|A Whirlwind 10 Days in Belarus
From September 14-25, I was one of those who were blessed with serving our Lord on what must have been one of the largest trips that we have pursued in Belarus. Thirty-two persons were in country during time and they were scattered out between Minsk, Bobruisk, Mogilev, Brest and Gomel. We had persons doing construction work, lecturing in the Medical College, sharing the Word via ESL in public schools, visiting orphanages and hospitals, hosting meetings to develop business relationships, conducting classes in the State University and reaching out to our Belarus brothers and sisters at the National Library. WE had “old hands” on board, a well as some who were on their first mission trip; we had young collegiate students and “well seasoned” seniors; we had doctors, nurses, business executives, elected representatives and just “plain ole folk.” It was a blessing for everyone.
As for myself, I found my time split between Bobruisk, Gomel and Minsk. First, I spent time at the Medical College of Bobruisk, trying to add some thoughts to the lectures being provided by Dan and Donna Lovestrand. I talked with nursing students concerning what particular challenges they might have during a radiological emergency, such as that seen after Chernobyl. We had never been invited to Bobruisk before and, through the Lord’s grace, we have been invited back for future presentations.
Next, a train ride (alone!) to Gomel. I spent the week working with the teachers in Public School 36, teaching ESL to the students there. It’s always seems like a miracle, but the conversation never fail to get around to our beliefs and how the Lord works in our lives. What is even more rewarding is the encouragement and reinforcement that the teachers make to our comments. If you want to have a chance to impact young people, the Lord has a spot for you on these venues.
Last year, we observed a Men’s Rehabilitation Center that was being sponsored by the Central Church of Gomel. When we saw it, the building was dark, the kitchen was tiny and the accommodations were dry, but cold. It weighed heavily on my and Judy’s hearts and the whole Byelorussian Missions team. We decided to support this worthwhile ministry with many prayers and some key financial support. The results have been phenomenal. Men have been reunited with the families and with the Lord through baptisms; the facility has been enhanced with an addition for their kitchen, insulated living quarters and an in-progress construction of sleeping quarters that will allow them to double their outreach. Talking with their guests and the pastors and deacons committed to this ministry, I am confident that it will continue to make a difference in “men in need” in the Gomel area.
On September 24, I was honored to kick off the Belarus-Museum of the Bible exhibit at the National Library. Talk about a surprise. First, the exhibit is amazing. The Museum of the Bible (located in Washington, DC) brought their traveling exhibit to Belarus, showcasing ancient manuscripts of the Old and New Testament, from both Jewish and Christian origin. This was supplemented by Cryllic manuscripts provided by the Belarussian National Library. The result, a collection that could keep anyone engaged for hours. My task was to “kick off” this exhibit; my lecture was on ”How a Man of Science Could also be a Man of Faith.” We anticipated 50-60 persons would be in attendance; the number was over a hundred and people were sitting on the floor and listening from the hallways. A 1 hour lecture turned into a three hour exchange, with questions from both believers and non-believers trying to glean the truth as to the Lord’s calling to all of us. More than once, I wondered where my pastor was when I needed him. How do you answer a fellow soldier (I was in the Army) when he asks how do you resolve the conflict between your faith and your call to duty – he was one of those who would have had to launch nuclear missiles, if called upon, during the cold war? How do you answer a person’s question as to why you believe Jesus was both God and Man? All I can say is that the 20 minute Q&A lasted for over two hours – it ended when the library custodian asked us (in no uncertain terms) to, “Please , go home. The Library is closed!”
It was a wonderful week, and one that I will not soon forget. So, if you ask the Lord to remove obstacles so that you can have a chance to share the word, be prepared. His answer will always, be, “There you are; now it’s up to you!”