A few weeks ago I had the privilege of returning to Europe for teaching, first at a ski conference in Austria, and then at Bible School in Sweden. It was a rich time in both places, as it always is, but it was especially poignant this year because our European friends are living directly in the shadow of a war that‘s raging in Ukraine. There were Romanians at the ski week who were there because their own more local ski retreat would have been too close to the border, and the war. There was a German doctor, already treating Ukrainian immigrants and refugees at her clinic, a mere 100 meters from the Poland/Germany border. In Sweden, there are talks of joining NATO, and a Finnish man I met through a bizarre circumstance in Sweden that led to the hiring of a cab in order to catch up a train connection spoke of an influx of middle class Russians entering Finland, fed up with lies, and violence, and a disregard for the moral norms of civilized society, which include: you don’t take another country’s land (see Proverbs 22:28, for example).
Almost every night in Austria, there was time spent with friends or guests at the conference speaking of the changing world we live in, and the challenge of being people of hope in the midst of the vast ocean of violence, displacement, and lies that are saturating our world - not just in eastern Europe, but here in America as well. The challenge, for most of us, isn’t expensive gas. It’s finding ways to embody both the compassion and confidence, the courage and questions, the beauty and brokenness that is this present moment in history.
It was a treat, then, to make a connection with Nick Sweeney. Nick has a long history of ministry work in Ukraine, and is the director of Kyiv ChristIan Academy. He caught one of the last flights out of the country before the airport was bombed, and has remained in touch with many friends in Ukraine throughout the conflict.
I chatted with him about the realities of what’s happening in Ukraine, how he speaks to young children and youth (the students in his care) about the realities of war and death, loss and displacement, and what wholeness might look like in the midst of war.
You can listen on this link below, or whoever you digest your podcasts. Just look for the “Toward Wholeness” podcast, and you’ll find this as the most recent entry.
There’s more to share, but for now, I invite you to give a listen, and find vibrant faith in the midst of a world on fire.