The people of Ukraine

I want to relate an experience I had as a pastor in Missouri. I have mentioned this in a blog several years ago.

A Baptist preacer contacted me about some members of the Ukrainian Church wanting to reach out to other churches. It seems that a member of our congregation had gotten acquainted with a Ukrainian man he worked with. In one of their conversations the man I will identify as Vladimir, acknowledged that yes, they did want an invitation. We said that we would love to have them come, not knowing who, why and how many and what they were going to do.

That Sunday, a group of about 25 men, women and teenage boys and girls came and as we found out they were an orchestra . They played several numbers,and a couple of the young people played solos on the violin , fllute and sang. Then a couple of the older ladies stood up and told stories of the trials of escaping to come to the United States…… we were mesmerized…. then we had the opportunity to talk to each of them. Of course most spoke english but for some it was difficult.

A year later we heard that the Unrainian community had built a new church. We drove by there and sasw this magnificient church with a large parking lot. The front door saidt that services were at 10:30. So one Sunday we went to the church. We were almost late and the parking lot was full. We drove around looking for a place when a man ran up to us and asked if he could help (of course he spoke Russian) I said english and he said ok. I told him we were looking for a parking place. He directed us to a spot that wasn’t really a parking place but he said it was ok…. right by the front door!

We followed him in and he asked where we would like to sit, the main floor or the balcony. We said the balcony so he took us up and found us seats . The balcony wasn’t completely full but the first floor of the sanctuary was. Of course the service was in Russian. We said to ourselves lets just enjoy the people and what was going on After a few minutes a young man came and asked us if we would like an interpreter. We said yes and for the rest of the service he gave us the english version of what was being said. They had a big choir that sang beautifully and two other solos. Two young ladies read poems about their lives in the US.

The first speaker introduced himself and said that he was from Seattle Washington, and it was his first time at that church. He gave a rousing sermon on listening for God, using several scriptures that were put on a big screen to make his point. Another choir piece and then the next speaker who said he was from Oklahoma. He talked for 20 minutes and his subject was being worshipful in the sanctuary and raising your children as Christians both in church and at home. Another choir piece and then 15 minutes of annoouncements. The Pastor then talked about missions and a youth bible study starting the next week, and why it would be helpful to have them in the class.

The last thing the pastor did was invite all the missionaries that were in attendance to come forward with their families. They honor different ones each week. The congregation prayed for them and the service ended with the congregation saying the Lords Prayer.

Some other observations. This was as worshipful a church service as I had been to for a long time. There were about 350 in attendance. All the women wore dresses with a head covering. All the men had on slacks and a nice shirt. Same with the children….and the children ! there must have been 10 little babies, 70 5-10 year olds and another 75 teenagers. Our interpreter said that they usually have one or two guest preachers and the regular pastor preaches as well. We arrived at 10:30 and the service was over at 12:20. A wonderful and unique opportunity that is now more meaningful with the suffering of the Ukrainian people at this time. We need to pray for all persecuted people but especially the people of Ukraine.Amen


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