I'm back from the Ukraine. The trip was great. We had the pleasure of sitting through a 4 hour "church dedication service" for the "Prayer Hourse", a SBC Church in Niezhen, Ukraine. It was great for me in that I was able to see some friends (from Ukraine) that I have not seen in 13 years. In addition, it's always cool to see how God moves in a church, even if the church is on the other side of the globe.
My talk went excellent. Too well, I guess. I was supposed to speak for 20 minutes on "Being a Christian Outside of the Box". My talk was on that subject, but it went for a whopping 45 minutes. Oops! Can't make fun of Rick for taking too long to preach since I do it too. It was really a 25 minute talk with 20 minutes of interpretation, but it was still long! I'll probably post a copy of my notes here in the coming days. The basic gist of the talk was to question "Human Tradition". So much of the church in Ukraine is stuck in the "orthodox" rituals, that they do not understand what is Biblical and what is not. I challenged them to question just as the early church questioned things...
One of the best times for me was over an intmate dinner. Lena and Oxana were English translators from the University back on mission trips that Amy and I went on in 1994! We've kept up since then (Amy more than I, of course). Lena is one of the coordinators for the Children's camps in Niezhen, and Oxana's husband is Pastor of a church in another city. We sat around the table, with Johnnie Reaves, talking about the church in Ukraine. Ukranians worship knowing that their government is slowly moving back towards the Solviet Union/communism. Their church/church people receive persecution on their beliefs. Evangelicals are ridiculed throughout the nation.
I realized many things that night. The largest is that we as Americans have no idea what it means to be a Christian. We are spoiled, self-righteous, and basically all-around stupid. We don't know what persecution means. We can barely spell "servanthood". And we have a lot to learn on Prayer and Worship.
Sadly, I don't think the American church will ever be as "strong" as the International church, because we have it way too easy over here. We've never had to struggle through things, or worship in fear. I think that we too are caught up in "human tradition", maybe not to the point of the Orthodox church, but I challenge anyone to read Acts and say that the American church can be compared to the church of Acts. With all our education and leadership skills, we as a "christian nation" are still just flat out selfish when it comes to our God. Disagree? You know where to find me.
Some photos are online. Check them out here.