Our work in Ukraine is impossible without pastors like Misha. They live among the people and know their needs and problems. If their congregations are not able to provide help to people, they give us (Emergency Relief Fund) information on those people in need and we help, when that is possible. Misha is a man with a big heart. About 15 years ago he started his ministry to the street kids in Odessa. He organized a soup kitchen for them and also started Bible lessons for the kids. When he walks on the streets, you see people greeting him. He is known for his heart and people know that “uncle Misha” will have a good word for them and other help as well.He calls me often with a new story of a person he met and needs some help. His phone rings all day long and he listens to people who have difficult situations. He comforts them on the phone and gives them instructions and encouragement. Misha is different from the typical portrait of a pastor as we think of it. He is right in the heart of people’s lives.
Misha is fighting with his own health issues. About 10 years ago his hormonal system became disrupted and since that time he is gaining weight even though he is on a strict diet. He is concerned about it because he does not have much strength. His is frustrated because he cannot labor in the ministry as much as he used to. He also is evaluating his ministry to the kids and to the refugees. He asks himself a question- “Do the people come for the meetings he organizes just to get something from him or is there a deeper interest in the Word of God.
When I visited a site for the refugees on this visit he told me that he had stopped going here because there is nothing else at the moment he can give to the people except the Word of God. He felt that people would not come to the meetings with him if he came with empty hands – without food packages and other stuff they need.
As we entered the building right away people started approaching him and asking him why he is not coming to them anymore. He told them he could come at any time but the problem is that he had nothing to bring to them. The reaction of some people right away was that they left us. But a lady came to us and said – “pastor you should come here even if, out of several hundred refugees, just 3 or 4 would come for a meeting, for a Bible study. And I know several people here who are deeply interested in studying the Bible with you”.
That was a great encouragement for both of us. We talked among ourselves and thought of crowds of people who were following our Lord Jesus Christ, just because they saw the miracles of the bread and fish. When involved in the ministry we will always have people following us for the wrong motives. But the joy for a pastor is to see 4 out of hundreds in whose hearts the Lord is working.