Local News

March 29, 2014

‘We’re not going to say no out of fear’

Dalton couple planning move to Ukraine

Even with the unrest in Ukraine right now, Megan and Josh Lunsford know it’s where they’re supposed to be.

The Dalton couple monitors the news daily and still plans to move there May 29 to begin a 13-month ministry to the Ukrainian people.

“We’re saying yes even though it seems crazy,” said Megan Lunsford, a 2002 graduate of Murray County High School who works in discipleship and missions at Rock Bridge Community Church. “We’re not going to say no out of fear. We feel safe saying yes because we’re under God’s protection.”

The Lunsfords will move to L’viv, which is far from Crimea, which Russia has annexed. The threat of war as Russia may try to take over more areas of Ukraine remains.

“We’ll be far from Crimea and where we think Russia will go next,” Megan Lunsford said. “We’ll serve with those struggling to love their neighbors. It’s hard because (Russians) are killing their families and destroying the country. They’re really struggling with that over there right now. We’ll be in a place where many may flee.”

If the Lunsfords feel they are in danger, they plan to flee to another country, but remain in a place where they can still minister to the Ukrainian refugees.

The couple had planned this move before Russia invaded Crimea, but they say the timing of the unrest is just more proof to them that God has been working on this path for them for years.

“We both feel like God has been working this whole journey out for us,” said Josh Lunsford, who is a counselor at Coahulla Creek High School. “We’ve been praying over this now for two years. Even when doors closed, God has opened others. God continues to open doors. Our hearts are there. ... People think we’re crazy. With the war, it’s an even better opportunity to share the hope we have.”

Members of Rock Bridge have been taking short-term trips to Ukraine for three years now to minister to people there. Megan Lunsford got involved in Ukraine work before she had ever met her husband. June will be two years since they got married.

“We see the need to reach that area of the world,” she said. “We often see missions as going to Africa to help with poverty — food or health. In Ukraine, it’s a spiritual poverty. They’ve lost their joy and hope. They’ll say to us, ‘You have to be from America.’ When we ask why, they say, ‘Because you’re smiling.’ They don’t just walk around smiling there. They need a restoration of that hope. They need to know they don’t have to hold onto the past and their scars.”

Megan Lunsford has spent the last six-and-a-half years ministering to people in Dalton through Rock Bridge. She plans to take her work and what she has learned here to the Ukraine. She has focused on life-coaching and working specifically with women.

The Rock Bridge team that goes to the Ukraine leads seminars there on leadership, fitness, tourism and other areas geared toward young adults and teens.

“It’s a college and young professionals town,” Megan Lunsford said. “They’re the ones who will be influencers and really impact the communities.”

Josh Lunsford, who moved to Whitfield County from Elberton to coach football, connected with a semi-professional football team during his last trip to Ukraine that he hopes to work with.

The couple remains peaceful about their decision to go ahead with their move to Ukraine even as they hear of other foreigners in the country debating leaving.

“It’s never going to be easy,” Megan Lunsford said. “But we have peace and confidence. What God’s doing is trumping the fear. ... One of the main concerns is that once Russia takes part of the country, they won’t stop there. We have the peace that surpasses all understanding.”

She said Christians are sometimes called to step out of their box and out of their safety.

“There will always be situations that look fearful,” Megan Lunsford said. “Don’t give up when it gets tense. Keep going whether you’re here in Dalton or stepping out and loving your neighbors.”

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