unexpected events

14 04 2014

As the riot police withdrew, snipers opened fire on peaceful protestors, shooting them dead from building-tops in the city center. My disbelief turned to horror at the unfolding events downtown: Kyiv became a killing field on February 20th. A week later streets calmed in Kyiv, but Russian troops steadily occupied Crimea.

prayer | the Ukrainian church on her knees

Since the beginning of the protests, the prayer tent (pictured above) has been the heart of the protest. Ukrainian Christians have prayed there 24/7, just beside the main stage where the protests organized and the people found their new voice. Our church in Kyiv held frequent prayer meetings; our elders called us to prayer and fasting. Persistent over three months, non-violent protestors demanded truth. When the corrupt government fled overnight, our pastor called it a miracle of prayer, reminding us people prayed for seventy years under the corrupt Soviet Union.

uncertainty | serving in a broken world

My team’s ministries alongside our Ukrainian church partners have continued through the stress of the protests, the rapid and surprisingly good changes within Ukraine’s government, and the uncertainty of Russia’s next moves. Tens of thousands of invasion-ready Russian troops have been massed on the Ukrainian border since early March. English Club was disrupted for a few weeks, but it has resumed.

An uncertain future and the real possibility of war has created an openness to spiritual questions among Ukrainians, similar to the early 1990s after Ukraine gained independence from the USSR. Pray for Ukrainian Christians, that the church will live the reality that only Jesus’ grace and the power of his cross can renew their land. Pray for my team and others serving Ukrainians under these daily uncertainties.

decisions | seeking our call together

Finally, my fiancée Stephanie and I are seeking where we will live and serve together after we marry in July.  We’re both excited to serve in Europe, using our skills and abilities to help Europeans strengthen their churches.  Please pray for wisdom as we have conversations with potential future colleagues, and as we make decisions together.  Thanks for your interest, prayers, and support!


A month in Astoria

5 08 2012

This past Wednesday I left Astoria, Queens, New York City, after living there all of July for a month of pre-field training.  It was a good, busy, full month including taking classes, working with Astoria Community Church, exploring Astoria, and experiencing some of the richness of New York City.  I didn’t want to leave.

Our group of 49 missionaries and 51 kids was divided into ministry teams, and my team of eight missionaries, three interns, and four kids planned, advertized, and held a free week-long English as a Second Language (ESL) class.

ESL students and teachers

our ESL class for Astoria Community Church

The classes we took covered cross-cultural ministry, team dynamics, and language acquisition skills.   We worked hard, saw incredible beauty in the city, and saw the beauty of God unifying our ministry team through prayer.  We discovered halfway through the month that our most productive ministry team meetings were those where we’d take 20 to 30 minutes at the beginning to take time to pray in an unhurried manner, as a group.

View from my friends’ midtown westside apartment building

View from my front porch in Astoria

Pray with me for the growth of God’s kingdom in Astoria, in Kiev, and all around the world.  The wall below was just around the corner from where I lived all month in Astoria:

May it be a reminder for constant prayer for Astoria and the people of God who are gathered there, for your neighborhood, and for the believers I’ll soon be joining in Kiev.

the context in which we live

21 02 2010

Consider this quote from “The Recovery of Mission” by Vinoth Ramachandra, page 143:

Modernity is the first truly global civilization to emerge in human history.  It traces its historical and geographical roots to modes of social life and organization which developed in the countries of northern Europe from about the seventeenth century onwards and which have subsequently extended their reach worldwide.  Its impact is felt even in the more remote villages of the world as much as in the universities, commercial centres, and government offices of major cities.  It is full of paradoxes and ambiguities, bringing in its wake both enormous blessings and terrible sufferings.  It unites the world while fragmenting it; dispels ancient, local fears only to replace them with fears on an unimaginable scale; reduces ignorance while destroying meanings; advocates rationality while subverting reason; creates wealth while impoverishing the earth…

That is the context in which I live, and I suspect most of you also deal with the results of modernity in your daily lives.  This is the culture in which we are called to follow Jesus.  Right now I’m seeking to live more faithfully as I balance three important callings: (1.) working my full-time engineering job, (2.) raising support for moving to and ministering in Kiev, and (3.) living life as a friend, a neighbor, a church member, a person, a follower of Jesus.

I’m thankful for the conference in Minnesota last weekend; for the joy of celebrating the Lord’s Supper with my brothers and sisters at Trinity PCA in Rochester last Sunday and the anticipation of gathering with my local church tomorrow; for a full week of work (exhausting, yet God-given); and for the encouragement, accountability, and support that we have access to within our local churches and the broader body of Christ.

Most of all, I’m thankful for Jesus.  His coming down for us, dying on the cross, and defeating death by rising from the grave is the proof that God loves his children.  He is also the one in whom meaning finds its center, because he is faithful and true.  The “Jesus Storybook Bible” puts it well:

You see, no matter what, in spite of everything, God would love his children–with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.

new beginnings… almost

5 12 2009

Today is the second Sunday of Advent, and I am filled with anticipation. Since the day after Thanksgiving, I’ve been encouraged and excited by the depth of beauty and truth in many of the traditional Christmas carols. I love the familiarity and sturdy reliability of these songs: they’re like old, loyal friends who are there for me year after year. I love the joy of hearing them sung each year as reminders of God’s mighty coming 2000 years ago in Jesus’ birth, as reminders that He will come again in real history, to do away with evil and make everything beautiful, and as reminders that He comes in the present to all who call on his name.

I am also filled with anticipation as I consider that two and a half weeks ago I was approved as a missionary to Kiev, Ukraine, with Mission to the World. In Kiev I will work with a team of people who are helping the Ukrainian presbyterian church establish vibrant, Christ-centered churches in Kiev and throughout Ukraine. My hope is that I can use my musical abilities, my technical skills, my love of human cultures, and my passion for seeing people transformed by the grace of Jesus to help build up God’s people in Kiev and reach out to folks who don’t yet know Jesus there.

Its been a while since I blogged here, and once I’ve checked and configured a few things to make sure this site will meet my blogging needs, I hope to begin blogging on a regular basis. Consider this your announcement of new beginnings for this blog… almost.