So what is the bigger story here – the fact that I am about to travel to the Ukraine in September, or the fact that I am going to give away a beautiful young woman in marriage, and then actually officiate her wedding?
To me, it’s the latter, so I named the post for it. But my guess is a lot of folk are going to read about this and get nervous on my behalf. So let me take a few sentences to deal with that aspect of it. Yes, things are sure heating up between Russia and Ukraine. And somehow the US is getting battered in the process, as the graffiti I saw the other day (right) captures. On the other hand, I haven’t felt a single bit of hatred or oppression or negative effects of the escalating tensions. Now I’m going to the Ukraine. Do I know there won’t be any trouble? No, I guess not. Who know what they will think of an American flying between those two countries. That’s the only time I’ll be nervous, is at the border. Otherwise, not in the least. I’m going to Kiev, which is far from the center of activity. As anyone can see from a map, what is going on is an attempt to gain land access to the Crimea, so all the activity is in the East.
Now, as to why I am going. To say I’ve become a spiritual father to a number of people here is an understatement. In the case of women, they often feel the need so greatly because of how completely men and true masculinity has been destroyed here. In the case of Luba, whom I have written about before, she didn’t even have a father. She joined our group when she was engaged to another man, and I helped her navigate that (difficult) situation. So this time around, she wanted to do everything as much by the book (the Bible) as possible, so she came to me to help her even approve of this young man.
This was a great opportunity for me to practice on someone else before getting to do it for Lydia. So I put him (and them) through the ringer! Everyone else they spoke with gave them quick blessings, but not I. And part of it is cultural, I admit. Russians are used to going from acquaintance to engagement very fast. But I saw too many pot holes. Good news is they are both teachable and love the Lord – the main thing.
What blew me away was their request, after I finally gave them my enthusiastic blessing, first of all to be the one who, in place of a father, walk her down the aisle. Then, they asked me to actually marry them. I don’t get emotional much. That was emotional. ‘Nuf said.
Sasha is from Kiev, and they met at a training Luba was attending to lead Kay Arthur inductive Bible studies. Everything in Ukraine is cheaper, so they decided to marry there, and then to live there, where he is a lawyer with business management experience. But with all the political mess going on, the economy has gone very sour, and Sasha is having a hard time finding work. So to my great delight, they are going to live here for at least a while. I hope that while turns into a long time, because they are both very gifted, bright, and have a ton to offer in ministry. Just let me keep my hands on them a little while longer!
Oh, and about marrying them. I bet a lot of you don’t know that I am ordained through our sending organization, Church Resource Ministries. Yep, and though I don’t talk about it much, it’s handy to have in my back pocket at times, like this. And, moreover, there is a real and deep sense in which everything I do is pastoral work.
So I have a couple of weeks to figure out how to do this thing. They asked only one think of me: to perform the ceremony in one of those collar things. I don’t even have one.