January 8, 2018  7 a.m.

View from the central square in Kharkov, Ukraine

I have been here numerous times over the last almost 4 years.  Many of those times have been in the winter, some with snow and temperatures below freezing, some days with rain.  Today is was cool: temperature at 32F (0C).

I dressed well for the occasion: long johns, layered clothing, ear muffs, and gloves.

Probably the smallest crowd I have ever seen, but many familiar faces, and they accept me as one of their own.

This group began meeting in the center of the city on March 2, 2014.  NO ONE imagined that they would still be meeting today, but they do.  No matter the weather, no matter the season.

The reason they met that day was to pray for their city and their nation.  Turmoil was all around them.  There were protests in Kyiv, protests in Kharkov, protests in many cities across the nation.

Today, as they have for the prior 1,407 days, a group of Christ followers have met in the city center to pray for peace: Peace for their city, for their nation.

For 1,408 days, one of the pastors from one of the evangelical churches has led the people in a short devotion, they break into small groups and pray, and then they close by singing “A Prayer for Ukraine” and reciting The Lord’s Prayer.

What makes this group so authentic? They gather together from different denominations, different backgrounds, different parts of the city and they pray.  They pour out their hearts.

Oh, and they gather with a smile on their face, and their heart’s filled with joy!  At 7 a.m.! Even when it is 32F (or colder!).

Every time I am privileged to join them, I leave so humbled.

Authenticity means to be: real, not a copy.  May my life be real, genuine and filled with a love that overflows from a heart that seeks to do the Father’s will.