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<<First Name>>, please pray for Ukraine!

These are some of my thoughts at the beginning of week 8 of the war. Follow my Facebook for more frequent updates. Below is a picture of some of the more than 220 refugees that have staying in our church building.

A Day of Death in Ukraine

Today is Good Friday in much of the world, though we celebrate next week here in Ukraine. It is a day of death. Moreover, yesterday marked the beginning of the eighth week of the war. 50 days of death. Beyond the thousands already killed in Ukraine, I've learned of a number of deaths and terminal illnesses recently of those I know personally. And I preached on death the week before last. So with death on my mind, I decided to share these reflections.

I'd been receiving emails from the US consulate since January 2022 "suggesting" and then "strongly urging" me to leave Ukraine in light of the potential of a Russian attack. Right up until Feb. 24 when the bombs started falling, I, like the majority of Ukrainians, did not believe that it was likely to happen—though I knew it was a possibility.

There was a good deal of noise a week or so before the war actually did begin. Supposedly, everything was going to begin on February 16. Of course, we're not big on punctuality over in this part of the world, so it started a week later.

Nevertheless, on the evening of Feb. 15, I was praying and meditating on this very real possibility.

I was also receiving many generous offers from friends across Europe to host our family as guests "until things blow over", friends with the best of intentions urging us to leave. My wife and I had and would yet discuss this and come to a solid position that we are not leaving our home, but will remain and serve the people here. Some have asked what the process of making this decision was like.

I wrote a short list of conclusions on the night of February 15th, the eve of the supposed beginning of the war. They are as follows:

1. We are all going to die eventually.

2. It will happen sooner than we want it to and will be awful no matter what.

3. From time to time (through pandemics, wars, etc.) we are reminded that death is immanent, universal and inescapable. Even when we forget, this is still the case.

4. We can either invest our life for Christ in the short time we have or attempt to store it up at any cost—and find everything that was stored up is left for nothing in the end. "Every man dies. Not every man really lives." (William Wallace in "Braveheart".)

5. As the poem by lifelong missionary C.T. Studd says: "Only one life, t'will soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last. And as I am dying how happy I'll be if the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee."

6. There is a story (urban legend?) that when the Moravians sent missionaries out, the missionaries took their belongings with them in coffins, signifying that they were committed to their mission field unto the death. Whether true or not, the principle is sound: "If God calls you to a place, be ready to bury your bones there," (my sending church pastor, Bill Goodrich).

7. We serve a God who conquered death. "Oh death, where is your sting?" "Death is swallowed up in victory in Christ Jesus." (1 Cor. 15)

8. We are grateful for all those who have offered our family hospitality and refuge should the need arise.

9. We will be staying put where God has called us until the bombs come falling at our doorstep. Our hope cannot be defeated.

Even as I send this, I feel that it sounds too bold. Thankfully, we have gone 51 days without a single bombing on our city—and we're praying it stays that way. The closest rocket fell some 25 km (15 mi.) from our house. Some friends have used words like "hero," "legend," "inspiration"—I don't feel I'm any of those things. My friend who is a pastor in a city being heavily bombed that still remains there to serve those who cannot leave, even after his whole church evacuated—he's a hero. My friend who is a pastor in what is now a Russian-occupied city who stays to serve his people despite having been held in captivity and interrogated by Russian soldiers for 7 days—he's a legend

If it were not for my wife with a will of steel to stay and serve, if it were not for the fact that our city is where it is within Ukraine, if it were not for the fact that my kids are teens and actually helping to serve refugees at this stage—things could've played out differently. As a friend of mine and fellow pastor here in Ukraine has rightly said, "There are no 'right moves' in this." The only right move is always to seek Christ and follow what He says no matter what. He simply put us in this place at this time for His purposes.

Now you know the story.

I suppose in sharing these reflections it is my hope that, wherever God leads you, you will spend yourself for His glory as He spent Himself for us on Good Friday. As Jim Elliot (martyred missionary) once wrote: "Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God."

Prayer Requests:
  • Pray that God's justice and victory would shine forth soon! Pray that he would crush the evil of arrogant and bloodthirsty men!
  • Pray for God's comfort and hope for all those Ukrainians who are suffering now—some from unimaginable horrors. 
  • Pray that world leaders would be bold and resolute in calling this war what it is: genocide, and in taking decisive steps necessary to defeat Putin.
  • Pray that God will bring new life out of the ashes, as the resurrection reminds us that He always does. May many come to Him in this time! 
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    Horizon Ministries
    7702 Indian Lake rd.
    Indianapolis, IN 46236

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