In our daily reading this morning, Jim and I read these words of Paul Tripp in his book A Quest for More:

“Ministry is always a process and not an event. Ministry is the willingness to make long-term investments in the lives of others, with the hope that God will do what he alone can do as we are making those investments.”

This truth is what makes our ministry here in Ukraine so difficult to describe. We are not a ministry that offers a lot of hands-on opportunities for visiting teams, though we are able to organize such events. The events, though, are the easy part. And, at least in our own experience, these trips affect the traveller more than the national. We personally were forever changed after visiting Ukraine.

The follow-up is where the real ministry begins. The building of the relationships that hopefully developed at the “event.” Month-by-month, week-by-week, and day-by-day investments in the lives of those around us.

Jim has been diligent in studying the culture and asking questions about the medical system here. He has spent time on-call with Ukrainian physicians so that he could better understand their work. He leads Bible studies for medical personnel, teaches English to Ukrainian physicians at a children’s hospital, is available to help adoptive parents with evaluating children (while making contacts at the orphanages), consults with parents about their children’s health. He is happy to go into villages on outreaches — particularly where there is a local church involved. None of these things are earth-shattering alone, but the consistency speaks volumes to our friends here.

He is currently planning 2 conferences: one for Christian medical students (as far as we know, this is the first-ever Christian medical student conference in Ukraine) in August, and one in conjunction with Caring Partners International in the Fall, specifically designed as a hands-on follow-up to a conference two years ago in which the foundation was laid for developing early intervention programs for children born with disabilities.

Please be in prayer for these conferences…that God might be glorified, that relationships will be deepened between Jim and the participants, that the speakers may clearly articulate their topics.

Ukraine Medical Outreach is God’s work here, even through us.


  1. Fabulous post. It is so hard to explain to people who want to come to Ukraine for a short term trips that being a missionary does not mean you are here to minister to visiting Americans. People don’t realize you have to drop everything you are doing in your life to host them or show them around/translate/help them do some kind of ministry which since they can’t speak the language is totally different from what a long term missionary can do. I always feel so torn in having to explain this to people because I know they want to help but it is hard to explain to them that unless it is a “planned” event like a mission trip or something connected to a church or group that can help host them, they might not be as helpful as they think they are being.

    God has called you and Jim and all us long term missionaries to “live” in Ukraine. We have to learn the language, build relationships with Ukrainians and minister to those living here. This is a totally different concept than a short term trip. God uses people on short term mission trips but they are not long term missionaries. One is not better than the other but both ministries are totally different callings and have different challenges.

  2. Michelle: Short-term teams can sometimes open doors that might otherwise stay closed…allowing us to begin or deepen relationships. I know that visitors who actually SEE what we’re doing can go back home and speak with passion about what they saw. (At least that’s what WE did after visiting Ukraine for several short trips!)

    People who REPEATEDLY just come for a vacation (calling it missions)…well, that’s a different story! Or those who don’t seem to listen to you about how best to help… Throwing money is rarely a good solution! We have been very fortunate in our short time here to have hosted some really awesome folks! And hope they come back again!!

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