Reflections From My Greece/Ukraine Ministry Mission

I am constantly in a state of total dependence on God. This is my story, and this is my song. (Thank you, Fannie Crosby!)

I am counting on the Lord to lead and provide for the things I believe He has called me to do.

I have doubts and fears that seem massive and overwhelming at times.

But I also have faith, and all the faith that any of us really need is, well – minuscule. Jesus said that if we have just a tiny bit of authentic, trusting faith – the “size of a mustard seed” – then mountains will be moved. (Matthew 17:20).

So on October 31, 2018, by faith, I embarked on yet another improbable missions adventure. My first assignment was to lead worship in Greece for an international group of missionary leaders on a 6-day training intensive. The second leg of my trip was to minister in the nation of Ukraine in a variety of locations and contexts. I’ll tell all about that in a moment.

But first, I have to share one of my “ah ha” moments. 

A MID-FLIGHT EPIPHANY

I was on a British Airways flight, but this pic was not the actual plane I was on. 🙂

Unexpectantly at 35,000 feet in the middle of my first flight to London, I had an epiphany, a fresh revelation from the Holy Spirit.

What was that revelation?

“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” 

Dang. Maybe that explained it.

Why had I been pushed out of what seemed to be a great, secure job at an impressive church? Why was I cast (again!) into the uncertainty and stress of music and missions and ministry and (God forbid) fundraising? Why?

Well, there is a calling I have heard more than once, and like Jonah, I have tried every way possible to do it according to my own design and ideas.

What is that calling? To follow Jesus radically, and be one who goes.

Very clearly, I have heard the Master say to me specifically:

“If you follow me, I will make you a fisher of men.” (Matthew 4:19)  and

“Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to do all the things I have told you. “ (Matthew 28:19)

All of us who love Jesus are called to do this in some manner, in some way. And those who can not literally “go into all the world” can be senders of those who can.

In this season of my life, I can go. And I can do something that is valuable. I can uniquely encourage wholehearted worship in a wide range of contexts, and teach others how to do the same.

Teaching worship theology with next-generation leaders at Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary, L’viv Ukraine.

THE HARVEST IS PLENTIFUL, BUT THE WORKERS ARE FEW.

In Luke 10, Jesus sent 72 of his disciples on a mission trip to prepare the way of the Lord.

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves … Luke 10:2-3

There on that plane, I started praying for more laborers, more harvesters, more workers. My role in this next season is to help raise them up, and equip and encourage them. On this trip, I had the opportunity to do that. I also had the opportunity to form new relationships and serve in new areas. It was strategic on many levels.

Throughout this mission, I experienced the grace and power of God at work to change and transform lives for His glory. It was amazing and humbling to be part of His team. Sometimes my role was “upfront”,  sometimes it was “behind the scenes”.

I also can testify to the amazing power of the prayers of the saints. It is a mighty weapon when we have the people of God backing us up in prayer and intercession. I traveled safely, our ministry times were anointed,  and I got home in good health. All due to the prayers of our friends, supporters, and partners. Hallelujah and glory to God!

Here’s a recap of the trip.


The Missionary Heroes of SIM [Part 1]

SIM Leadership Flight Seven

Before this trip, I was unaware of the ministry of SIM (SIM.org). However, I will now be forever changed by my experience with them. It was truly an honor to be around such an amazing group of smart, dedicated servant-leaders.

Founded in 1893 as the Sudan Interior Mission (they’ve been around for over 125 years!), SIM is one of the world’s most established and diverse international missions organizations with more than 4,000 workers serving 70 countries.

They serve in many of the hard-to-reach places of the world are motivated by this compelling value:

Convinced that no one should live and die
without hearing God’s good news,
we believe that He has called us
to make disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ
in communities where He is least known.

The SIM Flight Seven leadership intensive is a program matching experienced global leaders within the organization with rising national leaders in a 2-year mentoring relationship. There were national directors for nations including Paraguay, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Niger as well as global leaders for the Financial, Medical and Security/Crisis Teams. Folks were there from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, England, Germany, and yes a few Americans, even including Kansas.

