building in the borderland

20 10 2012

I’m here… and I’ve mailed a letter!

Actually, I’ve been here two and a half weeks already.  Wow.

In that time, I’ve found an apartment, begun getting to know Kiev and where to find things for my apartment– you know, dishes, furniture, linens, towels– all that stuff.  I’ve nearly used the 50 rides on my Metro card, plus I’ve racked quite a few up Marshrutka (minibus-taxi) rides, started studying Russian, and walked a lot more kilometers than my daily routine included in Chattanooga.  A couple  surprises so far:

  1. Coffee is far more readily available than my last time here in 2009.  One can even find good coffee, though instant espresso (made with a machine, not hand-crafted by a barista) is available outside of most Metro stations for the equivalent of 50 cents to just over a dollar.  Actually, the last couple mornings I’ve grabbed an espresso and a vartrushka before taking the Metro.  But as far as caffeinated beverages go, tea is still at the heart of this culture.
  2. Leaving Chattanooga was far harder than I had anticipated, especially saying goodbyes to a few particularly close friends and family.  I hope to flesh that out a bit more in my next email update, but having the confidence and send-off of those who know me best, and the commissioning of my home church, is a huge encouragement.  Thanks!

Having left Chattanooga, when I looked down on Kiev as the plane passed low over the city on approach to the airport, I had a very strong sense that this is my city.  Not that I own it, or even understand it, but God called me here, sent me by your encouragement, prayers, and support.  Behind the seemingly everyday reality of being here, I’m actually a commissioned bond-servant of the King, called to serve in a different part of his realm.  All authority and power are his, and he has sent me out.

I’m deeply convinced that learning Russian is a crucial step I must take to seek the welfare of this particular city, of the particular people whose paths God will weave together with mine.  So pray with me on behalf of Kiev and the millions who live here.  As the Lord said through Jeremiah when God’s people were called to live in Babylon, “in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7).  Somehow, my welfare is wrapped up in seeking the shalom of Kiev, a city in the borderland between many different things.

Through your partnership with me in the gospel of Christ, and by his spirit, I’m building in the borderland.


nearly done!

17 08 2012

Many of you are praying, many are giving: thanks!

God’s provided nearly 99% of my Ukraine support.

On my way back to Chattanooga from pre-field training in New York City, I was able to spend some time with my nephews.  We went to the beach to visit their “great-grandma”:

One evening while at my brother and sister-in-laws, my brother and I took the boys exploring in the woods up behind their house:

Then my mom and I drove south for a two day visit with my grandmother.  We had an overnight stay with my sister and her new husband during our drive back to Chattanooga.  God gave me good, challenging, helpful training in NYC, and then time with family I won’t see often over the next two years.

While in New Jersey, I thanked my brother’s church for their support, and this Sunday I have an opportunity to thank my home church here in Chattanooga.

Stay posted for additional updates: I’m heading to Kiev soon!

God is good!

book = книга

2 04 2012

I stepped into a bookshop in L’viv to purchase a city map during my second visit to Ukraine, in 2008.  I also learned that the Ukrainian word for book is “книга”.  A year later I found myself ducking into another bookshop, this time in downtown Kiev, to buy a map of Kiev showing all the bus, trolleybus, tram, marshrukas (minibuses), and Metro lines.  And I learned that book is also “книга” in Russian.  Later that week, I used my limited handful of Russian phrases in another bookshop, to confirm with the shopkeeper that he didn’t have any Russian Bible’s for sale; so I bought a Russian-English dictionary instead.

Ukraine has a strong literary tradition, and many Ukrainians are quite literate.   The western Ukrainian city L’viv boasted one of Europe’s earliest moveable type printing presses. Following the suggestion of one of the Ukrainian pastors I met in Kiev in 2009, one of my ministry goals in Kiev will be to learn Russian well enough to start a classic literature book club during my time in Kiev.  I co-founded and have been facilitating a monthly classic literature book club here in Chattanooga since 2008 (see today’s newspaper article about our group).  I desire is to serve and love people in Kiev by working to help create a commons around reading and discussing great literature, as I’ve done in Chattanooga.  The relationships that have formed around our common love of reading and discussing great literature have naturally given me opportunities to bear witness to Christ with non-Christians, who I count among my friends.

Please pray for me as I seek my monthly support, 80% by April 15th, full support by the end of June.  I’m eager to use the gifts God’s given me to bear witness to Christ in Kiev, equipping believers and telling non-Christians about God’s steadfast love in Christ.


prayers of faith

17 03 2012

Thank you for praying for me!  God has called me to Kiev, and I know he is faithful to finish the work he’s begun.  He’s promised to answer our cries to him when we pray in faith, and he heard Jesus’ cry from the cross, and answered by raising him to life three days later!

Kiev map

Kiev regional map

God has graciously answered our prayers that I would be able to wrap up my responsibilities well at my job.  One project finished with the end of February, and my other ongoing project is being passed to two of my colleagues.  My last day working in engineering will be this coming Wednesday, March 21st.  That means my first day working full-time finding where God’s provided the rest of my Ukraine support is next Thursday, the 22nd!

I’ll be working toward having 80% of my support before April 15th, the registration deadline for the July pre-field training.  Through your prayers and generous giving, God has provided 68% of my overall support.  That’s 93% of my one-time budget and 61% of my monthly support.  Or in dollars, by April 15th I need to find $500 in new monthly pledges, and $725 in one-time gifts to reach 80% overall.

