After praying and seeking God’s will, my family and I moved to Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine. Later, the city was renamed to Dnipro, since it’s located on the Dniper River, in the center of Ukraine.
We lived in Dnipro for 5 years and started one Baptist church as we served with the IMB as Church Planters. Our 4 daughters spent much of their formative years in Ukraine.
Ukraine is a country the size of Texas and has a population of about 44 million Ukrainians, or at least until women and children started leaving as refugees. Before the war began, Ukraine was approximately 3-4% Christian. Hopefully, there are many more Christians now as many are faced with the real possibility of death. Pray that they would hear the good news of Jesus Christ from the believers that are there.
Many ask me what are Ukrainians like? They are the opposite of Americans in many ways. They seem rude or unfriendly on the streets but are willing to go very deep very quickly in relationships. Americans seem to be friendly on the street, but superficial and shallow when talking about deep, personal, heart issues. Ukrainians often throw themselves birthday parties, will provide all the food, and invite their friends over to their house. In America, our friends or family throw us birthday parties. Most Ukrainians live in high-rise apartment buildings in large cities, whereas most Americans live in individual houses. In fact, our daughters would complain about taking out our dog to go for a walk because all the time they wasted waiting for the elevator going up and going down. We lived on the 10th floor of our apartment building. Ukrainians are very artistic in art, music, dance, and poetry, whereas Americans are more sports oriented. Ukrainians value working together as a team as a life value, whereas individualism is valued by Americans. I learned this part of the culture the hard way when the class I was teaching kept cheating with each other because learning was a team effort for them. Ukrainian women don’t shake hands with men. I also learned this the hard way when I put my hand out to shake hands with a girl that had just been introduced to me and she just look at my hand. She left me hanging. Lastly, Ukrainians tend to dress up, much like Americans dressed up in the 1960’s and 1970’s and Ukrainian women are known for wearing skirts and high heels. Ukrainians usually feel Americans dress too sloppily (comfortably).
But there are common traits that both Ukrainians and Americans share. One of those traits are that iron grit determination. You might even call it stubbornness, but it’s a “never give up” mindset that keeps us going. That is why the Ukrainians believe they can be the David and defeat the goliath, Russia.
Now that you know Ukrainians a little better, please join me in praying for them to become desperate for God and seek Him as they consider their eternity in the face of war.