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!


crazy-busy week = pray!

25 06 2012

Hi friends,

I don’ t know about you, but my week looks packed as I try to wrap up a number of things here prior to a month of pre-field training in New York City. Its tempting to think I don’t have time to soak in Scripture each morning, listen to God, and talk to him, but this is when I need that the most.

Pray that I’ll stay focused and present, that I’ll make wise choices with my time, and that the joy of the Lord would be my strength. Pray for me and all the other MTW missionaries who’ll spend July studying and practicing language acquisition skills, team dynamics, and cross-cultural ministry in New York City.

Pray that the reality of Jesus’ resurrection life would transform my daily routines and attitudes, that joy would permeate all I am and do.


hooray for progress!

14 05 2012

This past Sunday in our worship service we commissioned Jarett & Mary Carole Hall to serve in Monterrey, Mexico with MTW. I was particularly excited to see them heading to their field of service, because they and I started raising our prayer and financial support at the same time.

I just found out one of my supporting churches increased their monthly support by 60%, retroactively from the beginning of 2012! God’s working through your prayers, their generosity, and the giving of lots of others, too!

I’ve received 76% of my monthly support, and only need $933 per month in new pledges to be fully funded. God is providing, and I trust that I’ll be moving to Kiev this August!

Thank God with me, and keep praying for his provision of my remaining support.

105% one-time support

3 04 2012

Praise God with me: through your giving and prayers, He’s provided 105% of my one-time support. That extra 5% is about $1,200, or the equivalent of a two-year $50/month pledge.  My primary financial need is still monthly support pledges, but if a one-time gift is what God enables you to give, MTW can apply your gift toward my monthly support.

Monthly support is still at 62.5%, so I still need $690/month in new pledges to reach 80% before April 15th to register for training.

Kiev is a city God can use for global impact: its a capitol city at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, a borderland of sorts. One of my non-Christian friends from my first visit to Ukraine recently finished his studies in Ukraine and returned to his home country. Though I can still pray for him, I’ve missed the opportunity to catch up with him and commend Christ to him again in person, but there are other students like him in Kiev. Pray with me for the Ukrainian church’s witness to students like him. Ask God to supply my need so I can help our brothers and sisters in Ukraine grow in Christ and bear witness to the nations in Kiev, through their country, and to the world. Thanks!

19 days

27 03 2012

Just a quick update, friends: I only need $685 in new monthly support to reach 80% monthly by April 15th. Thanks to a new anonymous donor who’s pledged $40/month, and a quarterly donor who increased his or her pledge by 33%.

Praise God with me for 62.5% of my monthly support and 98.4% of my one-time support! Another $1,467 in monthly pledges and I’ll be 100% supported.  Aiming for August!

Pray that as I reach out to churches the Chattanooga area and the Tennessee Valley Presbytery, God would connect me with key individuals and families, and would move their hearts to partner in sending me to Kiev.

Thanks for your prayers and generosity!

21 day countdown

23 03 2012

I had my bi-weekly talk with my MTW coach today.  I thought I needed 80% overall support, and since I have 69% overall, I told you in my last post I only needed $500/month and some additional one-time gifts.  I was wrong.

To register for training this July, I must have 80% of my monthly support by April 15th. Can you help provide part of the $735/month I lack to register for training?

The blue bar in the graph on the left has to reach 80% in 21 days!

Email partnerservices@mtw.org with your monthly pledge to my support account, #17138.

You don’t have to start giving until I go to the field, and I’m asking you for a two-year pledge starting when I head to Ukraine. My goal is to finish fundraising this summer and move to Kiev in August.

If you’ve been thinking, “Oh, I’m gonna support Joel,” but you haven’t pledged yet, please pledge monthly support now, $300, $150, $90, $60, $30 per month, or whatever you are able.

As the Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians when he urged them to give as they’d intended,

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,
“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”           – 2 Corinthians 9:6-9 ESV

See http://swansonmission.com/give for details and links to download the electronic giving form, but please email MTW with your pledge to record it sooner.  Let me know if you have questions.

step of faith

3 03 2012

Perhaps I have it a little bit easier than Abraham. When God called him to leave his country, and follow God to a land the Lord would show him, Abraham went, having never seen Canaan before (Genesis 12). In contrast, I’ve been to Ukraine three times, seen some of the needs and spiritual darkness in Kiev, and been called to serve there. However, I feel that I’m taking a huge step of faith, in that I will soon be leaving my civil engineering work to focus full-time on raising my support this spring.

I’m aiming to wrap up my engineering responsibilities within the next three to five weeks.  My last day is a little bit of a moving target: I’ve told my supervisor when I hope to quit, I’m trying to flex as much as possible if the firm doesn’t have my replacement in place, and yet I have to walk in obedience to God’s call toward Kiev.  Pray that the Lord provides a good employee to take over my projects.  Pray that I finish my work with diligence and grace, that I continue to be a blessing in the engineering work were I’ve served 10+ years.

Pray for me as I’m faced with my first round of goodbyes–sure, I’m not moving away from Chattanooga to Kiev immediately, but I won’t see my colleagues daily as I have these past years.  Thank the Lord for his goodness in providing my job, for his goodness in the delightful people I’ve worked alongside, and for his goodness in providing the savings I will be living off of while finishing my support raising.

Finally, pray for me as I step into full time work building my team of financial and prayer partners.  What will I be doing? you may wonder.  Assuming that 10% or so of people will be able to give, and needing 30 to 35 new monthly partners to meet my remaining $1,600 per month support need, I’ve got to present my Ukraine ministry to 300 to 350 new people, and its best to meet in small groups or individually.  That means I’ll be calling churches, small groups, youth groups, and individuals, finding contacts, scheduling meetings, meeting with people to tell them how God is working in Kiev and how they can join in sending me, and following up with those people.  All the while I’ll be sending out thank you notes and my Ukraine prayer updates.

When?  I need to have 80% of my monthly support by April 15, so I can register for MTW’s pre-field training in July. Lord willing I’ll be moving to Ukraine in early August.  So pray for $800/month in new support by April 15th, and the other $800/month by the summer.

Thanks for your crucial role praying and giving: I can’t go unless you help to send me in a manner worthy of Jesus’ name. (3 John 6,7)