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.





I got a name tag

20 11 2009

Mission to the World (MTW) just approved me as a missionary to Kiev, Ukraine!  I spent this past week at MTW with nine other missionary candidates for Interview and Orientation (I&O), the final step in the application processes.

I&O was a very full, busy week, and I felt very cared for by MTW.  When I met with the candidate committee to find out if I was approved or not, the first thing they did was hand me a magnetic name tag and welcome me to MTW.

Here’s my I&O group at the end of the week, excited to be new missionaries, to be done with the week, and to see how the Lord will work in our lives over the coming years as we raise support and then head to all corners of the globe.





invitation to Kiev

14 10 2009

The Mission to the World (MTW) Kiev team has invited me to join them in Ukraine! I’m currently filling out some supplementary forms due back to MTW before Oct. 26th, which are required prior to my attending their Interview and Orientation (I&O) in Atlanta, 16 – 20 November. If I’m approved at I&O, I’ll then be officially approved as an MTW missionary, raising support for 2 to 3 years of service in Kiev.

Please pray for three things:
(1.) that my employer will grant me time off for the MTW I&O in November;
(2.) that I finish and return all the paperwork to MTW no later than October 26th; and
(3.) that God would use my present excitement at the prospect of serving in Kiev to deepen my hunger for him in his Word and my longing to see Jesus treasured everywhere, including here in Chattanooga where I’m called to serve for the near future.





giving thanks

27 09 2009

Its nearly 2:00 AM Monday in Kiev, Ukraine right now.  No wonder I feel a bit tired, jet-lagged here in northwest Georgia just outside Chattanooga.  Yesterday (Saturday) morning I got up at 3:30am for my flight home from Kiev, and I was home by 10:30pm.  This morning I woke early, alert and excited to gather with other believers to worship the Lord together.

Thank you for your prayers.  My trip was worthwhile, and I got a good sense of what the Presbyterian missionaries are doing to equip and encourage the Ukrainian church in Kiev and Odessa.  There are a number of ways I could serve in Kiev after learning Russian, including music ministry and mentoring, evangelistic outreach, discipleship, and possibly theological education in the future.  The team there looks like a good fit for me, and I got the sense they may think I’d work well as part of their team.

Please continue praying for me as I pursue where and how the King is calling me to serve in the coming years, and as I serve where he has placed me right now.  Tomorrow morning I’m returning to my full time civil engineering work, helping to push back the brokenness and play my part in seeing God’s common grace blessings extended through better, safer, and more efficient transportation systems.  I remain your debtor–thanks again for your prayers.

Last Sunday I was excited to worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ in Kiev, where I found myself longing to know Russian and thankful for Hebrew words like “hallelujah” that call everyone everywhere to praise Jahweh.  Today I was thankful to be able to worship in English.  Isn’t it exciting that God’s steadfast love, which narrowed through Abraham, Israel, Judah, and David until it focused on Jesus, burst out to all the peoples, languages, and nations of the world when Jesus rose from the dead?  As Psalm 57:9 says, “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.”

Here are three pictures:

I’m at the Zoloti Vorota (Golden Gate) in Kiev, built by Yaroslav the Wise in 1037, destroyed when the Mongol’s sacked Kiev in 1240, and rebuilt in 1982.

The Kiev skyline at nightfall, from the front balcony where I stayed the first half of my trip.

Maydan Nezalezhnosti is the “Independence Mall” in the center of downtown Kiev.





time to travel

14 09 2009

I am returning to Ukraine tomorrow (15 – 26 September) to visit with two
teams of missionaries, one in Kiev and one in Odessa.  Many of you have
prayed for me over the past few years as I’ve considered and pursued how and
where the Lord is calling me to serve.  Both teams are Mission to the World
church planting teams working with Ukrainian presbyterian churches to
establish and strengthen the church in Ukraine.  During this ten day trip, I
will be considering these two teams and they will be considering me, to see
if I might be a good fit on one of their teams for two to three years.

Some of you may wonder how this fits with my civil engineering work.  I am a
professional engineer, but that is not my passion, and I’m hoping that some
of my gifts, strengths, and skills that have benefited me in civil
engineering will be able to transfer to a church planting team.  The folks
in Kiev have a seminary for training Russian-speaking pastors, and I’m quite
interested in the possibility of teaching there longer-term, if that is how
the Lord leads.  That team also has university ministry outreach, music
ministry (including possibly mentoring Ukrainian musicians for thinking
about music in worship), work with an orphanage, and lots of possibilities
since its a city of 5 million people.

Please pray:
1.)  For safe flights (Newark to Boston to Copenhagen to Kiev).
2.)  That I will grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus.
3.)  That the Lord will clarify his leading in my life.
4.)  That I will be an encouragement to the missionaries I meet with.
5.)  For safe travels within Ukraine.  The evening of the 20th I’ll take an
overnight train to Odessa, and the evening of the 22nd another overnight
train back to Kiev.
6.)  That I will pick up a few Russian phrases quickly.
7.)  That the nations will delight more and more in Jesus!

Please let me know if you have questions or comments for me.  Thanks so much
for your prayers.

joyfully,

Joel