Chernobyl: Looking Back 30 Years Later


Today, April 26th, 2016, is the 30 year anniversary of the tragic, Chernobyl nuclear disaster. This man-made accident is often cited as one of the key events which led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The “all-powerful,” anti-God Party of the People was helped to its knees through a test-gone-bad at a nuclear facility located less than an hour from Kyiv, a city of 3 million people. …People… People suffered. People were traumatized. People died. The people’s leaders ignored, denied, and covered up the magnitude of the disaster, while evacuating their own families to other countries as quickly as possible.


30 years later people are still affected. Memories linger among older generations, while newer generations struggle to survive a plethora of other man-made, destructive forces such as corruption, moral bankruptcy, and war. Whether fighting former ghosts or present demons, the evil that so pervades our world cannot be contained by man-made sarcophagus or human sovereign. An evasive peace is continually dangled in front of people, but the result is always the same–hollow words and unfulfilled promises.


The Chernobyl tragedy of three decades ago, the current plague of Western immorality, the devastating wars in Ukraine and Syria, the wanton corruption flowing through Panama, all cause my heart to long even more for a different King and a different Kingdom. May the Kingdom of God come.. where there is true righteousness, peace, and joy. In the meantime, we pray for His will to be done here on earth, and we continue to fight the good fight of faith!


A doll decays in Pripyat amidst parade memorabilia of former leaders and broken ideas


The following is a section taken from Distant Fields.

The Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster

“One day while riding the metro, the family met a man by the name of Anatoli. Himself affected by the radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster which had occurred only six years earlier, Anatoli had been told simply to drink red wine in order to flush the deadly radiation from his body. Another of Pam’s new acquaintances, Lilly, further described this tragic “accident” to her. In her journal, Pam quotes Lilly as saying, “We live in a giant prison.” As the Markeys met with Anatoli, Lilly, and others, they soon learned more about the tragic nuclear “accident,” and the ensuing coverup, and they began to understand how little concern there had been among the leaders of the Soviet Union for the inhabitants of this now-fractured empire.

“On April 26, 1986, a series of malfunctions led to a meltdown at the nuclear power plant located near the city of Chernobyl, some 60 miles from Kiev. Nearby was Pripyat, a city of about 50,000 people and home to most of the employees working at the plant. Its inhabitants were preparing for the upcoming May Day celebrations, walking with their babies in the streets, children playing soccer outside in the fresh spring air. The time for planting their gardens was right around the corner. However, little did they know that the bright glow on the skyline was something other than the setting sun.

“For many days after the accident, the people of Ukraine were not informed of the dangers they were facing, nor were they told of the simple remedies that could help stave off some of the most critical health issues. The leaders of the Soviet Union maintained a tight grip on the release of any information about what was actually happening at the nuclear facility, themselves sending away their own families to other cities or nations abroad. The invisible poison was being driven into the populated city of Kiev on trucks that were being hosed down and sent back to battle the fires at the Chernobyl plant. Conscripted soldiers were told that if they would work for two minutes battling the fires, they would be exempted from their mandatory two years of military service.

“Neighboring Scandinavian countries were the first to report the radioactive clouds making their way toward large portions of northern Europe. And yet, the people of Ukraine were told nothing. Pam writes, “No one ever told them not to eat the food or drink the water.” In fact, the news of the tragedy first broke in the West and was broadcast over shortwave radio into the Soviet Union. Quoting Lilly, Pam writes, “We first heard about what had happened at Chernobyl by an American radio broadcast that we secretly received on shortwave radio.”

“Cancers, miscarried pregnancies, thyroid problems, and other illnesses would plague an entire generation of Ukrainians, searing into their minds and hearts the painful reality of a system filled with self-absorbed, corrupt, and delusional leaders. I remember how frequently people spoke of Chernobyl in those early years, especially when someone was sick. The lead singer of the new Ukrainian Christian music group Seven told me of his experiences as a soldier working at Chernobyl that summer. He says, “The cherries on the trees that year were as big as apples. We picked them and checked them with our devices and they were clean, so we ate them. But after that year, those trees did not bear any more fruit.” He further described how his own immune system was totally destroyed by the radiation. “I can get a small cut on my toe and my whole foot will swell up because my body cannot fight the infection.”

“The Chernobyl disaster, World War II, the forced starvations and indiscriminate liquidations under Stalin, and centuries of servitude as the pawns in other nations’ chess games were all national tragedies that were imbedded in the psyche of these now-independent Ukrainian people. They were a people who had endured much suffering, seemingly everyone with a story of pain, loss, despair, or death. Memories that earlier had been spoken only behind closed doors were now beginning to emerge, painting a dark picture over the shining facade of Soviet realism. Furthermore, the recent collapse of a political and ideological system to which most had pledged their allegiance had injected their souls with even greater doses of despondency. Entire life savings were completely devalued in a matter of a few short days and weeks. Formerly stable-paying jobs were now remunerating their employees in the wares of what they produced – sausage from the sausage factory, clothes from the clothing factory, or even toilet paper from the toilet paper factory. Barter and bazaars became the means of survival during this time of an untrusted past, an unstable present, and an unknown future.”

All text and photos by Jed Gourley

Links to other pictures and information about the Chernobyl Disaster:

  1. A Look at Chernobyl 30 Years After the Meltdown – ABC News
  2. Looking Back: 30 Years of Photographing Chernobyl
  3. 30 Years After Chernobyl Nuclear Accident, An Attempt to Clean Up Its Traces
  4. Chernobyl Uncensored – YouTube Video

Updated: Partner in the Distant Fields!

