Victor Kubik shares stories from his recent trip to Italy, Ukraine and the Netherlands.
[Darris McNeely] Welcome to Inside United. I’m Darris McNeely, and with me today in the studio is Victor Kubik, president of the United Church of God. Vic, it’s good to see you back from your recent trip.
[Victor Kubik] Thank you, Darris. It’s good to be here.
[Darris] You were in Europe for a little less than two weeks. So why don’t you tell us where you went, some of the accomplishments, and people you saw, and what took place? I think you went to Italy first.
[Victor] Yes. We actually went to three locations. First to Italy, then to Ukraine, and finally to the Netherlands. And all three were absolutely wonderful as far as just what we were able to accomplish, who we were able to speak to, and just overall goodwill.
[Darris] June is a good time to be Italy.
[Victor] Yes it is, except everybody else wants to be in Italy too.
[Darris] It’s a good family there in Italy, and of course many of our members have gone to the Feast of Tabernacles through the years in Italy. And enjoyed meeting all the Anastasi family, and other members there. And how’d you find the congregations there?
[Victor] Well the Feast certainly is a big thing for them. They’ve had upwards of 400 people for the Feast. I believe that they’re expecting about 200 people for the Feast this year. We spent five days with Carmelo and his wife Antonella. And also, his brother-in-law Angelo Devita and his wife came up from Sicily. And along with another older brother that came from Sicily as well. Salvatore.
[Victor] Well we really appreciated being able to be at street-level with the congregation. I really got to understand the dynamics of the Church. It’s small, but really it’s a lot bigger when you actually start talking to them. There were about 35 people, 35 or 37 people assembled in Milan for services. We had 22 people connected by WebEx, including a lady in Albania and a whole group that’s coming to us, that’s in Lyon, France. And they all came over, 12 of them, for the Passover season this year. And they are connected as well to services there. So that’s a group of 12…
[Darris] Italian-speaking people out of Lyon, then?
[Victor] Yes, right.
[Darris] Good. Glad you were able to make that trip. Where did you go from Italy then?
[Victor] From Italy, we went on Ukraine. And this was for the 20th anniversary of our working with the revival center, which we started working with before it was even started. We were there in April 1996. And were part founders in one sense, of the center, and have helped out in 20 years. But interestingly enough that the other group that really helps out, and helps out in a very big way, is a group from the United Kingdom. And we’ve known some of these people also for 20 years. They come and go, and so forth. But the British ambassador always makes a visit there when we have these celebrations, and this time the name of the ambassador was Judith Gough, a woman. Really a sharp lady and had a chance to speak with her. And this was on the day the election of Britain seceding or leaving the European Union.
[Darris] The Brexit Vote.
[Victor] The Brexit Vote. And the group that was there, they had about seven or so that came from two different charities, are very, very close friends and so forth, but they were split right down the middle on the issue of staying or leaving.
[Darris] About the same percentage that the vote took place.
[Victor] Exactly. In fact most people, the people that were there, fully expected the vote to fail. They really did not think that would happen. The markets also voted, but they spike up beforehand, and then took a sharp plunge…
[Darris] That’s right, yeah.
[Victor] …the day after. But they were talking in very impassioned terms about the fact that one grade school there, one elementary school has 42 languages spoken in it. With all the people that have immigrated to the United Kingdom, they feel like they’re not in control. They feel like they’re taking orders from Brussels, and not being governed by London. There were very very strong feelings. On the other hand, the other group said, “Hey, we have big problems in the Middle East that are close to us. We have big problems to the east with Russia, and we’ve got to be united. We’ve got to stand united, or divided we will fall.” They were equally as impassioned about Europe, and the way it’s configured. No longer being a tiny little countries, even though they are world powers going by themselves. So that was very very interesting to experience it right there, on the day of the vote, and just talking with those people.
[Darris] That’s nothing like getting some firsthand reaction to something of that significance when it comes to world events. So sounds like that part of the trip, that leg was very profitable for you.
[Victor] It was. It was. And of course, we really appreciate the work of Dr. Potashnick and the whole group there. They have 160 people now, working in the center. And they have also taken on the responsibility of caring for children from the Ukrainian refugee areas, from the fighting that took place two years ago. And they handle 60 children at a time from Donetsk and the Luhansk regions.
[Darris] But does LifeNets still have a relationship with that clinic and…?
[Victor] Very much so. Very much so. In fact Beverly, my wife got a public service award. They named one of the new, physical culture they call it, physical therapy rooms, the Beverly Hall. They named it after her. And also, in 2005 we had a fundraiser for another hall for choreographic therapy that was there too. And we help out every year. We’re working with Rotary right now to obtain a new other vehicle for them. So we still have a very much ongoing relationship.
[Darris] Where did you go then after Ukraine?
[Victor] Finally we went to the Netherlands. And my big question there was do you call it Netherlands, or Holland, or whatever? Because I call it Holland all the time, but I found out that Holland, north Holland and south Holland are two provinces. And they said when you call Netherlands Holland, is like calling the United States Texas.
[Darris] I got ya.
[Victor] So Netherlands and Dutchmen. So it was again, wonderful. It’s a smaller congregation but they’re all compact there and it’s a very young congregation. They have 10 little children and they just, because one family has four, another one has three, and then there’s a couple, several others. But it’s a very lively church. And the new Elder that’s ordained there in his early 40s, Wim Dekker. I spent a day with him and his wife. And also visited a very ailing person, Jamie de Moei, whose son came here to Ambassador Bible College 2011-2012. Had a chance to visit with her. She has very very serious cancer. She’s pretty much bedridden right now, but…
[Darris] It’s good that you could make that visit with her.
[Victor] Well, we really were and just to me being with her, and seeing her philosophy of life at this stage where her body is just full of cancer. And just to see the positive outlook that she has no matter what, to witness that was really something.
[Darris] She’s a fine lady. I’ve met her in the past, been in their home. And it’s a very very serious, difficult trial that the whole family is going through there.
[Victor] I found out she’s American.
[Darris] She is.
[Victor] She’s from Houston.
[Darris] Yes, she’s a Texan, she is. She’s a fine lady.
[Victor] And then we had a chance, with Wim Dekker on Sunday, to just visit around Amsterdam. We got tickets, took two months in advance to get tickets to the Anne Frank House. And while it’s a greatly advertised place, and…
[Darris] Very sobering.
[Victor] It’s very sobering. And I read the book for the first time ever, just this last spring. And I said, “I’ve got to see that place.” And so, the way Anne Frank, a lively 13 to 15 year old girl, two years in a house. What she went through, and of course the experience that my parents had living in Nazi-occupied territory, and what they went through as survivors and here was one that didn’t. It just really had a deep impact on me. And it was very, very well worth seeing that.
[Darris] It is. The Anne Frank story continues to live on, and it continues to offer lessons for every generation.
[Victor] It’s been translated into, I believe, 71 languages, and 50 million copies of the book have been sold.
[Darris] Yeah. Good. Sounds like a very profitable trip overall, and successful in every way you intended for the members, and the ministry in those areas. So that’s what we have today on Inside United. Be sure and join us again next time.