Sunrise Prayer in Lviv
After a night of worship, we began our first full day by waking up before sunrise to go pray at the top of a hill in the center of Lviv. This hill is special because it has a 360 degree view of Lviv and it was a place Norman, who pioneered a trip to Ukraine a few months earlier, had received a word of knowledge to pray on a hilltop. We climbed over three hundred stairs to the top where we began to worship and pray over the city as the sun rose, declaring open heavens and calling Lviv into its destiny. This led into releasing prophetic words over three young Ukrainian women who had joined us after hearing the invitation the night before at worship. Remi released a word about revival moving from the west to the east of Ukraine and only then discovered these three were all refugees from the east. In the midst of turmoil and difficulty, their hearts were encouraged and strengthened, touched by God’s love. After the time of intercession, we headed down to the city for some fun, exploring and spreading the love of God through smiles.
Bethel Work Days
While in Lviv, we had two work days to serve the Blessings at their ministry house, ‘Bethel’. Gardening is a huge cultural aspect of Ukrainian village life, and after many years, this year the Blessings received their own plot of land that belongs to their house. Through gardening, they are able to be a witness to all their neighbors, who are amazed that Americans embraced the Ukrainian lifestyle. In the morning, the guys cleared the land of tree stumps and prepared it for planting, while the girls planted the flower bed and herb garden outside the house. Once the guys finished preparing the field garden it was a team effort to weed it and put the first seeds into the ground! Another job we were able to do was to re-vamp the game room. With the desire to eventually facilitate a youth group in their game room, our team of artists livened it by adding character through twinkle lights, fun phrases and more.
Walk of Faith
During our week at the house, we were blessed to begin each day with worship, joining with the family when possible. After worship one day, we were honored to hear Mr. and Mrs. Blessing’s life testimony of their walk of faith with God; from His calling them to Ukraine and the journey to purchasing and building Bethel house. The whole team was blessed and challenged by their relationship with God, that through the years was built on God’s miraculous faithfulness, and their unwavering trust. All the way down to the refusal of raises and ridiculous opportunities that were offered to deter them from God’s plan, they threw themselves into opposition and trial because they trusted in the words God spoke to them. They shared with us to wait for God to fulfill His promises in our lives, encouraging us through the vision God has promised them (Bethel house), a 21-year vision they have carried. It will now come to full fruition this fall, in the grand opening of Bethel house; a house of refuge and rest, first for the Jewish population making Aliyah, and second for believers in need of a place to stay.
That afternoon we went to an orphanage where we acted out several Bible skits spontaneously for the 2-8 year olds, who were very responsive, open, and joyful!! We lead them though several kids’ action songs, played outside with them for a short while, and loved on them, but got even more blessed in return.
From there we went to Living Word church and ministered at the young adults meeting. The team led worship in English and Ukrainian, then Keturah shared her testimony about Jesus never leaving her even in her darkest time, and how with God life’s adventures are so much better and more exciting. Paul shared a message about that which is of eternal value in the kingdom – love and worship, for that is what will last for all eternity. He also encouraged the congregation of Living Word in their calling to be worshipers and to release praise in the city.
Visiting the Jewish Community
On Friday, several team members had the opportunity to volunteer with the Jewish community, visiting the elderly as they prepared for Shabbat. They were greeted by the reformed rabbi of the city, an influential, interesting and educated man, who just had been promoted to be the assistant head rabbi of Ukraine. He was appointed based on his knowledge and connection with communities of other beliefs, such as Muslim, Buddhist and Christian, and had studied carefully the entire New Testament. His witness of the New Testament was very positive, saying he had gotten only good out of it and it cannot be separated from the First Covenant; both are connected and fulfill each other! The team then drove to an apartment where we were privileged to hear the stories of an elderly couple who survived WWII, traveled the world and were involved in the beginning of the Zionist movement. Two of the Israeli students sang in Hebrew and were joined by the couple as well. As we left, the wife tearfully expressed her desire to be in Jerusalem and asked the students to promise the next time they pray at the Western Wall, to tell the Wall that there is a woman who wants to be there but cannot. That evening at the Shabbat table we lifted them and the rabbi up in prayer as we lit the candles of shabbat, that the revelation of Yeshua would flood their hearts. With joy, we entered into shabbat rest and enjoyed a wonderful family dinner with the Blessings.
