Where do I begin?
I find myself wondering what direction God wants me to take for this Spigot? The past two weeks brought deep impact upon my soul. Thank you for going with me to Ukraine and Moldova through your prayers and encouragement.
From June 23-July 7, Gary and I spent 100 hours in public transit – the movie “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” took on a fresh meaning. We sat on airplanes for 24 hours, bumped along in buses for 32 hours, rode 4 hours by cars, and sat and slept on trains for 40 hours. We only spent two nights in a row once in the same city during the 15 nights. I guess you could say, we were constantly on the move. God poured out grace with good health and physical stamina.
While the impact from this trip will likely drip into my upcoming Spigots, I ponder this today. After the war started, Andrey Kravtsev, a Ukranian who had been living in Russia, moved to Kharkiv to love the Ukraine people with the gospel. Over the past 1 1/2 years he has served the people with meals, physical support, and spiritual truth as he church plants with the good news. He described our visit to Kharkiv, Ukraine as one reflecting solidarity.
Solidarity – unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group.
Andrey shared that he does not get visitors, as most avoid Kharkiv due to its proximity to the war zone. The Russian boarder is just 18 miles away. He welcomed us, showed us the devastation brought upon by the Russian attacks, prayed with us, and invited us to share time with the Hope for Family Center (which he formed), located in the middle of one of the frequently bombed areas in the Kharkiv suburb of Saltivka. Our presence communicated to Andrey and the people of Ukraine that they are neither alone nor forgotten.
Although many of the population (55 and younger) fled to safer regions of Ukraine and other countries, the quiet streets of Kharkiv contain the aged, hurting, and needy. At the church service in a small rectangular room, 50 older Ukrainian people gathered to share stories of praise in the midst of hardship. Gary preached a message of hope from Acts 4, sharing the gospel and inviting the people to not be discouraged. It seemed our very presence shouted of the unity in the body of Christ. They experienced our solidarity with them.
This was an especially meaningful time. The people could not believe we had come and yet cherished the reminder that God loves them and they were not forgotten. They did not want us to leave; it was as though our arrival reminded them that there is life outside of the war. Our prayer is for the war to cease so that they might know this life again as well.
I remember the little ladies. Many of them, ranging between 60-80, just wanted to touch me. With the universal language of presence, they sweetly clutched my hands and my arms while exposing radiant smiles of love and connection. I smiled with them, touched my heart to theirs and reminded them of God’s love. This revealed solidarity in the midst of war, uncertainty, and brokenness. My soul is not the same.
This reminds me of Jesus’ prayer for the body of Christ in John 17 –
“Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.” (vs. 11)
“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” (vs. 15-18)
“I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (vs. 21-23)
Jesus prayed for solidarity. He asked God to unify us in Himself. In the time with the Ukrainian people we set aside the differences that might exist – language, economic status, denominational tradition, and location – we rallied around the Lord Jesus Christ who unites us in Himself. Jesus wanted the body of Christ to live in unity, thus showing the world the love of God.
How might God invite you to demonstrate solidarity with others? What “differences” must you set aside in order to live in unity with the body of Christ?
Although I have returned to home in Littleton, Colorado, I wonder about the ways I can express unity with our brothers and sisters in Ukraine? They need encouragement, spiritual nourishment, and economic support. How might I continue to come alongside them, even from a distance? What about you?
Before this trip, I did not actively pray for the war to cease. I did not beseech the Lord on behalf of the Ukrainian people. The atrocities I saw convicted me and moved me to cry out, as God’s people have done in the past, pleading with the God of the universe to help (Exodus 2:23-25). One of the things I plan to do is actively pray for the specific people I met as well as for Ukraine as a nation. I look to the Lord and His presence, deliverance, and redemption of this war. He is faithful.
Maybe you feel uncertain about the ways to act in solidarity and unity with Ukraine, but what about those around you? To whom might God draw you to stand with in the midst of hardship, uncertainty, and brokenness? Take a moment – Ask God. Notice the names and faces that cross your mind and heart. Intentionally connect with these people this week as an expression of living in the unity Jesus prayed for us to exhibit.
Let the Spirit move within us to live in solidarity, as one body, following our sovereign Lord Jesus Christ. May the world see the love of God through us and receive His hope and healing through the life we know in Him. God loves you! God loves His children! God desires that we live courageous with Him and one another in unity.
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Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.
Romans 12:18 – If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Ephesians 4:1-6 – As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Read these recommended books to fill your soul.
Francis Chan. Until Unity. Colorado Springs, CO. 2021.
Henri Nouwen. The Way of the Heart: Connecting with God Through Prayer, Wisdom, and Silence. New York, NY. 2003.
Sprinklings of Truth: Soak in meaningful songs. Check out these music videos to lift up your spirit.
10,000 Fathers and Mothers. Let us Be Known. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyJNkGGG1os
Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.
July 11 – Littleton, CO