We just got home from an amazing trip to Ukraine and Germany and we had so many amazing experiences. Here are four things that God taught us on this trip:
God puts people in your life every day that are easy to miss!
One of the things I learned on this trip is that God is always putting people in your life for a reason, but in my past, I too often was so busy with my own agenda that I missed people that were on God’s agenda for me. One example of this. When we were on the train from Kiev to Lviv on our way to participate in English camps with Campus Ukraine, we were sitting next to two women. Our train left very early so people slept most of the way, but as we started to pull into Lviv, our friend Dima struck up a conversation with the two women next to us. One of them was a university student, so he introduced us as Americans who were on our way to Lviv to work in the English camp. He invited her to camp, told her when it was and where. She responded with a familiar response – I think I am busy. Well when the camp started on Tuesday night, who walked into our class – the girl from the train. This began a new friendship that I believe God will use in a powerful way.
God has plans for you, if you are patient enough to wait for His timing!
We went on our trip to Ukraine to explore ministry opportunities for the future. We knew that God was leading us to work in Ukraine, but as we left for this trip we had no idea what those opportunities would be. Throughout our trip we met with many different teams and learned about their ministry and what their needs were and how could we help them. As we completed our trip, we had come up with ten different opportunities that were presented to us. One of these opportunities was one that we never expected. We met with a church leader over churches in the Cherkasy region. We went into the meeting not expecting any ministry opportunities to come from it, but God had other plans. It turns out that our meeting was an answer to his prayers. He had been praying for a year that someone would come to help him work with the churches in his region to help them make the changes needed to reach those who need Jesus in their region. I believe this was the very meeting that God had prepared for us to show us what He had planned for us. It is amazing how God puts all the pieces together in His timing!
Take time to listen and ask how you can pray for people!
One of the best parts of this trip was the number of meetings we had with different people from cities across Ukraine. We had meetings with people from Lviv, Kiev, Cherkasy, Chigirin and Odessa. Even though we live 5000+ miles away and speak a different language, we still serve the same God! There are opportunities across the world to share the love of Christ to those who need and are searching for it. While in Lviv, we stayed in a hostel that had a common area that was used as a lunchroom. Each evening after working in the English camps we would sit in the common area and talk. Each night God would bring new people to the table from across the world and we would have an opportunity to talk with them. During our time in Lviv, we had the opportunity to share God’s love and plan for salvation with a man from China, who spoke no English or Ukrainian, but we shared through Google Translate; an atheist from Belgium who was backpacking across Eastern Europe and an American from Philadelphia who was traveling across Europe before starting graduate school. We also had many meetings with ministry leaders working in Ukraine. We could hear their story, listen to their needs and challenges, provide encouragement and then pray for them. It was incredibly powerful to see how God is working through the lives of so many people.
Take the time for that one additional conversation!
On our last day working in Ukraine, we had the opportunity to share with Campus Ukraine Catalytic team from Kiev. We had a fun afternoon of sharing stories, discussing time management and team dynamics. As the day ended and people were off to other commitments, one couple stayed behind because they wanted to ask us something. Their friends were encouraging them to get to the car as they had a train to catch, but they wanted to talk. It turns out that they live in the Odessa area and they work with Campus Ukraine, military families and pastor a church that is striving to reach their community. They wanted to talk because they wanted to ask if we would be willing to meet with them to help them in their ministry. We said yes and gave them our contact information. We have already had one meeting, and I believe that God is going to use this family to make a big impact in their community.
God is so good! We are so excited to begin making plans for ministry with Ukraine in the years to come. We still have many obstacles – like approval of our non-profit from the IRS – but I believe that we know where God wants us to take the next step and continue to remember to TRUST HIM!