Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things."

Monday, February 21, 2005

Sunday, 13 February 2005

This morning it is snowing. This is getting kind of funny, but my host Jim Dumas keeps saying, this is the worst weather since I’ve been coming to Ukraine… the worst cold last week, and the worst snow today. I feel very privileged. Because of issues with the meeting place, the church doesn’t meet until 2 PM. When you see people you want to say “good morning” out of force of habit, but it is really afternoon, so everyone is correcting themselves. I taught this morning on James 1:21-25, and the necessity of studying and especially applying the Word of Truth. It is difficult for me to tell who is responding and who is not, because I don’t know this congregation. With some it is obvious, while others are very stone-faced and some even plainly uninterested. But it’s the Word and I’m teaching it, so it’s a good afternoon. Jim and Phyllis invite Alene and I for late lunch, then I head back to the office to await the evening prayer meeting and Bible study.

The Sunday evening Bible study is packed into the tiny classroom like sardines, maybe 25-30 souls overflowing into the hallway. Oksana translates while I teach some biblical passages on wealth. No pulpit, decrepit chairs, and just us and the Spirit. Now this is the best teaching experience here yet; everyone seems locked on, and besides the back row about 11 feet away. Toward the last third of the message I get to the passage in Philippians 2 where every knee will bow, and I have to brace myself from losing it. I will share that moment of the rapture with these people here in this room, their voices confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord in their native Russian and Ukrainian. I long for that day all the more now. It is ironic to teach wealth, being an American in Ukraine. I am having the typical experience in that sense: Materially, I have everything and they have nothing. Folks have told me all the time how great it is to go overseas and see how folks live in poor countries. Ukraine isn’t terribly poor, but it noticeably poorer from my country. So now I am supposed to appreciate the material wealth I enjoy all the more. I appreciate Americans who are rich in the Word, who sacrifice for others and especially for freedom. They’re the wealthiest of Americans. But I know who is rich and who is poor regardless of what country I’m in, and in a sense I don’t appreciate American material wealth any more. But I do have a keener appreciation for real wealth, eternal wealth.

After Bible study the younger people stay in the office a couple of hours, playing word and party games, laughing uproariously all together. Jim and I sit in the library, the room next door, and get caught up on friends and tell stories of ministry and trials from years gone by. The clock ticks by and suddenly it is ten PM and another day has passed, and I feel as rich as ever. It has been one week since we left Colorado – seems like a long time ago already. The next week is likely to go even faster.

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