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November-December 1999

New year – no problems – praise the Lord!

Several months before the end of 1999, there were widely conflicting reports in the local press about the problems to expect from the Y2K computer “bug”. The US state department offered to send all government personnel to America for an extended holiday until the new year arrived and the trouble was over. Here in Kiev, Ukraine, where I am studying Russian language, there was some concern about the safety of the Chernobyl nuclear power station. Chernobyl, which is only about 75 miles away from here, still has one operating reactor producing power.

We stayed here, trusting the Lord. As everybody now knows, there were no problems at all. Some people give the credit to the computer programmers who used billions of dollars to overhaul the systems around the world. Some say there never was any problem in the first place. I say, as I have always said, that God is on the throne, and He is in control. Thanks to Him, the world hasn’t come to an end yet. If Y2K would have plunged the world into chaos, it still would have been according to his plan. He is in control! (We do have some extra supplies of fresh water and food, but our hope is in Him!)

Please pray for our neighbor, Sasha. We met him soon after we arrived here. His wife, Luda, speaks some English, and we have become good friends. Sasha and Luda have been coming to church with us quite regularly. We have presented the Gospel to them very clearly, but they just don’t seem to understand. They feel that their religious background in the orthodox church ought to be enough to get them to Heaven. They have a spiritual blindness that keeps them from seeing the truth. We are praying that the Holy Spirit will convict their hearts and show them their lost condition. Sasha is a journalist, but he has a big problem with alcohol. Years ago, he was sent to Chernobyl to cover the story of the nuclear disaster. He says he saw such terrible things that he turned to drink to try to forget. Now he sometimes leaves home on a drunken binge for days at a time. His only hope is salvation. He seems to enjoy hearing the preaching at church – pray that he will understand.

My language study is going well. Russian is a very difficult language to learn, but I know I am making progress. I understand a lot of what I hear, and some of what I read. I can say a few things in Russian, but I cannot speak very much yet. After 4 months of study, I am still keeping up with the pace of our classroom studies.

The political situation here is stable for the time being. President Kuchma was just re-elected for a second five-year term. He soundly defeated the Communist party candidate. People in Ukraine do not want to go back to the Soviet days. Kuchma says he wants Ukraine to be a western-style democracy, but progress so far has been slow. In Russia, president Yeltsin resigned on new year’s eve. His successor, Putin, seems to be a strong leader, maybe a reformer, but not much is known about him. Pray for these countries.

In the service of the King,
Don Ossewaarde