George & Sharon Markey and family

George and Sharon Markey & family

The work in the Distant Fields continues. Take a look at the updated “Partner in the Distant Fields page.” Read brief updates from war-torn Ukraine, northern Russia, the Middle East, and the Republic of Georgia. Through your partnership in the Gospel, lives are being transformed and churches are being planted.

Goodreads Review of Distant Fields!

“Distant Fields by Jed Gourley proved to be one of those books, one of those stories that would confirm that God can use anyone regardless of background, if they would surrender completely to Him. I’ve always enjoyed reading missionary stories such as the Hudson twins to Asia, or of the Elliots and their fateful trip into Inca territory. I’ve enjoyed stories such as “God’s Smuggler” about Brother Andrew, “Tortured for Christ” about Wirmbrand, and like George, I too have read “Revolution in World Missions”. So to read George’s story and to discover myself a contemporary to half his children, was amazing. Then to discover that he had some of the same character-quirk hang-ups that I do, made the ability to relate even stronger.

The style of writing was very personal, like that of reading a memoire more than a biography of one’s life. Eventually I’d discover that the author was (spoiler alert) married to one of George’s kids. This made the telling of the story very personal, and it was impossible to miss the growing sense of “goodbye” that was looming as the author approached the latter pages of the book. Most professional editors would have had a conniption at Jed’s sentence fragments, or worse, at his use of the occasional single-word sentence, but he was writing this way on purpose. This book is a very personal work, and to remove some of the conversational structure of the writing would have been to render it’s heart anemic. The telling of this story was both personal and introductory.

As I sit here now writing out my thoughts, I too am left with a sense of what this world has lost. I look forward to meeting George in heaven one day and am grateful to hear that his family continues to reach out to people on the mission field and at home.”

By Marilynn Dawson
Author of “Becoming the Bride of Christ: A Personal Journey”, “Mom’s Little Black Book: Godly Advice for the High School Graduate”, “Practical Thoughts on Becoming an Author” and “Dressed for Eternity”.

A Review of Distant Fields

Click to visit book site!“This is not just a ‘missions story’ this is Radical (the book) beyond the theoretical and into the real day to day life of just one very usual man with very unusual faith.

I was blessed to have George as my pastor for about 8 years and you know what? I didn’t ‘get’ him.

I enjoyed the sweet wine of the miracles that God did through George and his family and even saw how they flowed from the completely normal water of his life literally poured out for the Gospel. I loved and respected George. But I didn’t ‘get’ George.

Thankfully, his son-in-law Jed Gourley has done such a great job of tracking down friends and colleagues and family of George and telling his story in their words that after reading this – for the first time I realized so much more of why God did such groundbreaking work through George and his family in Ukraine.

Close to (over?) 20 churches spread throughput Ukraine – Kyrgyzstan and Siberia, Christian books translated- printed – and distributed, numerous worship albums with original songs, not to mention the countless lives added to the kingdom through the message of Grace that George not only preached but lived…and on and on…all of these works of God can trace their roots back to the direct influence of George’s faithful ministry of the Gospel.

But more than that, even though I knew George, I went to his church, ate meals with his family – this book challenged me – as if his story was completely new to me – to again wholeheartedly live for God. George’s story makes me long for heaven just like George did. I read it and was convinced once again to seek grace, to live boldly, to simply trust and obey.

I really recommend it (it’s a quick read!) and for anyone that doesn’t want to get to the end of their life and say – ‘Well, was it worth it?’ George lived life to the fullest, using every opportunity for the Kingdom and I’m blessed to have known him.”

– Cara Denny

$2.00 Off Discount Code!

Click to visit book site!I just got a discount code from the printer. This is the code: U37QP9DY  It is for $2.00 off and is to be applied at check out. Again, here is the site:

If anyone is interested in bulk orders for reselling at churches or book stores, let us know and we will look into getting discount codes for those. Just use the contact page to let us know.

Please note: The discount code only works with CreateSpace, not Amazon.
Discount ends July 4th, 2014

Distant Fields – Now for Sale!

Click to visit book site!Distant Fields is now for sale through the printing company, CreateSpace–a subsidiary company of Amazon. You can purchase the book by clicking here, or by copying the following address into your browser: (

Please share this information with anyone whom you think would be interested. All marketing of this resource is by word-of-mouth right now, so, any sharing, emailing, tweeting, or anything else that you can do will be helpful.

Distant Fields will “go live” on the main Amazon site in about 3-5 days. Once it does go live, we appreciate any helpful reviews (especially positive ones :-)). There is also a Kindle version coming soon, and perhaps other formats as needed.

We appreciate all of the prayers and assistance in making this book a reality. May God be glorified, and may the Gospel of Jesus Christ continue to go into the Distant Fields of the world.

Sailor George

Although innocent looking, young George Markey was known to be mischievous.

Although innocent looking, young George Markey was known to be mischievous.

Due to the lack of discipline and spiritual input in his own young life, in his later years, George would talk frequently about the verse: “Train up a child in the way in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6)


Soon to be Published!

The Amazing Call of George Markey from Farmland to Missions

The Amazing Call of George Markey from Farmland to Missions

“It is a story that needs to be told,” is a phrase that I have heard many times over the past few years. Now, only weeks from being published, Distant Fields, the biography of George Winston Markey, is a journey that takes us from the heartland of America into the urban centers of the former Soviet Union. It is a story of a unique man whose simple faith and trust in God led to the formation of churches. His was a  life that continues to resound in the hearts of people around the world.