This was supposed to be the year CMO came back. With COVID in decline, we had high hopes that CMO 2022 would be the team that returned to the mountains for the first time since 2019. But God knew differently. Our reality today is that Putin has invaded Ukraine, and because of this, we’ve had no choice but to cancel the project yet again. 😢
Far from being able to host teams of young people from the US, all of our Ukraine-based staff have been in some measure displaced by Russia’s war. The Days are now in America, our family has evacuated to Slovakia, and Serhii Chepara has been drafted into the Ukrainian army. In fact, it’s not even possible to book a flight to Ukraine right now since the airspace is closed.
So what does all this mean? Does it spell the end of CMO? Nope. 😉 If you’re curious, read on…
🏔 CMO: More than Mountains
Carpathian Mountain Outreach was conceived in 2005 as a one-off outreach to some villages in southwest Ukraine. At the time, we never dreamed it would grow to become 12 annual projects spanning well over a decade. As the years passed, more and more young men came to Ukraine, not only to hike through the Carpathians, but also to learn about foreign missions and to gain hands-on experience in evangelism.
The point is that CMO is bigger than a summer project in Ukraine. At its core, CMO is about believers uniting for the purpose of active, practical evangelism. As such, CMO can happen anywhere. In the end, it’s just a familiar acronym that’s come to be associated with long hikes, tract distribution, film showings, street preaching, and Bible correspondence courses.
➡️ Enter RMO
A great example of a CMO transplant is RMO (Rocky Mountain Outreach). Yes, we laugh about only ministering to people that live in mountains, but all joking aside, RMO is a State-side version of CMO which takes place every year in Colorado. It’s run by CMO alumni, and only a few days from now, they will launch their third annual project! If you’ve wanted to try CMO but haven’t been able to, I would recommend giving RMO a look. You can find out more on their website here: onwardforchrist.org
🪖 The War
The war in Ukraine is entering its fourth month. The Ukrainian military has surprised everyone with their strength and determination. Ukrainians are fiercely loyal to their homeland, their language, and their national identity. The Russians are learning the hard way that this people will not be easily subdued.
But no matter how strong our optimism regarding Ukraine’s ultimate victory — and yes, it is very strong — the daily reality for now is one of conflict, sorrow, and danger. Millions have been displaced — forced to flee for their lives. Our own family has left our home in L’viv to take refuge in nearby Slovakia.
We don’t know when this war will end, but one thing we know for certain: our commission hasn’t changed. If anything, the war in Ukraine has opened more doors to ministry. Things are different, and life is not so easy as it was. But maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe God is using this trial, as He has so often throughout history, to wake up the church, and to call new children into His kingdom.
☀️ The Future
Now is not the time to wind down or to withdraw to more modest objectives. The fight is on, and Jesus is calling His church to carry the banner of the Gospel to the far corners of the earth. Whether that means Ukraine, Slovakia, Colorado, or some other field, this is a time to move.
ETO will continue its work. Bible First, Bible First Online, the Good and Evil project, CMO/RMO, local church ministry — all of these remain intact and are growing. The war has brought challenges and delays to be sure. Some days it seems like we can’t keep all the plates in the air. But for me, it is during times like these that I remember one of my favorite mantras: “Persistence prevails when all else fails.” And as believers, we understand that our ability to persist, our tenacity draws its strength from Christ.
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Stay tuned, folks. It’s not over yet, and we look forward to what God has for us in the days ahead. Pray for us, pray for Ukraine, and never let your voice go silent. In whatever mountains you find yourself, speak the name of Jesus Christ to the people around you. May He grant each of us to remain faithful ambassadors until He comes.
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:14-15)