Monday and Tuesday we were not able to see Karina and so, in between meeting with friends and missionaries, I spent several hours walking, jogging, exploring and thinking along the Black Sea.
One of our prayers while on this adoption journey has been for God to open our eyes for ministry opportunities in Ukraine and specifically for the orphans and street children of this country. We hoped to come to Ukraine and bring Karina home but also find ways to be used by God to minister long term to those children that we do not bring home.
We briefly mentioned in our December Newsletter that we were going to be meeting with church leaders, pastors and missionaries while we are in Ukraine to explore these possibilities and God seems to be opening some doors that we are very excited about. (If you are interested in receiving our newsletters, send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the address to send it to.)
We have met with several people and are currently discussing/working on two projects that we will reveal soon and ask for your prayer support.
Walking, jogging and exploring: Sheila will tell you that I must exercise - my body screams for it - and Ukraine provides plenty of opportunity. We walk almost everywhere. Odessa is full of stairs - stairs that rival Rocky:
Oh yeah...imagine running up and down these stairs a few times...now that is a good work out! I have Rocky on my ipod...tomorrow morning...
It seems that there are long flights of stairs all over this city.
For those of you that are on an adoption journey of your own or are on another type of journey that God has put before you, let me encourage you to take the next step in faith.
Time in God's word has been precious and refreshing as I have been reading through the book of Matthew.
"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?" 6:25-27
"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." 6:33
Thinking: I imagine this man has spent years thinking...as I stood beside him I pondered the above verse. What am I seeking after? My own comfort? My own desires? Or am I seeking the things that please God? Am I seeking God...his kingdom...his righteousness? Even in this adoption I pray that the Creator of heaven and earth uses it for his glory, to build his kingdom, to make us more like him and less like the people we were.
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you...If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him." 7:7-11
As I read this I realized that these verses come after Jesus says to seek his kingdom first...may the things I ask for be those things that glorify him the things that I want when I am seeking his kingdom first.
"And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, "Save us, Lord; we are perishing." And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?" Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm." 8:24-27
Our Saviour is the one who holds the sea...the one who holds the storm....the one who holds us in his hand.
"He took our illnesses and bore our diseases." 8:17b
"And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." 9:35-38
Jesus went and had compassion...he proclaimed the gospel and he healed the people physically.
To those that are laboring in Ukraine...that have compassion on these people and serve them day after day, thank you. May the Lord bless you and keep you.
And may the Lord send more laborers...for the work is great.
May the Lord send more families to bring these children home...the need is great.
Meet "Ed"...not his name...not sure I can spell his name right now. He is in Karina's class and whenever Karina is called off to do some artistic work for the orphanage, "Ed" is called also.
One day while Karina and "Ed" were painting, another boy (whose family is here now going through the adoption process!) came to me, pointing to "Ed" and said,
"Mr. Matthew, this is a good boy. A very talented boy. But he does not have a family. He wants a family. He needs a family. Will you help us find him a family?"
"I will try." I answered.
Karina pointed to a girl.
"She needs a family, too. Can you get a family for her."
"We will try, Karina."
Later on in the play room I looked around and saw a dozen more faces that need a mom and a dad...that want a family...that need a family.
"Dad, can you help them?"
"We will try, Karina. We will try."
The harvest here is plentiful.
The laborers are few...but it does not have to be that way.
For those of you starting this adoption journey I encourage you to take the next step...regardless of the obstacles you may be facing.
When you cannot see how you can go on...
When you do not know where the money will come from...
When you do not think it is possible...
When you wonder how you will leave your children for so long...
When you wonder how you will react to a different culture...
When you wonder if the orphan will really want you...
When you think, "What if..."...
When the government throws another curve ball...another delay...another delay...another delay...
I encourage you to take that next step and see what God does.
He has compassion.
He cares for the orphans.
He cares for you.
See what he has waiting for you at the next step...