“Leaving Town Guilt…”

     I am beginning to write these reflections as I bounce along my overnight train trip back west through Ukraine to the Polish border. Under the clear blue autumn sky the endless wheat and sunflower fields pass by to the clickity-clack of the train tracks. Though leaving the war zone, I find myself full of mixed emotions.
     Max dropped me off at the Zap train station last night and as the train pulled out of the station I could see groups of families bidding each other tearful goodbyes. The train was generally filled with wives, mothers and some children returning to western parts of Ukraine or further into Europe.
     Why mixed emotions? Of course as I travel further west there is a sense (real or perceived) of greater physical safety, however there is also the reality of leaving friends in a dangerous situation, not knowing when we will meet in person again. Those who survive war or living in a war zone often have what is called “survivor guilt.” Why were they spared and others were not?
     Perhaps what I was feeling could be called “leaving town guilt.” While it was time for me to get back, after being with Max and these other leaders for a week, it was not so easy to just leave and not feel somewhat torn.
     After decades of travelling to various countries and experiencing the connection with the body of Christ around the world, I have become convinced that our connection to our passport country pales in importance to our heavenly citizenship and faith family around the world.
     Of course, having a Kingdom focus does not mean that we become so heavenly minded that we cease to be of any earthly use. God has a purpose for each of us on our journey here on earth. This differs for each of us, but even on our best days eternity has been hard wired into our DNA and so we instinctively long for something that is better.
     It has been a privilege over these decades to introduce you to those that God has called us to serve around the world. Though you may not know them personally, your prayers and partnership have helped us equip, encourage and empower the next generation of Christian leaders to serve where God has placed them. Each name and face represents thousands of lives that are being touched with the Good News through their lives.
     This is so much more important than our connection to any nationality. I guess that also explains my mixed emotions. It’s more than just living “safe,” but rather being engaged in God’s eternal purpose. The good news is that his Kingdom will outlive all the turmoil and struggles we currently find ourselves. The real kicker is that you hold the same eternal passport and so you will definitely  meet each of them someday! Thank you for being part of this shared future and partnering together until we meet on the other shore.

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