As we highlighted Ukraine in this week’s “Light of the World” sermon series we were blessed to recieve insight from the Emery & Clara Lazlo who are serving in Ukraine through the International Mission Board.
When did you start serving in Ukraine?
We started our service in Ukraine on April the 12th, 2007, and first we had spent 11 month in L’viv to learn Ukrainian language. On March, 2008 we moved to the Western Ukrainian “Trans-Carpathian Area” and started the effective missionary work with Romas and Hungarians.
What are a few ways you’re celebrating Christmas in Ukraine?
We will give thanks in two brand new church buildings: one is in Gat, in the Gypsy Community and one is in Beregujfalu, a little mountain village in the Hungarian Community. We have a very special Christmas Gift: the new chapel – with your help.
How do say Merry Christmas in your language?
Boldog karácsonyt … (pronounced: bol-dog ka-ra-chont)
( all “o” – s in “boldog” and “chont” = short o, like in bold. got, etc. … )
(“a” in “ka” = short a, like in fun, but, in “rá” = long a, like in fine, high, sight)
What are some Christmas traditions specific to Ukraine?
The “Christmas Carol” is one of our specialities here. Youth people – but not exceptionally the young ones – visit others and singing some Christmas songs. Christmas time is mostly family time for the Hungarian and Gypsy people. Among the traditional Baptists they have too much worship services and program but among the gypsies we have one worship service and give them freedom for family time. Also the “gifting” is on December 24th, and not on the First Day. The people are poor and the gifts are really humble and cheap, also this is an Orthodox Country and the “Catholic Christmas” (December 24/25/26) is NOT an official holiday everywhere … (They keep January 6th as Christmas) We had to start our new Hungarian / Gypsy / Baptist Traditions in our new planted churches.
What are some Christmas songs specific to your country?
The “Silent Night” is well known everywhere. Also we have some really “Hungarian” songs e.g. “If you were a shepherd …” or “The angel from the Heaven came to you …”
What gets you excited about the future of your ministry?
The war situation is a painful but fantastic tool in God’s hand to turn the people’s hearts toward to God. Unemployment, misery, high inflation, diseases are tools and the people are hungry for God and hope for the future. Your prayer support, the 80+ encouraging letters, the financial support are fantastic tools to help us to reach the people. (Not only the gypsies but also the Hungarians). The most exciting question about the future of our ministry is: who will continue our church planting and pastoral work among the Gypsies and Hungarians. We know you are ready to support this work financially but also help us to pray that God could finalize the name – or names – of the proper person.
What are some specific ways we can pray for you?
We mentioned the prayer request for one or two workers but also pray for peace in Ukraine please. Also please pray for us as couple because we feel ourselves to be under attack of the devil. He does not like what we do now here and has a heavy attack against us. Also pray for the gypsies please because they are the most miserable people – among the miserable people. Our family misses us very much please pray for patience in their heart for waiting. We will go back to the States finally in the next December. Hope we will spend the next Christmas with you.
What do you miss most about spending Christmas stateside?
The most difficult thing is the terrible distance between us and our family – our five children and seven grand children. This is the “bitter part” of every Christmas Season. We call them and Skype with them of course but this is not a personal relationship. We have some “adopted” children here of course and we love them very much – almost as much as our “real” children) but we miss our family a lot.
What does thinking of Jesus as the “Light of the World” mean to you?
Jesus the “Light of the World” means hope for me becoming an older and older guy. Also Ukraine is “the country of hopelessness” and this is so great to give them hope with Christ who is NOT ONLY the hope for the Heaven and Eternal Life but also the hope and light in the recent earthly hopelessness and darkness. This message was NEVER so actual then now in these dark months of war.