Allow me to share with you my observations that would probably help you understand Ukrainian mentality better and help us change.
Watching you in everyday life, I constantly notice substantial differences between you and me, and other members of your team. I would like to mention one thing that considerably distinguishes you from us.
Observing you, probably in the most difficult period of your life, during this difficult time of crisis and undeserved persecutions, betrayals, great disappointments, false accusations, and continual danger, I was impressed by the following: even during the hardest and tensed days, when we were confused with this terrible uncertainty, you continued working in two directions – improving yourself and helping other people. Every day you live according to the principles you teach us. These principles at first seem so simple, but they are extremely difficult to practice; and the most important of them is that YOU HAVE TO DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO.
I would like to give several examples from your life that brought me to the aforementioned conclusion.
Your sermon from the 16th anniversary of our church called “Everything that happens with the Embassy of God church is not a tragedy, but a triumph” was based on quotations of great people who also experienced crises in their lives. You have chosen these quotations in the most difficult period of your life. If any of us were in your place,… well, if we did not become crazy from offence, disappointment, lack of understanding, and betrayal, then most probably we would have at least been completely upset with people, refusing to trust them,, and all the more, we would have stopped helping people around us. – It’s hard to help ones’ self, let alone others.
You acted in an absolutely different way. Firstly, you laid aside every disappointment, self-pity, worry, and nervousness; you started studying the experience of great reformers and the way they went through similar crises. This helped you not only to overcome your crisis, but also to come out of it stronger, wiser, and even with fruits for the Kingdom of God.
Secondly, you were trying to comprehend the shortcomings of character and the peculiarities of our mentality that made Ukrainians commit such betrayal; why they lacked responsibility for their own decisions. Though our natural reaction would be to feel frustrated in people, a feeling of distrust, and withdrawing in order to protect yourself.
I remember your question addressed to all of us: “Which heaven are you heading to, while living against the principles of God? Probably, some kind of your own heaven”. Upon discovery of these negative qualities that were leading us directly to hell, (though we were sure that we were righteous) you started to look for ways to help us to change, to eradicate destructive qualities and to produce new ones that would help us reveal Jesus Christ and become more effective for the Kingdom of God. A result of which gave birth to the fourth leadership school , which was born out of care of us and a desire to help us!
I can imagine how much we hurt you when we refused to write our assignments;, making excuses such as, being” busy”, and even more absurd is the fact that we were, worrying about you.(I’ll mention more about it later).
I would like to say that being close to you, I have never heard negative comments from your side about people who unfairly accused, persecuted, and betrayed you. On the contrary, you bless them and moreover you try to find excuses for them, and explanations for their actions. You always notice the best in people, even when the worst is obvious.
There is another example. It is not a secret that the investigating agencies have been holding an inquiry on a fabricated criminal case against you. Few people know that you are overcoming these trials with dignity. Constant interrogations and even arrests have not become an excuse for you to stop working. The words of Winston Churchill (“If you are going through hell keep going”) have become the motto of this period in your life.
Once I was a witness of how you continued working at your fast pace in your car on the way to an interrogation. Then I expressed my amazement and said that in your place, I would not be able to think of anything else except the forthcoming questioning! You replied that under no circumstance will you allow situations and problems to move your focus from the main things that control your life, mood, your desire to work, and even your plans.” If a person allows problems and circumstances to change and cancel his plans it means that he respects these problems more than himself”. It is impossible to allow a problem to stop you from accomplishing your scheduled plans!
Here is another example,. Right after the interrogation, you did not return home to rest, but you went to your home group or training retreat where you continued teaching, studying, edifying Ukrainians who were so mean and ungrateful to you.
Once during a conversation with you, I mentioned how difficult it must be to endure all these numerous questionings when they suppress you on purpose and try to put you off your stride. I will never forget your answer: ”That is nothing, but I have to move it aside every second and continue working for the salvation of people”. Yet again, my focus was on your feelings in this situation while you were focusing on how not to allow circumstances to interrupt your assignments from God.
