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Two Years of His Faithfulness

I am embarrassed to say that for the majority of my life, I have instinctively avoided hard things. I would challenge myself, but only in ways that I felt confident that I would be strong enough to handle.

Yet, on February 24, 2022, I awoke to the reality of war in Ukraine—the country where I live and that I love. My old tactic to avoid, by God’s grace, was not enough. Learning to remain and stay in the “hard” has exposed all of my brokenness and weakness, yet has drawn me closer than ever before to Jesus and even to others. I have realized in these two years that only through suffering is sin overcome, and freedom gained. Even Jesus, who was perfect, had to suffer to overcome sin for us. God has challenged me with these questions: “What can be gained only through suffering?” and “What greatness of God will I miss if I refuse to suffer?”


I do not talk about this lightly, as this war comes with constant loss and stories that break our hearts from near and far. There are daily drains that come in small ways, from air raid sirens to greater pains like, just this week, the possibility that my close friend’s dad, a prisoner of war, may have been killed. I have personally lost three friends just this year, as two died on the front lines and one to cancer.

Yet, it is in suffering and darkness that light is even brighter. Our JV Ukraine team has risen in strength in countless ways. For example, this summer our team organized 26 camps with local Ukrainian churches, which is more than double what we have ever done in previous years. Never before have I seen the church so strong. In my church, Grapevine, consisting of approximately 50 members, I have seen them rise in strength. In a time of deep pain, there has risen an even greater desire to follow God and love others. From the first day of the war, they have been working with refugees and wounded soldiers. We have a social hub every Thursday that works to provide for the countless needs of these individuals, resulting in over twenty people becoming rooted in our church.


“God is near to the brokenhearted…” (Psalm 34:18). I can tell countless stories of literal miracles of redemption, from a boy whose voice was gone and doctors said it was physiological, yet after repenting at camp, his voice returned, to a girl whose dad killed her mom with a grenade, later repenting and now a part of our church. Another, Bogdan, is so special to me as he was in my first English class at camp eight years ago. This year, he was on a bridge about to commit suicide when God stopped him, and he surrendered his life to Jesus right then and there. He was baptized this summer and even just helped me lead an English class at winter camp. What was meant to kill is the actual thing that brought life. All that the enemy is trying to destroy here in Ukraine, with this war, is the very thing that God is using to bring life and redemption.

I am convinced that because God is good, he withholds no good thing from his beloved. God is daily giving me only what is best. The more I believe that what I am going through today is out of his love, the more I can receive his love. The way to change this world is actually simple: to let God love us. I can say with confidence that his love truly changes anything and everything. There is no greater love and deeper obedience than in suffering. Suffering brings the deepest freedom as we submit to the Lord to work in and through our pain and suffering. Praise God that he doesn’t waste a minute of our suffering, so let us also not waste our pain. Let us surrender and find God more good and faithful than we could have ever imagined.


Please keep praying for peace and protection for Ukraine. We are battle-weary, and your prayers literally bring strength. Pray for the next generation to continue to rise to follow Christ with their whole hearts. Your prayers are our greatest weapon to fight this war.



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