I chose to go to the country on my first day here in Ukraine. We attended church in a remote village, and along with messages and hymns, the three American women (myself included) were asked to give testimonies.
What could I possibly say?
When we first arrived, we were swallowed into the thick embraces of the most adorable (there’s no better word for them) babushkas in the world! Their fervor for our visit and, more importantly, the Lord, was truly knee-buckling. (Can you find me in the middle of them in the picture above? I fit in just fine, don’t I?)
Amazing to me was, despite not being able to understand a word they said, I understood completely. They love The Lord. They have a prosperity that transcends and overwhelms their meager living situations (the church’s bathroom is an outhouse.) They have the light of Christ in their eyes which testifies to the Lord’s promise that He is known among all people, all nations, and in all lands.
“My ancestors left this land long ago in fear, and I come to you today, a broken person, still in fear. But fear and brokenness cause us to seek The Lord. And The Lord heals else places within us, and throughout our lands.” Heads, covered in brilliant scarves, bobbed in agreement.
“And if we let God come into those places within us, He will turn us into oaks of righteousness, carriers of joy and peace.”
We sang Great is Thy Faithfulness in Ukrainian, the cacophony of foreign syllables translating completely into the fulfillment of God’s goodness as He redeems and restores . . . sculpts beauty out of ashes . . . trades our shame and mourning into dancing gladness.
Grace translates. Grace transcends. Grace, God’s grace, heals souls and heals lands.
Pastor Peter said over and over and over as he drove us down ice-covered roads.
He shouted, as the birch and fur trees, heavy-laden with snow, seemed to bend into a posture of praise which escorted us to and from the village.
Isaiah 61:10-11 I delight greatly in the Lord;my soul rejoices in my God.For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow,so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.