MIWC Board Member Returns From Ukraine
“Whenever I go to Ukraine,” said MIWC Board Member Tim Sawyer, “I always feel a really deep sense of God’s presence. It’s just that kind of place. It’s a very spiritually conducive environment. Sawyer’s July trip to the country included first touring with Evangelion, a professional level American chorale committed to bringing the Gospel to Ukrainians, followed by a week of research and development meetings for MIWC. While it was his eighth trip to Ukraine, he feels it may be his most significant so far.
During this last week of July, Sawyer met with MIWC’s Ukraine leaders Sasha Kreschuk, Serhiy Bilokin and Vitaliy Bolgar to plan and schedule upcoming projects. He then scoped out parts of the Ukrainian cities Kyiv and Irpin in preparation for these future events. Sawyer also participated in a 4-day men’s choir festival - singing, leading and teaching a vocal master's class with the tenors, all while trying to read Cyrillic. At the festival, 20 men handpicked from across Ukraine for their effective church leadership roles, met to form a choir that will tour the United States later this year. Sawyer dubbed the group, Cantus Kairus, Greek for ‘singing together in God’s time’, a name it appears they will keep.
His days of project research illustrated the considerable changes he has experienced in Ukraine over the years. In his blog, Ukrainian Adventures, Sawyer described in detail both physical infrastructure changes and changes within the Ukrainian people. Gone, he said, are the times just 5-10 years ago when it was almost impossible for missionaries to find food, when electricity and water service would turn off nightly and when electronic communication was completely unreliable.
In its place is a vastly improved physical infrastructure, thanks in part to the recent European football tournament held in Ukraine, which led to highway and service station improvements, more stores, reliable utilities and Internet connectivity that Sawyer described as “exponentially easier” than it was a short time ago.
The improvement in access seems to have carried over into the outreach of ministries like MIWC and Evangelion. On his blog, Sawyer wrote he was “struck to see so many more Ukrainians smiling” as his choir sang. That kind of joyful reaction used to be much more rare.
Sawyer described it this way: “The less hardship (Ukrainians) have to endure, the more they are free to enjoy what we have to offer. They are very expressive people but because they lived under such oppression for so long sometimes it just takes some time. There is now a different sense of freedom to enjoy beautiful music and celebrate together.”
After one such performance, where Americans and Ukrainians freely enjoyed music together, Sawyer shared his favorite Ukrainian word with his fellow singers: perezhevanya. It means ‘living life through all of its ups and downs, knowing that joy is out there, somewhere.’
Along with these uplifting reactions, comes the reality of day to day living for MIWC’s Ukrainian workers. Sawyer's meetings reinforced to MIWC that mission work continues to place a financial burden on their lives. We ask that you pray with us on how to best meet their financial needs.