Oct. 26, 2000, 3 p.m. |
Plus: Reader Misleads about American missionaries
ul person in the past. But I have to because, unfortunately, death is implacable and pitiless. The news came out of the blue. I felt shocked indeed when I heard about the death of America House director Victor Kytasty. I could hardly believe it, nor could my colleagues.
We first met Mr. Kytasty about six years ago. It was a time when many Ukrainian teachers and professors started attending the library and newly organized Teaching Resource Center of America House on Melnikova street. We used to go there to borrow or buy some original English literature, new textbooks and to improve and develop our spoken English by communicating with native Americans.
It is no secret that most English teachers and professors didn't have an opportunity to visit English-speaking countries and often felt confused by using bookish language. But the delicate and friendly atmosphere created in the Center by the first director of America House, Victor Kytasty, made us feel comfortable and confident. Though Mr. Kytasty was an official, there was nothing arrogant about him. Moreover he was always in the thick of things and knew all our teaching problems and needs.
He found a kind word for every visitor, and we couldn't help doing the same. Thanks to Kytasty we had an opportunity to participate in the workshops of remarkable experts in the field of English teaching methods, such as Rick Rosenberg.
Thanks to Victor Kytasty we are lucky to have at our disposal his best creation, Ukrainian English teachers whom we highly appreciate and can't live without. This is the Teaching Resource Center. Now the Center possesses a good video collection the major part of which was donated by Kytasty. This person put his whole soul into his work. Now when we feel quite sophisticated we would like to say "Thank you, Victor, for having done so much for us. We remember you with deep respect and gratitude."
Head of Foreign Language
National Academy of
Reader Misleads about American missionaries
In the latest issue of the Kyiv Post you published a letter, "These Guys Need Help Too," which I cannot pass unchallenged. While sharing the author's indignation over the verbal conduct of the supposed preachers of God's Word, I would say, however, that Will Smiley is too quick when he rushes into generalizations of the type: "The last thing this nation needs is the Bible, which they already have;" or "missionaries walk a highly questionable line in countries like Ukraine;" or "I wonder, what makes any of the American churches think that people overseas appreciate their doctrine." Such maxim-like phrases cast a shadow across the work of people who, being in the same "missionary" category, are somebody Ukraine really needs.
I attend the English-language International Church of Kyiv, and I can say only good words about the team of missionaries who are preaching there. In times when money is the new master in this country and when all you hear is double-talk and business babble, they speak of timeless truths like patience, compassion, understanding, forgiveness, thankfulness, i.e. the concepts, which, I am afraid, are becoming old fashioned in Ukraine. You also add these peoples' strong-minded personal decency to what they say. To skeptical know-it-alls, who always find some selfish motive behind any action, I would say the following: "What is the driving force that makes a person leave the high-standard of living of an industrial country and go to the "back of beyond" with his wife and five children (the youngest being not more than 5) and settle in a city with Chernobyl nuclear power plant coughing up nextdoor?" Mr. Smiley, you may be proud that you are an American.
Regarding the Bible that we "already have," thanks to my new friends I have discovered nine different English translations of the Bible. You just take one biblical verse and surf the Internet for the nine versions of it and you will be amazed at the richness - linguistic, conceptual and spiritual - you are plunging into. And it's not only translation that is at work! When I was a post-graduate student I used to read into the works by Heidegger and Gadamer and I discovered that the hermeneutic principles of those philosophical eggheads are brilliantly implemented by the missionaries when they interpret the Bible during Bible study.
Last but not least, I have a very vague idea about who or what the Mormons are (the guys who were using the bad language told the author they were Mormons). However, if so many people follow their doctrine, there may also be positive values about it. My principle is that any sincere belief cannot be entirely unacceptable and deserves some respect just for its sincerity. I understand that this point may be argued against, but tolerance and liberal views are something we, Ukrainians, also need after so many years of cultural totalitarianism.
Will Smiley writes of an ugly incident in an Internet cafe in Mariupol. I hope his report gets back to the Morman church and has a desirable effect. But, as to other missionaries, I see this report of profane young men professing to be missionaries as misleading. The ones I know are mature and loving. Many come here to work in agricultural, technical and educational assistance, helped by churches and individual supporters. There was, after all, a multigenerational cutout of Bible teaching in this country under communism. If American Christians teach the Bible as the basis of their faith and service, it is teaching that is needed. Many Ukrainians know the spiritual importance of their communist past and have freely invited missionary Bible teachers and professionals to participate in the transition.