On Saturday, we enjoyed a rare opportunity on outreach: a slow-paced Shabbat. Beginning with a delicious brunch, we then enjoyed time in the sun, playing games together and personal time with God. In the afternoon, youth and young adults from Living Word church came and fellowshipped with our team outside on the lawn and in the newly updated game room. We re-charged and ended with a traditional Ukrainian barbecue dinner, leading up to our farewells.
Living Word Church
Joining Living Word’s Sunday morning service, our team led worship and shared testimonies. Muriel shared the testimony of God’s faithfulness in her life; she spoke of how she sees He was speaking to her even when she wasn’t pursuing Him and about how much more He will speak to us if we are walking with Him! Krista then preached a fiery message in Ukrainian, provoking the congregation to hunger for revival in Ukraine, to stand before the Lord and say “I am satisfied, but at the same time I’m not satisfied and want more of You!” At the culmination of our trip in Ukraine, a cry was released for the sound of revival, the scent of fresh water (Job 14:7-9) to spread in Ukraine. After the service, the Blessing family treated us to coffee at Lviv’s best coffee shop and made us dinner, sending us off fully satisfied and grateful for all the Lord did in Ukraine.
Arriving in Oswiecim, Poland
Upon arrival in Poland after an overnight bus, we were met with unexpected complications and obstacles in our transportation. While spending the morning in the train station, the students decided to take time in prayer together as a class, repenting to one another and calling one another up to a higher place in vulnerability and accountability to each other so that we can see greater works released through the remainder of outreach. Once breakthrough came, both spiritually and physically in our transportation, we drove to Oswiecim, where we stayed at a large Catholic boarding school and met our contact Roman, a local pastor who shared with us the vision of their ministry in Oswiecim to bless Jewish communities in Poland and Ukraine. That evening we worshipped together and as Heaven opened above us we stepped into a place of sweet ministry over their team. Following that morning’s prayer time, the students stepped into a new place in ministry and spoke out God’s heart over Roman and his family.
The next day began with a tour of Oswiecim, starting at the house where Roman(our contact) experienced revival when he was in his early twenties. He shared that,”the revival was one like Azuza street”. The testimony of that time is a testimony he’s still receiving from, and longing to see released again. From there we moved on to the only synagogue that was left standing after WWII, hearing about how active Jewish life was before the war in a city who’s Jewish population was around 70%. We ended our tour in a castle museum with a tower that gave a 360 view of Osweicim. Here we lifted God’s name high above the city and prayed for revival and restoration between Israel and Poland.
Life Mission Ministries
That same night, we drove to Ustron and met up with a ministry called Life Mission Ministries, a church with an amazing heart for Israel. They gathered their youth together for a special youth service with our team and gave us freedom to lead the service. From the moment we began worshiping, we could see these youth were not ordinary youth and carried a passion for God that isn’t seen every day. Elizabeth shared her testimony, followed by Peter giving a word of encouragement to ‘Believe the Gospel!’ Rachel Dirrol brought a message recounting how God has used young people throughout history; the heavens were opened for us to release prophetic words over each one of the youth that were there. Much to our surprise, in the end the youth turned and blessed each one of us with prayer, pouring their hearts out before God.
Today we visited the concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The team was silent as we walked though the different barracks where people had lived, and then were lead through the gas chambers, listening to the atrocities carried out there, God working in each of our hearts so tenderly in different ways. As we pondered the history of what happened and the questions that were stirred in the hearts of each individual, one thing remained the same: God is good! No matter what your circumstance is there is always hope in the living God. At the end of the tour, our team stood in the Birkenau cross roads at the selection point, there we lifted Auschwitz, Birkenau and all that happened there up to God and repented for generational and national antisemitism. We worshiped and took communion together with Roman and his team. At the end, Roman poured the wine from communion out on the ground and declared that Yeshua’s blood cries louder than the blood of Abel and brings redemption and victory in the place of death! That evening we took time as a team to process what God was doing in our hearts and allow Him to continue to work within us. We then joined Roman’s team in the town square, a place that had at one time been dedicated to Hitler, there we stood to worship God and declare His name and love over that place. We ended our evening fellowshipping together over dinner and prepared to board a bus to Germany the following morning…