Half a world away in Ukraine many dear friends remain in harm’s way in the wake of the Russian invasion.  Some have fled west to Poland and southwest to Rumania while others are in transit, dodging the pincers of the Russian army and fleeing Putin’s inexorable red stain on the sky blue and sunflower yellow land; still others have sheltered in out of the way towns and neighborhoods, praying to be bypassed and hoping to feed and keep warm their families for what remains of the winter; and all too many remain unaccounted for as we agonize through the hours of their silence.  Yes, the immediate situation is dire, and even as we know a great many of you are praying, we ask for your diligence and thank God that nothing escapes His omniscient gaze and His ability to intervene with His ever-caring hands. We plead with you to pray.
     The Ukraine I knew for many short term mission trips was a one of people who loved their freedom and hoped for better lives.  It was a place where billboards blossomed, kiosks grew up around metro stations like grass in the Spring rains, and where beautiful Ukrainians, crowded into their tiny kitchens, laughed and talked with the love of the Lord in their hearts.  It was a place where Bible teaching was new and the people were unjaded toward biblical Christianity, and where many of us first knew the power of God’s calling to the mission field.  I can well remember at the conclusion of my first trip to Kyiv knowing with certainty that God was calling me.  I am where I am because of Ukraine, because of Jim Myers, and those beautiful steadfast believers in our Savior.

     There is uncertainty now about the freedom to continue the work there, at least in aboveground forms.  But make no mistake: no tyrant, no bully, no not-yet-converted Saul of Tarsus can stop the all-powerful Holy Spirit and His work in the church.  Because of this war the Gospel will spread, many will grow strong, and the determination to continue will only become adamant.  These are the friends I know well.  They will continue to acquit themselves with courage and faith and the work will continue wherever they land and in whatever forms the Lord directs.  
    One more request.  Get into the fray.  Give your whole self to the Great Commission of our Savior.  It is human nature to sleepwalk through the routines of our daily lives and give barely a glimpse to the world out there that is longing for Christ and worse, dying without Christ.  It is human nature to stay on the sidelines and be convinced of all that you lack to serve the Lord in the harvest of a dying world. Rather, be convinced of all that He has given you, and find places and ways to serve.  He will direct your steps.

                                         Serving the Chief Shepherd,

                                                         Mark and Rene’

Romans 12:9–13, “9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.”