Gospel in Western Ukraine

Gospel in Western Ukraine

Daniel Trusiewicz - May 20, 2009

The European Baptist Federation has been facilitating the ministry of starting new Baptist churches in the Ukraine. New congregations are being planted by indigenous missionaries.

Baptists in Ukraine - beginnings and growth
The first evangelical revival in the Ukraine started in the 1830s. The pioneers of the Baptist faith suffered a great deal from the government and the dominant Orthodox Church. In spite of this, the movement grew steadily. In 1884 there were 2006 members, in 1893 the number doubled reaching 4610. In 1926 there were over 1000 churches. After 1927 the Ukrainian Baptists suffered harsh persecution from the Soviet regime.

New unprecedented opportunities came with the ‘Perestroyka’ in 1985. It resulted in a really impressive and stable growth of Baptist churches in the Ukraine. Since the independence (1990) more than 1500 new congregations have been started and the Baptist Union registered increase from 90 thousand members in 1990 to about 135 thousand in 2008.

Currently the Baptist Union is implementing the ‘Project 125’ which aims at planting Baptist churches in regional centers. Special focus is on the Western Ukraine where Baptists are scarce.

New churches in Western Ukraine
Volodymir Volynsky
is a regional town in the Western part of the Ukraine where the church planter Alexandr works. He is about 30 years old, married and has one child. The church planting group comprises 30 people but only fewer than 10 are baptized members.

There are four leaders in the church planting team. Alik is one of them and he is responsible for the youth group. Another one, Oleg, leads prophylactic lessons in public schools. Drugs and alcoholic addictions are national problems in this country and schools are open for this kind of occasional lessons.

The ministry for the ex-drug addicts plays quite an important role in this particular place. The church plant rents a flat where a couple of women go through a rehabilitation program, supervised by other women who are church members. Besides this, the church has organised youth work, small groups, and summer camps. The new planted church meets in a rented place – the cost is covered by the mother church in Luck (pron: ‘Lootsk’).

Another church is being planted in Volodimerets – a town inhabited by 10 thousand people. It is located nearby the regional center Kuznetsovsk, best known for its nuclear power station.

The church planter Vitaly is an about 30 year–old, single man. He lives in a small (one room) rented apartment which has just been renovated. Vitaly has a group of ca. 10 people in Volodimerets and another one of a similar size in the nearby Ozhero (15 km away). There are two mother churches: one is in Rivne and the other in Kuznetsovsk. Recently Vitaly organized an evangelistic event with the help of Baptists from Rivne.

Another location is Burshtin (Engl: ‘Amber’) which is in the Ivano Frankivsk ‘oblast’ (province). The Indigenous missionary Volodia is ca. 30 years old, married and has 2 teenage sons. He works as a teacher of history in a local public school and additionally leads the work of planting new church. He is also responsible for the local religious TV programs once a week.

Volodia explains that his newly planted church in Burshtin is the only Baptist congregation in the whole Ivano Frankivsk ‘oblast’. He would like to start another congregation in Galitch, a regional center.

Easter Sunday in Burshtin
It is the Easter Sunday and crowds of people go to several Greek Catholic churches (the majority of the population in the Western Ukraine are adherents of this Church).

The small Baptist chapel is overcrowded – at least 50 people cram into it. The service begins with some singing and prayers, then children and youth take active part, between the numerous songs there are 3 short and inspirational sermons, poems are recited, and in the end there is an altar call. Altogether the service lasts about 2,5 h.

Prayer requests
There are hundreds of indigenous church planters in the Ukraine, like the above mentioned. They work in cities but also in numerous villages. These missionaries are particularly dedicated to the ministry of the Gospel, they are faithful to God’s principles and friendly to all people. The new planted churches in the society are like oases in a desert.

- Pray for the missionaries who are in mission fields. May they be faithful, persistent and enthusiastic in their pioneering ministry.
- Pray for the leaders that they may have clear direction for instructing others in church planting task among their people.
- Pray for the partners who join hands with the EBF so that we may help in many places where there is a spiritual opportunity for church planting.

Daniel Trusiewicz
EBF Mission Coordinator

To help planting reproducing churches!
To help growing healthy churches!
For the glory of God!