Monday, April 20, 2009
Time to catch our breath...
I pray for God’s grace and strength to you this Sunday, that is, Easter Sunday in Kiev, Ukraine. Yes, you heard me right…
It is one week behind from your US celebration. Last night we had the chance to “ring in the Easter holiday” with our friends Oleg and Lena Vasilevsky and their children. Just before a late dinner, we read the scriptures and prayed together with our kids, and with a tag along friend from the boy’s orphanage. If you examine the New Testament, you won’t find a pattern of hunting or breaking eggs, or even of decorating crosses with flowers, or wearing nice clothes. In fact, you won’t find many of the things we fret about in the post-modern church world. You will see in there, people gathering in prayer and around the teaching of the word, and sacrificing on behalf of one another. Yes- you will find leaders, and they lead because of their intimacy with the Spirit of God, and not because of their staircase of ministry experiences, or by their knowledge of psychology. I am thankful for the simple beauty and power of His perfect word and His eternal help to us through His Spirit.
Many of you remember our Ukrainian exchange student, Oleg P. He returned to Ukraine over one year ago after staying with our family, and becoming a believer in Christ during that time. Today we had the opportunity to catch a metro train through the sleeping city, and then take an hour-long close personal space marshrutka ride through a rolling Ukrainian countryside to his town of Rhadomoshyl. He tells me that I am probably the first American there in at least 3 years, but who knows? We were able to eat with his family, and to pray for them, and to walk through the streets he grew up on. It was a nice break from the city routine, and for our new children to experience the small town atmosphere and get some energy out on a couple of long walks, including a beautiful lake and old grain mill (watch your step or you'll fall in easily). Many of you who have traveled outside the US in the last few years can attest to how we live on such a grand scale compared to the rest of our neighbors in the world. Once you spend time enjoying carefully prepared Ukrainian food served on tiny tables and plates, and enjoyed without electric lights burning in every room, you begin to understand why we are considered by many countries to be so flighty and disrespectful as an American culture. It was an honor to be in their modest apartment home, to be treated as a guest, and to know that this young man now carries the seeds of the Gospel as he completes his studies in Ukraine.
We did make it back to Kiev this evening, riding along with many who brought baskets of eggs and bread for blessings from Orthodox priests. Many shops and restaurants are closed and will be until Tuesday morning. It is kind of nice to have less traffic and noise in the walkways. Our kids are now asleep, and so I plan to follow suit. Christos vos creas (Christ is risen!)
"The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened."