Almost three months have passed since the Russian unfounded invasion of Ukraine. The mass media every day delivers warfare news. There are millions of Ukrainian refugees in many different countries. A great number of Christian churches and humanitarian organisations from around the world provide relief to war victims. All churches and church plants in Ukraine are actively involved in aiding the needy. Here is a brief report from some of the church planters who are cooperating with the EBF.
The church planter Valery used to live in Luhansk before the war and had to relocate to Kyiv in 2014 when the war broke. Later he started a new congregation “God’s Family”. He recently wrote:
“After the Russian invasion (Feb 24, 2022) we sent all the mothers with small children of our church outside our country. Eventually, about 30 persons are now in Germany and later more than 40 refugees from different regions of Ukraine joined them. We are in touch with them and know that they are safe.
During the first two months of the war, my wife and I served in a refugee centre in western Ukraine. My wife cooked food and led meetings for women. I organised humanitarian assistance, led prayers and preached in different churches. Later we moved to Mukachevo in the south to care for the wounded soldiers.
Meanwhile, the brothers from our church have now organised a volunteer centre in the city of Vinnytsia where they serve the refugees from Donbas. They have bought a street kitchen where they can cook meals for 70 people at a time. They also carry out humanitarian aid to people from the bombed villages.”
The church planter Yuri lives in Zolotonosha, Cerkasy region. This is what he wrote in his recent report:
“When the war broke out many people were leaving Zolotonosha and I also considered sending my wife and children westwards. But eventually, after a lot of prayers, we decided to stay at home because we believed that God wanted us to serve the people here. I know that many others followed our example.
The war changed our country and our church very much. Several men were drafted into the army, and some mothers with small children found refuge abroad or in Western Ukraine, but most people remained in their hometowns. We immediately started serving the refugees. Our people regularly go to Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Sumy to bring humanitarian aid and evacuate people from those regions to our town where we continue helping them further. I believe that this is our opportunity to serve people who now have a great need for protection.
During the first 2 weeks of the war, we gathered every day to pray for Ukraine, read God's Word and encourage each other. This was a special time when members of our church became very close to one another and this made us stronger. We continue our Sunday worship services and new people – soldiers and refugees visit our church every week.
The church planter Andrii has been planting the “New Community Bible Church” in Irpin. This is his report:
“The last worship service this winter we had on Feb 20. At the time of the Russian invasion (Feb 24) I was abroad on a business trip. I was planning to return to Irpin on Feb 25 but this never happened… Instead, I was invited to the Czech Republic where I started to organise so much needed help for the war refugees. I also contacted church members and found out that 12 persons decided to stay in Ukraine despite the war. But 22 others got dispersed to different neighbouring countries. I together with 6 families organised a home bible group and we keep working among other displaced in Prague.
Victor, the co-pastor of New Community Bible Church, stayed in Irpin till March 7, preaching and praying with those who were there. Eventually, he had to leave Irpin together with his family, escaping from the terror of Russian soldiers. The great majority of Irpin inhabitants ran away to save their lives. Victor again returned to Irpin on March 27, still during the Russian occupation. He found there several church members who experienced a deep trauma but Petro was injured by a bomb fragment. A deacon Hennadii also survived the Russian occupation but buried his mother and some neighbours who were killed by the cruel occupants.
The Russians withdrew from Irpin on March 29, previously bombing our part of the city. One of the bombs completely destroyed the roof of our church building and caused a fire on the upper floor. All our technical installations and musical instruments were destroyed completely.
The church can still use the ground floor, and since the middle of April, our people started to serve neighbours with meals, food packages and other humanitarian aid. The New Bible Community Church restarted worship services on May 1 and invited the war survivors to join in. The congregation is now led by Victor who is raising funds to fix the broken church building.”
The Baptists in Ukraine since 1990 experienced an impressive growth after having regained independence from the Soviet Union. Before the present war, there were around 2,270 Baptist local congregations that included approximately 110 thousand members. There are also several hundreds of church plants.
Your prayers for the return of peace and success of the challenging Baptist mission work in Ukraine as well as financial gifts for the humanitarian aid are greatly valued!
Planting new churches together! For the glory of God!
EBF Mission Coordinator