Going on my fourth trip to Kiev, Ukraine, I was asked the question: “How do you prepare for such a trip?” Obviously, there is a multitude of matters to take care of, including negotiating the ticket and schedule, packing, finishing up my notes for teaching and preaching, accommodations in Kiev and it a host of other details. Other than these temporal matters, there is the spiritual side of which I am most aware.
The Ukraine has been struggling sometime now especially politically and economically. Kiev is relatively safe now, but this is not true of the eastern border of the country. I am very aware of the situation, and because of this I attempt to prepare myself not just physically but for lack of a better term, spiritually.
I am going to teach students at Kiev Regional Bible College in a suburb of Kiev, which is Vyshneve. International Theological Education Ministries, ITEM, in St. Louis, of which I am a board member, is my sending agency. My subject is the first half of church history which is from the first century until the Protestant Reformation. I usually have about thirty students from the Kiev region in attendance; they range in ages from their twenties to sixties. They are always eager and most pleasant to be with though their situation is in many cases austere.
So, how do I prepare? First, I remember the need in this area. Theological education would be almost impossible for many of the students in the Ukraine to obtain, so we come to them. Of course, there are internet resources, but we have found that the personal encounter is more effective. I consider it a privilege to go to share with them how God has work throughout history His purposes. I have also taught various books of the New Testament there such as Romans and James.
Second, I remember the grace of the Lord, and how He has guided in the past and how my trust is in Him ultimately. Life is filled with the unknown, but we can trust Him as we attempt to serve.
Third, I recall the great love of God, and how this quality expresses itself in service. Everyone can serve, just ask for direction, and He will lead.
We are surrounded globally and locally by those who have needs. The Lord will give wisdom how to minister whether it is by going, or helping to send or maybe most importantly praying.