Despite the fact that we have been doing Carpathian Mountain Outreach (CMO) for many years, every year is a little different. CMO 2023, however, is shaping up to be not just a little different, but a lot different!
For starters, before CMO begins, the Day and Steele families are usually comfortably settled in Lviv, Ukraine, and making preparations for CMO. Not so this year! The Steeles have recently returned from Slovakia, where they had evacuated when the war began, and barely had time to get their feet under them before CMO started. And my family is still in the States on furlough, so I was flying in at the last minute as if I was one of the CMO Guys!
View the full Week 1 photo album on our Facebook page!
Furthermore, because of the war with Russia, Ukrainian airspace is closed, so no one could fly into Lviv. Instead, we flew into Krakow, Poland, and Josh and Kelsie came to pick us up. I was the first to arrive, and Bill Thompson arrived a few hours later. Because one of Bill’s bags got lost in transit, we had no choice but to stay an extra night in Krakow. The next morning, having claimed Bill’s “lost sheep” at the airport, we departed for Ukraine, and arrived around suppertime.
The next day, Thursday, was a recovery/preparations day, and then on Friday, we jumped into ministry. We started out with passing out invitations for the Good and Evil book. In order to put the invitations in the apartment mailboxes, it is usually necessary to call someone on the apartment intercom system and ask to be let in. Bill had been practicing his Ukrainian ahead of time, and by the end of the morning, he was calling people on the intercom systems himself!
On Saturday, we passed out more Good and Evil invites in the morning, and then headed to downtown Lviv to do surveys. The goal was to ask people about their views on the Bible, which can sometimes open a door to sharing the Gospel. Josh and Abbie were one team, and Bill and I were another. The idea was that we were going to try to find English speakers for Bill to talk to, but if we couldn’t, I would translate for him. However, just as we were about to get started, I had something urgent come up and had to step away. I told Bill to find some English speakers, and give it his best shot. And he did great! By the time I got freed up again, Bill had interviewed about 7 people and given away several Good and Evils!
Sunday morning, we headed to the church we attend in Lviv, Greater Grace. I had not been there since the war started, so there were a lot of people that were happy to see me. One older gentleman had tears in his eyes as he tried to express to Josh and I just how much it meant to him for us to be there alongside them in Ukraine. Another lady, who is in ministry with her husband, was also really happy that we were there. She said that the openness of Ukrainians to the Gospel is similar to the openness that existed in the years following the breakup of the Soviet Union, and that she encourages everyone she knows to come to Ukraine and take advantage of the open door for ministry.
After church, we packed up our things and headed to our campsite in the Carpathians. The next morning, we traveled to a couple places to see if we could set up a concert for next week. We did get some promising leads, but time will tell if things will work out or not.
Speaking of concerts, that is another thing that is different this year. In past years, we have used film showings to gather a crowd so we could share the Gospel. This year, the Steele family has put together a concert of different songs that they sing as a family. Some songs are Ukrainian folk songs, some are English songs, some are Christian songs.
One last thing that is different is that Ukraine is at war. There are times that it is easy to forget that fact, living all the way over here in western Ukraine. Children play at the playgrounds, mothers push their babies in strollers, and people go about their business as usual. But at times, there are abrupt reminders that all is not well. Some of this report was typed up during an air raid. In that case, the air raid was sounded because Russian jets had taken off somewhere in the vicinity of Ukraine. Thankfully, no missiles were launched. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Earlier, in the wee hours of the morning, I was awakened by the air raid siren. Russian planes were in the air, and this time missiles were launched. 28 of them. 16 of them were shot down, but the rest continued relentlessly toward their targets. After about 1.5 hours, when it became clear that they were heading in our direction, Bill and I headed out into the stairwell of our building, where we would be surrounded by thick walls and would be far away from windows. As it turns out, a residential area in Lviv (about 4-5 miles away from us) was hit, as well as some surrounding villages. Thankfully, no one seems to have been killed, but tens of people were hurt, and probably hundreds of homes were damaged.
So, continue to pray for Ukraine, for safety and victory in the war against their aggressor, and pray for us, as we attempt to shine our lights brightly in this dark time.
How you can pray
- Pray that God would open many doors to ministry during CMO 2023.
- Pray that many people would respond to our “Good and Evil invites” and request copies of the book.
- Pray for smooth logistics as we mail out hundreds of Good and Evil books, both to our distributors and to individuals.
- Pray that God would allow us to set up new concerts.
- Pray for new Bible students to sign up for our course.
- Pray for fruitful conversations as we share the Gospel one-on-one with Ukrainians.
- Pray for safety as we minister in Ukraine during a time of war.
- Pray that Ukrainians everywhere would turn to Jesus Christ and receive the gift of everlasting life through His name.