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August 24, 2004

Happy Independence Day!

Kyivites are celebrating Ukraine’s independence today. We skipped most of the festivities downtown, but have had a wonderful day with the boys. Ukraine, in its current political construct, is only 13 years old. Thirteen. I have dear friends with children older than that.

And while Ukraine is still in a bit of a rocky adolescence finding her own self-identity, she’s survived the first toddler steps of independence and the growing pains of separating from the Soviet Union.

The economic outlook seems bright. I look around my neighborhood and see new high-rises under construction, retail stores opening, and consumer goods not even imaginable when we first arrived now easy to find. Hubby, who has done real economic research (as opposed to my “glance around the neighborhood” analysis) is impressed with the economic growth and stability of the past few years.

Spiritually, we can see the hand of God moving. When the Iron Curtain came down, we all heard of the amazing responsiveness people had to the Gospel. That sort of enthusiasm is no longer here. Instead, attitudes toward religion are jaded, cults and cultic churches have scared people off, and new age philosophies are growing. And while Eastern Orthodoxy seems to be recovering from the trauma of communist oppression, it often seems intent on instituting some of its own.

But God is calling his lost sheep in Ukraine to Himself. Each week we gather in corporate worship with people from our neighborhood. We know several solid seminaries, where pastors and Believers are emerging with a sound foundation in the Bible and a vision of Ukraine and the surrounding countries. We see young Believers maturing rapidly eager to study and grow. And I’m not just talking about our church, but we’re also seeing churches having an impact on the wider community and country

And so we rejoice at what God is doing. He has brought independence to a nation, and He is bringing His people into dependence upon Himself.


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What a lift to read this.

Posted by: Earth Girl at August 25, 2004 04:22 AM

I've heard the expression "Bible belt of Europe" being applied to Ukraine these days. Perhaps at some point Ukrainians will be preaching the gospel again to western Europeans.

I was really struck by the complete lack of any sense of christian activity in my two days in Stockholm last year. Come to think of it I didn't see a whole lot more in Vienna this year. But Ukrainians really seem to be a religious people.

Our friend John Hamilton who spent a lot of time in Russia and Ukraine over the last 15 years spent a lot of time with us preparing our teams to travel, but his impressions of the people seem somewhat dated now. While there is certainly plenty of cynicism and poverty, we also saw a lot of optimism and signs of growth. In the small cities in the Carpathians we drove through we saw a whole bunch of half finished houses. We asked about them and were told that these were, in essense, bank accounts. Folks will take their savings and spend a few years building a nice house. I guess they don't trust the banks yet. Still seemed like a good sign, that people are building.

Posted by: Paul Baxter at August 25, 2004 01:52 PM

Wish I could be optimistic about the economy and I know it's all relative, but it seems to me that the problem isn't whether the economy is growing, but where the benefits are going. I'm afraid the unfinished houses are often paid for by remittances from Ukrainians working abroad, and the folks on my bus from Lviv the other night, who were making the booze and cigarette smuggling run to the Polish border towns, didn't seem to be prospering.

Then again, the ones who got caught and got their Polish visas cancelled can always go and buy a new passport (with a different name) for 50 bucks or so...which rather neatly gets back to my point about where the money's going...

Posted by: The Liberal Media at August 25, 2004 06:42 PM

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