Here is my basic itinerary for prayer this trip. Please pray for travel arrangements, protection, and key connections with people and partners.
6 September – Fly from Nashville 7 September – Arrive in Sofia, Bulgaria 8-11 September – Arts + Conference, “Hope in the midst of crisis” 12 September – Evening flight to Warsaw, Poland 12-14 September – Time to see opportunities in Poland 14 – To Krakow with UETS alumni 15 – Ride to Ukrainian border, drive to Morshyn 16-17 – Visit centers in Morshyn and Striy; night of worship on 16th with UETS students 18 – Church in L’viv 19-20 – Teach 3rd year students at UBTS 21 – InterCity train to Kyiv 22-24 – Time in Kyiv region 25 – Train back to L’viv, or to Krakow 26 – To Krakow, Poland 27 – Morning flight to London Luton airport 27-30 – Time in Coventry with Nexus, UETS students 30 – Ride to London Heathrow, fly to Nashville
…will be the theme of updates on my trip over the next weeks.. My last full day in Ukraine is tomorrow, and it has been a whirlwind of seeing the aftermath of the horrific battles that took place here in Bucha and Irpin at the start of the war in February and March, meeting families that we have been able to help through ServeUkraine, and visiting friends and colleagues, talking and praying about the present and the future. A train to L’viv tomorrow, then into Poland. I head to the UK on Tuesday for meetings at Nexus Institute for Creative Arts in Coventry, with our partner Dave Silber, as well as several of our Ukrainian students who are now studying there.
The last five days were spent at a gathering of arts and ministry leaders from the UK, France, Hungary, Switzerland, US, Austria, Greece, Italy, Turkey, and Bulgaria who use their art to express the values of the Kingdom of God, and disciple, mobilize, and encourage others. The Arts Plus event (https://www.artsplus.info/events) took place in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia to encourage and help Bulgarian brothers and sisters to do the same. Professional musicians, sculptors, painters, actors, dancers, filmmakers, pastors, and catalysts–all strategizing together.
I gave a report on our work in Ukraine and the situation there and led a time of prayer and intercession. Both sessions were very intense as the outcome of the war has major repercussions for all nations in Europe: e.g., Sofia is only 400 miles from the nearest Ukrainian border.
It was a great time for building relationships and the chance to think and plan how we could work together to come alongside Ukrainian artists and musicians now and in the future. We heard from some amazing young Bulgarian musicians, saw the work of professional painters and sculptors, discussed, shared meals, prayed, worshipped, and laughed together. I loved my time with new friends from the UK–Bishop Rob Gillion from Streatham and Southwark, London, and mixed-media artist Paul Hobbs.
It was also good to connect with Jim and Anne Mills who have been working in creative ministry in Europe for decades and have many relationships in common with us! (Kirk and Deby Dearman!)
Special thanks to fellow IWS alum Jill Ford, Amy WIlliams from OM, ACT colleagues Diane and Glenn Collard who invited me, and ACT’s Steve Thrall who works in France. Everyone attending prayed and expressed active support for musicians and artists in Ukraine.
I loved my first time in Bulgaria, and experiencing the hearts and gifts of the dear brothers and sisters we spent time with.
In just a few hours, I fly to Warsaw and Krakow, Poland where I will meet up with long-time friend and ministry colleague Jim Gilbert as well as former students and see more opportunities for ServeUkraine before heading into Ukraine on Thursday. Please pray.
I’ve never had to work with people in the midst of a war before. I’m far-removed physically from the front lines in Ukraine, but these last six months, it has been an immediate daily presence as we have sought to serve our colleagues, partners, and students in the midst.
I have been following government and news reports, pictures and videos, posts and calls from friends, and consulting with other ministries as ServeUkraine has become the focus. I’ve been on Zoom calls with leaders, students and teachers scattered across Europe and North America.
We have sought to serve the nation and needs as donors have allowed us to supply a bus to distribute humanitarian aid in the region around Kyiv, and help with beds and food for a refugee center sheltering 180 in western Ukraine. We have helped resettle folks in Norway, Germany, Sweden, the UK, and five in the US–contacts for housing, paying transportation costs, covering medical bills, clothing needs, giving them time to breathe, and being a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. We have replaced dozens of windows in the homes of families in Irpin, where many atrocities and destruction took place in the first month of the war. We have even supplied a needed stroller for a mom with a 6-month child in Poland separated from her husband in Ukraine.
Many stories to tell, but you haven’t heard them yet because of many things that also came along–the decline and death of my Dad–F. G. Heumann–after 4+ years of dementia and Alzehimer’s. Visits from all the siblings, helping my stepmom, planning and leading Dad’s service, good time with family. Getting two rounds of shingles, of all things (not the roofing supplies). Issues with trying to build this new ministry while flying it. Severe muscle spasms. Completing my time at the Institute for Worship Studies, and twice helping settle colleagues there for their classes. Major issues in building a system to keep all informed of the work. Grieving. Evacuated Ukrainian “family” with us for two and a half weeks. Top all that off with getting COVID after three years of carefully avoiding it. (So grateful for the vaccine that kept it on the mild side!) Yet, God is sustaining.
Good things are happening in spite of all of this. People are being helped. God is being glorified, as he gives us strength.
When you are sitting half a world away and see places you have been many times riddled by rocket fire and bombs, and people you have known and worked with for 10 years hiding in bomb shelters and evacuating to save their lives, it has an impact on you. And so it was with me on February 25, the second day of the new stage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
I had to do something, and I knew by the Spirit of God that it meant acting immediately. These were my students, colleagues, graduates, and friends. It was in those moments that ServeUkraine was born. This has been my focus for the last 2.5 months. We have been blessed by many who have given, and have been investing in those who have great need and in those who are doing the work on the ground helping others.
Expect to see the work with ServeUkraine and the situation in that nation be a primary focus here in the coming days.
Our friend and colleague on the front line, helping save lives from this insanity. Ivan Rusyn interviewed by the BBC at 2:40. Proud of my friend, concerned for the people and the nation, looking and praying for the world to do something to stop this now.
After this page being dormant for so long, it is about to be active again. Christianity Today magazine contacted me about helping their readers get a sense for the worshipping heart of the Church in Ukraine. The article is 5 Ukrainian Worship Songs for War and Peaceand it just posted today. If you came here as a result of that article, thank you for checking us out this far. Join us and come back to this space for more opportunity for understanding and prayer for Ukraine in the current conflict.
I’ve been interviewed twice recently about the situation and the ministry opportunities in Ukraine–by UETS and for two programs for Compassion Radio. You’ll understand more of my heart and get you a sense of why this is a crucial ministry at this time.