By Josie Oldenburg, SEND Communications — Many Western missionaries know the joy of opening up a parcel just before the holiday season and finding it full of candy canes, colorful ornaments and Christmas cookies.

Olivye salad — a classic dish on a Ukrainian’s holiday table.

Ukrainians don’t hanker for minty candy as December rolls into January, but they certainly have their own tastes of the season. And one of those is Olivye — a salad of potatoes, carrots, pickles, eggs, green onion, dill and mayo. Lots of mayo. 

The babushkas in one Ukrainian church determined that a Ukrainian family serving in Papua New Guinea absolutely needed Salat Olivye on their holiday table. The women pooled their funds and sent them to the family, so that they could buy the proper kind of potatoes to make the salad.

Now that’s thoughtful missionary care.

In the past five years, SEND’s 3M (Missions Mobilization Ministry) workers have seen more and more Ukrainians display that kind of personal connection to the Great Commission. God is moving entire church communities to passionately claim their role in engaging unreached people groups.

  • The Kairos missions mobilization course in Ukraine is booked through the middle of 2018.
  • Six long-term missionary partners now serve in Central Asia and other areas.
  • About 70 short-term teams of Ukrainians have gone out all around the world. Some of those team members return from these short trips eager to make a longer-term commitment to cross-cultural missions.
  • Ten key mobilizers are distributed around the country. They are forming teams that can both build awareness and help give direction as God leads churches into missions.
  • For the past eight years, the Ukrainian Missions Alliance has coordinated sending efforts between various church denominations and put on an annual youth missions conference that draws young people from all over the country. Many of these young people dedicate themselves to missions and to searching out their part in making Christ known to the unreached. This spring, key leaders from 27 churches asked to join this effort.
  • SEND 3M and its partners have distributed thousands of prayer guides for the unreached in Russia and Ukraine. To help equip cross-cultural workers, SEND 3M translated Duane Elmer’s book “Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility” into Russian; so far, 2,000 copies have been passed out.
  • About a year ago, a team of Ukrainian pastors visited the SEND team in Macedonia to experience what refugee ministry looks like in that setting.

Big questions remain: Where are the most strategic places to send Ukrainians as global workers? So far, there are no Ukrainian sending agencies, so how can churches cooperate to send and support missionaries? How can Ukrainian churches best care for their missionaries who are working in far-away places?

Ask God to grant SEND Ukraine’s 3M workers wisdom as they interact with many different groups — village churches and city churches, pastors and lay people from a variety of denominations — to help Ukrainian churches fulfill their role in the Great Commission.

To help fund 3M’s work, click here. To watch a video about how one Ukrainian church sacrificed to support its missionary, click here

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Banner photo: Michaela Eipperle, SEND Ukraine missionary kid
Olivye salad photo: Otets at Luxembourgish Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 lu], via Wikimedia Commons