September ministry trip

PLEASE DO NOT POST THIS ELSEWHERE.

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

Ukraine under siege, and how we will help

…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.

Five days in Bulgaria

Five days is a long time for a short report.

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.

You must see the work of Bulgarian sculptor/painter Nickolay Steffanov on the Prodigal Son (http://nickolaysteffanov.wix.com/gallery) and Paul Hobbs’ work on modern martyrs. (https://www.arthobbs.com/unknown-martyrs)

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.

NOW…

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.

To stay in touch for news and prayer…

In the next month, I will be visiting colleagues, students, friends we have helped, and opportunities to bring help to Ukrainians in this time.

I will be in Bulgaria, Poland, parts of Ukraine, and England during this month. Prayer needs will be posted here as I go. To receive our newsletter, send an email to info@serveUkraine.org.

Please check back here for prayer points during this month.

What’s happening now?

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.

ServeUkraine – that’s what we want to do!

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.

#prayforukraine #standwithukraine #serveukraine

“There is no reason to attack Ukraine. We just made a decision for a different future.”

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.

Help us help them at serveukraine.org.

#StandWithUkraine #prayforukraine #uets #serveukraine

Mission in the midst of misery

Just received this post from our colleagues in Kyiv…focusing on others in the middle of horror.

——- is trying to actively pursue its mission of serving society amid all horrors of the war we are facing. 

  • We are preparing a new evacuation from Kyiv of vulnerable layers of population, including women and children from local churches in the seminary neighborhood 
  • Faculty, students and staff of the seminary evacuated to western Ukraine have got actively involved in sending humanitarian aid cargoes to the capital
  • We have turned the campus —– into a humanitarian aid center where people can get immediate assistance and hide in a basement during air raids
  • —– kitchen personnel refused to be evacuated and are working hard trying to provide food for the Ukrainian defenders and anyone in need
  • Faculty and some students who are still on the campus use any opportunity to identify and meet needs of the military and civilians in the neighborhood

We are enormously thankful to all our friends all over the world who are standing with us at this extremely challenging time! “

These are my people; this is the Ukrainian church. #prayforUkraine #standwithUkraine

If you want to give to support these dear ones, ServeUkraine.org ‘s landing/donation page is now live. (The main URL is not yet live, but this link will get you there.)

Ukrainian worship in the midst of conflict

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 Peace and 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.

Why worship and why Ukraine?

16003274_1385166991527929_6680711285658944023_nMy wife Judie and I leave in two weeks for my eighth trip to Kiev, and Music in Worship, the conference we started in partnership with Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary (UETS).  Three years ago, it began as part of my Master’s project for my degree at Institute of Worship Studies, and it’s exciting to see it continue and develop.  This year we are also partnering with leaders from here in Nashville and with London School of Theology, Nexus Institute of Creative Arts and Worship Academy, Horsham in the UK.

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.

Worship from God’s Perspective – UETS

Ukraine: Worship on the Frontlines, Part One – Compassion Radio

Ukraine: Worship on the Frontlines, Part Two – Compassion Radio

Consider being part of our support and prayer team at MusicWorks International.

 

 

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