Why I’m Not Leaving Ukraine

...And Neither Is God                       - by Steele Dunn

Missionaries in Ukraine are being asked one question by their loved ones back home as tensions here mount: “So, when are you coming home?” While I can appreciate the genuine concern of most who ask, I am appalled by the implications of this question. A more honest way to ask this question would be, “When will you turn in fear from the work God gave you and return to the safety and comfort of America, leaving Ukrainians to suffer?”
We are in Ukraine to be witnesses of the gospel; our job is to testify concerning the character of God with our words and deeds. If we abandon them because of political tensions, here are some messages we’ll be sending:
God sent us to preach the gospel and demonstrate His love for you — unless it gets uncomfortable or tense, then we’re fleeing!
Turn to Jesus, because He was willing even to die for your sake, so that you would know His affections—but I’m going back to America the moment there is the slightest threat to my earthly life!
To follow Jesus you must take up your cross, deny yourself—but if it costs me anything to be Christ’s witness here I quit.
Imagine if we all fled, abandoning Ukrainians to their fate, until the situation is calm again. How could we then return and look at them again, claiming to love them, claiming to know God? They would be justified in their condemnation of us.
I have told some that I am not afraid to die for Christ, because I am fully convinced of the fact that the Lord is able raise my body from the grave to eternal life when He returns. In response, I am told that I am young, inexperienced, foolish, irresponsible, etc. (and indeed I am these things, therefore pray for me!) I am told that I can serve Christ better alive than dead. Why did no one tell this to the apostles and prophets who went before us? They persisted in preaching the gospel and in speaking out against injustice until they were eaten by lions, nailed to crosses upside-down, sawn in half, and burned alive! It is not at all my intention to seek out an opportunity for death, I assure you; and yet, if I am killed because I remain faithful and unshaken in the call of God, it is nothing to me because my reward is Christ Himself!
Stop trying to convince ministers of God to care more for earthly things than heavenly and eternal! Instead pray for us, that we would be fearless, faithful unto death, prepared to demonstrate to the world that Jesus is more precious than life.
I am sincerely grateful to those who have encouraged us according to the Word to stand firm. And I am grateful to all those ministers of the Lord, both in Ukraine and elsewhere, who are prepared to face every trial with bold confidence that God is faithful, that He will reward us, that He is our resurrection. May He come quickly. Amen.
“ I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” —Jesus Christ, Eternal Son of God

October 15, 2014