Love your neighbor

It was brought to my attention that we have never had good relationships with out Ukrainian neighbors. Land was disputed. Nationalism was inherited from generation to generation. We rarely visited each other. My parents took a trip to Ukraine when I was my daughters age, and I got lost there, just for 30 minute, enough to remember it  vividly.

But My parents never had anything to quarrel about with any culture or country. I grew up oblivious of such hard feelings. We were simple people, maybe naive. The reality stands. We stood shoulder to turned shoulder for decades. 

Then the war broke. And though you may have mixed feelings about publicizing the good people are doing, because god says to bless our friends and enemies quietly, and not let your left hand know what your right hand is giving (doing, working, serving, blessing).

Alas, for the last decade evil has been contagious and pervasive because that’s what was talked about.

As we talk about generosity, and giving, people don’t want to miss out on it, and there is a frenzy of generosity, and service, and sacrifice. More than we know. More than we see. In the 7 groups of support for Ukraine I’m part of, if you don’t speak up within minutes, you miss out on helping. Other people jump in. I was telling my friend Livia, it feels like the holy spirit moves the water in Bethesda, and if you are not quick enough to jump in, you wait cripple on the sideline for years. 

The needs are great. The influx of people doesn’t slow down, but it increases. Business haven’t yet tired of helping as we thought. Meals are served for free, hotels have rooms set aside, churches host people with dignity and attention to detail, servicing cars, fixing phones, changing batteries to hearing aids, providing new and quality equipment, delicious warm food, and now a church Switched their Sunday service and warship to be in Ukrainian. Companies offer hundreds of jobs to refugees, and one huge humbling attitude our Ukrainian friends have: they don’t want free stuff. They want to pay though we tell them it’s not necessary. They say to let others who come after them benefit from the Romanian hospitality generosity. It is humbling for us to see them want to pay it forward.

Christians who have enjoyed brotherly hospitality in the past, and the unspoken connection we have as believers, it’s not out if ordinary to be loved and served. Often times, Ukrainians passing though our lives are a testament of faith, of encouragement. How can they flee war and encourage us more that we encourage them?

On the other hand, our guests who don’t know God yet, this is our opportunity to witness to any and all, without words, without preaching, but with action, and unconditional love and service. What an amazing opportunity to rise to the occasion and live out faith to the fullest. 

One last though on the matter. We witness this war trauma. And we look trauma in the eye. Without a strong foundation of who God is and who we are in Him, and without obeying his commandments of rest, we may easily lose our footing.

Secondary trauma is a real thing, that can undermine our mental health and shake our faith. Doing things that give us pleasure on a regular basis, like eating a dessert, swimming, going for walks, taking a nap, letting others to step in, playing a board game. Watching a movie… we need to remember what life is about, and enjoy the fruit of our Labor from time to time. It is good and right to praise god with rest. Jesus retreated in the desert or on the mountain to pray. People needed him. People tugged at him. There is a time to be with people and a time to rest. May we be wise and humble about our limitations. 

To god be the glory!