It was one of those milestone type events. For some, a group of new and old friends gathering for dinner. For me, the beginning of some visible, significant Kingdom synergy.
A shared space, with common vision. So many gifted, and energetic leaders emerging. The physical ‘space’ we desire represents a no-less real spiritual ‘space’ opening up before us in Ukraine.
As a collective set of ministries, we represent a wide range of experience and expertise in areas of evangelism and discipleship. With our connections outside of Ukraine as well, we’re able to, we believe, draw in potential resources together and make this a reality.
There are more partners to come, and some couldn’t make the dinner. It was nonetheless a wonderfully encouraging time and as one leader said, “I don’t even know some of you, and it’s like I’ve known you all for years.”
It’s difficult to describe the complexity of Ukraine right now. From my perspective, in light of our desire for a new platform in the capital, I’d like to try.
I feel it’s important for the western Church to grasp the opportunity in Ukraine.
The culture is experiencing, I believe, something very unique in it’s recent history. There was the initial fall of communism in the early 90’s. Ukraine, like all Soviet-block countries experienced an almost immediate breakdown of systems and services. Some countries stabilized better then others. Countries like Poland & Latvia began to develop fairly quickly, seeing fruitful results economically, politically, and socially rather quickly.
Others, like Belarus, immediately incubated themselves from sweeping changes and maintained a socialistic iron fist. Russia, the enigma that it is, seemed to open up for a season, only to regroup and lock down.
Ukraine however, has continuously been leveraged against, hampered and kept from it’s potential. Through forced dependence on natural resources, antiquated laws which deterred serious foreign investment, and puppet regimes, Ukraine has continued in an endless state of instability. I believe instability was by design, the end game ultimately as displayed with the continuous fighting in the East.
A strong united Ukraine, in any regard, is a serious threat to suppressed people. I believe the greatest fear of the closed countries next door is the embedded ideologies in Christendom, basically this;
There is a Creator and ultimate authority. His values displayed in Jesus are humanities ultimate rule.
For the first time in our 10yr journey, we sense hope in this emerging crop of youth. For one, they recognize the world has changed. That they are part of a global youth culture, without borders. The struggles are real, but so are the opportunities.
In an unstable environment, we look for anchors to hold us secure. For Ukraine, the next generation is starting to believe God not only exists, but knows and cares.
This is a powerful combination. The good news mixed with faith.
As I type, 170 youth are gathering in Kiev for 5 days for a conference on impacting their culture for Christ. Some of my own kids are there, as well as our YFM team. There’s one thing you can’t say about Ukrainian new believers – that they are apathetic. They will launch themselves en mass into the streets of Kiev this Saturday, to declare Jesus in all sorts of creative forms.
They can do this, without fear. They will be rejected by individuals, but they will also be received. They don’t however fear police, cameras or government agents – it’s their country, it’s their generation. This cannot be understated the boldness rising up among next generation youth in Ukraine.
For the first time in generations, Christianity can breath on the streets of Ukraine.
Believers here who’s parents only knew incubation and fear, are exploring fresh and innovative ways to communicate and share the eternal unchanging message of hope in Jesus. They are, as a whole, uninterested in riches of this world, partly because those riches with their temptations are so far out of reach. They aim for higher things, like meaning and purpose. They are content with so little, yet can do so much with what they have.
They don’t need huge budgets to pull of impact events. They ‘get’ their generation is looking for answers, and personal connections are currency.
Side note and sort of off topic – really well done artist animation of the ‘rat race’ on the opposite extremes of capitalism, we showed our youth last week and sparked some interesting discussions:
Back to Ukraine.
Older, established western funded mission organizations would be wise to recognize a major shift in the Russian speaking world. I’d encourage them to recognizing that something even more legitimate and potentially lasting than the fall of communism – an indigenous church is rising up – and it’s not content with impacting inside it’s borders.
Already, we’re seeing Ukrainian young adults venture into other countries as short term missionaries. They are landing in Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Poland, Brazil, even the US!
The challenge for our generation as existing leaders is to lay down foundations of life giving theology, teaching from scripture the things that will sustain them for life.
They are so energetic, sprinting in evangelism they haven’t the tools or perspectives to run effectively the marathon of life. This goes for their leaders as well who are often only a few years ahead of them and just as green.
Many youth are lacking concepts of biblical marriage, family, work, and managing of money. Most still live with their parents, as the economy around them is unable to support independence.
We have, I believe, an opportunity and mandate as the family of God to share our resources, to fuel where the Gospel is flourishing.
We can’t do this without significant financial help. We need more church partners, businesses, those that God has blessed with resources to impact for Christ.
When I talk about a new creative platform in Kiev, please realize we aren’t speaking about a fun place, or even a place that already exists.
There’s nothing like this in Russia, Ukraine, or Belarus. We believe it could be a model to take into these countries however, so we are proceeding with great faith, and believing God for great things.
To jump in and donate (all giving is tax deductible) please visit our US Charity HERE.
Bruce & Deb