The Darkness is Fading
Last night was the darkest day of the year. I’ve never been one to pay any particular mind to the winter solstice, but this year it’s more of a reason for rejoicing than usual. From this day forward, the light is growing; the darkness is fading.
Today is also “Electrician’s Day” in Ukraine, an obscure professional holiday that no one besides maybe electricians celebrated before. Now it’s a serious holiday because these are the heroes that get our lights back on time and again after the terrorist Russian strikes on our power grid.
We’ve spent more time this winter in physical darkness that probably ever before. On the "good days” when there are no actual missile or drone strikes, we are on “planned blackouts” to conserve the already damaged energy system. This means we’re without electricity about 50% of the time. When there are strikes, we've gone as long as 24 hours without electricity (and water and heating).
Thankfully, we’ve learned to adapt: developing rhythms of charging devices, stocking up on candles and flashlights and kicking on the generator at church when we run into a long blackout. The incredible Ukrainian technicians always manage to get things back running even after the worst damage. As Tolkien put so well, “in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
Tomorrow we mark the beginning of month 11 of war—over 300 days now. Today held another big marker in this war that brings mixed feelings: over 100,000 Russian soldiers have now been killed in Ukraine (don’t listen to Russia’s numbers and smaller estimates. Their corpses are littering our land, so we ought to know).
This is, one one hand, joyful as it means the destruction of evil and the defeat of satanic forces terrorizing our country, torturing, raping and executing our people. (See Ps. 5 if you doubt this kind of rejoicing is biblical.) At the same time, these are lives that Putin has cruelly sacrificed on the alter of his own imperialistic ego. It’s a reminder that the Kremlin is destroying not only our country, but their own as well. We pray for the overthrow of its evil both for our sakes and theirs.
As we prepare to celebrate Christmas this Sunday, our hearts remember the promise of the Savior King, spoken by Zechariah, “the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Even in the midst of our darkness here in Ukraine, Christ is bringing the light of hope. The shadow is already passing. Christ’s victory is inevitable.
In the run-up to Christmas, we decided to hold an event for moms of the kids who’ve been coming to our church since the summer camps we did. Despite the fact that their kids have plugged in, their parents for the most part have not. On Tuesday we held a women’s meeting with crafts, music and fellowship as an introductory way for the ladies to experience the church and hear the Gospel while they’re still not ready to come on a Sunday (pictured above and below left).
We had new 6 ladies, all still unbelievers, whose children have been part of our church these last months. We’re praying that, as salvation came to Mary through her own child, God would use the faith of these kids to draw their parents to salvation as well. Please pray for these ladies and the seed of the Gospel that was planted.
As those of you who read our last newsletter will know, I wrote it in the airport in Moldova on my way to Malaysia. I was invited to speak at a City to City Asia Pacific network leaders meeting in November on the topic of “Leading a Gospel Movement in Times of Crisis” (pictured below right).
I was able to share some of my experiences ministering in the midst of the war here in Ukraine. My hope is that this encouraged the leaders present in their own various crises. It was also a great encouragement to me to have brothers and sisters from many different countries ask about and pray for Ukraine. I am, however, glad that I will be home for a couple of months without any more travel. As this was one of the very rare occasions that I preach in English, I’ve included the video of the first session below for those who want to listen.
We are truly blessed by those of you who continue to pray for Ukraine and serve with us through your generous donations! Please prayerfully consider making a year-end gift using the donation button below.