Tokens of Love and Gratitude to Christ | Part 15

Posted August 9, 2015

Camelback Bible Church

Doug, Marina, and Bogdon Landro with Roma pastor

The Kingdom Plans of the Lord

Heading east the full length of Slovakia, we hit a time warp. Crossing into Ukraine was like entering a different world.

First of all, it took an hour to cross the border. While transit between other eastern European countries was expeditious, with barely any indications of a border at all and certainly no stopping, such was not the case entering Ukraine. Border guards, with automatic weapons slung over shoulders, tarried a long time over our passports.

Ukraine is a country at war. Admittedly, the conflict is a long way off, on the eastern edge of the nation, yet its reality grips every Ukrainian, even in Uzhgorod, a western city and our destination.

Camelback Bible Church

Inside Doug and Marina Landro’s church

Refugees from Donetsk and Luhansk are streaming into Uzhgorod, in an attempt to put as much space between themselves and Russian-backed rebels as possible. Their stories are not comforting. A woman in her twenties from Luhansk, whom we met at a cafe, fled the home of her birth, leaving her parents, and vowed never to return. She bitterly laments the chaos being created by Russia, which is supplying soldiers and weaponry to the rebel cause. According to her, the Russians are tactically vicious, shooting at both the Ukrainian army and Ukrainian civilians, hoping to deceive the latter into thinking they are actually being targeted by Ukrainians, thus winning popular support for the Russian cause.

It is not lost on the rest of eastern Europe that the Russian bear is stirring. People, who for forty years were oppressed by the Soviet system, now are speaking forebodingly about Vladimir Putin and his nationalistic agenda. Poland, the Baltics, Ukraine – in these countries people are very wary.

Typical Ukranian church

Typical Ukranian church

I asked a Polish pastor what should happen. Without hesitation, he suggested: ‘Station American troops in Poland and it will cause Putin to think twice.’ I responded, ‘America can’t involve itself into every crisis in the world.’ Wistfully, he shrugged, as if saying, ‘If you don’t, then we’re in trouble.’

As I type these words, the Pentagon (belatedly?) is increasing its military presence in NATO countries such as Poland and the Baltics, front-line nations with Russia.

Ukraine, however, is not a member of NATO. And historically, it is more connected to Russia than to neighboring countries, as our host, missionary Doug Landro, made clear when he greeted us at the border, ‘Welcome to the former Soviet Union!’

It is noticeable that the Soviet system did not favor its republics with prosperity. Ukraine is more run down than Slovakia.

But this heightens our expectations: we are eager to see for ourselves, not the plans of man, but the kingdom plans of the Lord set out for this part of the world.

In the next couple of days, we will be blessed to witness the Christ-centered ministry of Doug and Marina Landro.

Blessings in Christ,

Pastor Tim

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