The 2019 Spring mission trip was unlike any before. Instead of going to just one city the Light of Hope team accepted an invitation to start ten evangelistic meetings in ten cities of the Euro-Asia Division. Early spring is always a season of evangelism in the churches of Russia and Ukraine and all of the pastors are engaged in some type of outreach program. After many prayers and consultations with church leaders in Eastern Europe, I felt that this would be an excellent way to help local churches draw more people to the opening night of their meetings.
Well-known violinist Jaime Jorge happily agreed to join me on this trip. Jaime travelled to that part of the world several times in the past and he felt compelled to go again. Honestly speaking, I was surprised that he agreed to this uneasy task of performing at meetings every day and traveling by trains, planes, and automobiles practically every night. That schedule required a passion for the Gospel and a love for people. Jaime clearly had both.
The first few cities we visited were all in Eastern Ukraine. The ongoing military conflict in the region brought devastation into big cities and small towns. We could see destroyed hospitals, houses with no roofs, and bunkers on the road with military men checking every car on the road for possible explosives or undocumented militants. However, nothing could stop people from coming to the meetings. Rented auditoriums in Severodonetsk, Kramatorsk, and Mariupol were packed with hundreds of people. They were all searching for hope; they were devouring every word from the Bible. I was touched to the very core of my soul as I met individuals who risked their freedom to cross the frontline and come to the meetings from the regions controlled by pro-Russian military. In those areas all Adventist churches have been closed by the authorities. No evangelism or outreach is allowed.
In Severodonetsk I met a woman who was so excited about the meetings that she personally contacted six hundred individuals and invited them to come. Her efforts proved to be very successful.
In Mariupol, among hundreds of visitors I met a father who had come to my meetings two years ago. At that time his son was a heavy drug user and his health was practically destroyed. Every night we had a special prayer for him. Now, two years later, this father could not wait to share great news with me. God helped his son. Not only had he stopped using drugs, but he is now working at the Adventist health center helping other young people overcome drug addiction!
From Eastern Ukraine we travelled to Odessa, Kiev, and Kharkiv. Bumpy roads, hours and hours on trains, and missed dinners were nothing in comparison with the joy of sharing the Three Angels message.
After a week in Ukraine, Jaime and I were on a train heading to Russia. We had to cross the border at two in the morning. Once again we could see that God’s Spirit was a step ahead of us. The passport control and customs officials did not look friendly at first. However, after twenty minutes of stern interrogations and silent prayers we noticed their spirit soften. Our passports were stamped and we were allowed to get off the train in Belgorod.
Limitations on religious freedom prevented the churches in Russia from renting public auditoriums. We conducted the meetings in local church buildings. It was encouraging to see that our church members were inviting their neighbors and coworkers to attend. At every location there were many new visitors who now continue Bible studies with local church pastors.
Traveling from city to city, Jaime and I had confidence in God’s guidance and protection. Over 6,000 people attended the meetings overall. Your many prayers opened the hearts and minds of people towards acceptance of the Gospel. Your financial support provided Bibles and study guides as well as physical bread for the children in many Ukrainian orphanages. Please, continue to pray for our new brothers and sisters in Eastern Europe.