Thursday: I’m leaving the house at 6 a.m. today, on a journey for Lviv, Ukraine, and then from there a 2-hour drive to Ternopil, Ukraine. I met my Ternopil host pastor on my last trip to Ukraine, and now will be with him in Ternopil for the first time. This is the beginning of an 11-day trip. Here’s the Ternopil schedule:
-Friday night service
-Saturday morning in Lviv at a youth conference
-Saturday night back in Ternopil
-Sunday morning in Ternopil
-then Tuesday I travel to Kharkov
I covet your prayer help for these four meetings this weekend. I have especially struggled regarding the Saturday morning message, and so would especially appreciate your prayer help for that gathering. I was told it’s a youth conference with over 1000 gathering.
p.s. We received this week our sample copies of the Italian translation of SECRETS. Please bless this translation in prayer, may it be a mighty blessing to the believers in Italy!
Thursday 8 pm: Greetings from the sky, enroute to Munich from DC. A weather front moved into the DC airport just as we were about to pull from the gate, and it gave us a 90-minute delay on the ground. Already our trip is eventful! I will need to be rebooked to another flight once I arrive in Munich, but Marie was told that I should be able to get into Lviv around 3:30 pm on Friday, in enough time to make the Friday night meeting. (we have a 2-hour drive from the Lviv airport to my destination city of Ternopil)
My Dad made a ministry trip to Ukraine, in 1991, to teach in a ministry training school. His trip took him to Ternopil, so it’s kind of neat that now I can follow in his steps and keep the baton moving forward. Jesus, bring Your glory to Ternopil, Ukraine! By the way, my initial invitation for this trip came from the Ternopil church, and then I added the other two later stops since I was already going to be in the nation.
Friday 4:00 pm: I’ve finally arrived Ternopil! My flight out of DC was weather delayed, and I was certain I would miss my connection in Munich to Lviv. But lo, they held the plane for us! So I’m here on schedule, praise the Lord! Just no luggage, that’s all, ha.
Saturday afternoon: Good launch last night. Our host church is small, and the room was full. It was a meeting primarily for pastors and leaders. I spoke on being a friend of God and the Lord graced the message. It was meaningful to refresh my soul again in that message. Then this morning’s youth conference in Lviv, with the Pentecost Union, went well. They told me over 1000 youth would gather, and I was skeptical of that number, but they were actually right. Kids are here from all over this part of Ukraine, some coming from 200 or more kilometers. Some came in buses. The best crop of Ukrainian kids you might imagine. What a privilege to minister to them! It’s a one-day event, and rather stiff in its style, not what we in America would define as “youthful.” A choir from Ternopil was in the loft and led the singing, led by a choral conductor. The congregation was told which songs to stand to, and although they were standing, they mostly just stared at the choir, there really was no sense of congregational participation in the singing. Someone would talk, then the choir would do a song, then someone else would talk, then the choir would do a song. That cycle repeated 3-4 times, and then it was my turn. They had graciously given me 90 minutes because of the length of translation. I spoke from Deut 10:8, on being a New Testament Levite, and on identity. These kids are extremely reserved in their responses, so it’s difficult to discern how much they connected with the message, but the presence of the Lord was sweet and I sensed His help. Met some fabulous leaders, too. One of the other speakers at this event lives in Ozark, MO, and this is his 100th trip to Ukraine. He is fluent in Ukrainian. I asked him what are the similarities or differences between Ukrainian and Russian, and he answered in 3 words: “Spanish and Portuguese.” Ah, got it. At the closing prayer, I invited those who had a special personal connection to the message to raise both arms to the Lord during my prayer, and not even 10% of the group raised their hands. So very reserved. But very attentive and soberly thoughtful.
Now we’re making the 2+-hour drive back to Ternopil. The drive would be faster except that the road is so roughly. Sometimes the car must slow to a crawl to navigate the potholes. And then there can 1-2 lengthy stops as you wait to clear a construction zone. They are trying to repave the road but simply don’t have the resources to do what is necessary to stay on top of the job. At the rate of repair, they will never have a completely repaired road. It displays the economic challenges this nation faces. The drive beats up any vehicle that traverses it. They are an industrious people. May the Lord pour His Spirit and blessing on this great nation.
We should get home around 4:30, and then I will be collected at 6 p.m. for tonight’s meeting.
Sunday morning: Last night’s meeting in Ternipol was held at another church with larger facilities. A solid 200 people gathered from a variety of churches in the area, and were eager for the Lord and His word. The Lord’ grace was on the ministry of the word (Heb 12), and afterwards a good number came forward to express their response and identification with the message. The presence of the Lord in the midst was very strong and sweet. That’s best of all!
Sunday evening: This morning I spoke on the Secret Place, and sensed the Lord’s help in a clear way. I tried to present it in a way that wasn’t confronting but enticing. Afterwards, if the desire for prayer at the end was any measurement, the folks responded very warmly to the message. Almost everyone in the room came forward for laying on of hands, for fresh grace upon their secret place.