The following is an article that Michael Gott has sent out to the participants of the Ukraine/Crimea 2012 Mission. It is worth your time to read and to hear his heart and reflection on our mission together.
Reflections on Ukraine/Crimea 2012
All of us who participated now have had time to think about what we were just involved in during Ukraine/Crimea 2012. One experienced music minister tearfully said simply, “It was the most supernatural mission I ever personally participated in. It was something you might read about in some inspirational Christian book on missions and evangelism.” We saw tears of triumph daily.
Without totally falling back on numbers to indicate effectiveness, what was the unique spirit that dominated? It seems to me that our theme could be chosen from Paul’s words, we are “Christ’s ambassadors … as though God were making his appeal through us” (II Corinthians 5:20). What an amazing privilege we had during those unforgettable days to be just that, ambassadors who expressed the good news of Jesus clearly and compellingly.
This is what was said by us together, it seems to me. We came before everyone not with a closed fist of judgment but with an open hand of reconciling love. Recently I read where historian/theologian Martin Marty suggested that Billy Graham’s ministry would have had little lasting impact if he had been a belligerent and “mean person.” He exemplified conviction but with love and compassion, kindness and warmth of spirit. We too, in that spirit called people to Jesus.
To return to Paul’s image of “an ambassador for Christ,” he went on to say, “We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path”—rather, as “servants of God we commend ourselves.” How did he do that? By a servant spirit and by a lifestyle that supported the message proclaimed. It was through purity of heart, through humble knowledge, through gracious kindness and holiness of life plus heartfelt love and truthful speech in the power of God (read II Corinthians 6:3-7 in The Living Bible or The Message).
That was Paul’s secret, and it seems to me that it was our message too during our entire time in Ukraine and Crimea. I saw us weave together a beautiful fabric with dynamic singing and simple preaching which was done with respect for the culture and evident courtesy and with a warm heart for every pre-Christian present. This was not evangelism that entrapped people, this was not “ugly American” heavy handedness, nothing of that; rather, it was a message that “Jesus is wonderful, He loved sinners like me and you, and He welcomes you.” It was evangelism of an open hand, an open heart that pointed to an open door where Jesus stood to welcome all comers. All manipulative, humanist activity was totally rejected and pushed aside; the focus was on the Christ who invites sinners to repent and respond, the Jesus who welcomes us sinners into His open arms. So it was “faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6).
To use the words “evangelism done with His grace and for His glory” is, to me, most fitting. We worked hard and loved it, we served side by side in unity, and we opened the Word and let it speak to us before we spoke to them. And we prayed together in complete unity of Spirit, Ukrainians as well as Americans, God answered.
Call us all evangelists. Some of song, some of words, some of prayer, and some of service—but all reflected the welcome generosity of Jesus, making the Gospel as attractive as it was life-changing. That is what I remember about Ukraine/Crimea 2012. That’s what I sensed; it was “as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, receive the love he offers you—be reconciled with God” (II Corinthians 5:20, Living Bible).
Thank God we saw them in great numbers respond with a “Yes” to God’s call and welcome; night after night they came.
Thank you for having a vital role. Thank you for helping make it a time that you and I will look back on with personal pleasure and eternal gratitude. Thank you again for your contribution.