Saturday morning: Greetings from Frankfurt. I survived the long flight just fine, and now have two short flights to get to Odessa via Vienna. Odessa is the first of three stops in Ukraine on this 11-day trip. This trip came together after I met a couple Ukrainian pastors who had come to an event in Sacramento, CA last year. They decided to co-sponsor this trip to Odessa and Poltava. And then I added a midweek stop in Kharkov, so we’ll be at three churches. I say “we” because pastor Erik Eskelund of Cape Cod is accompanying me on this trip. Erik’s gifts complement me well, he is a musician and worship leader, and also a teacher. And he has exceptional people skills. This will be our second international trip ministering together. Actually, Erik arrived a day before me, and already ministered in Friday night’s meeting. And he will be ministering this morning and afternoon as well. I will arrive in time to minister in tonight’s service, the Lord helping my travels.
In preparing for Odessa and Poltava, I found my heart drawn toward the cross of Christ. So that will be a common motif in the messages I bring.
Here’s my speaking schedule in Odessa, to the best of my knowledge:
-Sunday afternoon 4pm
-Monday morning pastors mtg
Please pray for the Ukraine.
Saturday midnight: Odessa is a charming city of 1 million on the Black Sea. There are evidences of both economic activity and stagnation in the city. Like anywhere else, you have the rich and the poor. The Ukraine carries a deep imprint from its years under Soviet-era Russia, and is straining to rise into its own identity. Russia’s economic boom of recent years has not been felt as strongly in Ukraine, perhaps because it doesn’t have Russia’s oil reserves.
Erik’s service last night went well, I heard good reports. As did tonight’s service. The Lord was moving on some people tonight who are not fully committed to the Lord, but who are drawing closer to the Lord. This church is small and the group is small, but there were 2-3 that came forward at the close to respond to the Lord, who were being visibly moved by the Holy Spirit, even though they are not surrendered to His Lordship yet. The Lord is drawing them! Wonderful.
After the service, we were treated to a traditional Ukrainian meal at a downtown restaurant. Very delightful. We were served some dishes I’ve never had in my life, although a couple of the dishes were distant cousins to foods I grew up with in my German home.
Tomorrow (Sunday) we’ll be collected at 10 a.m. for the 11 a.m. service.
Monday morning: It’s a lovely new day here, we’re enjoying perfect weather here. Yesterday’s two Sunday services went well. The group seemed sleepy in both services, so I felt like I was swimming upstream in that regard. But we pressed through, and the word of the Lord went forth. Today we will be collected at 11 a.m., and I will be speaking to a small group of pastors, after which we’ll have lunch and fellowship together.
Today’s session with the pastors went well. The pastor asked me to speak on being a friend of the bridegroom. The sound system was very challenging, but we finally found a setting that seemed tolerable, and off we went. A great time of sharing and fellowship.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) we will be collected at noon, go to dinner, then go to the airport for our 5 pm departure to Kharkov. We have a Wednesday midweek service at Kharkov Christian Center. This is a strong church, and usually over 500 people attend the midweek service. This will be my second time to this church. We’re looking forward to being with them very much.