Phil: How did a Canadian couple in their sixties end up church planting and loving orphans in Ukraine? Ev: One day, John came home from wherever he was, and walked in the door, and said, “I think God is calling us to Ukraine.” And the only two words I could think of were, “Let’s go.” Phil: Was it really that simple? Ev: Well, we had actually been on different tracks, but they were leading us to the same place. John had been to Ukraine with a team from our church and he just kept communicating with people there and connecting with what was going on. My track was a little bit different. I had been on a trip or two to Mexico, building houses, and I just was amazed how one week could impact a family and a community so much. I didn’t say anything to John, but I went back to work and I just prayed that God would send us somewhere in the world where we could make a difference, even in our retirement years. And then John said that about Ukraine. Phil: Wow, I love that story! But there must have been some things that were hard. What was it like to finally leave Canada and go to Ukraine? Ev: There were so many emotions. On the positive side was the excitement and the adventure of thinking that God would be calling us somewhere to make a difference. And then of course, on the more negative side, was leaving family, leaving friends, leaving our church, and packing everything up. We were planning to go for ten years. Phil: What difference has that whole experience made in your life? Ev: The first thing that comes to mind is the reality of God’s presence, and his leading in our lives, and how exhilarating it is to know that he is there, that he has called us. Phil: You gained so much in Ukraine, but you also suffered enormous loss. Do you have any regrets? Ev: It’s a fair question. I mean, when John died six years into our commitment, I actually lost more than just John. I lost my ministry in Ukraine. I lost the home that I had become used to. I lost the friends that I had there. But, you know, there are absolutely no regrets. I have stated this before, and I’ll say it again: If I compare my life to a meal, Ukraine is the dessert. Phil: You made a trip back there by yourself in 2017. What was that like? Ev: It was delightful to see that the church is continuing, that the association of churches is growing, and that the ministry of the New Hope Training Centre is continuing to make such an impact on families, children, and orphans. I enjoyed being present when a new evening service was started by the people who had been involved in leading the work among children and families. And then to see Max and Anya, who have taken over the ministry, to see them thrive in their leadership with the team that they work with, I was absolutely overwhelmed with joy. Phil: As you think about the future of Ukraine, what are you hopeful about? Ev: My dream for Ukraine is that the church would be able to develop significant, godly, Spirit-filled leaders, who are able to minister to people who are in deep pain. I dream of a living, active, grace-filled, Spirit-filled Church, filled with leaders who love people, and who continue to minister to the neediest in society. Phil: Max and Anya visited Canada recently and they stayed with you. How was that? Ev: God provided this home for me, which John and I had bought before we went to Ukraine. But when Max called me and asked if they could come and stay with me here for three months while they participated in some training with MB Mission, well, I must say, that was a dream come true for me. To have them come here, and continue our special relationship, and continue our dreams for Ukraine, it feels like I’ve come full circle, and it feels complete.
John Wiens passed away on January 14, 2014. He and Evelyn had served among the churches in Ukraine for six years. Though their sudden absence was felt strongly, leaders that they had discipled quickly took on their responsibilities among the churches and carried forward the various ministries that they had initiated. Among those leaders were Maxym and Anya Oliferovski who stepped into an overseeing role and also moved into the Wiens’ former home. When the Oliferovskis came to Canada in late 2017 to receive further training with MB Mission, they were hosted by Evelyn in her current home, which speaks of the Wiens’ legacy of servant leadership and friendship.