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Dangerous Mission Trip

Truth Talk / Stu Epperson
The Truth Network Radio
July 12, 2023 7:00 pm

Dangerous Mission Trip

Truth Talk / Stu Epperson

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July 12, 2023 7:00 pm

 Stu interviews two special young people as they share powerful stories they experienced when they went on mission for God in Ukraine.

It's Time to Man Up!
Nikita Koloff

This is Robbie Dilmore from The Christian Car Guy and Kingdom Pursuit, where we hear how God takes your passion and uses it to build a kingdom. Your chosen Truth Network Podcast is starting in just a few seconds. Enjoy it and share it.

But most of all, thank you for listening and for choosing the Truth Podcast Network. Any other missions trip? This is a missions trip to a place where the bombs are falling, where people are being shot, people are being killed, where there are all kinds of orphans and widows and there's bloodshed.

It's called a Ukraine. And then imagine the person going on that missions trip is your very own niece who you tried to talk out of going and then she went with a young man who loves Jesus who is going as well. These two went and they're with me right now and we're talking about the Ukraine.

Kaylin, Danai, my niece and Hudson Hatfield, two young people on fire for God. And you just got back from this, you know, just a couple of weeks ago. You were in bomb shelters with people. But what was that like?

Just take us there. Honestly, it was really hard seeing all the destruction. I mean, truly just meeting women who's lost their husbands, children who've lost their dads and sirens going off 24 seven bombs dropping. And so it was painful seeing all the destruction, but it was amazing to see God's light and his love show up in the midst of such darkness.

And where the light is, the darkness has to leave. I think in particularly, we went within a mile of Russian territory and we were handing out medical supplies and groceries. So a little back story behind that. I have my own little business.

It's called Life Loving 365 and I make shirts and hats and hoodies and I sold that. And then with that money was able to get the medical supplies and groceries along with Hudson partnering with his business. And so we're handing out the supplies and these medical supplies to these people. And I mean, they're just bawling, they're crying. And this one woman that I met out there near the front lines in Zapparegia, she had crutches and I was like, oh, my word, like, you know, you just start talking to them. And she started sharing. She was like, I was in the middle of eating dinner and a bomb hit my house and completely destroyed it.

I broke all my bones in my body. She's like, I should have died. And as she's telling me, her hands are just shaking. And she goes, my sister came in and saved me and took me out. And then my sister brought me to her home. And then she realized, oh, my word, my home's going to get destroyed. And so they went to their backyard and they dug out in the ground.

They just dug out and they got inside of that. And no later than five hours go by and a bomb hits the sister's house and they're right in the backyard and they watch her sister's house get destroyed. And then Russians come in with tanks and are just destroying the whole rest of the neighborhood and they can't even scream out because of fear of being killed.

And I'm meeting this woman and I'm what do I even say back to that? Like, oh, yeah, me too. Like, you'll get the house destroyed and then taken to get saved. And then her sister's house is destroyed and you're watching it all right before you. And I just looked at her and I was like, you know, there's there's a peace.

I can't imagine what you've gone through, but there is a peace you can find in Jesus. And she goes, what do you mean? And I just go, I'm like, oh, don't get me started. And I just start sharing the gospel with her all the way from Adam and Eve to him dying on the cross and that you can have a personal relationship. And she looks at me and she's like, wait, so I can make that decision today.

I was like, yes, yes. So right there together with my translator, she just asked for forgiveness of sin. She asked Jesus to come into her heart. And I opened my eyes and she had been shaking.

Her hands had been shaking on her crutches the whole time. And I see for the first time she is smiling and she's crying and her hands are completely still. And she looks at me and she goes, I just feel peace. I feel peace.

I've never felt before. And you would think that in the midst of, you know, when there was no war and everything was great and life was good. She would have had this peace.

