Abide in Christ
“Since we know the Word and what God has said about these times and what we’ll go through, it helps us to receive it. We have hope.… we know that everything is working for good for those who are called by God.” - Irina Pisarenko, Future for Children, Lviv
Spoken on a phone call, these are the words of CTL’s friend and ministry partner in Ukraine. It’s been said that the measure of a man’s power lies in his ability to surrender. There’s a power in Irina’s surrender to God’s sovereignty that leads me to do some soul searching. Would I be ready?
Only hours ago, as I write, Irina and her husband Vitalii watched Russian missiles flash across the sky over their home, landing within 3 kilometers. The first bombardment of Lviv during this conflict. Irina and Vitalii have chosen to remain in Lviv to serve local children and refugees passing through their city. Imagine their daily concerns: will we have enough food and water for those who come to our door today? Enough blankets? Will we get any sleep tonight? Will our first aid supplies hold? All this under constant threat of military attack.
A tire shop in Lviv after Russian missiles strike Monday morning
(photo credit to Washington Post)
Where do Irina and Vitalli find the courage to remain engaged in this sacrificial frontline ministry that may require their very lives? I believe the answer is profound and simple. They abide in Christ. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NIV) Irina is not superhuman. She’s not made of different stuff than you or me. It may look that way considering her decision to live in harm’s way for the good of others. But the truth is, Irina is a common woman with a deep, intimate relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. She is sharing in the fellowship of His suffering (Romans 8:11) and He is sharing in hers.
In his seminal work Abide in Christ, Dutch Reform Pastor Andrew Murray writes:
“It needs time to grow into Jesus the Vine. Day by day time with Jesus and His Word. We must feed on Him. (John 6:57) We must thoroughly assimilate that heavenly food the Father has given us in His life. Take time each day to put yourself in living contact with the living Jesus…and give Him opportunity to take hold of you, drawing you up and keeping you safe in His almighty life.”
In this broken world, many of us will be called to do hard things. Some will be called to suffer. We are most certainly called, right now, to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a hurting world. We can do these things only as we abide in the Vine. And as Pastor Murray would remind us, “All power in heaven and earth is at the disposal of our Lord Jesus, to keep us in that perfect union.”
- Heather Sproul, CTL Board Member