Last week I was traveling in Belarus and Ukraine with Radstock.
Here are three things I learnt…
1. The world is a complicated place
Understanding these places is difficult. Belarus lives under the shadow of Europe’s “last dictator” (who is of course democratically elected by >90% of the country). Stalin and Russia saved these countries from the Nazis but then subjected them to terrible things. Minsk and Kiev are familiar feeling modern European cities yet extreme poverty is there to see in every subway and street corner. Complex doesn’t even cover it.
2. The world is a broken place
Vast countries with huge natural resources, well developed education systems and rich histories of innovation are wrecked by corruption, oppression and selfishness. True you don’t have to go to Eastern Europe to find that but there’s something painfully obvious about the brokenness when you walk in Kiev’s central square among the memorials to those who were killed in the revolution 3 years ago. The world is a brilliant place ruined by our sin and these countries paint that picture in vivid colours on large canvases.
3. Salvation is sought in faulty places
Living in these places it’s instinctive to seek solutions to the obvious problems. Two saviours are on offer: young people tend to look to the west. An evangelistic Bible I was involved in one evening got two new attendees simply through small notices on social media which mentioned native English speakers were speaking. Conversational English is a ticket to a good job, money, a visa and salvation. Less expected was the commitment to the salvation offered by the orthodox church. I spent quite a bit of time standing in several different churches as literally hundreds of individuals filed in quietly to light candles, pray and kiss the icons. There is no good news in these places just a superstitious hope that God might smile on religious duty and be found in ancient relics.
I returned home with a deep respect for those planting churches in these places. Praying that God would strengthen them and equip them to preach about a true saviour for lost souls in a lost world.
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