Friday, August 08, 2003

Its 12:30 p.m. here in Rivne, Ukraine (western Ukraine) and its about 5 a.m. cincy time so top to the morning to ya. I have spent the past week doing a lot of speaking, teaching and yes, preaching. Because I'm with a Baptist group the people here have not quite found a category for me so they call me a "dramatic Baptist" by my speaking style. I suppose ,Creech, I should lay on them some of your pentecostal slang terms. The last 2 days we traveled many miles by van to a few village churches where some of our teams are hanging with kids. The best one was way up north just short of the border to Belarus, our team of 16 african americans have 150 kids and its a simple village where they have never seen black folk. Its like a freak show. The whole town is there and has police protection 24/7. Some of the black teens have been teaching the Ukranian natives the "playa rulz" for success in attracting the opposite sex. This community is about 30 miles from Chernobyl where the effects are still seen in some of the abnormalities of the people. We also visited with another church planting couple in their 20's at a community that is built around the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. Your not permitted to take pics of the nuclear stacks but of course I snuck some footage. Completely postmodern community and this was a young team getting involved in serving the community rather than building a church building (which is forbidden). I gave them some financial gifts on behalf of Ordinary community since they are much like us. It wasn't much by our standards but about 4 months wages for them. Its fun to come alongside and bless like-minded non-conformist types who care about people and mission.
I will be speaking one more time tommorrow evening then getting a 3 1/2 hour taxi ride back to Kiev before the rest of the team gets there on Sunday evening. I am meeting with another young urban church planter and hangin' with him for a day to see what his community is about. I'm taking the team members from this community out to lunch on sunday and hopefully they will show me more of the secular parts of Kiev, I'm done with all the churches.
the food has been so heavy on starches and fried meat that my digestive tract is beginning to react violently. But am treating myself with much immodium.
The hardest part here has been the stifling church culture. the dominant idea to have traditional services and build buildings, wear ties, never smoke, drink, wear shorts etc. its sad to see the same irrelevance here as we have in the U.S. the large percentage of the young population think the churches are a joke. I can only teach on Zachaeus so many times til i realize that they are just words. So i've begun to lessen the conservativeness of my appearance here and intentionally made some of the church leaders squirm. they say I dress and look like a young person and not a pastor, however my teaching is powerful. stereotypes are stupid. Also a few times in public places we were asked to bring greetings from our churches in America and at the mention of "ordinary community church" there are snickers and laughs. not because they found it funny but because they didn't respect it or didn't think it was a "legitimate" name. I must admit that it hurt my feelings a bit, but again I'm reminded of church culture and its irrlevance to the lost world.
My translator, Ivan, a 26 year old genius type has been a blast! I will get him to the U.S. for you to enjoy, he's a riot and about a third of my size, we are quite the pair. We talk extensively of politics, economic systems, church history, fundamentalism, secular culture etc. I have taught him a lot of american slang. When he sees me for the first time in the morning I now get, "what up dog?" The virus is spreading. I am very homesick of all of you. I miss being casual, informal and amongst people of the same church style. When I see Craig in Dublin on Tuesday I may kiss him dead on the lips just to see one of my peeps. i hope he takes it in the right way. I shall be reporting one more time from Kiev, then off to Vienna, Austria on Monday night, then fly out to Dublin on Tuesday morning. There is light at the end of the tunnel and it smells like Guiness :) :) :)
I bless you to experience the kingdom where you are at, much love from my heart to you.
As for Ordinary Community, i long to return and worship with you, I have spoken so much of you and didn't realize how much of my heart you guys own. i long to be back with you.
As for my family, I can't put into words how badly i want to feel your touch. The picture book you gave me has never left my side. Will call you soon. I love you.


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