Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Big Lesson from Ukraine!

I am grateful for the opportunity to travel to Ukraine this July and to minister there for the 20th time! I never would have imagined that God would give me such an opportunity as this. The friends I have made . . . the memories forged . . . the evidence of God’s powerful hand, are all things that are still marking my life and will mark it forever. This summer, we had an incredible team of 19 people representing 3 of our Converge MidAtlantic churches who traveled to western Ukraine for 13 days. In addition, teams from 3 other Converge MidAtlantic churches ministered in the eastern/central region of Ukraine this summer. One personal memory that lodges deep in my mind and heart is the power that comes from fully depending on the Lord!

This summer I had the opportunity to preach in several Ukrainian churches and to share the Word of God with leaders of the Baptist Union of Western Ukraine. The settings were varied. One was in a formal and traditional church, one of the largest Baptist Churches in western Ukraine. Another setting was a small village church, preaching to about 100 children and their parents as a part of a Ukrainian summer camp. Another setting was an outdoor baptismal service in a village, with 10 adults following Jesus in the waters of baptism.The setting with the Ukrainian leaders, was in an office building, sitting around a simple conference table.

In each of these different settings, I felt somewhat uncomfortable. I’m not used to preaching to a group of children! I’m not necessarily all that comfortable in an overly formal service! Preaching outdoors in the heat of the sun, was not really all that much fun, either! Of course, in each setting, I was speaking with the aid of an interpreter.

While the settings were different, and I was somewhat uncomfortable in each situation, the common thread was that in each situation, I felt God’s power and anointing in amazing ways! I could tell that the hearts of the Ukrainian children were really touched through my simple children’s sermon. In the traditional First Baptist Church, I could discern God’s voice coming through my voice in unusual ways, as I preached about being a movement church there in Ukraine and around the world. In the outdoor baptismal service, I felt like the clear good news of Jesus came through my lips in an absolutely wonderful way. I could tell that churched and unchurched people were listening and responding.

Without a doubt, the common thread for me was a need to depend upon the Lord. I felt a simple yet powerful desire to be an instrument in God’s hand. I really wanted the people to hear God, not me. I believe I was open to the Spirit of God, and as a result, He worked in wonderful ways through me.

This one facet of my ministry in Ukraine has reminded me that nothing can replace the power of depending on God in my preaching, in my leading, and in all I do. Again, ministering in Ukraine has taught me a needed lesson. Lord, help me to continually work and move in a spirit of dependence on you. That’s where I want to be, not only when in Ukraine, but wherever I find myself.

Thanks for letting me share a bit of my journey!


Dan Peterson

Converge MidAtlantic