short mission trip, or reaching out to the people we bump into every day, we are always on global mission. Let’s faithfully pray that God would fill us with courage and open our hearts to groan in compassion and swell with joy as we participate in the lives of others, following the footsteps of our Jesus.
All photos courtesy of Evangelos.