Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Coos Bay, Oregon, raised in John Day, Oregon.
What would you most likely be doing if you weren't a missionary?
I'd be on a ranch. Where and how that would be, I haven't been asked yet.
Being cramped in a Russian built Tupolov 146 airplane while flying across Russia for 10 hours to the Russian Far East.
Favorite tech gadget?
I want it to be an iPhone!
Do people have common misconceptions about the Ukraine?
Many believe that Ukraine is Russia, that we speak Ukrainian, and eat Chicken Kiev regularly. We actually speak Russian, do eat Chicken Kiev occasionally, and love the Russian people even though it is not Ukraine.
How many languages do you speak and understand at some level?
English, Russian, Tagalog, and Ukrainian—in that order from best to least.
Something you'd like to change about yourself?
I'd like to drop a few pounds, and spend more to buy a seat on a nice Boeing or Airbus when flying across Russia.
Something you'd like to change in others?
The pervasive idea that there is no absolute truth and that different areas of our lives are disconnected so we can be a certain way in one situation and then be a completely different person with different values in another situation.
How do you spiritually and mentally recharge, beyond reading your Bible, praying, and meditating?
I soak up what I hear from speakers, read, and I try to "do" my faith, which brings all kinds of lessons.
Least favorite Christian cliché?
"My ministry." It is never ours!
How would you like your epitaph to read?
A great phrase I read from the recent Nazarene Youth Conference gathering in St. Louis: "It is not my way, but Yahweh"
Who was your most life-impacting mentor?
Rick Waitley in Meridian, Idaho, and Bill Patch in Korea.
Greatest human need in your world area?
To know and love God, and to be freed from the myriad of addictive behaviors that beset many people here!
Explain how people with a background of Communism handle and receive the Good News.
Due to Communism, many in the Ukraine were brought up as materialists, and perceive only things that can be touched, seen, or sensed in some way to be real. Therefore, if there is not some concrete way to show Jesus is real, or that God is alive and well today, the interest in Christ is without a hook, so to speak. When they see genuine Christians participating in life changing ministry, they have to deal with it intellectually and ultimately on a heart level!
How did Communism affect Christianity there?
This area had Christianity for 1,000 years prior to Communism. That can't be erased, though they tried. Orthodox Christianity gifted these people with more than just spiritual beliefs. Their systems of government, respect, family life, authority, school, and business life all stem from their 1,000 year heritage in Orthodoxy, and those were left more or less intact by the Communists.
Bob Skinner is a missionary and field strategy coordinator living in Ukraine in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The CIS are 15 independent states formed after the break up of the Soviet Union that joined together as a commonwealth. He lives with his wife Colleen, and sons Robby, Michael, and Joshua.
Holiness Today, September/October 2007
Please note: This article was originally published in 2007. All facts, figures, and titles were accurate to the best of our knowledge at that time but may have since changed.