Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | December 12, 2011

A Life-Changing Trip

Speaking at Pastors' Meeting | Donetsk, Ukraine

Photographs are like keys. Yesterday, my good friend Doug Hanks sent me a photo taken on a trip I led to Ukraine in 1996. One look at that photo was all it took to unlock some really great memories that have been stored away for years. I first visited Ukraine in 1995 at the invitation of Dr. Rudy Hernandez, one of my mentors. I assisted Dr. Hernandez with a televised evangelistic crusade. It was an amazing experience as thousands came to faith in Christ over a two-week period. Dr. Hernandez gave me opportunities to speak to various groups, including a meeting of pastors who had suffered imprisonment because of their faith. It was on that trip that God began to turn the focus of my ministry increasingly toward the nations. I have often wondered where I might be today had I not traveled to Ukraine that year. That trip changed my life.

The following year, I mobilized a team of twenty-four to return to Ukraine. My friend Doug approached me about joining our team to Ukraine. I still remember what Doug said to me. “I would like to participate,” he said, “but I fear speaking before others and I have never led anyone to faith in Christ.” He signed on anyway and met with our team every month to prepare for the challenges awaiting us. Occasionally, Doug reminded me of his fears and feelings of inadequacy. On our first day in the field Doug approached me and said, “I am trusting God to use me today. I hope that I will have the opportunity to tell someone about Jesus.” By the end of the first day he joyfully had seen 19 people place their faith in Christ for salvation because of his personal witness. Doug overcame his fears about sharing the gospel. Today, he continues to faithfully tell others about Jesus throughout our community. He is one of the most faithful men I know when it comes to sharing and living out his faith. That trip to Ukraine changed Doug’s life.

This month offers all kinds of opportunities for Christ-followers to share and to demonstrate their faith through practical acts of kindness. Here are a few suggestions for making the most of the season to tell others about why Jesus came.

Open Your Eyes | Ask God to enlarge your vision of the world. Learn about a neighbor or unreached people group in need of Christ.

Get on Your Knees | Ask God to open doors of opportunity for you to share the gospel with your neighbors. Ask Him also to open doors of opportunity in parts of the world that are closed to the gospel.

Move Away From the Table | Skip a meal and give the money to missions. Let the absence of food remind you of those still hungering for the Bread of Life.

Crack the Book | Study the Scriptures and learn how to effectively share the gospel.

Roll Up Your Sleeves | Demonstrate God’s love to others in our community and in our world through practical acts of kindness.

Dig Into Your Pockets | Give financially to support missions initiatives around the world.

Pack Your Bags | Consider participating in a short-term mission trip like my friend Doug. Traveling to the nations is a life-changing experience that can propel you into greater ministry when you return home.


  1. What a way to start out your journey with God! A trip across the Globe to a small little village that the world seemed to have forgot to proclaim his message that Jesus saves. God used that trip to change me forever and prepare me for future ministry. A trip I will always remember! Isaiah 6:8 “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying” Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? And I said,”Here am I. Send Me”


    • That was a great trip, Doug. I am so thankful that God led you to join our team. And, I am most thankful for your enduring friendship and for your continued faithfulness in sharing and showing your faith.

      • Thank you for your kind words O. I am also thankful for you , your faithfulness in encouraging others to”GO BEYOND”and our friendship. As the old song says, “Friends are friends forever, if the Lords the lord of them”. I love you brother!

        could this be a picture of the infamous sermon “excuse me sir….ah sir…..SIR….excuse me.” One of my favorite Baby O sermons.

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