Purpose

Glimpse – Ivan*

Glimpse – Ivan*

Ivan came into my office the other day and said he needed some counseling. It was a bit of a surprise, since I don’t know him very well and he isn’t a student in the missions program, which is my main focus. But as he began to speak, I understood. Ivan has successfully planted a church in the area and has been planning to start over with a new church plant when he graduates this spring. But God has been speaking to him ever since […]



Glimpse – Vasiliy*

Glimpse – Vasiliy*

Vasiliy—In my inbox is an email from Vasiliy who has been coming to our English club. The club officially concluded a week ago, but many of the participants, including Vasiliy, urged us to continue to meet with them for more practice—which, of course, we will. But Vasiliy’s questions go far beyond the English language. In his email, he explains that he wants to know more about the Bible and our church. And he’d like permission to invite some of his friends to join us. *Name […]



It’s Catching

It’s Catching

When Jason was asked to lead our church’s missions team, we decided that the most important step was making sure that the team had caught the vision of God’s mission. That way, they will be motivated to share it with the rest of the church. After concentrated teaching, along with many missions projects and prayer services put on by the missions team, several members of our small church have really caught the vision. One just returned from a short-term trip where she was trained in […]



Glimpse – Sergei*

Glimpse – Sergei*

We’ve never seen anyone so excited to receive a Bible. Two days ago, our friend Sergei flipped through the crisp new pages with anticipation. Conversations were put on hold as he explored his new treasure and we explained how the notes and reference materials would help him understand the Scripture. We don’t think Sergei has yet given his life to Christ, but God is clearly moving. We’ve watched as he’s progressed from total unfamiliarity to eager participation in church and anxious desire to read the […]



The Last of the…Who?

The Last of the…Who?

People often make the opposite mistake about me that Columbus made when identifying inhabitants of the new world. “Dots, not feathers,” is my typical response. But the question, “What tribe are you from?” has always caught me off guard—until this summer. Our family was invited to participate in a Wild West-themed Evangelistic youth camp. (I know that in the States, the theme of cowboys and Indians is taboo, but here it’s, well, different.) That’s how I ended up playing the role of Sitting Bull and […]



Prayers, Potatoes, and Possibilities

Prayers, Potatoes, and Possibilities

“What can we do?” For our little Ukrainian church with its even littler budget, this wasn’t just a rhetorical question. But together we found an answer–several in fact. It has been a fulfilling part of our ministry here to lead an outreach team, which in turn has been leading the rest of the church in mission. Recently we led a missions prayer meeting focused on an unreached people group, which captured the interest of the congregation. The pastor thought it was so valuable that he […]



Off the Bench

Off the Bench

Ukraine is expecting the world to descend upon it in just a few short weeks for a Europe-wide football (soccer) championship…and now suddenly, learning English has become an urgent goal. To capitalize on this peak in interest, we kicked off an evangelistic English club though our local church with a tournament theme. Each week’s lesson is hosted in a coffeehouse environment and is geared toward preparing Ukrainians to host foreign guests and communicate with them better. This project was a great way to get the […]



Purposeful Redundancy with a Purpose

Purposeful Redundancy with a Purpose

I say the same thing every time I teach. But one student came back and wanted to hear it yet again. Sergei isn’t one of my slow students who needed to repeat a class. He has caught the vision that brought us to Ukraine, and he wanted to soak in its significance for another session. One of the main reasons we chose to serve in Ukraine was because of its strategic potential to be a missionary sending force and a gateway to the rest of […]



Christmas Everyday

Christmas Everyday

Recently I finished teaching one of my favorite classes, Intro to Missions. Each time I teach it, I get to marinate in the powerful stories and compelling themes that first motivated us to move our lives to Ukraine. One of these stories has forever changed the way I understand Christmas. It is so much more than a quaint historical romance, with its associated religious and political intrigue. It’s the central event of history, in which our missionary God finally lives up to His promises and […]



We’re Thankful for You

We’re Thankful for You

After years of wrangling with the authorities, jumping through bureaucratic hoops, and spending thousands of dollars, our good friends finally rescued a Ukrainian orphan. They weren’t trying to fill a need in their own lives–they already had several wonderful children. The adoption was purely an act of grace. You can imagine how the child responded when they finally brought her home and showered her with love…but you’d be wrong! Instead of being grateful, she continually demanded more. It took a couple years before she understood […]



Bake Someone Happy

Bake Someone Happy

I have never thought of myself as the Betty Crocker type. And when I pictured life on the mission field, I thought I’d be doing something really meaningful and valuable. Certainly not baking. Or making coffee. (Imagine my eyes rolling.) But the longer I’m here, the more I realize that one of the best ways to make people feel loved–something that transcends cultural differences and language barriers–is hospitality. And what’s even more surprising to me is that I’m really starting to enjoy it. At church, […]



I Love to Admit

I Love to Admit

One of my favorite parts of teaching happens before classes even begin in the fall–admissions interviews. The students are usually very nervous, anxious to give us the right answers. I, on the other hand, bask in the stories that they all tell of how God has been moving in their lives and how with our help they’ll be more prepared to follow God’s calling.  Every time we get new students it reaffirms our purpose for being here. This year we had record enrollment again, which […]