Happy Birthday Peter!
Before travelling to Odessa, we needed to celebrate something huge; Pete’s 21st birthday! We started our last day in Mykolaiv at the local bowling alley… at 9 in the morning, we had the entire place to ourselves. We celebrated Pete with some friendly competition and unsuccessful attempts at bowling a perfect game. We love celebrating birthdays at Gateways Beyond and Pete’s was one for the books.
We then boarded a bus for our quick transition to Odessa, and the next step in our journey through Ukraine. Roman, our main contact in Odessa and a fellow GTS Alumni met our team as we arrived in Ukraine, and prepared us for a week of ministry at his family’s congregation.
We started our first full day in Odessa with a tour of the cities landmarks and Jewish roots. Odessa is beautiful in everything from it’s architecture to it’s landscape. Just walking around the city was a blessing and fuel to the fire for our intercession over Ukraine. Later we joined Roman for a city-wide youth night of worship. As we entered into worship the presence of God filtered into the church as we praised His name, and we were given the opportunity to lead part of the night and minister to the young people that had gathered together.
Connecting with the Congregation
That following day we rejoined the congregation for Shabbat service and we had the joy to lead worship and we lifted the name of Yeshua high in English, Hebrew and Ukrainian! After the meeting, we joined the youth of the congregation for fellowship over lunch, where we learned more about one another, Ukrainian culture and it’s beautiful language. We then had a sweet time of worship together and released prophetic words over them, calling them into greater freedom, boldness and identity as sons and daughters.
A day of practical service
On Sunday we were taken by some of the local believers to a warehouse outside the city, where they stored (among other things) some chairs for a new congregational building that is being built. With much vigor and enthusiasm we beat the dust out of the chairs, breathing fresh life into them for future use. We then loaded them up and transported them to the new building site. There we witnessed the manifestation of an incredible journey of faith, as the pastor came and shared with us their vision for the future of the building. They envision a building capable of seating over 5,000 messianic believers, making it the landmark for messianic Jewish believers in Southern Ukraine. They are praying for a center of revival to equip new believers in discipleship. We then took time to pray into their vision and join them in worship and intercession in their unfinished building.
Evangelism by the Black Sea
After enjoying a delicious cultural lunch with the congregation, we went to the boardwalk along the beach of the Black Sea. As we dipped our toes into the water we took the spare time we had to do a little treasure hunting, and street evangelism. We are excited to see the fulfillment of the seeds that were planted for God’s Kingdom that day.
Next stop: Lviv!
That evening we boarded our second overnight train to our last, but not least, stop in Ukraine: Lviv. We were all excited to arrive in Lviv, but none of us were as overjoyed as our very own Krista. Her dream of her Gateways family converging with her own family in Lviv was finally becoming a reality! The Blessing family welcomed us in their home with Texan accents and Ukrainian hospitality. Their home is a story of a 20 year-plus faith journey centered around holding fast to the promises of God. Upon arriving we enjoyed some much-needed rest, and prepared for a night of worship in their living room. The evening was a sweet time with the Lord, where He ministered to each an every individual in such an intimate way. There’s no better way to start our last week in Ukraine, as we prepare our hearts for what He has in store here in Lviv.