EVERYBODY was multi-lingual!

My role was leading and facilitating our daily times of worship through music, scripture, and prayer. It started pretty intense, as soon as I got there Wednesday evening after a long 2 days of travel, I was leading worship for our first session. Try singing after 20 hours of flying!  Then, we had another session first thing in the morning. So we hit the ground running, no time for jet lag!

Our times of worship were passionate!

Thank goodness English was the common tongue. These guys really sang!

I also participated in the group training sessions which were a deep dive into the Biblical leadership models of Shepherd, Servant, Steward and Shared Leadership. These were rich times!

TESTIMONIALS

Absolutely loved the music part of the program! Thanks for leading us so well. All harmony to the glory of God! Claire & Paul

Rob, thank you for encouraging and blessing us in music and with your engaging personality and care. Ryan & Heidi

Psalm 100! Thank you for truly blessing us through leading worship! Lilli & Renee

Rob, your enthusiasm and heart for Jesus and his people have blessed us utterly! Thank you! Dave & Mary

You’ve blessed us seriously! Roger & Kathy

What a Great Group of People!

 

Thanks Rob, we loved the worship and felt ushered into God’s presence through the sessions you prepared. It’s a relief (also) to not have to be preoccupied all week ourselves with planning worship. You’ve blessed us! Thank you! Christie & Dan

Thank you so very much for leading us to the throne in worship! Maybe we will get to do this together again!?! Dave & Nikki

Thank you Rob! Such an encouragement to us and an amazing experience! Chris & Helen

Such a blessing to worship together in such freedom and joy. Jo

Awesome! Worku

Such a pleasure to meet you and have you bless us with God’s gifts in you! Malcom

Thank you for sharing your heart, passion, and skills with us! Gina & Nate

Dude! It has been so great to get to know you. You added a lot to our event even outside of worship! Steve

Thanks for awesome worship times, also for joining in and sharing your wisdom and experience with us. Phil & Andrea

Exploring Ancient Athens!

I took these pics myself!

We had half a day on Sunday to go on a guided tour of ancient Athens and the museum. Our guide Costo was very knowledgeable and had an amazing testimony.  We visited Mars Hill where Paul preached. Incredible!

Results / Outcomes

“Rob, tell your supporters that your being here was very important for us. We work in hard places and this was such a refreshing time for us. As a result, I am going back to my field refreshed and I, in turn, will be able to be refreshing to our teams and their ministries. So your supporters are impacting many, many people through your ministry here. Tell them – thank you, you are blessing missionaries all over the world!”

This was a conversation I had with “Joe” (name changed for security reasons), who serves in a Muslim or closed nation (as did many of the attendees).

As a result of serving SIM here, I have several invitations to minister in other SIM nations, you’ll hear more about that at another time.


UKRAINE! [Part 2]

After spending most of the day Tuesday seeing Athens and hanging out with “Joe”, I caught the only flight from Athens for Kiev on Wednesday afternoon, November 6. When I got there, it was really cold.

At the seminary, they have a type of continuing ed/ certification track for people already serving at churches. They booked a special worship seminar with Fred Heumann (Music Works International), Dave Silber (Dean of Nexus School of Creative Arts)  and myself. It started at 7:00 pm. I eventually got there about 8:20 pm. There was well over 100 people there.

This was yet another gig where I was on the run and needed to do something immediately after a very long day of travel and flying. I was dehydrated, but these guys were so engaged and attentive!

My lecture morphed into something special. I have a presentation called “Consider The Multi-Dimensional Nature of Worship” that I do with slides. This time, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, I shared it as an interactive demonstration, combining group singing as part of teaching the content. I had never done it like this before.

It was simple, but unique and memorable. This actually developed into a reoccurring theme and I shared variations of the “Multi-Dimensional” teaching in several other contexts in Ukraine.

