May 24, 2018 at 6:00 AM
The message on this wall in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, might have you believe that political freedom is more important than true spiritual freedom in Christ.
By Dan Breen
Sometimes messages are conveyed in discrete ways. Other times they're bumped up to point size 50,000.
International Ministry Coordinator Nathan Stob and I recently returned home from Ukraine after visiting three of our Luke Society ministry partners in the country.
Safety is still an issue in eastern Ukraine, so we met the Lugansk ministry team in Kiev. After our meetings, we had a little extra time to tour the city's downtown before parting ways. We traveled the subway system to the city center which is filled with unique architecture and entertainment.
As I looked around at the beautiful buildings, my attention was drawn to the side of one such building covered with a massive vinyl sheet which portrayed a chain being broken apart. In huge English lettering, it read: "Freedom is our Religion."
Gears began turning in my head about what this message really meant. For a country still establishing its stability 27 years after the Soviet collapse, perhaps it made sense on a shallow level. A country’s freedom is immensely important.
But what struck me more was how backwards this message really is. As believers, we recognize that it's not freedom that is our religion, but the other way around. Jesus Christ is freedom for all who believe. Without his sacrifice on our behalf we would still be chained in our bondage to sin.
That message came alive in a very real way the next day as we visited the Luke Society's ministry in Rivne, Ukraine. The Right Way is a ministry unlike all others in the Luke Society. Its focus is to provide healing and recovery to victims of drug and alcohol addiction.
Nearly 50 patients gathered with us in a large meeting area. About 10 of them courageously shared their stories of how the devil had led them astray into a lifestyle they thought would bring happiness. Instead of happiness, the deceiver bound them in the heavy chains of addiction.
Thankfully, their stories did not end there. Those same patients went on to share their testimonies of how their lives are being made new again at The Right Way. The recovery process has introduced (or reintroduced) them to meaningful relationships through the love and grace of Christ.
New believers are leaving their addictions at the foot of the cross. Chains are falling off. Burdens are lightened. Hope is on the horizon.
It’s really quite simple: Religion is our freedom.