A letter from Becky and Eric Hinderliter in Lithuania
Greetings. We are sharing our good news—we have been commissioned for four more years of service in Lithuania. Praise God from whom all blessing flow! For us this is a leap of faith, but we know God is with us.
We returned to Lithuania after nearly four months on IA—Interpretation Assignment. In many ways this time in the U.S.A. has been "mission in reverse"—reporting on what God has done "across the waters." We also wanted to be a source of encouragement to the churches we visited. As Paul writes about the expectations of his mission journeys, “For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine” (Romans 1:11-12). We visited 18 congregations and presbytery events this summer. We hope those we visited with were strengthened and encouraged.
Presbyterian World Mission has set three directional goals as we relate to the congregations that support us: to inspire, to equip, and to connect Presbyterians with God’s mission in the world today. We understand the power of a story to inspire faithful actions. We focus on the importance of authenticity and integrity in mission, together with continuing relationships. For us the fruit of our ministry is enduring, life-changing relationships.
Here’s an update on two LCC graduates—from Russia and Ukraine—that we have written about in past mission newsletters. Hopefully their words will inspire you. Tsvitana Chudovets, from Ukraine, is a 2013 LCC graduate. She had hoped to study economics in the United Kingdom but the lack of a scholarship ended these plans. But even in disappointment she shared words of encouragement: Dear Dr. Hinderliter, I was so glad to hear that you and Becky are coming to LCC for four more years! I see that you have had a busy summer preparing and giving so many presentations, but it means that many people can hear about the unique ministry of LCC and that God's work is continuing. That's great! Thank you for sending me the link to the newsletter and for your words of encouragement. As I read the newsletter about the LCC women and remembered how clearly I saw God's love and care for me during the years at LCC I got encouraged and inspired. Thank you! And, please, keep me in your prayers… Blessings, Tsvitana.
Finally Elena Dukhnitskaya, from Russia, has found success in her further policy studies in Italy. She writes: “I am very happy to hear from you. And it is very exciting that you will be in LCC for 4 more years. I appreciate a lot what I have learnt in your class. Critical thinking and the ability to write academic papers has helped me a lot in my studies. This year in Trento [Italy] has been a great blessing to me… I have discovered that I am particularly interested in the topic of Human Security… Trento has a very international community. I have been able to find a Protestant church here with simultaneous English interpretation. Sasha [another LCC graduate from Belarus] and I went there this year. It was truly a blessing and a great encouragement to me… Best wishes, Elena.” We are privileged to be part of these lives of these young women. We are convinced that they will be change agents in their respective countries—people of integrity, concerned for justice, and committed to faithful living. One of the three critical global issues identified by Presbyterian World Mission is removing the root causes of poverty. The empowerment of young women is a critical step in anti-poverty efforts.
During these past months it has been a joy to meet with mission-minded Presbyterians and to reconnect with those who have visited us in Lithuania. Two trips by U.S. Presbyterians to Lithuania are planned for 2014. The goal of these visits is to connect U.S. Presbyterians with the broadness of God’s mission in the world.
Our “IA time” is also a time of personal reflection. This summer we used the Heidelberg Catechism often in our messages about mission. Heidelberg is central to the Evangelical Reformed Church of Lithuania. In the new book Body & Soul: Reclaiming the Heidelberg Catechism (2012) Craig Barnes offers a commentary on gratitude (Questions 86 to 90). We say that the attitude of missionaries is one of gratitude, but Barnes writes that gratitude is much more that an attitude: “It must be grounded in specific acts of praise” (p. 113). Our gratitude should lead to generosity. A recent book Nourishing the Spirit: The healing emotions of wonder, joy, compassion, and hope (2012) by James D. and Evelyn Eaton Whitehead puts it this way: “Gratitude responds to the unanticipated gifts and good fortune that come our way. And we are drawn in two directions: to give thanks to those who have favored us and, in turn, to share with others our own acts of generosity” (p. 119). A church we visited, the Presbyterian Church of Danville, Kentucky, reminds us why we give: “God has withheld no good thing from us—giving us even the gift of God’s own Son—and we respond in kind. As we begin to understand the spiritual nature of our giving, we might become less concerned with how much the church needs, and more concerned with how we can adequately express our gratitude to God” (http://www.presbydan.org).
We continue to invite you to come alongside what God has us doing—through your prayers, your cards and letters, your visits, and your financial support. Indeed we have much to be grateful for. “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD” (Psalm 31: 24).
Becky & Eric Hinderliter
The 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 284
Read more about Eric and Becky Hinderliter's ministry