We know well how you understand the word “work”. You personally train more than five hundred people from your home groups every month; there are over a thousand retreat trainees who graduated last year alone, while you now conduct 2-3 training retreats per month; not to mention on-line sermons for conferences in other countries; on-line teachings in the Bible schools of the Embassy of God church in the USA, Africa, Europe etc.
Probably that is yet not the most difficult thing. The most difficult and exhausting thing must be the two weeks of personal prayer retreat per month when you are cut off from this world, leaving your family and , your usual way of life in order to fast and pray for the, church, and everyone of us.
One of your biggest secrets and distinctive virtue is that every problem pushes you closer to God; while we sometimes get upset with God and protest against the injustice of life.
This is only a small part of what you do while most of us become judgemental by thinking that pastor preaches less at the central church due to the problems and persecutions. In contrast, pastor does more than ever before in so-called “quiet” times. The impression is that the more they pressure you the more new ideas you implement, the more you do for God to glorify Him.
Everything is different with us. Oppressions and problems influence us strongly. We focus on pressure and our worries, while everything recedes into the background. dDuring oppression, we cannot think of anything else. We put all our effortsin to doing our minimum to keep the ball rolling. Improving onesself is out of the question. Now is not the right time!” When we have PROBLEMS in our lives, we do not usually! Think of others? We feel a need to solve our own problems first. New ideas? We cannot think of them when all our attention was riveted on our own problems. We are tormented by one question: WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT? Ambiguity, uncertainty and fear of the future just paralyze us during these times.
We are not able to face the future, and, we cannot look ahead of our problem. We do not live in the future by our goal, but we live in the present by our problem. We allow circumstances and problems to capture us completely. We consider problems as a worthy excuse for our inactivity, passiveness, and lack of initiative.
The funniest thing is that often, the problem that serves as our excuse is not our problem. We worry about Pastor trying to help him as much as we can. This seems to be the natural thing to do as we have to protect our father! The bad thing is that often we consider it as a good justification for not working in other areas. And if someone is asking us some blasphemous, , questions (in our view) concerning writing the forth leadership school assignment, we answer proudly: “I cannot even think of writing it, for all my thoughts are focused on how to help my Pastor”. That is great! But another thing puzzles our Pastor.
We cannot think of anything but, worrying, praying, and helping our Pastor to go through these persecutions, but Pastor is busy overcoming hardships – arrests, interrogations, betrayals, slander, constant danger of death and imprisonment; our pastor , who is blacklisted in most news programs, newspapers, magazines; our pastor, whose children might be left without a father and never really know who their father was; our Pastor, who is the one going through everything that we only worry about, does not look for any excuses, but continues working amidst everything that is happening!!! He does not simply continue to work, but he looks for means to HELP US!!! And the paradox is that we often ignore this help.
One more important moment that substantially differs our Pastor from all of us is the following: Pastor, you act immediately if you worry about something. Your heart aches for Ukraine – then you go to personal prayer retreat, fasting, praying for our country. You are touched by a story of one person- then you immediately try to help them. You are terrified by the number of drug addicted – then you open rehabilitation centres raising leaders. We often limit ourselves by our emotions and worries that get us nowhere. Why doesn’t our anxiety lead us to actions if it is sincere?? We find peace in the thought that,” I am a good person” if I worry about something… and it does not matter if nobody feels better from it. It is so important for us to be like you, Pastor, so that everything that touches us, and makes us cry would immediately lead us to concrete decisions and deeds!
I have the right to write about it as I see it not only in my colleagues and people close to me, but first of all, I notice it in myself. Recently this behaviour was natural, and I did not presume that it was possible to live in a different way. Observing our Pastor has blamed me. What right do I have to justify myself if Pastor does not find any excuses???
One lecturer in our university told us with irony: there is only one good reason not to come to my lecture – death. Our pastor makes such demands for himself. While he is alive, he does not find any excuses for himself not to do what he has to…And what about us..?
Translated by Valeria Granova
Edited by Lydia Olorunniwo