Cross Points 10.23.20

Discipleship Afoot:  Walking Behind the Iron Curtain

In 1961 the decision was made to build the Berlin wall, dividing the city in half.  It became symbolic of the “Iron Curtain” that separated the Soviet Union’s empire from the western world that the U.S. was part of.  Winston Churchill coined the phrase in a speech given in Fulton, Missouri in 1946.  I was 9 years old in 1961 when the Berlin wall was built and grew up with all that lay behind the iron curtain being mysterious, unknown, evil to some extent since the Communists preached an atheistic philosophy. 
When Rexanne and I became involved with MASTER Provisions ministry at Southern Heights Christian Church in the early 2000’s, we knew clothes collected were sent to the Ukraine, some given without cost to the poorest, some providing jobs in clothing operations where people could buy cheap good used clothing for their family.    In 2007 Bill and Frances Adams helped form a travel team to go with a representative of MASTER Provisions to see the operation in Ukraine, with a stopover also in Kosovo.  We became part of that 7- person group, along with the Adams, Ken and Judy Vest and Mary Fox. 
We had a connecting flight in Vienna.  While waiting on our plane we shared space with a large group of Hasidic Jews, returning to Ukraine for a reunion.  They had been run out of the country during the Soviet days (think Fiddler on the Roof).  As some of them stood facing a wall in the terminal, nodding their heads in prayer, with their all black attire and head coverings, I realized we were now in an environment different than any we’d ever experienced back in Missouri.
Speaking of Fiddler on the Roof, our Ukrainian driver during our week in the country, was a big talkative man named Victor, reminding us of Tevye in the movie, with golden tooth shining as he spoke and laughed in his deep voice.  He was a beekeeper, his family lived in a modest home with a smoke house, much like old farmhouses had in this country a hundred years ago.  He would transport us within Kherson, our base, to Bilohirs’k in the Crimean Peninsula of southern Ukraine, to see the places and people served by this ministry.  Victor told us of his grandmother, “during the soviet time” disguising Bible studies as birthday parties, so if the neighbors turned you in and the authorities came, they would find a birthday party going on.  We not only met the workers of clothing, we saw the orphanage where many abandoned kids live, some adopted by Americans who support the adopting family financially.  If they don’t get the help needed, many of the girls end up in prostitution, the boys involved in drugs.  We adopted one 4-year-old girl ourselves, Ira, getting to spend two nights in the home, a three-room apartment in one of the bland old soviet buildings.  We provided monthly support for ten years. 
The second leg of our trip took us to Kosovo to meet more people who processed the cloths.  This time we were in a Muslim country for the first time but meeting rare people who had accepted Christ and were now involved with the ministry.  We saw bombed out buildings from the war with Serbia and heard horrifying stories of the killing that took place.  We met Skender, who became a good friend, telling us his story of running from the Serbs as they swept into the eastern side of the country near his home town, and how he rejoiced as he saw American planes flying overhead that came to their rescue.  He worked at an American school translating, many Kosovars wanting an American education.  We visited killing fields, seeing pictures of bodies the Serbs had burned after shooting.  We even spent our last night with a Muslim family, who had one Christian son.  An American flag was on their wall.    
Missions vary a lot.  We’ve been blessed to see some of those supported by SHCC firsthand, but we know most people can’t go to such places.  Find your ministry to support (including the local ministry of SHCC to evangelize, disciple and shepherd), find how you can help, and honor the Lord in so doing.  What could be more rewarding?
Cross Point: I wish I could have a dollar for every mile we’ve walked on our mission trips, and then give it back for the great work they are doing.  But I can give anyway!  And, so can you.  Give of yourself and give financially.
Posted in
Tagged with

Related Posts