Giving Thanks in the Dark
During this last month we’ve experienced the first direct Russian missile strikes on our city. This is all part of Russia’s terrorist campaign to take out energy infrastructure across Ukraine. The first explosions woke us up on Oct. 31st. Our apt. building shook. As I had been traveling a lot in the weeks before this, I was thankful that this happened while I was at home with our family. It might seem like an odd thing to be thankful for, but war changes lots of things.
After we were sure that the missile strikes that morning were done, my daughter and I went back to bed. It felt like we needed to restart the day in a better way. I doubt we would’ve gone back to bed if this had happened on day one, but on month 9—we’ve become less sensitive to things no one should have to get used to.
The question was if this would change my next trip. I had planned to leave the following day for a City to City Europe conference. As we discussed and prayed about it, we decided I should go ahead with it. It was a good time with other leaders and I was blessed to hear many sentiments of concern and prayers for Ukraine.
On Nov. 23rd, just 2 days ago and right as month 10 of the war was about to begin, Russia did a repeat, striking energy infrastructure across the country. This time, the whole country lost power for what has turned out to be about 24 hours. This darkness is the work of the prince of darkness and a failing dictator with a losing army. It is a destructive temper tantrum that he’s not getting what he wanted. It has only further steeled the resolve of those of us in Ukraine to keep up the fight until the enemy is fully driven out. Satan always shoots himself in the foot.
Oddly, the strike came again on the day before I had planned to leave on a ministry trip (to speak at a City to City conference in Malaysia this time). It was a harder decision as we had lost mobile, light and water at the time I had to start my trip. But again, we discussed and prayed and trusted the Lord with the results. Thankfully, everything is now restored. Ukraine will not be kept down! I am at the airport in Moldova typing this update and getting on my flight soon.
As further evidence that Satan and his Kremlin pawns are only doing themselves in, during this same past month we’ve celebrated more occasions of new life in the Gospel. Sergey (pictured above center) lived under Russian occupation in a village outside Kharkiv for 7 months. When this area was freed by Ukrainian soldiers a couple months back, Sergey was finally able to leave his ruined village. He ended up in Svitlovodsk and has been living in our church building.
Sergey has some handicaps and so was not targeted by the Russian occupiers for cruel tortures, or for forced mobilization that they sometimes try to push young men in occupied territories into. Sergey had a more serious attitude towards the Orthodox church than many young people and certainly was praying a lot during his time under the demonic Kremlin regime!
As I and Misha (our youth minister) talked with Sergey last week about the good news of grace and not needing to earn God’s acceptance, the Lord worked in Sergey’s heart to receive the good news. He’s now reading the Bible and always has questions for us.
Another recent story is one of particular encouragement. Yura (pictured below left on the left) came to our church in the early summer. His family was one of many receiving humanitarian aid from our church (his town is still occupied). He ended up coming to our youth camp and meeting Christ. Now that he is studying in the local technical college, he’s made friends with some of the local kids.
This past weekend, he brought Kolya (pictured below left in the center) with him first to youth group on Saturday, and then to the service on Sunday. As the Gospel was explained before communion, Kolya became the newest person to receive salvation through our church, bringing the total since the war started (that we know of) to 46—more than 1 a week on average!
Additionally, we’ve begun bringing humanitarian aid not only to our city but to refugees in the surrounding village of Mironovka who often have a harder time finding necessary resources. As we knew they wouldn’t be able to make it into town for a Sunday service, the team improvised a service right there on the spot, going through Luke 15 about the prodigals sons! (Pictured below right.) In a word, Christ is shining with or without electricity!
Our plans for an early Thanksgiving day dinner on Wednesday were scuppered. But This didn’t stop us from giving thanks! In the dark and the cold, we gathered with some of the church and sang songs of praise to the only true, victorious King (see the attached video)! Victory is His and will soon be ours! His light shines and His love warms our hearts and there’s nothing satan/the Kremlin can do to change that!
Additionally, we are thankful for you who continue to partner with us in prayer and serve the refugees of Ukraine through your generous donations! Please continue as this war is not yet over! You find some prayer requests and make donations using the button below.