“I don’t know why I’m here, to be honest. I’m scared of going off with a group of people I’ve only just met. They’re all extremely experienced, gifted young leaders and I’m not really sure what I add to the team.
They all speak English well but I feel like such a burden forcing them to translate constantly. They’re so kind, considerate, caring and really good fun but it’s hard feeling like an outsider when verbal communication is so difficult."
These were some of the worries on my mind half way through our recent trip to Open Bible’s International Camp, in Ukraine. At this point, we had already been in Vorzel (Open Bible’s primary campsite) for a week of leadership training, Bible study, team-building and socialising with young leaders from Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and Siberia.
Although this week had been interesting, exciting and humbling as we shared ideas and worshipped one God in many languages, it had also proved challenging and frustrating as we adjusted to cultural differences, wrestled with language barriers and melted in the extreme sunshine!
It had been such a blessing meeting each morning just as the Scottish team, as it allowed for communication without hesitation as we explored Philippians, prayed, sang and even wept together, and I was nervous about going into week 2 without this team.
However, in my anxiety I had forgotten something crucial. Although separated from most of the Scottish team, I was not separated from the God who was going with me.
Over the following week, through reflection, reading, observing and listening, I learnt some difficult lessons about utter dependence on God, loving through serving, the volume of actions and the need to be bold as the message we have is a message that needs shared.
It was an utter privilege to serve alongside my team which included young leaders from both Russia and Ukraine. Their confidence and passion for making Jesus’ name known in a country still hostile to the Gospel challenged me profoundly. Despite speaking different languages, there was something powerful about serving together with them, knowing we differed in so many ways, but were united as God’s children.
As I reflect on my time in Ukraine, I can hardly remember that feeling I had as I packed for Tetiiv as I can honestly say my time in Ukraine was one of the best weeks of my life. I often cringe when I read posts like this as people talk about ‘life-changing trips’ etc. but I can honestly say that this trip to Ukraine has significantly impacted my life on a deep level, and if it is in God’s will, it won’t be long until I return to help on another camp.