Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Strategically Crazy

Wow, the last few months of ministry have been what I like to call “strategically crazy!”

Since right before Christmas, I’ve been in Mexico, the Hudson Valley, Chicago, New Hampshire, Kentucky, New York, New Jersey, Long Island, Ohio and now in a couple days I’m leaving for Ukraine for 2 weeks.

This has been a very busy but very productive stretch of ministry. In the last few months I’ve had the opportunity to teach, train, encourage and network with youth leaders and students all over the place, and it has been a blast!

Everywhere I go I get a chance to tell stories of our YMI guys and the impact they are making in their fields, and I also get to tell the story of how God got my attention, and pointed me in the direction of International Youth Leader Training, going back almost 5 years ago…It started for me in Ukraine, so since I’m going back there in a couple days, I thought I would re-post an update I wrote a year ago, prior to returning to the very place where this whole thing began for me…

Well, in a few days I'll be heading back to a country that holds a special place in my heart...Ukraine!

Why a special place you ask? Well, besides having amazing chocolates, gourmet McDonald’s, and the best shish leek, on the planet. It is the place where God really got my attention with a certain statistic (97...3) and a very plain reality that He wanted to use me to join a team that was seeking to do something about it.

I should've realized that God was going to do something that incredible summer of 2004, I mean before I left I had a sit down discussion and prayer time with 2 of my favorite people in the world (Brian & Joann Young), and in that prayer time they told me that they had been praying for me and really had the sense that God was going to do something huge and life changing in and through me on the trip.

Joann had been reading the passage about Ezekiel and the Valley of dry bones and said she kept thinking about how she could see God doing something that only He could do in the lives of people and He was going to use me in the process...I was blown away, I didn't know what she meant, but I was ready for whatever God was going to do.

The team and I set out for 2 weeks of life change in a foreign country, and what a trip it was. I saw God shake me, wake me, break me and take me to heights I had never been before. It was so moving that I returned from the trip believing that God wanted us to move to Ukraine and join the YMI team in Kiev by helping them train the next generation of professionally trained Youth Pastors in the former Soviet Union.

Bonnie and I went back to Ukraine in the winter of 2005 for a vision trip, and realized that it wasn’t the place that God was calling us to; it was the ministry of training youth leaders internationally that He was calling us to. We joined YMI officially in 2007 and have been on the fast track ever since!

Now I get the chance to go back and teach YM 102 – Youth Culture to a group of college freshman from all over Eastern Europe, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what God is going to do this time, as I return to the place where this whole missions thing got hold of me.

Please pray for open hearts, open minds and a willingness to learn and grow. I leave Friday 3/6 and will return 3/21…I will update the blog with pictures and insights of what God is doing in Ukraine.

Thanks for partnering with me as we continue to close the 97…3 gap, by training trainers in youth ministry worldwide with YMI.