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A Light and the Door - It’s Just Jesus

There are many dark places in the world. One that probably doesn’t come to mind is Ukraine, where my husband sand I serve in a Gypsy camp each year. It’s a rough, tough, gritty place. People there can’t seem to grow out of the old ways. There is a ‘gypsy gene’ that keeps many from thriving- brought into existence by hundreds of years of poverty and scraping to survive. The inability to think about tomorrow and a deep seeded lack of worth is pervasive and self-limiting. A small percentage of those are taking brave steps to live outside the norm and we strive to support them. We continue to care for those bound in the cycle that will forever hold them in place as well.


What brings light into the darkness of this country? Who opens the door and beckons people in? It’s just Jesus, only Jesus.


In addition, the entire country is under the oppressive forces of a criminal governmental system with lack of freedoms, a residue of communist times that still plays with people’s minds and most importantly, utter spiritual chaos. The church is no place of refuge here- the Orthodox ‘church’ is also a place of oppression, fear and criminal activity. The priests are some of the richest men in Ukraine (not unlike some of America’s scammy preachers.) They conduct services in an ancient Slavic language that no one else can understand. They prevent parishioners from reading the Bible because they might ‘misunderstand’ it. People attend church more out of a fear of bad luck than out of a heart full of love for God. There is no Savior, only a sense of the mystical magic of an image of Jesus or a saint so-and-so, or the dead body of a priest in a catacomb. There’s no personal relationship with Christ, just kiss the image, make the sign of the cross and hope for the best.

This beautiful country, rich in hidden resources, is dark; very, very dark.

So can light be among the darkness? Absolutely. Many times it isn’t even glaringly obvious. The Light of the World lives in the hearts of those who live and serve daily in the Gypsy camp, teaching, training, guiding, feeding, leading. It’s in the man all the kids call “uncle Kochi” because he knows about 150 of them personally and invests in them every minute he can. It’s in Ruslan, who tirelessly oversees projects, a soup kitchen and numerous other things. It’s in the American family that moved here one year ago with no plans other than to find ways to serve the community of Mukachevo long-term. It’s in the Church of Living Water, an English-speaking church where many Ukrainians have attended, learned English and have come to know the One who is the Door into security and fellowship. There’s no secret sauce. It’s just Jesus. Without Him, there’s no light and no entry, no lifting of oppressive brainwashing, no ability to see themselves as worthy of anything.

It’s only because of Jesus that I hope. It can be easy to be discouraged and depressed otherwise. Under my own power, I can do very little, but the light of Christ can compel and complete whatever He wants. So, no matter the stink-eyed looks I get from people when I smile at them, I still smile and silently say ‘God loves you’ over them. No matter the long shot, I will hope that the little Gypsy prodigies will, in fact, go to college and do great things, and that John and I really will be able to help some Gypsies rise out of poverty and begin new habits that will affect future generations.

What brings light into the darkness of this country? Who opens the door and beckons people in? It’s just Jesus, only Jesus.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Lesley Green is a nurse at Lakeside Junior High School. She and her husband John have attended Grace Church since 2001. Lesley is passionate about missions work, and she adores her family and her two dogs.

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