A letter from Becky and Eric Hinderliter in Lithuania
The Gospels report many encounters between Jesus and women of his day. Jesus often remarked about the great faith of these women. Often the women he encountered were invisible; they had no public role, no voice in society. He referred to them as “daughters.” The LCC academic year ended in May with graduation. In many ways the reality of LCC is the experience of women. For example, of the 115 May graduates, 88 (77 percent) were women. I think we would benefit from hearing from some of these women.
During the baccalaureate service, Tsvitana Chudovets, a graduate from Ukraine, reflected on her four years at LCC. She recalled the beauty of relationships with her instructors and fellow students. She encouraged her fellow graduates to carry on the transformations that started at LCC throughout their lives. The world looks very uncertain today, but Tsvitana pointed to her source of hope: “Through these years, God has been faithful, holding us by hand and leading us through the deep valleys of doubts and falls, and through the mountaintops of triumphs and achievements. May God be our hope—He is always near, wherever we go. He controls all the life circumstances, turning them into good for those who love Him. May the Lord be our strength—He renews our spirits when we are weak and weary and gives us power to do all things through Him.” She closed with Isaiah 40:31: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Tsvitana hopes to earn a master's in global finance. She describes her search “for a vocation that could combine my strongest skills and deepest aspirations.” Her Christian liberal arts experience, she says, “shaped my perspective on the world and influenced my pursuits concerning the future.” “My own spiritual journey and Christian education illumined the needs existing in the world and ignited in me the passion to put my talents, abilities, and skills to serving others.”
Victoria Gribincea is a current third-year LCC student from Moldova. Her country is the poorest in Europe and continues to be at risk of slipping back to its Communist past. In April the government collapsed. The fear that the Western-oriented parties would not be able to form a new government because of infighting has lead to fears that new elections could bring the pro-Russia Communists back to power. Recent democratic and economic reforms are threatened. The political feud is a blow to Moldova's hopes for agreement with the European Union (EU). Back in 2009 the Communists rigged the elections, which prompted mass protests. The EU has called for a “strong and stable majority committed to promoting democratic values and the rule of law as well as pursuing the path towards political association and economic integration with the EU." Victoria, like other Moldovan students at LCC, has this political turn on her mind: “I was actually writing about political instability when I heard the news. I am still hesitant about including some of these recent movements in my (class research) paper. It is confusing at the moment.”
Each semester LCC recognizes a faculty member for outstanding teaching and faithful Christian witness. This spring Andreta Livena was recognized. A native of Latvia, she is a 2004 LCC theology graduate and a 2012 graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary. Andreta is an excellent example to students of the integration of faith and learning. She is now finishing a master’s degree in theology on the work of the Holy Spirit. She teaches the introductory Bible courses. Her teaching style brings life and spirit to the classroom. While many of her students are skeptical of a required Bible course, she gets a good response from students. She has become a shepherd of her students. On the last day of class her students presented her with a toy white lamb, symbolic of her care for her students. She has been a faithful witness. In addition to teaching she volunteers as teacher at the large Lithuanian men’s prison. At first she was reluctant to go, but like the parable of the two sons in Matthew (Matt. 21:28-32), she changed her mind and did what was required of faithful obedience. Andreta has now returned to Latvia to complete her master's thesis.
Marg Fast is a former LCC faculty member from the early days of LCC who visits us regularly. She is our longtime friend and confidant. From St. Catharines, Ontario, Marg embodies the best in the Mennonite Brethren tradition of care and compassion. She is a nurse: she is “gentle among us” (I Thess. 2:7). In many ways Marg serves as our moral compass. She advocates for the least of these, our brothers and sisters. In a letter an inmate in prison describes what this advocacy means: “I want to thank you for all your help, support, prayers, and thoughts. You are with me so long, and I know that without you I would not have a lot of things. If not for you, I would not be now a student of LCC.”
Allison Davis, a graduate of Geneva College, has worked in the LCC "study abroad" program. Each semester about 20 students from U.S. evangelical colleges such as Waynesburg, Azusa Pacific and Westmont attend LCC. Allison describes the impact of the study abroad program this way: “We work with Americans who come from Christian colleges; they are often alumni of Vacation Bible Schools, church youth groups and Sunday schools. The study abroad program at LCC brings them to live out their faith in an environment different from the ones they have been educated in. For many of them their semester in Lithuania is the first time they are challenged to share the gospel message with non-believers. … They return to their schools with a greater understanding of how God reaches far beyond their American context for Christianity. They come as students looking for adventure and they leave as missionaries, having seen God at work through their professors and classmates.” Allison moves to Pennsylvania this August to a grad assistantship at Geneva.
And no account of LCC would be complete without my expression of gratitude for the love, support, and Christian witness of my wife, Becky. We’re a team, yoked together in this call to be teachers. Becky makes life together a joy.
Women showed great faith in Jesus and continue to do so today with our mission partner. We give thanks for their faithful presence and are grateful for their witness to the truth that Jesus Christ is Lord. We invite you to pray for these five women—and all the other women—who make LCC International University a place of hope and transformation. We are grateful for your gifts to mission that keep us in Lithuania able to engage in the lives of these women.
Grace & peace,
Eric L. Hinderliter
The 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 284
Read more about Eric and Becky Hinderliter's ministry