But no. Yet in the midst of a war torn country, she has peace. And that points to the realness of God. No matter what circumstances you're going through, you can have peace in Jesus. So in short, I mean, Uncle Stewart, it was devastating seeing all this destruction and being like, where do I even start? How do I even help with all the devastation? But what's so powerful is God.

You don't have to do anything. You just let the Holy Spirit touch people's hearts and lives and to see someone get saved in the midst of so much, so many people. I mean, over like 70 people, you know, receive Jesus even in that short time, going house to house, talking to people, handing out materials.

And so I think for me, that was one of a highlight moment seeing that. That's just so encouraging. That's my niece, Kaylin, who just got back from Ukraine on a missions trip. And normally when we send our kids on a missions trip, we want to kind of maybe think Bahamas or, you know, somewhere in the islands or even within America, right, where like the roads are there and there's not a war going on and the Russians aren't bombing you. But you guys went to Ukraine. Hudson, you went too. And you here, you know, I've seen you grow up playing ball. You know, we played some ball together and you've always been a great athlete and all. But something triggered in your life where you were living the good life, you know, living the American dream, going to school and playing ball and all those things. And what happened in your life to cause you to want to go on a missions trip to arguably one of the most dangerous places on planet Earth? Yeah.

Yes, too. You know, for me, you know, to go back, rewind it a little bit. It all starts out with, I guess, my childhood. You know, I didn't grow up in a Christian family. You know, we didn't we didn't go to church.

We didn't talk about God. And I'm one of seven kids. And, you know, it's just very easy for me to kind of slip through the cracks. And as I grew up, I just started to kind of develop and form my own thoughts and my opinions about things. And I decided, you know, God just can't be real. You know, I was just a hardcore atheist. You know, I totally was just against all religion and just thought that we were just here by chance. And that the only thing there is to do is just do whatever you want to do and live your best life, you know.

And so that's the that's the road that I was headed down. And I was involved with, you know, drinking and drugs and partying and just all of the stuff of the world, you know, because I figured life can be hard. And I felt very alone and very sad.

No purpose in life when you don't know God. And, you know, contemplating taking my own life at times and just struggling through my childhood. And there was a point where some amazing people, actually, Kalen and some of the people in your own family stew that came around me and started to share the gospel with me. I got involved at a Young Life camp and started to hear the good news of Jesus Christ and people just loving on me in ways I never experienced.

You know, my my dad left me and my brothers, brothers and sisters at 13 years old. And, you know, I just had no purpose in life. And then I start to hear this gospel like it wasn't Christian, it wasn't religion. It wasn't anything other than just the gospel and the love of these people that came around me. I started to experience God's love through that. And I experienced the truth. And I realized my life truly is not my own, that a price was paid for my life.

And I, I rank up there with the with the worst of the sinners, you know, like Falls talked about. And Christ's blood was shed for me, for my forgiveness, for me to live again, for me to have life and have it abundantly. And I had a hard time accepting that. But when I did, I realized, wow, the freedom that comes when we surrender everything over to Jesus, everything, absolutely everything. That's what he asked for. He asked for us to just give it all over to him.

And it sounds like that might be a big step, but there's so much freedom in that. And so when God called me to go to Ukraine, it was just, yes, Lord, wherever you want it. My life's not my own.

So to live is Christ and to die is gain. I deserve death, but you gave me life. So if you call me to somewhere that's dangerous, I trusted to protect me. And if I do end up not coming back, I told my family, I love them. I'm going. You know, I had to share the gospel with them even before I left. I said, hey, this is why I'm going.

I got my entire family, all like 12 of them together. And I said, guys, you know, we're going into a dangerous place. I want to tell you why we're going. And I shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with them.

And that's what it's all about. To live is Christ, to die is gain, brother. I'm the guy on the radio, super Christian, saying, kids, go on missions trip.

It'll change your life. Go on missions trips. And suddenly Kaelin and Hudson like, hey, we're going on a missions trip. I'm like, all right. And they say, we're going to Ukraine. I'm like, hold, hold your horses.

