A Desire to Hear the Word
The first night in the Ukraine was one of the scariest nights of my life. I was working on the messages I would be preaching for the following day when one of the Ukrainian leaders called me outside to show me something. I went outside to see what he was talking about and to my amazement, I saw missiles flying through the sky only a few miles away from us. It was then that I realized the crackling sounds I was hearing from inside was not the wood I put on the fire but the bombs and machine guns from the border of the Ukraine and Russia.
There were a lot of things going through my head. I called home to ask my family and friends to pray for us and all of the young people that would be coming to the youth conference the next day. I fell asleep late that night and woke up at 8:00 A.M. As I was getting ready, I was shocked to see from my window all of the young men and women that came from five different cities ready to hear the Word of God. More than sixty young people came that day and around twenty of them had never heard the gospel before. There were three sessions where there was worship and I preached for an hour. The message was translated from me speaking in English to Ukrainian. After the sessions, I found myself surrounded by these young people, asking me questions about everyday problems that they face. It was a long but fruitful day.
Helped Build the Worship Center
Monday through Thursday I helped with construction at the church. The sanctuary is 90% done but there is still a lot to be done in the rest of the building. There are not any functioning bathrooms at this point. The only restroom they have is an outhouse in the garden outside of the church.
In four days with five people, we managed to finish heated floors in front of the worship area. We are thankful to God for the resources He helped us to receive to help with the building project. We are also thankful for the power and joy He gave to us while we were serving. All of this would have been impossible without the Lord because there are not any hardware stores in the area and we were in freezing temperatures. On Thursday evening the cement was poured in the church and now they will be able to build the bathrooms and will start on the second floor for the children and youth.
50 Kilometers in 28 Hours
I had the opportunity to see an example of true faithfulness and dedication in two young people coming from a region occupied by the Luhansk separatist forces. Their names are Joseph and Liza, brother and sister, ages fifteen and sixteen. They were with us the whole week helping with translation, served on the worship team and did manual labor with us. These two only lived 50 kilometers away but because of the tensions in the area, the journey for them to come to the youth conference took 28 hours.
As I got to know them, I discovered the hardship they face on a daily basis. Going to church is illegal in their region and their family can get arrested for this. Their living conditions are hard to imagine. The biggest joy Joseph and Liza had was being able to drink a Coca-Cola and eat a bag of chips.
The day we left I felt impressed to give them some money for their travels and family. As we were about to leave they gave me the phone and told me their mother was on the other line crying and saying how this money will help pay of some debt that they have and buy food for the rest of the month.
I was so moved by this brother and sister and their dedication that I would like to bring them here to Romania to attend the Vertical Conference at our church in May and would like to have them attend our Harvest Youth Camp in July.
It was a blessing to go on this trip, especially to bring the gospel to a people group that have been forgotten. It was an eye opening experience for me and I pray that those who received Christ into their lives will spread the Word of God to the rest of their cities and country as a whole. Thank you all for your prayers as I was traveling and preaching.