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Is this normal


On Thursday, I picked up this poor bloke from the local petrol station.  He was coming down off a high, had lost his backpack and telephone in Kiev, had burnt all relationships with his friends and stunk as if he had not washed in a few weeks.  He was at church on Sunday and I asked him how he was doing.  His answer was, “mumble, mumble, mumble”… not a good sign.

He packed his things and left on Sunday afternoon… and got caught for pick-pocketing Monday morning.  If God chooses to have mercy on him, he will go to jail and find the Christians there.  The likelihood of that happening is slight though.  He was working with a cohort and that bloke took off with the wallet he stole.  So if he doesn’t come clean, the evidence against him is weak… and unless God has mercy, he’ll die of an overdose or something related soon.

The journalist who reported on it called him a “nedochelovek” (a subhuman).  I must admit, while he was here, there wasn’t much to like about him… but he is still a man made in the image of God and as such, we were willing to love him to see if God would have mercy on him here.  As it turns out, we cleaned him up for a few days so that he could go back to his old profession. Agh.  Thankfully, this isn’t normally the story of the guys who come… and stay for longer than a few weeks.

Right now, a 25 year-old is sitting in our kitchen talking with Pris.  A friend from her childhood came to us about a year ago and stayed for a month before giving up.  As so often happens though, after these guys come to us and hear the gospel and understand who God is, their old life totally loses its appeal.  Sure enough, he ended up going to rehab again and this time has stuck with it.  It was good to hear again of God’s grace in action.

I’ve been preaching and teaching each week since coming back to Ukraine.  I’m generally of the persuasion that it is good for the church to have several teacher/preachers sharing.  To expand on that… if godly men who can teach exist, then they SHOULD be teaching – a Biblical position.  But for a few reasons, I have chosen to fulfill that role in our church for a couple of months.  I’m enjoying it and am, as is always the case, being blessed by my privilege. 

IMG-1059Pris has gone to Kiev for what has turned out to be a few days.  Ostensibly, she went to spend a night with her mother for her birthday.  They ended up in the hospital though, where Diane will spend a few nights until the pros. figure out what is causing the intense pain in her abdomen.  Not what Pris expected, but she’s thankful she can be there.

Valera is still going strong.  He used to be one of the many town drunks.  It’s been two years since he’s had a drink of alcohol and he is doing really well.  He had a house in Rzhyshchiv which he has done up a bit since getting out of rehab and has been finding jobs here and there.  It’s been encouraging to see him reaching out to his old friends and inviting them to church and sharing his faith.  God has changed him – incredibly changed him!  He came over today to again talk about the hothouse which is on the men’s rehab house property.  He’s pushed us to repair it and put it to use… and has already put in many hours getting it back into shape.  Today, he came to visit and told me that God has forgiven him so much.  That thought affects him as he works and interacts with different people.  “Thank you, Lord!”


If you haven’t yet had a conversation about the Coronavirus, it means you are in Ukraine.  It seems to me that the local media haven’t utilized the drama of the situation to their advantage yet.  My thought is that in a week or so when they do, (due to the undeniable spread of the disease throughout the world), we will all have a few interesting days of panic before things go back to normal.

In Ukraine, the question is often asked, “Kak Zdoroviya”  (How’s your health?).  If the answer is positive, the next correct social response is, “Good.  For health is the most important thing.”  (I just about always rock the boat by saying, “nah, that’s not truth” and am met with blank stares.)  Anyway, if something sensational hits us like this virus, we’ll have another opportunity to demonstrate to a world without Christ, (which foolishly believes that health is the most important thing), that there is hope and peace in Him.  God may just give the world the blessing of having the carpet pulled out from under our feet in a serious way.  May He have mercy on our souls more than on our comfort, eh?