Returning to Odessa

—Lauren Murphree, CCC Member

Dear CCC Family,

By the time you are reading this, I may already be on a plane (or in Odessa!) with this year’s CCC Ukraine Team, headed for Odessa and the Christian English Camp run every year by Covenant of Grace, our sister church in Odessa. Many of you may know that I went on this trip two years ago, but what you may not know is that this is actually my fourth trip to Ukraine. George Kadyan, the pastor at Covenant of Grace, was actually trained by my first pastor, Reverend Paul Alexander. The church I grew up in partnered with developing Pastera, the church that planted Covenant of Grace. I knew that CCC was the right church for me after I sat down on my first Sunday by myself and the woman next to me introduced herself as Robin Price, missionary to Ukraine!

Ukraine started out as this distant place that I heard about often, but my first trip in 2010 to Kiev brought it all to life, and I began to fall in love with the country, the culture, and the people (and the food!). However, it was my first time out of the country, and I sensed for the first time what it felt like to be in a place of spiritual darkness—combined, of course, with the remnants of Soviet oppression. Just think about how much hope was sucked out of people’s lives under communism, how difficult it would be to hold on to the hope of the gospel when faced not only with the rigidity of the Orthodox Church but also with the oppression and genocide that came during the 20th century. And yet then how much more need for the light of Christ to shine through!

My trips to Ukraine were in 2010, 2012, and 2017, but it was not until the most recent trip that I realized that one of the greatest needs in Ukraine is not just the Good News, but gospel discipleship. Which is why I love this trip, and am so thankful to be part of a church that has partnered with this endeavor for so long. This camp introduces people to the gospel, yes, but it also cultivates relationships between the campers, the church members, and the missionaries - opening doors both for the gospel and for intimate, discipleship relationships between believers. Pray for us as we go that we will walk alongside the campers during the week according to 2 Timothy 2:15. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

I am overjoyed to see my family in Ukraine—Bob, Robin, George, Snezhana—to hug some of my favorite campers—Vika, Katya, Vladik—and to meet some new faces and develop new friendships. Pray for the Lord to use us to further his kingdom in Odessa, Ukraine!