Just in Time

I am now settling into life here in Miami, and just haven’t had time to post with all of the craziness of being at home and itineration and moving.

Oh life.

But the following isn’t about my new life in Miami, but more a reflection of my at home experience.

I was “on the road” for about three weeks after we finished our mid-term event in NYC.  During this time I visited quite a few churches, a district meeting, hosted a conference event, spoke at a youth conference, and hit up some of my favorite Wesley foundations.  I also got to see some greatly missed friends and family, and witnessed the beginning of a new family unit.

And truly it was all great.

Except I kept hearing this phrase that bugged me then and continues to bug me as I meet new folks who learn about my Ukraine time, “Looks like you got out just in time.”

Now, while I see the value and sentiment of the statement, while I understand that this comes from well meaning folks, some of whom love me deeply, this sentence bugs me.

This idea that we need to get out of somewhere just when it gets scary.  Just when it starts to get a little too real.  The question I don’t really pose back is, does my calling from God change with the political climate?

I think about my friends that served in other places where they were challenged daily in ways that I wasn’t.  Friends who had harder or more dangerous or complicated assignments.  They stuck it out, some LOVED it, and while it was scary and dangerous, it’s where we’re called to go.  It’s what we’re called to do.

This is how we show our love.  This is how we show the love of Christ.

Our faith isn’t one that will keep us from the scary parts of life, and when we choose to step out in faith  to the places that God has called us, we’re not always going to encounter safety or peace.  We are not always going to be welcomed by all, and we are not ever going to have all the right answers.  In fact, we’re told in scriptures and can see examples of folks who were persecuted, that went to the scary places for God, and this safe easy religion that some cling to, is not the faith that God has called us to.

I received this email at the beginning of March,

I am begging you, and all your churches and friends to pray for our country. We live in fear and disappointment. It is so hard to explain what we felt when 100 people died in the middle of the day, our people, our friends. One week of funerals, of tears and mourning. And now, we are in the beginning of the war, of the fight for our own country, for our families in our own territory. I can not explain how much we hate Putin… Maybe he has some little part of soul left, maybe God can change his mind…

We have no weapon, no army, no support… EU and US will not help… We realized this during our revolution. We are left alone with the greatest dictator of our time and his desire to destroy everything Ukrainian. Even though our chances are very little we will fight… Because of one idiot, thousands of Ukrainians will die. You can not imagine how afraid I am to loose my husband, my brother and all men in my life… And my country…

Please pray for Crimea, pray for Ukraine, pray everywhere with everybody. Only miracle can save us. People are so tired of living in fear.

We need all world to be praying for us right now. I believe that God is our greatest hope. We are safe enough at the moment, but Crimea is not… I have friends in Crimea they are so afraid of what is going on…and they have this feeling that we sold them and left them alone… So pray for Crimea, they deserve a better future then Georgian scenario [2008].Thanks again

Riddle me this, if I hadn’t been scheduled to leave, if my contract was for another year, or 2, or 3, would you argue that I should leave this?  It is scary, but this is real life right now in Ukraine, and not only there, but in all countries facing conflict in this world.

I am most certainly still having a hard time balancing my life knowing that I’m petting kangaroos while Russia has completely taken over Ukraine.  While Russia has thousands of troops on their side of the border with SE Ukraine, and the Cold War rhetoric is rebirthed how in the world can I be more thankful to be here and not there just because it’s harder there?

I continue to struggle with my own privilege of being an American citizen, of being somehow immunized from not only this conflict, but conflicts all over the world.  We are so desensitized and under informed which breeds the rampant apathy that is encountered in this country towards other parts of the world, and while others are screaming for help, recognition, and solidarity, we turn the channel.

And certainly I don’t know everything about the situation.  I am certainly not Ukrainian, but in the future, how about instead of telling me I got out just in time, you ask me about what’s going on in Ukraine.  Because knowledge and awareness are essential ingredients to breeding action and change.  I want to tell you, I want you to know about Ukraine.

Regardless of my presence in Ukraine, or yours, or your neighbors’, I have hope that the Ukrainian people will succeed.  Even in this email wrought with angst and worry, my friend, my sister, expresses hope.  Hope in the One that gave her breath.  Because the reality of God’s work in this world, is that God doesn’t need just me to do Her work.  I didn’t somehow pack Jesus in my suitcase and take Him away from His great work in Ukraine.

God is.  And God is there giving hope and journeying alongside all of our brothers and sisters in Ukraine.

I invite you to give my friend’s hope legs by praying for Ukraine.  Praying for my friends, but not just them, praying for those in Crimea, those in the South Eastern part of Ukraine.  Pray for stability in the country, and good, sound, honest leadership that will take that country into a new more democratic age.

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