Ukrainian churches continue to minister with greater zeal and courage despite the difficult life circumstances. We are convinced that the snowdrifts, worsening or absence of mobile communication, Internet, and electricity are not insurmountable obstacles for the ministry to God and people.
As for now, missiles and drones have damaged several hundreds of vital infrastructure. We are trying hard to save electricity whenever possible, which today is supplied by short time limited cycles.
Power plants, enterprises, and residential buildings were hit. But we are still alive and can work with incredible gratefulness to the Lord for every day we have. He still sits on His throne, and all the leadership, power, and further history’s writing belong to Him. He will not let the Ukrainian people go through trials beyond our strength, so we entrust our current difficulties to Him.
Even though light and water are absent and no there is not enough food, the life of churches continues. People thank God for everything!
Pastor Pavlo shares the experience of the life of the Baptists during the occupation of [a Ukrainian city]: “The occupiers have not had enough time to pay closer attention to the churches. They were coming regularly, arranging checks, ordering re-registration. Out of eight Baptist churches in [this city], every one of them survived undamaged. Churches with their own premises (that were not rented) were allowed to continue their regular meetings and worship services. The churches were actively involved in humanitarian aid distribution and were helping people a lot throughout the occupation time. Some stuff we were purchasing locally, we were transferring funds when it was possible. Every single day after the liberation Christians are coming here with some aid.”
Extreme Poverty and Cold in De-Occupied Villages
Pastor Sergei says: “The church is still meeting, and unbelievers are coming, too. The population lives in severe poverty. There is no natural gas supply, so people are looking for firewood to heat their homes using even small ovens. We are trying to help people somehow survive through the winter.
“I saw a 20-year-old girl last Sunday. She became an orphan during this war. Her house is damaged, and her roof leaks. These people turn to the church for help. We try to feed them with what we have at the church. Their needs are huge, but we don’t have enough workers to minister to them.”
This pastor travels to hold meetings at two villages. He says: “We are not getting discouraged because we are with the Lord.”
The First Children’s Camp During the War
Children in a liberated city were rushing to the church volunteer center’s territory for three days in a row. Worth to note that the occupiers burned down the house of prayer of this church in April, so the church today is ministering through the volunteer center. A team from [a Ukrainian] region held a camp there for 30 local children.
Because of severe distraction, the residents of the whole city are having serious problems with sewage and the supply of goods. Children have no opportunity to study in school or even remotely due to damaged power lines and the absence of the Internet. Children of [this city] cannot go to their favorite places to play because of mines, and every part of the surrounding constantly reminds them of the terrible days of destruction and occupation. Therefore, the ordinary children’s day camp became to them a source of great pleasure and joy.
Adults also received encouragement besides the joy that children had. We could hear people whispering to one other: “We didn’t know there were still so many children left at [this Ukrainian city]!” They were watching the children play with volunteers, warming themselves with hot tea, listening to the Word of God being preached, and enjoying children’s laughter.
Two Houses of Prayer Were Damaged
The “Nativity of Christ” Church had a house of prayer that was serving as housing for IDPs [internally displaced persons], a meeting place for Bible study groups, and many other types of ministry; there were organized the ministry for teenagers, children’s camps, and English learning classes. The children enjoyed going there. Then the [enemy] brought destruction and decay.
First, they occupied the church building for the accommodation of their militants. Then, after looting, they burned the building down. Today . . . the house of prayer is left in ashes after burning.
The house of prayer of the Baptist church at [another occupied town] was also destroyed. The church was well-known in the region for its activity. For the house of prayer, the community purchased a historic and spacious building. The church was paying special attention to the ministry of serving children and teenagers. Church life before the war was full of children’s laughter and various social activities.
In November the house of prayer was destroyed as result of shelling. Since then, the church was left without an important resource. But we believe the occupiers will be driven out of our land, and through joint efforts the church will restore needed ministry.
Villages Living Under Constant Tension
The [opposition] continues to shell villages [in a border] region. Residents of those villages live under constant tension and expectation. It reminds us that there are Ukrainians today who continue to live very close to the border. We thank God for allowing us to minister to those people even in such an uncertain time.
Pastor Alexei is one of the volunteers ministering there regularly. He shares the difficulties local people have: electricity is often absent for several weeks in a row, logistics and delivery of goods are poor, and quality communication is almost impossible. Our ministers are monitoring those needs and are trying to respond to them. So the local church of [a Ukrainian] village is bringing those people with urgent needs generators, fuel, bread, and other food products.
The recent events and a large-scale war make people more open to God. They are happy to receive Bibles and share faith with their friends. Houses of prayer are getting full; the repentance and conversion prayers to God are sound in churches today.
Water Baptisms Continue
One church had a large celebration in November. There were 20 brothers and sisters baptized and joined the church. Most of those people recently came to the Lord during the full-scale war. These are fruits of happiness for a community tirelessly ministering to people for the last eight months.
“Our church ministers to our town by helping to feed more than 2,000 families. Whole families are turning to God. A girl who came to God through teenage ministry is a good example is. She brought her mother and later her grandmother. All of them got baptized today. This is a real awakening we were praying for!” – says Pastor Valentyn.
That is the second water baptism this year, and the church has already started preparation classes for the third baptism, which, if God willing, is planned to be held this winter. Another church also baptized 15 people on the same day.
The Baptist church [a Ukrainian village] has only 30 members but a strong missionary spirit. They are constantly looking for opportunities to spread the Kingdom of God in Ukraine 24/7. Besides preaching the Gospel, brothers of this church have already delivered about 15 tons of potatoes to [another area in Ukraine]!
Where do the brothers get those potatoes? They proposed that the villagers share the harvested crops. Some people offered a bag of potatoes (approximately 20-30 kg), others gave two, and some were giving even more. This harvest this year was good! Then brothers sorted the potatoes and packed them in nets.
Dozens of settlements in the region tasted potatoes from the village. Recently, [another village] joined their list too. 15 tons of potatoes with the price of potatoes at 10 uah per kilogram is equivalent to 150,000 uah. That’s a lot of money for a small rural church community. That’s a good story of initiative, cooperation, and sacrifice.
May this “potato story” help others to look for the opportunities they have, and to use them wisely.
In a time of great uncertainty, God is bringing help, healing, and hope to the people of Ukraine through SGA-supported pastors, churches, a seminary, and SGA-sponsored Compassion Ministry. Be a part of God’s incredible work with your generosity and prayer support.
Your gift of compassion helps struggling people with emergency aid that generally includes Scripture materials, food, medicine, warm clothing, and shoes.