Haili Congregational Church
"Proclaiming Jesus Christ to Hawai'i and the World"
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Eric & Beth Yodis - UKRAINE
Dear Haili Church,
I don't believe that Beth and I have cried more than we have at this leave-taking from Ukraine. We have landed in our state of residence, TN, and having unpacked our suitcases, we find it more difficult to unpack our emotions and grief at this parting.
Though Ukraine has had fierce warriors (like the Cossacks) throughout its 1000 year history, there has never been a war Ukraine has fought as aggressors. They have never tried to take over the world or any of their neighboring countries. In spite of this, Ukraine has been repeatedly attacked from all sides, e.g. Mongols, Russia, Turkey, Austro-Hungary, Germany and Poland. These countries have all taken their turns attacking Ukraine in their attempts to occupy this sweet country and its beautiful people. When I think about the Peter, Paul and Mary song, One Tin Soldier, it is clear in my mind that Ukraine is represented by the kingdom on the mountain, and the kingdom in the valley... well, I will let you figure out whom that represents.
Of course, we find it impossible NOT to love a country where a middle school girl can wear a floppy eared rabbit hat to church without a care or negative peer pressure (as in the above picture). Still we have been asked on a couple occasions why it is so difficult to leave Ukraine this time. During the last year, we have worked alongside many wonderful servants of our Lord and Savior. We have had the opportunity to challenge hundreds of pastors and church leaders to make the mission of Jesus Christ their mission and given them the tools necessary to challenge their congregations and church leadership to do the same. Within a few weeks, we were to have spoken to 120 pastors from an entire province and another set of meetings with another group of pastors.
The bonds we have formed through mentoring church planters and the church planting team in our city have enabled us to gain a hearing through mutual respect and love. The church plant is succeeding and we have helped it learn how to be a church, how to organize for efficient outreach and what it means to reach out to the lost and take steps of faith to grow the kingdom of God. By working alongside them we grew close... incredibly close, and the thought of leaving them during their hour of need has been excruciatingly painful.
We are comforted by the example of Jesus, who had compassion for the pain of those whom he loved. He saw their grief and identified with them in their anguish. He knew he would have to leave these ones whom he loved so dearly. He knew it would be difficult for some to understand why. Perhaps the thought of this leave taking was already heavy on his heart. Then it happened... Jesus wept.
Praise God for walking with us through this turbulent time and the ensuing disruption.
At the end of this letter, you will find some links to articles and resources that may help you understand what is happening. We hope you find them useful as you continue to pray for Ukraine. All our love and gratefulness, -Eric & Beth