Regardless of how much time you spend predicting the outcomes of your actions it is impossible to know for sure what the effects will be. The people you interact with, the places you go, the standards you accept and the things you let slide will, in small or large ways, impact you. You, in turn, affect others. I believe God is the author of our lives but He gifted us with free will so our choices matter.
As always, “potential” is one of my favorite words.
When I accepted God’s direction of my path away from the Philippines and temporarily detoured from Ireland, I was making a choice that impacted places and people I’d never imagined. One of those is Ukraine.
You’ve heard about Tanya, another HOPE61 Australia team member. She and her family served in Ukraine for years, both independently and with One Mission Society (OMS). We met when Tanya and her husband visited Melbourne while on deputation in various parts of Australia. After they returned to Ukraine Tanya and I emailed. Eventually we determined that HOPE61 would be a valuable ministry in Ukraine. Tanya agreed to take a HOPE61 assignment, however, soon after the family had to leave the country. Even though they are currently located in Melbourne Tanya’s responsibilities with HOPE61 still include building a presence for the ministry in Ukraine.
Before I first left Australia and Tanya and her family left Ukraine, I trained her over Skype with a previous version of our curriculum. Together, just last month, we spent four late nights training Masha over Skype. Masha is a Ukrainian woman that Tanya has known for some time. While Tanya was still in Ukraine Masha expressed interest in working with HOPE61 and agreed to translate our curriculum into Russian. It has been over a year since Masha was first “recruited,” though, and her training was long overdue.
Thanks to a lot of prayer beforehand and during, the internet connection stayed strong and our communication was generally good. Masha speaks and reads English very well so both Tanya and I facilitated. Because of our limited time with Masha we chose just sixteen hours worth of lessons, which is about 50% (ish) of the full HOPE61 training. Tanya will administer the remaining lessons to Masha over time, sort of “professional development.”
Since Masha is going to be a type of HOPE61 trainer she received the training from a different perspective than we would conduct it with churches or groups. One challenge that all trainers must address is altering the lessons & structure of the training as needed to suit the culture they are working in. The satisfying excitement I felt as Masha voluntarily jumped in with ideas for changing examples or case studies to suit Ukraine began on day one.
We faced some challenges, particularly during lessons on child soldiering and vulnerability to human trafficking. The hardships of wartime in eastern Ukraine are creating problems that increase vulnerability to exploitation and modern day slavery. Rumblings of war and upheaval have occasionally graced the Facebook trends or headlines of the western world but as Tanya and Masha shared, the reality lies with the people. People, not the vague notion of a nation, are the ones dealing with all the fear, ruin, and exposing of their lives.
In the end it was a successful training. Tanya has gone through the new curriculum and experienced being the trainer vs. the trainee. Masha is qualified as a HOPE61 trainer and contributing to preventing human trafficking in Ukraine. I had the opportunity to learn from both of them as my perspective, and my understanding, broadened.
At one time Tanya decided to follow the Great Commission instructed to all believers, Masha chose to obey God’s call for His Church to seek justice, and I decided to follow God’s guidance to a country I never planned on seeing. God is using the little ripples of choices we all made years ago to create a stronger riptide that we can’t fully see now, only recognize the signs of it happening.
Please pray for Tanya and Masha as they begin translating the HOPE61 lessons into Russian and maybe Ukrainian as well. Keep an eye open for more stories of how HOPE61 Ukraine is growing!