A Walk in the Park

One of the things we see time and again in our work preaching the gospel is that we have to be the hands and feet of Jesus, not just the voice. When we’re sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, we get to do both. Our recent trip to Ukraine exemplified this.

We partner with Praise Church in Odessa, Ukraine, for a program each month where we preach the gospel and feed the hungry. I joined our Ignite Europe evangelists, Yan and Karen, for February’s outreach. 

It was a cold, cold day. The temperature was right at freezing, with a windchill of 16 F. We unloaded our supplies and began to set up in the large park in Odessa. Snow covered the ground and the branches of the many trees. Puddles in the roads were lined with ice. It was cold by any standard, but especially so for this Texan. 

A group of about 20 people showed up for the message and borscht (a traditional Ukrainian soup). Yan preached for about 10 minutes, and then I preached for about the same. All the people who attended repeated the sinner’s prayer. I don’t know how many truly meant the prayer, but we sowed the gospel. We introduced them to a local church. Everything went as planned.

Until it didn’t.

One of the guys on our team felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to walk around the park. So, as we finished feeding everyone, he took a walk. About ten minutes later,  he returned and told us there was a woman asleep on a bench, soaking wet, on the other side of the park. 

We knew immediately we had to help her. In that climate, exposed to the elements, we knew she wouldn’t last long in her current state. We helped her over to where we were set up. She was delirious. Her hands were like ice. We gave her new gloves, a blanket, soup, tried our best to warm her up, and prayed over her as another team member called for an ambulance. 

While waiting for the ambulance, cleaning up, and saying goodbye to everyone who came, a car drove up and came to an abrupt halt. The passenger door opened, a man was thrown out, and the car drove away. He landed in a frozen mud puddle right by the train tracks as a train was going by. He had a large wound on his hip and was barely breathing, barely responsive, … and barely alive. We immediately began praying for him and telling him about Jesus before he drifted into unconsciousness. 

When the ambulance arrived, we helped load the two people who needed help on to make-shift stretchers and then watched it drive away. Our team just stood there for a bit, stunned. What a day. We came to the park to preach the gospel and feed the hungry, and by being obedient to the Holy Spirit, we were also able to help rescue two people, pray for them, and tell them that Jesus loves them.

We left knowing we had fulfilled the work God had for us that day. When we are obedient, even in something as simple as going for a walk when we’re told, God uses us. 

 -Shawn

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