Like, whoa. But but you went and Kaelin, you know, you shared about this miraculous, miraculous encounter. I know there were so many and there's, you know, we don't have time to go into all of this, but I do want to just encourage you and thank you both for your testimonies.

And also, I want to get in a little more about the details of the trip. But you both are students, Carolina University, West Palm Beach, Atlantic, Kaelin, Christian colleges, and you both have businesses. And I remember you had a pop up store and selling these amazing hoodies and things.

And people, I want you to give the websites for both your businesses. OK, when before we're done so people can support you that way. But you're working hard being a witness in the marketplace, putting smiles on people's faces by. You came and pressure washed our house and my wife's like, wow, unbelievable.

Like she didn't recognize her back porch. And of course, we're wearing all your clothing. That's so cool. But you use that to raise money to go to Ukraine, which is really cool, which got us even more excited about. That's kind of our model of Christian radio. Like we're trying to keep the airwaves on.

And so like with sponsors and friends and partners. And so but to go somewhere so scary, like what was it like Hudson? You hear the bombs dropping. I want to ask you that. Like what was your greatest fear moment and maybe turn that in your greatest faith moment there.

And then I want Kaelin to answer next. OK, yeah, man, a couple of different instances come to mind, but I guess one that really impacted me. We were in Zaporizhia and we were walking around the streets going out and evangelizing, handing out Ukrainian New Testament, handing out Bibles and just loving on the people. You know, the people are just going through unimaginable circumstances. And so we are we're going through and we're just loving on the people we're sharing with them. And as we're walking through this park, it's a beautiful park.

There's a bunch of people out just walking, going about their day, trying to make the most of the situation. And we start to hear the air raid sirens going off all around us. And, you know, I had read about air raid sirens before. And it's really it's it's surreal when you're there and you're hearing these sirens and what that means. When those sirens go off, it means that there are Russians who are shooting artillery and missiles at our location. They're shooting at us.

And these people have been dealing with it for over a year now. And it just I hear these sirens just roaring. I mean, they're so loud and it's just this ominous sound just ripping through the whole town. And as we're walking by, there's a young couple had to be in their 20s pushing a stroller with a little baby in their stroller. As we're listening to these sirens and people are just trying to walk like they don't even hear them, because they've been just dealing with it every day, all day, day and night for the past year.

And I just do I just I saw my sister, they're pregnant with her second baby walking with her three year old and her husband living in Maryland. And I just tried to picture, you know, us walking through the streets in North Carolina, us walking through the streets in our backyard, listening to these air raids sirens, knowing that missiles are coming to to to hit us, to destroy us, to take our lives. And I think to turn that into the faith moment, I was so angry in that moment thinking about I almost even was questioning God, like, why are you allowing this? Because I did.

I saw my sister there and my heart was broken and it was just such anger. And God said, the pestilence of man gives way for the glory of God. And so man is evil. Man is evil and there's evil powers at work all around us. But God is on his throne and God is still good and just trust in that.

You know, there's circumstances that are hard to hard to reason out. But God is still on his throne and will be forever and always. We're going to take a quick break. We're going to come right back. You're going to hear from my niece, Kaylin.

And folks, you can listen to how fresh this is. These guys have tears in their eyes. We've got a lot of cousins up here.

We're we're at a little family event and we're on the back porch here talking. And they graciously agreed to hang out to share their story as difficult and challenging. But God really works with them. My my niece, I got pictures of her on a stadium with a buddy of mine, Jason Jones, speaking at a massive rally. So here she's one second at a pop up as a college student and she's like a hero in Ukraine with all these people over there. But wherever you come out on the war and the politics of it and all that stuff, there's right, there's left, there's this, there's that people need Jesus. And these two young people spent a chunk of their summer to go over and share Christ in a war torn area.

I'm so encouraged by that. I want you to you're going to wait to hear a couple more things that'll break your heart and really inspire you when we come right back on Truth Talk. Don't touch that dial.

