I want to talk to you about phase three of our Ukraine outreach. Our first phase was triage–helping desperate people who were literally running for their lives. We helped feed, house, and transport these hurting people (mostly women and children), and it was a privilege to do so in Jesus’ name.
I just read that the number of folks who have left Ukraine is 8.2 million. A fair number of them have settled close by in Poland, Romania, and Hungary and have indicated they want to come back to Ukraine.
Phase two was helping the churches in Ukraine minister to those who were not leaving and those displaced but staying in the country. We were able to identify key leaders in several of the war fronts whom we brought together on two separate occasions to minister to, strategize with, and determine the most effective use of our resources and efforts. This has gone remarkably well.
One of the highlights is that through a number of divine appointments, there are now people working together who didn’t know each other before the war. Phase two also included our first serve team. This was a medical team, and not only did this team do incredible work, but it helped us determine how to facilitate teams for ongoing ministry.
We are now entering phase three. If you had told me six months ago we would be doing this now, I would have been skeptical. The acceleration is owed to the generosity of God's people, because without resources and strategies it would all be empty ideas. Another key part is the fearless and sacrificial leadership of the pastors and leaders who are leading and loving in circumstances that defy description. Pastor Mervin and Dasha Strothers were ordained to be a part of this. Mervin served in pastoral ministry for fifteen years in Russia, where he and Dasha met. Having former Russian missionaries in Ukraine is an amazing scenario. (The Ukrainians totally embrace them!) They have used their language skills not only while we have been in the country, but they have also worked tirelessly once home, spending many days translating and communicating via Zoom calls and emails. Just as we were seeking credible leaders to work with, so too were the Ukrainian leaders, not wanting to be sidetracked with outsiders who were not reputable and dependable. Pastor Mervin and Dasha have given us tremendous credibility and trust.
So, that brings us to phase three–that is, bringing in other leaders we trust to connect with those in Ukraine that we are working with, as we honestly can’t give them the time and encouragement they need and are asking for. In July, Pastor Mervin will lead a trip with five other ministers for the purpose of connecting them to leaders so we can multiply the work. We’ve moved from triage to proactive leadership connections and church planting in fifteen months!! This is utterly amazing.
Yes, there is still a war going on, and bombs are falling. There are still great needs (aka opportunities), but these people are on the move, planting churches in towns and villages that had no church before. I know it’s easy to have our hearts moved when we see mothers carting their children across the border, not knowing where their next meal will come from. Right now in Ukraine, for those who have a vision to see a country impacted by the gospel in a moment in history, there is an historical opportunity to help. Can you see it? I do. I’m looking for visionary believers who can see it and seize it. Would you consider helping at this critical juncture? One local pastor had called it the bread revival. Passing out both loaves of bread and giving the living bread at the same time, just like it should be.
I’ve enclosed a map below so you can see what I mean by the opportunity we have. On our last trip we reported to you the destruction we found when we entered Izyum. I also told you of the incredible ministry that took place there and the strategy of planting a church in this devastated area. That church is now meeting on a regular basis. They are receiving necessary supplies and aid. They are only an hour and a half away from Bakhmut, where heavy entrenched fighting has been going on for months. Establishing strong churches in this region is critical to see restoration and revival. I just need friends with the vision to see the moment. Please do all you can to make a difference in people's lives in a country under siege. Thank you.
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In the Master’s Service,
NRP Team Leader
Keith has written an article sharing his thoughts on what has happened in Ukraine and how Christians should respond. You can read it HERE.