I have sometimes been told that I have a gift for stating the obvious. When I set about to share a bit in this month’s edition of Sprachspielen, I had decided simply to state something that was probably already obvious to you, but I thought I should state it anyway and also give a reason for the situation, even though the reason too might be obvious. As you probably could tell, I’ve taken a bit of a “hiatus” from the Sprachspielen editorials in January and February of this year.
Again, you probably have already noticed that I did not write a Sprachspielen article in January, nor in February. For those of you who follow me through social media, you probably have surmised the reason for my silence. It has simply been my insanely busy travel and ministry schedule during both months. There’s nothing more to it than that really. However, as I’ll be back in Tennessee for about a month at the end of the first week in March, I look forward to resuming the writing of this editorial and continuing to look at the theme we started back in November.
When I first began to write this brief explanation, what I wrote above was all that I had intended to write in this February’s Sprachspielen. However, the events of the last few weeks—namely the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by its much larger neighbour, Russia—have led me to say just a quick word about this situation.
Obviously, as someone who has lived more of my life in Europe than I have in the United States and has lived/travelled in many places in Europe (including Ukraine, Russia, Belarus) as well as being a life-long student of the histories and cultures of these areas, I am deeply saddened by these events and seek the Lord’s wisdom in order to navigate these days and pray for His miraculous intervention to bring peace once again to this part of the world and by extension to all parts of the world, which are currently suffering the pains of war and unrest. I felt that I should say something, however brief, in response to these events in large part because I’ve already received some questions and expressions of concern from people who know me and our ministry. These are questions about the recent events in Ukraine more generally, but more to the point, how these events in Ukraine might affect our work in Europe and me personally. Here are the questions I’ve been asked and my quick answers to these questions, though the answers are invariably similar.
- What is your take on the situation in general? I definitely have some thoughts on these events, perhaps even some insights that people might find helpful. However, because we either have or hope to have ministry in many of these places and this is an open publication, I do not feel it wise to share these thoughts in this context. If anyone really wants to know my thoughts, he/she can contact me directly via e-mail or other media.
- How will these events affect your summer missions opportunities? The overall answer is that I do not know for certain at this point. However, as of this moment, we are proceeding with our plans for on-field student projects in Europe. We will be monitoring the situation closely as events unfold.
- How will these events affect your return to Wales on 6 April? Again, I do not know how or even if these events are going to affect international travel. However, I will monitor the situation and let everyone know how it works out.
I am grateful for people’s concern and support, regarding how these things might affect us in our work and travels. However, I’m reminded of three things:
- There are people who are really struggling and in danger for their very lives and freedom. This fact far outweighs any inconvenience to me or in our work at present and should be the major focus for our prayers and concern;
- If we’ve learned anything from the past two years of Pandemic, it is that we have to deal spiritually, creatively, and proactively with the various things that happen which affect our lives and plans either directly or indirectly by trusting in God’s direction and provision; and
- God is still on His throne and sovereign—nothing surprises Him or takes Him off guard.
We’ll keep everyone informed regarding how world events may affect our work and travels. In the meantime, I ask you all to pray for the people of Ukraine in this hour of their greatest need.