Can you ever really return home?

I had the opportunity to go to Grace church last Sunday. Grace is the church that I attended for 14 months when I first arrived in Kiev in 2003.

In those 14 months those of us who attended there got to see God do some tremendous things. Cell groups grew from 2 to 4 and now there are 8! Worship has grown from 40 to over 80 on most Sundays.

Valodia is one of the better preachers I have heard in Kiev. He is always scriptural and relevant. He is able to relate well with young people. I really enjoy listening to him preach.

So, I was eager to attend there. However, I must admit that I didn’t know many of the people there and when I shared my testimony I realized that I didn’t really know them any longer.

Something had changed. Of course, the church has grown and I guess I have changed as well during the 5 months I haven’t been there. I still loved to hear Valodia’s preaching, the music was good, but I could tell that something had changed.

It reminded me of the time I moved from Wichita Falls to the Dallas area in 1991. At the time I was a member of Faith BC in Wichita Falls. I loved that church and I had experienced tremendous growth through the teaching of the church.

However, when I moved in 1991 and then later moved back to Wichita Falls in 1998, much had changed. Although I still knew many of the people at Faith, had grown to love the pastor (he was a tremendous support for me while in Lugansk, Ukraine), something had changed.

I realized that it is difficult to go back. When I went back to Faith, I expected the worship to be the same, the preaching, the spirit.

It’s like trying to re-live your high school days. You can never go back and expect it to be the same. That’s not bad, just different.

As a missionary I learned this when I lived in Lugansk during the mid-90’s. While I was in Lugansk, friends got married, had children, people moved, died, in other words, life continued without me being intimately involved.

Of course, it is a little better now with internet. I can get instant news of family and friends. I can keep up with the news via CNN or the internet. I can even read my aunt’s mother’s obituary on the internet.

So, while I was excited about being at Grace on Sunday, I left there realizing that it would never be the same. So, as I plan my trip to Texas in September, I hope to remember this as I arrive and realize that things have changed. People have grown (in more than one way most of the time), children are not children, and life has continued without me.

So, if I can’t remember all of your names when I see you or I have a blank look on my face when you tell me some news, just realize that I may be reflecting on the last time we met. That’s not a bad thing, just different.