Seven $100 gifts, a $25 gift, and ten people pledging $50 per month is all I need to register for July training – is that something you can help with?

Thanks for praying with me on this journey of faith!

see the vision, pray with vigilance

14 12 2011

Hi friends, would you pray for me this evening as I’m writing an update to my email prayer list? Pray that the vision of seeing Ukrainians grow in their knowledge of Jesus will excite me, pray with vigilance that I’ll write with focus and clarity, so that my writing encourages and builds you up in the grace of God.

If you haven’t seen my team’s video over on the video tab, or if its been a while since you last watched it, here’s the big picture of what my team’s up to in Kiev:

Exciting things continue to happen there: students have graduated from the seminary, a pastor has been ordained, and ordinary Ukrainian believers are growing in grace and becoming more like Jesus.

If your holiday schedule is anything like mine and my friends, you’d understand that I haven’t been trying to schedule Ukraine meetings this close to Christmas. Pray that I’ll work steadily on behind-the-scenes support raising stuff like praying, thank-you notes, Christmas cards, scheduling for January, and developing a few tools to use in the new year.

Pray with vigilance for me as I work, that God would establish the work of my hands and provide my support. The two major times my monthly pledged support moved forward were 17% to 34% in March/April and 36% to 56% in October/November, and the only thing I did differently in those months was specifically and consistently asking and reminding you to pray. So THANKS for your vigilance in prayer!

ora et labora

30 03 2011

My support raising calendar is filling up.  Its not full–there’s still room for me to meet with you if we haven’t already (email me), but I’ve definitely got more meetings scheduled than a few weeks ago.

God is working through your prayers.  I asked you to pray, and to give.  You’re praying, otherwise I don’t think I’d have all of the following Ukraine meetings scheduled: a small group presentation in an hour tonight, meeting with a couple tomorrow evening, a lunch-time presentation for any interested coworkers this Friday, another small group presentation Sunday, meeting with friends in Knoxville Monday, another small group presentation the next Tuesday here in Chattanooga, and then a Wed. night presentation to my old church in Atlanta from my Georgia Tech days.  Thank you, and please keep praying.

If you noticed, there’s a big gap in my schedule there: next Tuesday through the following Monday, April 11th.  Pray that I’ll find people to meet with, individuals, couples, and small groups.  Pray that those people with whom I’ll meet decide to give generously to partner in sending me to Kiev.  Pray that they tell me or MTW a specific monthly pledge before April 15th.  Just think: they could be the very means God answers our prayers that I reach 60% by the 15th.  Have you made your pledge yet?

Ora et labora. Pray and work.  The Benedictine monks knew something about steady work over time, and over hundreds of years the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ transformed Europe from an appendage of Asia into a powerful center of culture and science that brought much good into the world.    Yet for the monks, their primary calling wasn’t to transform the culture, but to faithfulness in their writing, in their gardening, in their library, in their vespers, in the cultural tasks God called them to.  Sure, they bought into a lot of problematic theology, such as religious callings being better or more valuable than secular, but they got at least two things right: life should center on the grace of God in Jesus Christ (hence their motto, “Pax” or “Peace”), and we’re called to work as well as to pray.  God gives us work, and there’s value in doing that work well, for its sake, because it is a gift from God.

So where does that leave you and me?  We’ve a two part task: to pray and work.  If you’re committed to partnering with me and already praying, thanks!  Are you working?  Are you pursuing your calling faithfully before God?  Have you considered giving of the resources God’s given you to help sent me to Kiev?  I’m working reduced engineering hours and increased support raising for Ukraine: writing, emailing, calling, and telling people how God is building his kingdom in Kiev.  Pray and work with me as we long to see God’s kingdom come, here and in Ukraine.

population density

17 07 2010

When I tell people that Kiev is a big city, about 4 million people, I often compare it to Atlanta’s size.  However, that’s only half the story.  When you start looking at how many people per square mile live in each city, you realize why Kiev feels larger than Atlanta.

In 2008, Atlanta had 4,018.4 people per square mile in the city proper, and 629.4 people per square mile in the greater metro area, which is what most people think of when they talk about Atlanta being huge. Kiev’s population density is more than double that of Atlanta, at 8,544.4 people per square mile. In Chattanooga, where I currently live, we have 1,264 people per square mile.  So then I was curious how Kiev and Atlanta stack up against the population density of other major world cities.

  • मुंबई (Mumbai) Density (2010) 59,368 /sq mi
  • London Density (2007) 12,331/sq mi
  • Chicago Density (2009) 12,649/sq mi
  • Nairobi Density (2009) 11,678.3/sq mi
  • Berlin Density (2009) 9,987.7/sq mi
  • 上海 (Shanghai) Density 7,070.3/sq mi
  • 北京 (Beijing) Density (2010) 3,391.4/sq mi
  • Київ (Kyiv/Kiev) – Density (2008) 8,544.4/sq mi
  • New York City Urban Density (2008) 5,435.7/sq mi / Metro Density 2,828.4/sq mi
  • Atlanta Density (2008) 4,018.4/sq mi / Metro Density 629.4/sq mi
  • Looks like Mumbai, India leaves everybody in the dust when it comes to packing in the people.

    How close do you live to your nearest neighbor? What are the best reasons to live where the population is dense, or why do you choose to live in a sparsely populated rural hamlet?