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Spring

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“The Faithful” on Resurrection Sunday Morning

6:10a.m.

Spring.

Is the weather the most mundane thing we talk about in life? Possibly. But it is one of those things that nicely greases the cogs of interaction so that people relax and can then move onto more practical things.

We have spring! The heating is off, the daffodils are out, the apricot trees are in full bloom, and I am wearing jeans and a t-shirt when I go outside. I like it.

Where do I start?

Our family is fine. Pris is productive and fulfilled. She gets up before me most mornings and dutifully exercises and then reads her Bible. She’s glad for the warmer weather which makes jogging pleasant. Marie just got back from Poland today after a successful visa trip. She should be able to stay here indefinitely now and is looking forward to welcoming her first lady into rehab. Angie is hopefully experiencing one of the last bad bouts of her red-skin syndrome. This stretch has been longer than usual and actually, quite a bit more severe than past ones. We’ll all be glad when it’s in the past, but in the meantime, she’s submitting under God’s merciful hand. Elle is enjoying youth group – her first year. She’s a bright spark who enjoys adventure. She has just started official Ukrainian lessons twice a week in Kiev which she’s lapping up. And Jesse? Still enjoying Bible College. All in all, we feel blessed by God.

The church is imperfect. We’ve always had those few people amongst our number who meet with us weekly but their hearts seem far from God. Normally, they stop coming after a few months – that’s a pretty standard pattern. We don’t expect Christ-like character from these people. It’s when Christians act in ways that don’t give glory to God that it’s hard… especially when I know that they are an example to those looking to them to get an understanding of Christ. I guess the fact that I take no joy whatsoever in conflict also makes it harder on a personal level. But that’s life when you commit yourself to taking care of people’s hearts.

We have land for a youth centre! Shane, Jem, Stone, Morgan and Dima are excited about the possibilities of having a drop-in centre downtown for students. It’s something we dreamed about when we first came here. Our home has been a wonderful tool which we’ve used 1000’s of times over the last 15 years, but having something right in the centre of town that kids can hang-out in… we definitely see the benefits of that. Slightly more than $20,000 has been raised thus far for putting a building on the property. Now the big challenge will be the bureaucratic one. We should be finding out any day whether we can put a public building on it or whether we are only permitted to put a house there. (Even if we can only build a house, we can still make it a “unique house” that will suit our needs.)

clip_image006The rehab ministry is doing well. We looked at the stats last week and were encouraged by them. When we started this ministry, I was told that I was dreaming to be expecting a 70% “success rate”. I said that was my goal and hope, but if it was 50%, I would be content and count it a wise use of time and finances. I was gingerly informed that based on other evangelical centre’s experience? in Ukraine, 50% was also too optimistic an estimate.

During our first year, we had a lot of attrition. 8 guys left us or were sent away. Half that number have returned or sought out God again. But still… it felt bad every time we lost someone. Our second year has been much better. We’ve only lost a few. If we combine the two years, we have a 60% “success rate”… and I’m praising the Lord.

Our adventures with Valera (pictured) were pretty extreme. I knew him just after he got out of the army. He came to church for a couple of months off and on and then chose very definitely to embrace the bottle rather than God. 13 years passed and he rings our doorbell asking if we will help him because he understands that he’ll kill himself if he doesn’t get off the bottle. After two days, he began having hallucinations, and we took him to hospital. It was quickly determined that he had TB and the nurses didn’t want to look after him. They insisted that one of us stay the night with him. On the premise that if anyone was going to get TB, it would surely be best if it was me, I was given free board in the Kaharlyk hospital! Sleeping in a small room with a hallucinating alcoholic was a special experience that I’ll treasure for the rest of my life. Valera is now being treated for TB in a larger city about an hour away. I don’t know if he will come back to us or even if he’ll survive. But I would love it if God would again surprise me and do a miracle in his heart.

A few days have gone by since I wrote the above, and we have our first lady in rehab! She’s staying with us right now until we get the guys out of the “ladies home” and into their clip_image004own place. Vika is from the conflict zone and seems like a talkative but humble alcoholic who, if I were to guess, will ultimately become one of those who minister to our girls in rehab full-time. Actually, I’m sure I’m getting ahead of myself there, but I can’t keep the thought at bay.

May God bless you as you live with Him and for His glory!