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When we left India in June 2015 it was 117 degrees F with full humidity. Our city had a population of nearly 19 million people with over 1.2 billion people populating the entire country. And the overwhelming majority are utterly lost in complete darkness. The darkness is so heavy in India that you can literally feel it. Praise the Lord that the Deaf churches that were planted are growing strong and have been multiplying!
So when the Holy Spirit spoke to us and God called us to Ukraine, it seemed as though it was the absolute most completely opposite place He could have sent us! Not only would we be moving to sub-zero temperatures in the winter, but we would not be living in the capital. We were moving to a smaller city, Chernivtsi, population 255,000. Ukraine is largely Orthodox but most people consider themselves non-religious. A stark contrast from India.
Delhi is a modern city in a third world country. We did not expect to find any similarities to Chernivtsi, but surprisingly, we did. While most modern conveniences can be found, there are still open air markets and bazaars, people selling their goods on sidewalks and street corners, stray dogs everywhere, squatty potties, an insane amount of people who smoke, all record keeping done in ledger books rather than on computers, long lines to pay utility bills, fluctuating electricity, wells dug by hand, and extreme poverty.
Spiritually, I didn't expect to find heavy darkness like we did in India. But there is a darkness. Oppression and extreme poverty have created strongholds among the people. Many Ukrainians are just trying to survive since the fall of communism with most people earning $130 month or much less. The younger generation born in freedom uses the freedom to reject God and live as they please. The older generation that remember the former soviet days struggle to survive and find meaning. Alcoholism is a huge problem. There is a strong feeling of depression in the air.
We visited one couple, the husband is Deaf and works as a welder, the wife is hearing and a sign language interpreter. Both have what would be considered good jobs, yet they cannot afford to heat their home. When we visited they had the heat in every room turned off except the one we sat in. And even in that room we had to wear our coats and scarves to stay warm. Their children's teeth appeared rotted out and they appeared under nourished. Stacey's language coach is a refugee from the eastern war torn border of Ukraine here without family and only part-time work. Chris's language coach is unemployed while his wife works at a factory making next to nothing.
The extreme poverty, depression, and rejection of religion and God contribute to the darkness. Very different from India, but still lost. Lost without knowledge of our Savior. Satan keeps them oppressed and without hope. Regardless of living conditions, majority religions, etc., without Christ there is no hope. Please pray that we will be able to show the light of Christ to those we meet and that they will find hope in the Savior. Pray also that with so many needs all around us that the Holy Spirit will lead us according to our Father's will.