Then, the first thing of the next morning, we led a special chapel service for the seminary. No rest for the weary. I led us in “Agnus Dei” (thank you Smitty!) There’s a nice video of it in our Facebook group.

Leading worship at UETS Chapel

“The worship was so powerful this morning! Thank you”  – 

Ivan, President of UETS

That was an amazing time in God’s presence among His worshippers! 

Volodymyr Z

At the UEST Chapel Service, they unexpectedly honored us!

Afterwards, they presented Fred, Dave and me Certificates of Appreciation for the years we have been serving there. (Fred has been involved since 2012, this was my fourth trip since 2016)

Certificates of Appreciation for Dave Silber, Fred Heumann, me

The rest of the day was non-stop meetings with the music staff, then planning for the 2019 conference.

Evangelism: Sharing With The Refugees

On Friday, November 9th two special events were organized where I shared the gospel through songs and stories with two different groups of refugees from the war in Donbass (Eastern Ukraine) with Russia.

Known as IDP “Indigenous Displaced People”, according to the UN, almost 2 million people have been displaced. Many of the people attending the event were not believers.

I began sharing by saying “I’m here in response to the gospel. The gospel is the good news about God …”  And went on to share my songs and stories, beginning with my journey as a prodigal and the song “Faithful”.   I had translated the chorus of “A New Anointing” into Russian, and we actually were able to do some simple singing together! They also really connected with my song “No Easy Answers”.

We appreciate for Rob Still ministry to our Good Father whose looking for His lost children! Today we were blessed by Rob’s songs, stories and his love for Jesus and His Kingdom! Our IDP’s and homeless sung songs and praised their God! ~ Pastor Volodymyr Zolotov

Ministering with the refugees was a highlight

It was amazing how we were able to connect through the power of the gospel shared simply through song and testimony.

Afterwards, they hugged and kissed me. Like, everybody.

One lady said “Thank you for not forgetting us”.

Another man excitedly shared with me  “When you were singing I could see a bright, bright light. like a halo all around you!”

To effectively minister in a context so unlike my own, with people whose life experience was so very difficult, was truly a highlight of all my ministry experiences.

Preaching: The Power of Praise

On Sunday, November 11, I preached and shared songs at Vova’s church. My text was Acts 16, the story of Paul and Silas in prison.

Preaching at Vova’s church

I also reprised my teaching/singing demonstration of “The Multi-Dimensional Nature of Worship”. In attendance were a pair of theology students who shared, “we really need this kind of teaching about worship, so simple and memorable”.

Teaching in L’viv

Sunday afternoon was a rush to pack all my stuff and then wolf down a delicious homemade dinner with Vova and Zhena. Later, Fred, Myra and I took a 6-hour train ride to Lviv.

Man was it cold! Anyway, we got to the Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary late Sunday night. Monday would be a very busy day indeed.

Teaching at UBTS in Lviv, Ukraine. Pic Upper right, Vladymir, Program Director

I had the great delight of teaching worship theology and songwriting to the fourth year students Monday, November 12 from 9 am until 1 pm. They really are part of the smartest generation! Fred taught in the afternoon (I rested!). Then we saw the town that evening.

Visiting London School of Theology

Tuesday, November 13 was a looooooooong day of travel starting at 4 am. Flew from Lviv to Kiev. Had a six-hour layover. Then headed off to London, got out of the airport around 6 pm where an overnight layover awaited me. But first, one last adventure beckoned.

After 4 trains and 2 hours on London’s Underground Tube, I had an inspiring meeting at London School of Theology that evening with Dr. Jeremy Perigo,  the director of the worship & music program. An enlightening and awesome experience!

Great minds think alike!

Return To Nashville

I was sooooooo grateful to have a direct flight from Europe to Nashville, that saved a tremendous amount of time, energy and wear and tear on the body.

This was a drama-free trip, praise the Lord, and I attribute that to the prayers of many people.

I’m excited about doing much more missions in 2019. Overall, this was a strategic and high impact missions project, thanks be to God!


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