You're listening to the Truth Network and Truth Network dot com. So what do you do if you're a parent or even worse, an uncle and your niece wants to go to the most dangerous place in the world? And it's interesting because in 2009, I went with her dad to the most dangerous place in the world, the Darfur region, the Sudan. And when I made the mistake of telling my wife where I was going or I was telling my wife, oh, just Google it.

And she looked into it. And the Secretary of State's office at the time said, if you travel anywhere, don't go to Sudan. If you go to Sudan, do not go to Darfur. And that's exactly where we went. I went there with your dad and we were with genocide victims.

And it broke. It changed my whole life. And I've talked about it on the show. But Kalyn, you and Hudson went to the Ukraine and it's all over the news.

There's bombs, everything. You didn't go to on some political agenda or, you know, represented a party or a pack. You went to share the good news of Jesus. Actually, you tell me why you went. Yeah, no, Jesus has has truly changed my life and he's brought me peace. He's brought me joy. And that's what I went to share with people, not only to bring medical supplies and groceries and hygiene and give them, you know, aid, but to give them spiritual aid.

Something that doesn't last, that's materialistic, that will fade when we die, but something that will be eternal, that will change their lives for eternity. And that's why I went. But I mean, it was devastating. And I know Uncle Stewart, you were asking kind of like the biggest fear moment or like a hard moment in the midst of in the midst of being in Ukraine. And I, I think for me, it was when so we filled up our truck with, you know, medical supplies, groceries, and we drove it across to Zapper, Asia, which is.

And then to O'Raihav, which is within a mile of Russian territory and where the bombing and where everything's going on the front lines. So we go to O'Raihav and we're handing out medical supplies and groceries. And I mean, you'll just give someone something and they're just bawling and they're just hugging you and they're thanking you. And and it's the perfect opportunity, you know, when they're like, why have you come?

And you're like, let me tell you, Jesus has changed my life and he's offering you this piece. But we were serving and we were handing out and it was just crazy because, you know, we're wearing a bulletproof vest and we're wearing a helmet. And it's like I'm looking around, I'm realizing I'm hearing bombs and and the shelling. I'm realizing, oh, my word, like a bomb or could hit at any moment. And I would be gone. And so we were handing out supplies and we just we just felt like it was time to go. I don't know how to explain it, but it was just we just felt like it was time to go.

And I would want to contribute that to the Holy Spirit, truly. And so we get back in the car and we're leaving and we're down the road and all of a sudden our phones are blowing up with text messages and then we're hearing. And we had been handing out supplies right near the mayor's office and a bomb had hit right where we were five minutes later, right where we were a bomb hit. And for me, it just made me think of truly, you know, man plans his ways, but God directs his steps that we could have been killed. But truly, God and his goodness knew exactly. He knows everyone's days. He knows exactly when and where they will go. And so it was amazing because Jesus was truly directing us and guiding us. And when he calls you into a place he's going to provide and he's going to protect. And so that was kind of like the fear turned to faith where it was like, yes, the reality is real that I could die any moment, but then turned into faith for me to live as Christ to die is gain.

This isn't even my life to live. And if it's where it's all worth it, if it means one more person gets to know about Jesus as we were even delivering those packages and those medical supplies. This one man that we had given out the food to, we were going like two days later, we were going to go back and they're bringing him a generator, a generator, and they came back and he was dead on his front porch.

He was sitting on the front porch reading and shelling happened, completely blood drenched onto his shirt and devastating, you know, to see. But it was it was like, oh, my word, that was one of the guys that we handed out medical supplies and groceries to and got to share about Jesus. And, you know, he got to know who the Lord was before he did die, because at the end of the day, we're all going to die. And people, some people don't get to realize the good news. And so for me, it was just fear turned to faith when I was able to see, you know, bombing occurred right where we were handing out supplies.

