Recently I took a journey to several cities in Ukraine. While in one city, I met a young college student I will call Gary (not his real name). Gary is from a country closed to Christianity.
While studying in this city, Gary came in contact with some Christians and became interested in what they were telling him about Jesus. Soon, Gary, too, became a follower. His life changed completely.
I spent several hours over the course of a few days with Gary and got to know him some. He can never return to his home country because he is now a follower of Christ. If he was to return, he would be arrested immediately.
He shared with me that he has told his mother, but has yet to tell his father. What a situation he faces. When he tells his father, he will be cut off from the family. Foreign students are not allowed, by law, to legally work in Ukraine. So, he has no legal way to make a living here. It has been difficult enough for his family to send money to him in UA due to his country’s standing with the international community. However, once he reveals his decision to his father, all money will probably be cut off.
One late evening, as I was driving him to his apartment (it was late and buses to his place weren’t running), I asked him about his decision to follow Christ and if it has been “worth” it, considering all the hardships he has. WITHOUT HESITATION, Gary told me YES! He shared with me that his heart is full of joy and he now has purpose for living.
I asked him this question for personal reasons. I know several others that would probably face the same situation should they decide to follow Christ and I wanted to hear from him his point of view.
So, now that it is summer, he works wherever there is opportunity to make a little money. September 1st classes will begin and opportunities will fade. However, I know that my God hears prayers. Gary needs your prayers. He needs to know that there are Christians praying for him and others like him making this same decision to follow Christ.
Pray for his safety. His home country has ways of knowing what their students are doing. Also, there is a group of young people in the city where he lives that harasses and beats up people of color.
Pray for provisions. He wrote me today that one of his brothers is trying to help by selling some land but there is no buyer. Pray for God to provide a buyer so that Gary can pay for his schooling, his dorm and provide enough money for him to live on.
Pray for growth. Pray for Gary to continually seek God’s face and trust him for his every need.
This situation reminds me how blessed America truly is. We have freedom of religion that many people can only dream of. I must say, that Gary’s story is repeated over and over. I hear snipets of stories like Gary’s that happen not only in UA, but around the world.
On my way home yesterday, I listened to a sermon by David Platt. At one point he mentions cancer and since I have a friend and colleague facing cancer at the moment. So, I eventually pulled over and sent a text message to my colleague’s daughter. I think the words David spoke fit this situation as well.
“When cancer strikes, you know that cancer in not sovereign. You know that God is sovereign. Cancer is merely an instrument in the hands of God that He will use for you and me to trust in Him, to lean on Him, to find strength in Him.” (paraphrase from David Platt)
Whatever the situation may be in my life or yours, the situation is merely an instrument in the hands of God that He will use. May it be true that I trust in Him, lean on Him, and find strength in Him.
Please pray for Gary and others just like him.