by David Burka
When you read this, Lord willing, we will be finishing up our mission trip to Ukraine. As I write and we prepare to go, I am struck by the similarities and differences between our work and that of the Apostle Paul and other early missionaries. Certainly I am not comparing myself with that great New Testament writer, and yet we are all called to do some of the same things he was. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age”. This command is not just to a few, but to everyone.
The differences are many: 1) he traveled slowly across the land by foot and the sea by wooden craft, while we will go swiftly across the land by van and the sky in an aluminum craft; 2) Paul often went alone or with one or two men for company, we will have ten people with whom to commiserate; 3) he spoke at least two languages fluently, none of us are fluent in Russian; 4) he was threatened and imprisoned, we will be welcomed with open arms; 5) Paul didn’t know how long he would stay in some places, while we have a definite schedule.
One thing is the same: he went to share the Good News about Jesus, and we are going to do that, too. As long as we are using God’s Word to reach out to those we meet, we know we are doing His work. While numerous teachers and staff here are sharing the Gospel with hundreds of children in our Vacation Bible School in a big air conditioned building, the ten of us will take the same message each morning to groups of twenty-five or so in a public park and in a member’s home. Our ladies will also teach a ladies class and the men will teach local teens at a shelter. Each evening we will help with a gospel meeting at a town hall, preached by the local minister, Sasha. Since Ukraine is at the same latitude as Minnesota, there is typically no air conditioning in most buildings. Each group, the teachers at our VBS and the teachers in Ukraine, will be sharing God’s love and the Good News with as many as will listen.
As you pillow your head in your own bed (something I am looking forward to!), remember the members of the church there and the many interested souls who may hear God’s word for the first time this week. Pray that the seed will sink into “good soil” and that many Ukrainians will be brought into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and that the Lord adds to His church those who are being saved, as He did in Acts 2:47.