In 1980 it seemed unreasonable to expect that the gospel could be preached openly in Soviet Ukraine, yet a group of believers there listened when a prophecy was given that they would do just that. When the country declared its independence in 1991, however, the freedom of religion offered by the new law enabled the believers to do exactly as the prophecy predicted – they planted churches, evangelized publicly, and gained converts. In 1993, they formally joined the Church of God.
Unrest in Ukraine has disrupted the everyday lives of congregations in certain regions of the country. Pastors and members have been persecuted, the economy has been crushed, and over 100,000 people have become refugees.
Even in times of crisis and pain, the body of Christ remains strong.
Tom Rosson, the regional superintendent of Eastern Europe and CIS, says, “The Good News COG in Slavyansk has started a missionary school that trains teams to serve those left behind along the front. Starting out as feeding stations, the Church of God has planted 13 new congregations along the front with the help of Western sponsors and humanitarian aid coming from various places, not the least of which is the German Church of God’s Samaritan Ministries.”
Rosson requests prayer for peace in Eastern Ukraine, and for wisdom for the church to address the people’s needs without taking political sides.
There are four project numbers set up to assist the Ukrainian Church of God in its outreach to those in need. Rosson described them as follows (click on the project names to give):
“For $15 we can purchase and package enough staples (flour, sugar, vegetables, etc.) to feed an individual for a month; $60/month for a family of four.”
“Many individuals and organizations in Western Europe are willing to donate clothing and food. However, it costs money to deliver the goods by truck to any of our church partners in Eastern Europe.”
“Over 100,000 displaced persons (refugees) in the Eastern Ukraine have lost not only their homes, but also their place of employment. The Church of God is actively helping families relocate, supply refugee housing, find basic items for everyday living.”
“Many refugees have moved to the capital city of Kiev. The diaspora of Eastern Ukraine has given us the opportunity to plant churches in Kiev and the surrounding areas. In addition to supporting our church plants, we are looking for funds to buy a facility that will serve as a church planting training center/national office/a local church.”