Last month, I traveled to Ukraine to experience for myself life and ministry during a war, and to serve others for whom fear and uncertainty are constant companions. I saw more tears and heard more stories of trauma and loss than I care to remember. I also witnessed the unspoken battle in the eyes of every one of our local partners torn between stress and kingdom purpose, between worry and faith. Yet they endure!
Recently, I found my heart particularly moved by that determination and commitment. Living with the uncertainty that at any moment your home, your family, or your life could be irreparably destroyed is a burden that I can hardly even understand. You might ask me how these servants of God keep going. I often ask myself that very question. I have found the answer is always a deep desire to serve others.
I am reminded of a scripture in 2 Corinthians 8: 1-5. This is what Paul says.
"We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us."
The pastors and ministry workers in Ukraine remind me of the believers that Paul talks about in Macedonia. They are severely afflicted, they are suffering in poverty, yet they are overflowing in generosity and in service to others. They give when most of us would give up. It is their service to God and others that fights depression and keeps them moving forward. One pastor told me that he keeps his team, and his parishioners busy in service to others more vulnerable because it keeps their focus on Jesus and helps them to endure the horrors of war.
One of the most impactful experiences for me on this trip was to be able to see with my own eyes the deep and lasting impact of your investments in Mission Partners. I met children you clothed, seniors you saved from freezing, and families sobbing in gratitude for the food you gave them. I stood inside safe, warm spaces you helped create. I was privileged to work alongside brave men and women of God who are continually strengthened by your love and support. I returned to Canada amazed by the unending, indescribable goodness of God that defies the horror and tragedy of war.
Let me share a story with you from my visit with Pastor Alexey in Kremenets:
On our last evening in Kremenets, I met Valery, a man we had helped last winter. I remembered his story. Before the war, Valery and his wife lived on a farm in Vuhledar (southwest of Donetsk). They escaped their home moments before it was completely demolished by missiles. It is only now, months later, that Valery is able to share his experience without breaking down.
Last winter they were the very grateful recipients of an electric heater from MPI. It was their only source of heat. For the past three months, Valery and his wife have both been working 13 hours a day, 7 days a week picking raspberries. The income from this seasonal job will have to last them all year.
Together, we can impact the lives of thousands more, just like Valery and his wife. As we continue to meet urgent needs, we are sharing the hope and love of Jesus Christ in a tangible and lasting way. Will you partner with us so that we can reach more vulnerable hearts and work more effectively? Thank you to all those who partner with and pray for our ministry.
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