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Kharkov

Holly Friesen on April 21, 2010

One of the greatest joys in serving the Lord cross culturally has to be the privilege coming alongside our national partners who serve the Lord so faithfully. Last week I was blessed to see what God is doing in the area around Kharkov in northern Ukraine and to provide some assistance and hopefully encouragement for some of the Ukrainian pastors and evangelists who are working there. These men are involved in ministry in villages all around the city. Some of them are out ministering every day of the week in several different villages each day. While they are not seeing the fruit that they saw in the initial post communism days, the Lord is still blessing the efforts of these men.

Miriam and I hit the ground running on Tuesday morning after a nearly 14 hour overnight train ride to Kharkov. We were met by David & Penny Winget (ABWE missionaries in Kharkov) who had organized the week of clinics for us and did an excellent job of running our pharmacy. We set up our clinic in a different location each day – some days this was more of a challenge than others! We never knew just what to expect when we pulled up to a clinic location. We were in a couple of churches, a home, and a government clinic. While the government clinic may sound like an ideal location, this was actually the most challenging set up. We were all in one big room with only a thin curtain separating Miriam and I as we saw patients. At one point I also had a Pediatrician, the Ukrainian equivalent to a PA, and a medical assistant all listening in on my consultation with the patient. I was quite happy to send a few observers Miriam’s way when I had the opportunity!

I had an excellent translator to assist me throughout the week. He is actually from Uganda, but came to Ukraine to study in the university prior to the fall of communism. He ended up marrying a Ukrainian and never left. He speaks excellent Russian and understands Ukrainian as well. He has been involved in the ministry in the villages and his heart for the people there was very evident. If I gave him the opening, he was able to visit with my patients about their spiritual needs. Time did not permit us to do this very often as there was usually a line of patients to be seen, but while we were seeing patients the pastor of the church or evangelist who worked in that village was there to visit with the patients who were waiting to be seen. Our prayer is that by demonstrating God’s love through caring for their physical needs, these clinics would provide more contacts for those ministering in these villages and give them openings for sharing the gospel.

Miriam has made a number of trips up to Kharkov to assist this group of pastors & evangelists, often with medical teams from the U.S. and Canada. We are planning to have the fall team spend part of their time up there as well. I can’t conclude this post without mentioning the Ferrari family (also missionaries with ABWE in Kharkov) – they had delicious meals waiting for us every evening when we finished up our clinic day. I enjoyed the chance to get to know their family and hear about their ministry as well.

I did not get my camera out as much as I should have, but you can see more pictures from the week if you click on the picture below.