Our guest, Holly Friesen, is the director of a pregnancy care center in Odessa, Ukraine. The center opened in 2014, which means that she's been through some of the conflict in Ukraine. And, in addition to the work she does there, she also helps wth medical ministry several times a month.
During our time together, we talked about:
- Some of the challenges in ministering in Ukraine with the unrest
- How God got her through a time when she had to leave Ukraine right after training people and launching a ministry
- One thing that was more important than where she was headed as she approached a ministry transition.
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Life in Ministry
Holly grew up in a pastor's home and always had an interest in missions. She has a degree as a nurse practitioner and has been using it in Ukraine since 2010.
She works with a doctor who has been in Ukraine for over 17 years, providing medical ministry in the villages. That doctor had been carrying the vision for a pro-life ministry and Holly's arrival was the catalyst for getting that started.
She doesn't just save the lives of babies, she sees lives saved for eternity.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)
Last year, things changed dramatically in Ukraine. As a result of the unrest, the missions organization asked Holly's team to leave Ukraine – right after she'd completed some volunteer training. When they left, they didn't know if they would be able to return. It was excruciating for her but God showed her something through Psalm 34 during that time.
Obviously, she's back in Ukraine. Odessa is still safe, but that doesn't mean that everything is the same as before.
- More patients coming to the free clinics.
- More refugees from eastern Ukraine
While she was finishing up her time in Peru, she felt like God wanted her to continue in missions as a career. She felt like she was done with her time in Lima because the Peruvians were able to do what needed to be done.
She felt like God was moving her on but didn't have a sense of where she would be going.
For several months, it seemed like God was silent even though she was praying and watching. She's a planner, so this was difficult for her. Still, God kept reminding her that He wanted her to focus on her relationship with Him.
Holly was looking forward to a trip to northeastern Ukraine to do some medical care among the refugees. It's an area that's near the conflict zone with many refugees who have fled the conflict zone.
Even in Odessa, which is far from the conflict, many people live with a constant underlying fear about the conflict. Whether they're concerned about the conflict coming to their city or are concerned about loved ones who are in the military, it's a heavy weight for many to bear.
Significance in the Marketplace
Holly believes that God uses all of us right where we are. In the marketplace, we have contact with people who Holly will meet. And, as their peers and coworkers, we have a platform with them that someone else may not have.
Even just the fact that they called me would be encouraging.
Just knowing that people haven't forgotten you can be encouraging. Whether it's a call, an email, a package or a Facebook message, let them know you remember – and not just when they're “back home” on furlough.
Ask this question: “Do you have any special prayer requests that you're not comfortable sharing in a support letter.”
And, if they do, pray about it and let them know you're praying.
- Things rarely, if ever, turn out the way you plan.
- Because God uses all things for His glory, Holly doesn't regret any decisions.
Personal Success Habit
- Daily time with the Lord.
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Shifts in Society
Coming to another country and learning a new language and culture can be amazingly hard. If you reach out to them, you can make a huge impact in their lives. Your befriending them could open doors for sharing the Gospel.
Holly recommended the Story of Hope Bible Study. It looks at the message of the Bible chronologically and transcends culture. It's a good way to understand the larger story of the Bible.
It's critical to start getting to know the people. language, and culture where you're at. One of Holly's first priorities would be finding someone to help her learn the language and to ask questions about the culture. She would try to find other believers in the area.
Continue to pray for Ukraine. While the conflict has quieted down, it's not stopped and there are rumors that it could start up again.
If you'd have any comments or questions, you can always leave a comment in the show notes or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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