Missions

It's with great personal pride that in this post today that I get to share my Mom, Judy Harris's story of how God asked her to step out on faith. I definitely know her story better than most, which actually makes it tougher to tell because there is so much I know that I want to tell.

My roommate while in Ukraine was Dr.Lee Franklin. Unfortunately for him, he had to deal with me coming in the room late at night after processing photos and blogging. Plus there was the whole thing about me not having clean clothes for the first few days we won't mention. All in all, he survived and we're still friends and truthfully we really got to know each other better through the week.

One of the sweetest ladies I have ever met came with us to Ukraine. Her name is Helen Taylor and she is 83 years young. On more than one occasion, I remember thinking when I am her age, I hope I can be like Helen. A sentiment widely shared by my fellow travelers. It's not just her youthfulness, but it's her experience, and her encouragement of others that draws people in. She possesses a wisdom and the fruits of a deep prayer life that are obvious as she chooses her words wisely. Her infectious smile brightens any room and melts down the largest barriers, something I witnessed first hand as she helped people to find the best reading glasses that would improve their vision.

As Christians, we all have a personal story, a testimony, of how we came to Christ. There is not a prescribed method for God's plan in every individual. With myself, my parents were the main catalyst for me when I accepted Christ at seven years old. I was blessed to say the least to have them as examples of what it means to be Christians. 

You may ask, "How does God use a medical clinic to win people to Christ?" I would answer, that is actually a great question. Mike Ray, our International Mission Board (IMB) missionary to Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine would answer that it's been the most effective way to reaching adults. The key word there is adults, one of the hardest groups to reach. He even would go as far to say that our team was the hook when going fishing for men.

I wanted to take care of the rumor that mission trips are all work. It's about 99.9% work, but it's fun work every moment especially when you are seeing people making decisions for Christ on a daily basis. There are occasions though where funny things happen and I was able to document two instances that I wanted to share. 

Last summer I met Andrey Konkov, or as we knew him Drew, at the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions building where I work. I remember Kristy Kennedy saying why don't you join us for lunch and get to know Drew better. Little did I know that some of the seeds that Drew planted that day would help to ignite my new found passion for International Missions. When I met Drew in the summer of 2013, he was a newlywed, having been married for only one month to Kristy. The met through the ministries of Campus Crusade for Christ themselves which makes for a good story in itself. Together they work with Campus Crusade for Christ in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, primarily with college students through the use of English Language Clubs and Sports Ministries. Often times he works hand in hand with our own International Mission Board missionaries that are also there.

The alarm rang at 4:00 am this morning after going to bed near 12:30 am. Yes, that is correct, 3 and half hours sleep. Everyone is up and busy getting ready to leave Dnipropetrovsk, our home for the past 7 days. It seems like only yesterday when we arrived here. We've experienced so much. I had the opportunity to enjoy a walk around the city last night with a friend I met last summer in Montgomery, Andrey Konkov and his wife Kristy. Andrey serves with Campus Crusade for Christ here in Dnipropetrovsk with English language clubs and sports programs used to reach local college students for Christ.

I am writing today's blog post while sitting on the marble steps of a World War II memorial within walking distance of today's clinic in the town of Loboikovka, Ukraine. The memorial itself is in great condition especially in comparison to one of the three buildings in the complex that is now a nearly abandoned soviet house of culture building.