And God protected us and not only protected us, but gave us the opportunity to share with people that, you know, at any point can lose their lives. Wow. Wow. And Hudson, you know, a lot of kids your age, you know, you guys are in your 20s prime of life. You're thinking, OK, you know, it's it's summertime. Let's let's let's do a party cruise. Let's go to the beach. Let's go down to let's go hit, you know, Miami, Daytona, Daytona Beach. Let's do a high level internship on the Wall Street. You know, let's go, you know, go have fun.

You and your BFF here, Kalen, my niece went to Ukraine where the bombs are dropping. Would you do it again if you had another chance? And what would you say to people about the importance of of running to the battle as opposed to running from it? Yeah. Oh, absolutely. Still, I would do it 10 times over again without hesitation, because, like I said, wherever the Lord calls you, you you go, you know, it's truly our lives are a gift from God.

Every breath is a gift from God. So we honor him with each one we take. And so I think, you know, the culture today, our generation is, like you said, everyone wants to just go have fun and and just go do what makes them feel good and go on that party cruise or look out for their career. And there's nothing wrong looking out for your career and trying to advance. But when it when it is over, when it's overruling, when that's become your God, that's the problem. You know, and I think we are so focused on being worldly, successful, you know, getting that big job, getting that big internship in our 20s. You know, it's all about getting the good education and it's all about setting yourself up. And there was a moment I was I was running that race.

That's exactly what I had been doing. And there was a moment when God just spoke so clearly and said, your life is just not your own. Just live for me. And it's not like you just sit back and do nothing, but you just start to see God in everything. And so I just encourage people. Yeah, people are dying, you know, and it's so real over there.

We get to see it. People are dying for absolutely no reason. Innocent people are having their lives taken. But right here in the United States, people are dying every single day who don't know about Jesus. And there's a spiritual war that is killing so many people with all of the the identity crisis and and just all of the things that are pressing our culture. The spiritual battle is at an all time high and it is killing people and stealing souls. And so we must stand up and we must go out and and cover ourselves with the shield and the armor and and the complete armor of God and take the sword.

The word of the Lord and go out and be bold, because that's who God has called us to be. And by his strength, we can do that. It's not there's no expectation. It's not on you. It's not in your strength because I couldn't go to strength or to Ukraine by myself on my own strength. Are you kidding me?

When we found out we were going to Ukraine, I started looking up at the news and see what was going on over there. I I couldn't do that on my own. That's the that is the strength and the boldness that the Holy Spirit will give you when you say, you know what, God, my life is in your hands, as it's always been. But when you make that commitment, he will he will honor that and he will take you on a path where you can be a light and you can save other people and bring people into the kingdom of heaven, which endures forever. What a good word. I'm Stu. This is Truth Talk.

That's Hudson. My niece, Kaylin, they both just came back from a huge missions trip in Ukraine. So many kids your age struggling with all kinds of stuff.

The world is full of people who've never even heard about Jesus. Kaylin, what's your challenge to your generation about missions, about what's really important about like the John Piper book? Don't waste your life.

What would you say? Well, I think for me, even as regards to even going to Ukraine is, you know, I play lacrosse at West Palm Beach, Florida. I kind of live the dream. I'm right by the beach.

I surf every day. And I was, you know, as I mentioned before, I have my own little business. I draw and design.

I make sure it's hats, hoodies. And part of the profit goes to originally help people go into through depression and suicide. But then I was also like, dude, I have to help people in crisis, like all over the world. Things are going on. And that's when I started really getting plugged in with Ukraine. And at first I just was like, I just want to draw a shirt of real life people's stories from Ukraine to sell and then just give money to people in Ukraine. As I started drawing these shirts and these stories of people, I mean, a woman who's in the middle of giving birth and a bomb hit and she lost her child. Like it just became so real. Like when you're drawing it and I just started bawling and the Holy Spirit said, go.

