Friday, June 4, 2010

Open Our Eyes

Life is beautiful. Even if we look around and all seems dim in the world, in the midst of it, God is turning the ugly into something beautiful. He wastes no heartache, turns his back to no one, holds the hand of the lost, cradles the brokenhearted, heals the sick, restores the weary, releases the oppressed, provides for the needy, gives hope to the helpless, forgives the foolish, humbles the proud, punishes the wicked, frees the captive, and deeply and unconditionally loves us ALL. This is my God. May we all see the world through his eyes; eyes of compassion, mercy, love, forgiveness and passion without passing judgment.

What would the world we live in be like if we all saw things through His eyes?

At our church, International Christian Assembly (ICA) in Kiev, Ukraine I can look around and see God stretching his arms and loving the people of Ukraine through the individuals of ICA. He desires to use you in incredible ways to ignite change and restore the world. People ask, "If there is a caring and loving God, why does he not do something about the ugly of the world." He did do something. He created you. "Be the change you wish to see in the world." - St. Francis of Assisi.

As I look around ICA I see a passionate and alive church because the people in it are passionate and doing the work God has called them to. These are people who refuse to sit back and be comfortable with mediocrity and strive to serve God in the everyday to see miracles in the the hearts of humanity.

Look around. Look deeper. What do you see?

I see the orphans of Ukraine adopted and loved into families, finding rest in security, love and belonging.

I see people who dedicate their life work to releasing women and children from slavery.

I see Ben, who gave up 3 years of his life, moved to the other side of the world to bring hope and to love the people on the streets of Ukraine. He has spent 3 years with Teen Challenge, a group that loves the homeless, broken, poor, and addicts of Ukraine.

I see people. All of God's people. Africans, Canadians, Americans, Vietnamese, Italians, Ukrainians, Russians, Koreans, Australians, French, and so many more.

I see a man who courageously goes to the closed parts of the world, not sure if he will return. But to him, giving others the gift of God's message of peace, love, hope and life is worth the sacrifice.

I see Karen. A compassionate and beautiful woman who came to Ukraine with a plan to stay a few months and has now lived here over a few years after being captivated by her "journey to bring healing and hope to orphans of Ukraine." She is making a huge impact in the hearts of the One's left behind.

I see Kirsten. We have known him for 10 months, and he has amazed me by his use of time and his heart. At 19 years old he moved to Ukraine to study Russian and to serve orphans. Within the 10 months he has been here he has made an immense impact on this community. Kirsten has been part of the worship team at church, launched and managed Shoes for Soccer, a drive to bring shoes to orphans (See photo below), served as a youth leader, spent many days caring for children at an orphanage, baked ridiculously good cakes for our Bible study, and has been very successful in his Russian studies. Kirsten returns to Canada June 16th and will be dearly missed by many.

I see Pastor Mark. No, he is not the pastor of our church. He is a passionate and faithful Christian man from Africa. The African culture in Kiev call him "Pastor" because of how he spends his life praying for and leading people. Not long ago Mark went to the hospital for a major back surgery. Adam and I visited him and brought him a meal. The hospital was dark, lights flickered, elevator rattled, beds had exposed mattress pads stained by blood and fluids, a black cat roamed the halls, and an old soda bottle served as 'medical equipment'. Mark would not be able to walk for months. As dim as his situation seemed he greeted us with a large smile and praises. Not a negative word came from his lips. He even prayed for us, when we went there to love and pray for him.

I see Johnny and Ira, who selflessly give up every other weekend to travel 8 hours by train to care for others (Trust me, trains in Ukraine are not the most enjoyable). They travel to Krivoy Rog, Ukraine to spend quality time with children at an orphanage, babies at the baby hospital, adults at a mental health facility, and young boys at a rehab center. Johnny and Ira love those whom have been forgotten, left behind, and rejected. The world tells these people they are unwanted, unloved, and not important, but repeated visits and encouragement from Johnny and Ira tell them they matter and they are loved.

These few people mentioned here are living a life of compassion and love. They live a life of making an impact on the world. To turn the ugly things of the world into something beautiful. What more can we see if we just open our eyes? These may look like just ordinary people, but what is their life about? Who are they? What is their story? Look around. Look deeper. What do you see?


Anonymous said...

Its incredible to see the people around us being used by God, and so encouraging to see passionate committed Christians, willing to give up themselves for God's plan to take place through them...
Adam & Kris: I can honestly say that you two have impacted me more than you know, showing what committed christians are, being hungry for the word, caring for the people around you, your genuine commpassion to touch the lost and serve whoever God puts along your path. You have been a blessing to me time and time again. I am so excited to see how God continues to use you in the future.

Karen said...

Kris... I feel honored that I made your blog! Wow-- I just stopped by and then I see a little tribute- thank you! It is a beautiful community we live amongst I must say....and I am so blessed that you 2 are a part of it as well! :)

katie said...

Wow!!! This was powerful Kris! Just at the right time too, to help me see the "other side" of what i have been looking at and feeling these past couple of months. Thanks! This gives me a better understanding of what I need to be doing right now. Actually no words can describe how amazingly powerful this is for me right now to see the different roles we all play, and that I need to be a part of! It's amazing how much a simple blog can change the world in a person in one moment... so encouraging! Thanks! -Katie

Anonymous said...

Dear Kristen, I'm a photographer from Amsterdam and travelling to Krivoy Rog next week. I saw yor blog and I have a question. Maybe you can help me out with a project I'm working on. Can I send you an e-mail?
Best Marjolein