Hello all, this is Brent. Okay, so I'm a terrible blogger! It has taken me far too long to get a post up about our trip to the Ukraine, so thank you for your patience. Let me start by commenting on each of the photos below and then I'll list the top three ways God impacted me during the trip.
Here is a picture with some of the members of our group and a handful of the orphans we ministered to at an orphanage outside of Kiev. The orphanage normally hosts between 100 and 150 children, but because we were there during the Ukrainian Christmas (January 7th), most of them were spending the week with relatives. The 25 to 30 orphans we visited had no family to spend Christmas with. It was a blessing to practice what James calls "pure and undefiled religion" (James 1:27).
The name of the boy in the orange sweater is Artem. I was drawn to him almost immediately because of his obvious gratitude for our small ministry to them and his humble smile.
One of our days was spent visiting homes and sharing the gospel in the Chernobyl region of Ukraine where, as many of you know, there was a massive nuclear explosion in 1986. The people we visited have chosen to stay in that area even though the government has advised them to leave. This is a picture of me next to an olympic mural from the 1980 olympics that was inside a cafeteria in a completely abandoned town in the Chernobyl region.
What an amazing privilege it was for me to preach the gospel in a Ukrainian church! My interpreter, Uri, did excellent job of keeping up with me when I got excited.
Alright, so here are the top three ways God impacted me on the trip:
1) I was humbled by the fact that there were several theologically solid churches, ministries, pastors, and even a solid seminary flourishing in the Ukraine. At times, I think we as Americans believe that Christ needs our resources and education to build His church in other, less-fortunate nations, but Jesus said He would build His church (Matthew 16:18). He doesn't need us, but He chooses to use us, so let us humbly praise Him for the opportunity.
2) I was struck and inspired by the Christ-centered passion of three pastors we had the privilege of serving with during the week. They were ministry machines. Their mentality was one that said, "If there is a ministry need, then we must meet it, and it doesn't matter what time it is or how inconvenient the circumstances are."
3) I found that some of the sweetest fellowhip believers can enjoy is experienced in the midst of serving Christ together outside our comforts zones.