I have returned safely to Ukraine. It is a wonderful feeling to be home, or what has become home, again.
To sit with friends and hear the stories of what I missed.
To tsk at the dating decisions some have made.
To have a big barbecue and watch a movie on the lawn with a dozen close friends.
To make new friends.
To see that all is well, and that our local leadership team rocks.
To know that all will continue to be well as we grow this amazing little ministry into the future.
It is wonderful.
It fills me with wonder. It's one of the funny things about being in ministry. You can work and pray everyday for something. You can fight for it. You can plead for it. You can get so frustrated that you want to cry. You can push and push.
And then when you step away, God brings it to pass.
I return to find that one of my closest friends has made a huge step in his walk with the Lord. I return to find that several of my university students loved English camp and are joining us for Pilgrims. I return to find that my co-director just continues to step up as a thoughtful and gracious leader.
One of the biggest struggles of the American church is for us to accept that God's timing is greater than our own. Our whole culture is so time obsessed.
There are two cultural values at play: time driven value or event driven value.
If an American wedding is planned to start at 12:00 and it's 12:05 everyone gets very nervous that the whole thing has been called off. We are a time based culture. We are driven by schedules and timetables and meeting times.
In Latin America, the wedding begins when the bride gets there and stands at the back of the aisle. If you're not the bride, you better get there before her. If you're the least important person you better show up early because no one will wait for you. The culture is focused on the event happening even if it is delayed by hours.
And I think that God's value system is more Event driven than Time driven. That's an odd statement to make, but it seems that God rarely cares what my scheduler says but that God is always faithful to accomplish what needs to happen.
Tomorrow we celebrate one of our own going off to seminary. My dear friend Olia Kryvycka will be moving to Belfast, Ireland to attend an Interconfessional Bible College for a year long seminary training. How long I have prayed for her to respond to this call, and how overjoyed I am for her to continue exploring what God would have for her to do.
With Olia I have openly shared every joy and heartbreak of being in ministry. She has celebrated with me in resurrection times and cried with me in the tomb. I shared with her the ugly mean things that happen to people in ministry. Every. Single. Time. And, yet, she has responded to God's call. This is one of the proudest moments of my life - I am so proud of the person that Olia has become and the work that she will do in God's great name.
I know that wherever she goes, I will be right there with her in spirit. I will be holding her up in prayer. Her mission will be my own. Her struggles and disappointments and joys will be mine as well.
It is my most sincere hope that others will respond to this call. To come and die. To take up their cross. To follow to the ends of the earth. To walk in the shoes of others. To laugh much too loud and awkwardly mangle words. To go and tell the others.