Monday, November 13, 2006

Four Months Later

To all who supported me (no matter what form that support took) in Ukraine,

This letter has been many months in the work. It has been very hard for me to write this, not because of the lack of a desire to, or because of the lack of words. On the contrary, it is a direct result of the flood of emotions, thoughts, and stories that come rushing out and overwhelm my finger tips every time I attempt to compose this. It is only now, with classes in full swing, work, my student government position, and getting the ministry rolling on campus that I realize the urgency in getting this letter finished.

As I sit and write this letter after reflecting in the months following my trip to Ukraine, I am also preparing a presentation for Grace Lutheran Grade School. I have been blessed with many opportunities to share about God’s work in Ukraine. Through my reflection when I share, I some how continue to learn more and more, with this letter not being an exception.

In my weeks after returning from Ukraine, I became a sponge, listening and reading to how God was working in different ways all over the world. I jumped at the opportunity to hear stories ranging from Slovenia to Mexico, from Lithuania to Alaska, and from Czech to Lebanon. At one particular preparation meeting for a Lithuania mission team, which left for two years in September, they spoke on contrast of the spiritual dryness in Lithuania to rumors they had heard of a spiritual revival in Germany, Poland, and, of all places, Ukraine. Being back in the States for only a couple weeks, I put this statement into my perspective of having just done mission work in Ukraine. I can honestly say that there is much more then a rumor. There is a movement in Ukraine; a glorious movement in which the younger generations are outwardly seeking to know truth and God. This creates a mission field open and ripe for the harvest, but also lurking in these open fields are ravaging wolves (Matthew 7:15).

I had a stark reminder of this fact on my second to last day teaching VBS. We were driving the bustling pedestrian laden streets of Ivano-Frankivsk when out of the crowd I spotted two clean cut young men wearing black slacks, white button up shirts, with a book of Mormon in their hand and a spare tucked securely in their pocket. I knew they were here on their two year mission, and I was finishing up my measly two weeks. This was absolutely heart breaking after witnessing first hand how ripe the field is in Ukraine. Not only do we fight man’s natural fallen depravity towards God, but we face Satan, the masquerading “angel of light” whose “… servants masquerade as servants of righteousness." (2 Corinthians 11:15) But we do have hope, actually a whole lot more than just hope; we have the awesome power of the Holy Spirit on our side.

One of my favorite stories to share is a demonstration of how the Holy Spirit worked in revolutionary ways in the hearts of the kids. Many of the kids came into VBS not even knowing basic Bible Stories. The first couple days I had trouble prodding deeper with my questions. I’ll admit the language barrier and the lack of a consistent translator added to the frustrations, but by the third day of VBS the Holy Spirit had already opened their hearts and minds. They started to understand spiritual concepts and it wasn’t long before their curiosity was piqued. They were the ones prodding with deeper questions, or in some cases, answering with deeper answers than what I was expecting. I felt as if I was watching my class walk on the road to Emmaus with Jesus as he was opening their eyes to Scripture. (Luke 24:13-35)

The Holy Spirit was working in these kids’ hearts over the course of VBS, but now VBS is but a faint summer memory in their mind. I hope I have been successful in conveying to you my excitement and the real ways that our Lord was working in Ukraine. That through this you could be like Paul praying for his brothers in Christ at Colosse (Colossians 1:9), and pray my prayer with me for our brothers in Ukraine. I pray that the Holy Spirit is finding ways to continue to seek them in their lives, to bring them to a real relationship with Christ their Savior, and continue and inject what they learned into their daily lives. In their schools, among their friends and peers, it will be hard for them to not just look at VBS as another week of their lives and continue on with their hearts unchanged. I continue to pray the same prayer that I wrote on my Oregon postcards that I gave to each of the kids. Above all I pray each and everyone of them will continue to know Jesus Christ as their Savior, but also (in a region where religion is predominantly no more than mere traditions and rituals, where God is nothing more than a mystical impersonal being who will grant you good luck if you buy icons or light candles in their overtly ornate cathedrals.) that they would know Jesus as their friend.

I thank God for allowing me to share in this experience with so many of you. And I thank each and every one of you for your support in all their various avenues that overflowed with abundance.

For Christ’s Glory,

David Knepprath

1 comment:

Melany said...

I can understand how you feel about leaving those kids behind. But I trust that God IS continuing to work in their lives. Remember, God's Word never comes back empty, but always accomplishes the purpose for which God sent it. I am sure God had special purposes in sending His Word, through you, to those kids. And the amazing thing is, His work continues after we leave, even if we don't always get to see it! Let me share a testimony of this: While I was in South Dakota this summer, I worked with a small group of three girls. Throughout the week, we were aware of how short our time was there, and how limited our influence would be once we returned home. So we encouraged the kids repeatedly to get into a habit of reading the Bible daily, so that God could continue to speak to them through His Word when we left. One of the girls in my group started then to read her Bible, and after some time, wrote to me that she was still reading it. Now, four months later, I received a later from her cousin, Samantha, who was also in my group. She told me that she still reads the Bible. She said that her classmates tell her that people who read the Bible are stupid, but she doesn't think so. I was so amazed, because I know that there have been times when I was not that faithful in reading the Bible, and so I guess I didn't have high expectations that these girls would really read it on their own. They are only about 12, and have no one to explain to them. It blew me away to see how God is continuing the work that He began through us.
I realize this comment is super long... :\ Sorry about that! Hope the story encourages you though! God is amazing!