Christmas in Ukraine

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Stuffed stockings hanging on a fireplace on christmas morning

The Rist family was exhausted when Tee and two other Vietnamese young ladies rang their doorbell. The government of Vietnam had sent Tee to Kyiv to learn Ukrainian so that she could serve as a translator for future diplomatic assignments.

It was almost Christmas, a holiday that Tee had heard of, but never celebrated. A friend of the Rists met Tee on her university campus and asked the family to have Tee and her friends over for a Christmas dinner.

“There was nothing of us that night,” Holly Rist recalled. “We were worn out emotionally and physically because of the impending death of a parent in the States. We were a hair away from cancelling, but we didn’t.”

They ate a traditional American Christmas meal, played games and read from the Scripture about Jesus’ birth. “They’d heard of Jesus, but not the idea of the gospel,” Holly said. “So we talked about why we celebrate Christmas, because of the hope we have in Jesus.”

The Rists sent the young ladies away with stockings stuffed with tea and hand cream. The young women posted them on Facebook: Our very first Christmas gifts. A week later, Tee attended a Christmas outreach at Revival Church and got “completely hooked on knowing more about Jesus.”

She spent the next year attending Bible studies and hanging out with Christians through a local university ministry. This past Christmas, she gave her life to Christ!

“When she tells her testimony, she says, ‘I went to this family’s home and heard about Jesus. I was really drawn in my spirit,’” Holly says. “We are so thankful that something so small could reap eternal fruit.”

Tee, who is from a Buddhist background, is being discipled on her university campus. She will be in Ukraine for three more years before returning to Vietnam.

Tee’s story encourages the Rists to press on.

“Sometimes, as a missionary, you feel discouraged,” Holly said. “You are giving out daily to others, and yet might not see the immediate results or know the impact it will have. It was an encouraging gift to see Tee come to Christ a year later.

“I think there is a lot of sowing that is done in simple faith. I feel like through Tee, God is telling me, ‘Don’t give up. I am at work.’”

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” — Galatians 6:9

 


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