And I was like to Ukraine, God, I was just going to make these shirts and give the money and, you know, do it that way. And so I think kind of my challenge to my to this generation is don't be the one that just, you know, stands and watch. Be the one that God uses to do it.

Don't just watch it go on, but go and be the hands and feet and go into the place where the darkness is. And you look at even Jesus's life. I mean, he didn't just pass the woman. He didn't just pass the woman at the well. He didn't know he sat and he stopped and he talked with them intentionally. And so I think it's easy to yeah, to just say someone else will do it.

But the reality is, who will? And these people even going there, they didn't need maybe another, you know, care package or another grocery. I mean, all that stuff is great. And it was great that we were bringing medical supplies and all these things. But what they needed is human interaction of love to look them in the eye and see, I see you, I feel your pain. And there's someone who has taken on the pain of the world. And I want to tell you about him because he wants to bring you peace and love in the midst of your pain and your fear. And so whoever you are, whoever is listening to this, there are things on your heart right now that you know are there's injustice in the world.

There's things you've seen in your life that prick your heart. And it's not just pricking your heart because it's just, oh, no, God is speaking to you. And it is your choice if you want to say yes and choose to let him use you as his vessel, because truly our life isn't our own. We are living and breathing and we're a sacrifice. And it's amazing when you surrender your life and you let his presence flow through you and it changes people's lives because the creator of the universe who made those people is flowing through you to touch them. So whoever you are, whoever is listening, whatever God's put on your heart, there's nothing too big that God can't walk through. When you show up, God shows out. And that's truly what happened when I decided to say yes to go into Ukraine.

Whatever you need to say yes to, just say yes and God will provide the rest. I love it. I think I found my replacement host for the show right here, O'Hudson. Great job. What's the website that people want to support the missions by supporting your business and want to order your shirts, your awesome artwork? I love them. You do a great job. Kingdom-minded t-shirts, pop-ups.

You're driving around in your VW van. And I want you to give your website too, Hudson, but give yours real quick. Yeah. Yeah. So you can check me out at LifeLoving365. And so if you go on Instagram, you can look it up.

And yeah, so it's shirts, hats, hoodies, and part of the profit is going to help continue to aid people in crisis all over the world. Or if I'm in your area, I might be in a yellow bus selling out of my bus. Look for the yellow bus and LifeLoving365. So Life, L-I-F-E, and then Loving, L-O-V-I-N-G, 365. Helping everyone love life.

Awesome. Just be a part and look, meet, go hang out, pray parents. I pray with a parent this week that their son would find a Christian friend like Hudson, a Christian girlfriend like Kaylin that loves Jesus.

Pray, you know, get around people like these people, young people. It's infectious. Hudson, your website for your business and for folks to support you and your challenges as we get out of here. Yeah, it's and we do exterior solutions. So we do pressure washing, soft washing, deck refinishing. We do just about anything and we do it all as unto the Lord and not unto man. So it's Hudson TLC, H-U-D-S-O-N-T-L-C, Tender Loving Care. And your challenge as we get out of here to people to take a risk for Christ. You know, he's coming back.

The King's coming back. What are we doing? Are we, why are we wasting so much time? Why are we wasting people's time and not talking about Jesus?

Your challenge real quick. Just back from the Ukraine as we get out of here on Truth Talk. Yeah, just everyone knows your life will end. Deal with those pressing questions. Where did we come from? Why are we here and where are we going? Deal with those things.

Don't avoid them. Don't get distracted by all of the talk going on about all religions and all the beliefs and all the different things. Find out for yourself what is true and you will find that the God of the universe created you. He loves you and he sent his son to die on a cross for you. That's Jesus Christ. Find that. Know it. Pray to God. Ask him to show you the truth and he will show you and just live loving God and loving others. It's, it's the best life. None of this stuff of the world matters because all things will fade away but the word of the Lord endures forever.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-12 20:40:10 / 2023-07-12 20:52:38 / 12

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