Today is Ukraine’s Independence Day, so we had a big celebration in downtown L’viv. I think there may have been more people downtown at one time today than there were at Christmas or New Year’s. There were concerts, political rallies, and many other things going on all around.
Because today is such a special Ukrainian holiday, I bought a traditional Ukrainian shirt to celebrate! Haha. Now, it’s not in the traditional colors (red and white are the normal colors), but it’s still the traditional design. Here’s a picture of me wearing it:
It’s been interesting talking to a few different people about Ukrainian independence and politics lately. I haven’t started the conversations – I usually try not to give my opinions on anything like that here, but I like to listen to what others have to say. Some of my friends regard people like Stephan Bandera and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA in Ukrainian) as heroes, while others regard them as traitors. Still others don’t seem to care too much. The colors of the UPA are black and red.
If you don’t know who Stephan Bandera is or who the UPA is, that’s ok. It’s sufficient to say that, regardless of politics, Jesus is my King, and I am to be “all things to all men” as Paul said (1 Corinthians 9:22). Believe it or not, just the colors of that shirt mean something here – especially because the shirt is one of the Ukrainian national symbols. Now, I like the colors black and red, but I got a black and blue shirt. While I was out buying the shirt, I was with some friends of mine that were from L’viv, but their parents were Russian. They acted really concerned that I wanted to buy a red and black shirt, so I got the blue and black shirt (and really like it, too).
You see, I realized that, if I was standing as the worship leader at the front of the church and I was wearing a red-on-black shirt, it might alienate those people in the church with Russian roots. I don’t want to stand in the way of anyone hearing the Gospel message and being affected by it. I want to be all things to all men in such a way that I don’t offend anyone with anything except the pure truth of the Gospel spoken in the power and leading of God. If they’re offended by that, then I can’t do anything about it.
If you would like to see more pictures of the fun I had with my friends on Independence day, please just click here. I spent most of the day with Nazar, a guy who translates in our church sometimes, and with Dennis and Georgia, two missionaries that are helping with the church until Mike gets back. There were lots of things going on downtown, where we were walking. We watched concerts, motorcades, and thousands and thousands of people celebrating the birth of a nation 20 years ago and the first time that nation has been a free, united people in hundreds of years.