Everyone has a story. I never cease to be amazed at the journeys on which the Lord leads his people, and that was certainly true as I met the new group of students starting in the Biblical Studies program at the seminary.
I recently finished six weeks of teaching at Kiev Seminary, a series of three two-week courses back to back. Each two-week session consists of teaching four hours each afternoon, Monday through Saturday the first week, and Monday through Thursday the second week. I was blessed to team-teach with a colleague in the second session.
I thoroughly enjoyed the whole time. In the first session, I got to teach Genesis again, always a treat, and the second class was a course on Biblical history and culture. Each class was interesting and the students were engaged and interested.
The last class was Introduction to Biblical Studies for first-semester students in the Biblical Studies major. I enjoy teaching this class because I get to talk with students about where they are from and how the Lord is leading them [I am the director of the Biblical Studies program at the seminary]. And then for two weeks, I get to introduce them to the huge and amazing subject of discovering the presence of God in the study of the Bible.
What an incredible time! We talked about where the Bible came from, how to study the Bible, and just a lot of amazing things that are in the Bible. We talked about many subjects that were new to them, like looking at the Bible in Hebrew and Greek. This opens up whole new realms of both understanding and challenges. God really blessed all the way through.
In this particular group, I got to meet and talk with a group of students that were pretty amazing. Usually, our students speak only Russian or Ukrainian, but three guys in my class, Alexei, Timothy and Vitalik, also speak English. When I talked further with them, they told me they had American passports and had graduated from American schools in the States.
I was completely confused. It turns out that two of them had been born of Ukrainian ancestry in Latvia. The other was of Russian ancestry, but born in Kazakhstan. Their families three immigrated to the States when they were younger, and these three later met up with each other because of a church ministry in Washington State. This last summer they moved to Russia to serve the Lord in a small church there, and they have come to the seminary in Kiev to get training for their ministry.
They are fluent in Russian, so they make great missionaries language-wise! But the character of these guys, and their commitment for what they are doing in Russia is amazing. Three weeks ago, the three of them, along with the pastor of the little church and a few other people, got into a large van and set out for Kiev. It took them a couple of days, but they made it. They have a hunger and a joy about the Word of God that was infectious. The Lord really blessed.
One thing that really resonated with me was their complex life stories. For my own children, it is sometimes difficult for them to answer when people ask them where they are from. My kids were each born in Texas, but they have grown up in and spent the majority of their lives in Ukraine. And so with these guys; ask one of them where they are from, and they just smile and shake their heads.
But the wonderful thing is, they know that God has led them and has been with them every step of the journey, and they are confident that he is always with us, leading us on a journey to an eternal home, in his presence.