Ukraine - exciting mission continues
A good number of evangelical Baptists are actively involved in thriving mission activities in Ukraine, Daniel Trusiewicz reports
The nation of Ukraine has been in the prayers of many Christians around the world since 2014 when the military conflict began in the Eastern part of country. The nation is comprised of about 45 million and has a good number of evangelical Baptists who are actively involved in a thriving mission work. There are numerous social and evangelistic projects being implemented by enthusiastic workers all over the country.
Baptist ministry in Ukraine
The Baptists in the Ukraine trace their origins to at least 160 years ago. The first pioneers of the Baptist faith suffered much oppression from the authorities and the dominant Orthodox Church, however the movement grew. By 1926 there were about 1000 local congregations but later Baptists faced harsh persecutions from the Soviet regime which tried to impose communism and atheism. New opportunities arrived with the independence from Soviet Union (1990) which resulted in an impressive growth of Baptist movement.
There are currently around 2270 Baptist local congregations that include approximately 110 thousand members. The EBF has been facilitating the ministry of several Baptist church planters in different parts of Ukraine.
Pastor Serhii Moroz is the vice-president of Ukrainian Baptist Union responsible for mission and evangelism. Because of war in Eastern Ukraine he has moved to Kiev from Luhansk, where he had previously served the Baptist churches for many years. Serhii also coordinates the church planting work in the whole union.
Ternopil – exciting mission
There are numerous projects under his oversight and one of them is in Ternopil, Western Ukraine where the Baptists are scarce. The majority of local population belong to the influential Greek Catholic Church which makes them rather skeptical to the Gospel message.
The ministry has been led by Alexandr Maximov who was sent from the mother church - the Grace Baptist Church of Rivne, Western Ukraine. The Grace has been supportive by praying, sending mission teams and contributing financially. Alexandr is married to Ivanka and they have 2 preschool children. Later 2 other couples joined the mission team: Maks with Oksana, and Ihor with Natasha.
The mission team has established the principles of conduct which include: regular meetings, praying for each other, tithing and accountability to each other. Each leader should have at least one disciple. The team organizes regular evangelistic activities as well as social ministry. Their goal is to make friends particularly among neighbors and build bridges of trust. They also go to visit public schools with lectures about avoiding dependency from drugs etc. And God is opening new possibilities. Many high schools welcome them and recently about 300 students participated.
The team is particularly successful with children and youth work. They know how to organize interesting and regular activities which draw many young people from the neighborhood. Relationship with the mother church is very important as they often visit and share testimonies as well as post info on website. This summer the team organized a family camp, a baptism of a young couple and accepted one other team member. The group is also planning to start a Sunday school and a youth club, so they pray for an appropriate building and finances.
Gat – Roma Ministry
Antal with his wife are missionaries among the Roma people in the village of Gat, Trans Carpathian region. They have been commissioned by the regional pastor Ivan Kondor to do the work. The Roma people are very sincere and friendly but also specific and distinct. Most of them live in poverty and are marginalized, and many consider to be forgotten by God... In order to convey to them the love of God the mission team decided to prove it by starting a social ministry ... and that works.
The ministry is based on personal encounters with these people when the team members visit them in homes called “shalash”. These Roma people are peaceful, and slowly become open for the gospel. This method of personal approach helps build bridges and some of them start attending home groups and church meetings.
This is a new and small congregation, with only eleven members but they conduct regular services that are attended by about forty people, and Bible study as well as youth and children's meetings. About twenty teenagers come to the youth group and about fifteen children are included in the children's group. Recently five people repented and four of them expressed a desire to be baptized. Last winter a new Bible study group was begun for the people who previously did not attend any church. Praise God that the Roma people in Trans Carpathian region are open for the gospel!
Please pray for:
1. The church planters and their teams that they continue to be fervent in their pioneering ministry.
2. The wisdom to leaders of all churches that they may know clear direction to lead many others.
3. The people of Ukraine that they may be continually open to the gospel.
Your prayers for the Baptist mission work in Ukraine are greatly valued!
Daniel Trusiewicz is the European Baptist Federation Mission Coordinator. This article first appeared on the EBF and is republished with permission