I want to introduce you to my friend Roman whom I met recently, as a result of an invitation by Future Leadership Foundation, who are focused on developing Christian leaders globally.

He’s very focused on being called by Jesus Christ to follow him and serve the kingdom of God with the gifts and abilities God has placed in his life. No, he’s not a church minister or pastoral leader, but a professor of economics. The challenges he faces are significant from any outside perspective: he’s Ukrainian.

Roman has a dream and it’s focused on representing Christ within his sphere of influence as a professor of economics. He’s been appointed, which he also recognises as part of his calling by God, to establish a new university in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital. That’s Ukraine, at war with Russia, under the continual threat of attack, with significant numbers of potential students not living in the country. He calmly explains to me (which to my ears sounds very much like the peace of God which passes human understanding I’m struggling to get my head around), “you’re more likely to be killed in a traffic accident than by a Russian missile attack”. Part of my brain gets it and I’ve no doubt an economics professor has a good handle on the stats, but the other part is whirring “are you serious”?!

As far as I’m aware Roman’s not read Rick Lewis’ contribution last month: Look to the Future https://seventy-two.network/2023/04/look-to-the-future/ , but he’s definitely future-oriented. He’s begun establishing the new university and is currently busy recruiting the best quality staff he can find. His dream of building an institution based on the values of Jesus Christ is happening one appointment at a time.

I found meeting Roman challenging, in a good way, raising some questions for me and maybe many of us living in the ‘peaceful’ Western world.

  • How much am I focused on God’s calling for my life and how much on my comfort? I honestly don’t know how I’d be responding if I was faced with the choice of operating in the context of war or returning to a much more comfortable existence. I imagine Roman could return to a far more lucrative position in an American University.
  • How much am I focused on releasing the potential of the seed of the word of God planted in my heart and how much on managing it within my capacity? Let’s just say I heard more passion for following Jesus and making a difference for the kingdom of God from Roman, than I do from some church leaders. He’s advising the government, very much involved in conversations with the global financial institutions devising the re-building of the Ukrainian economy and re-structuring for growth post-war. God’s very much involved because he has a representative involved who will be salt and light.
  • How much am I focused on where God calls me to go and how much on where God has brought me previously? I’m so glad there’s a Christian involved at the heart of the Ukrainian future planning who combines heartfelt passion and clear strategic thinking. Roman’s involved not simply in asking the right questions, but helping shape the answers: ‘what kind of future leadership do we need? How do we structure and shape the re-building? I don’t know about you, but I always want to have confidence in those leading me into the future: Is their heart in the right place? Are they equipped for the task at hand?

We all have influence – in this sense, we are all leaders. I realise I can’t simply have the conversation with myself, but I have my own responsibilities (as we all have) which have their impact on other people, and I need to answer my questions myself. I’ve been inspired by my new friend, I’d encourage you to pray for him, along with the church leaders in Ukraine. However, I’m also looking to follow his example and looking to love the Lord my God with my heart, soul strength and mind.

If you want to hear a little more here’s a YouTube link to Roman on What Ukraine Needs to Win the War – and what comes after a Ukrainian Victory:


Nigel Coles

Nigel is Regional Team Leader of the West of England Baptist Network. He facilitates the life of the webnet team and oversees the missional strategy for the region. He also works to develop missional strategy over a wider geographical area with our partner Associations and Baptists Together. Nigel believes that when Jesus sent out seventy-two others, he meant everyone who was there, and this passion to help everyone find their way in the mission of God is what inspired the development of Seventy-two.