By Brother Sasha:
We live in amazing times, times of upheavals. Times when it is very difficult to maintain confidence and equanimity. It seems like the whole world has gone mad. Events and upheavals follow each other with kaleidoscopic swiftness. Tragedies occur constantly and the memory of them lasts until something else happens.
The world does not look safe. Terrorist attacks, upheavals in different countries, natural disasters, crime and violence cover every continent. It is impossible to hide anywhere.
We conduct our ministry in Ukraine among frustrated, frightened and often embittered people. The shocks of the past few years resound. It seems like the entire nation is struck with fear and pain. Some people withdraw into themselves, trying to limit their contacts with the real world. Some people withdraw into alcohol and drugs. Other people, falling into despair seeing corruption, social injustice and devastation, look for a better life for themselves and for their children and begin to immigrate. It is difficult, very difficult to see any prospect of further life in Ukraine.
It is also difficult to be in ministry because only a person who is consoled by the Lord can comfort other people. However, the minister is not a robot without emotions, the minister himself can experience pain, despair, and uncertainty about the future. I know God, I know His promises, but being human, I experience feelings similar to those people whom I serve. There are times when dark despondency comes to my heart. Discouragement because of the imperfection of this world. Pain from so much grief around. Despair because our possibilities and resources are limited to help everyone we would like to help. Sometimes there is a desire to lock yourself in your own world, in your home, in your family and not let someone else's pain into your life.
But the Holy Spirit is called the Comforter for a reason. He condemns the heart, but also provides comfort. He recalls the meaning of life. He talks about the realities, realities of an earthly and eternal prospect. He enables us to focus internally on true biblical values. He strengthens my inner man and gives me strength to continue my path. And not just continue, but also to find joy in life and in ministry.
He comforts through the Word of God, for example, through this passage from the book of Revelation, chapter 22:11-13 (11) He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. (12) And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (13) I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
Many times in my life, His Word calms my troubled soul and gives me peace. Is there injustice around? God says, you be just. Is there unrighteousness around? God says, you put on the righteousness of Christ and live this righteousness. Is there devastation around? God says, you build it up, because God is the Creator of all new things and He gave His children strength and ability to restore things around them. He gave us the ministry of reconciliation - the ministry of reconciliation with God. The ministry of restoration of relationships destroyed by sin.
I am thankful to God that He blessed me with many good friends here on earth. For a long time, being the head of LOR and conducting pastoral ministry, I struggled to find people with whom I could openly share my experiences, problems, and the struggle against sin. Basically, I had to solve my spiritual experiences on my own. Often God spoke to me through books, sometimes He sent the right people at the right time, so that even one short conversation could affect the state of my heart.
Today, I am glad that God has blessed me with several close friends with whom I can pray and share my experiences, be open to them and search for God together with them.
I thank God for the team of our LOR ministry. I am grateful to Him for the gifts and abilities of the brothers - for the heart and wisdom of Vadim Chubukin. For the dedication and vigor of Andrey Malov. For the experience of Konstantin Antonyuk. For the wisdom of Andrey Murzin. For the spiritual depth of Igor Semenov.
God especially blessed me, because He brought these and many other friends and co-workers into my life. During the first three months of this year, God gave us a special grace for fellowship and reasoning. It's been three years since Ukraine was plunged into conflict. Nobody expected that this time would last so long. When all LOR team left Makiyivka, everyone thought they were leaving for 2-3 weeks, no more. It is now clear that this conflict and the division of the country will be here for a long time.
Nevertheless, in all that has happened there are some good moments as well. Before the conflict started, the ministry of LOR was mainly concentrated in Eastern Ukraine. Now God has blessed us to serve throughout Ukraine. It is no exaggeration to say that our ministry has multiplied and expanded. Yes, we left in Makeyevka a beautiful mission building, church, and clinic. But in return, God gave us many more opportunities and now we preach the good news of His death and Resurrection to far more people than it was before the war started. Now, I understand that it was God's plan to disperse us throughout Ukraine, and His plan to give us many more opportunities to serve. Glory to Him for His ways that are past finding out.
Each week another journey begins. Meetings with the pastors of Eastern Ukraine. Visiting lonely and sick people. Meetings with refugees who have relocated from the occupied areas of Western Ukraine and much more. I know that on this trip, I will also face a lot of pain and tears. A lot of disappointments, anger and resentment. On the road, I take His Word with me, Word that can comfort both my heart and the hearts of those I will serve. Revelation, chapter 22:
(3) And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (4) And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (5) And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.