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.


busy day of rest

4 10 2010

Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest and worship, right? A day to pause, to dwell, to feast, a day for remembering the mighty deeds of God and reveling in the resurrection of Jesus, for gathering with his people and helping each other really hear the gospel as we worship together.

Today was a good Sunday, not in the sense of slow time (how I longed for that this afternoon when I felt the early autumn chill mixed with the warm late afternoon sunlight, but I was walking to my car) but in the sense that I spent lots of time with God’s people. This morning I worshiped with Chattanooga Valley Presbyterian Church (CVPC) and had the privilege to tell about some of the ways God is building his kingdom in Ukraine. Then I drove up to my home church, North Shore Fellowship for lunch and to hear from two families who taught at an English camp in the Czech Republic this past summer. Next I stopped at a friend’s house to meet their newly adopted son from Korea, and closed out the evening with my neighborhood church small groups for dinner and a worship service.

I’m thankful for the church–the people of God. In particular I’m thankful for those in the two small groups here in St. Elmo, my neighborhood. We’re messy and broken, but we’ve been bought by Jesus’ blood. I believe that in the warp and woof of our life together, knowing and being known in fellowship around the resurrected Jesus, God will shape us to be more like Jesus. He gives rest to the weary, and hopefully as we rest in him we’ll grow in living out the full-orbed well-being or shalom that God intends to work in our community through us.

Yes, I had a full Sunday. But I was with God’s gathered people, and we enjoyed being with Jesus and with each other. Even with brothers and sisters I don’t know well this morning, I rejoiced because we share a common God and Savior, who graciously gives us rest by his work for us. We were reminded this evening from Psalm 13 to be honest with God in our prayers (He’s big enough to take it), and after being honest to focus on him and his steadfast love rather than our problems. Is that not rest: drawing near with confidence to the throne of grace, and receiving mercy and finding grace to help in time of need?

Busy day of rest? Yup. Wouldn’t want that schedule every Sunday. But today it was good, and I was glad to enjoy Jesus with his people.

(Plus I got to sing “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” twice, and that hymn rocks!)