We had hustled to get to the train station in Kiev. It was about 9:30 P.M. Rick, our missionary host, was a professor at Kyiv Theological  Seminary.  He had gotten all seven of us Americans aboard and stepped off the train to wave good-bye. We were going to visit an Action missionary in Odessa, Ukraine, an eight-hour, over-night train ride south.                

At the last moment, Rick thought of something he wanted to say to us.  He hopped back on board and said, “Keith, you have paid for everything. No one should attempt to charge you for anything else. You are fully paid.” 

As he finished this brief assurance to me, the train started to move. Very slightly at first.  No more than one mile per hour. Rick rushed to the door to get off the train. He could have easily stepped off without any fear of falling or hurting himself or anyone else.

But a railroad employee blocked the door. Rick was forbidden to get off the train. For another 12 seconds as the two talked, Rick could still have gotten off the train safely.  The train moving slowly, the door was still open. No danger. No liability. No reason why he could not simply step off.

But the young railroad attendant said he could not get off.

So Rick rode south with us until about 2:00 A.M., got off and took the return train, arriving home about 6:30 A.M. with an obligation to go on a retreat that morning with a group of his students. 

Our host, Dr. Richard Perhai, was seeking to put us at ease . . . to protect us from being taken advantage of as people in a foreign country who did not speak Ukrainian . . . to give us peace of mind. 

How utterly kind of him to want us to be at ease. To be confident as we traveled.

Yet it cost him a night’s sleep, resulting in a groggy day with his students at their annual retreat. 

Kindness can be expensive to give.  Yet that experience set the gold standard for us for being willing to pay a price to encourage, lift, assure, or put at ease those we serve.  We hold in our minds Rick’s generous care of us as we are sometimes annoyed when serving others.   

Note: the people in these pictures are not the American team about whom I am writing.  These are stock iStock photos which I paid to include herein. But the story is a truthful account of what happened.