It is difficult put into words what we have experienced today. God has blessed us to see the wonders of His grace and mercy. Our mission team visited a drug and alcohol rehabilitation ministry in the city of Kharkov. There, we heard the testimonies of men who were in bondage to their addictions. Here, 12 men live together in a rented house under the leadership of several Pastors. The men study God’s word and work together to overcome their addiction problems. We have witnessed the reality of the passage of Scripture found in John 8 where Jesus said, “…If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (verses 31, 32). Several gave their testimonies of how the truth had set them free from their addictions. One man told of the many years of heroin use. He told us how God had used the ministry of Pastor Dennis and Pastor Sergei to help him beat his addiction. The men sang several songs and the joy on their faces as they sang was so touching to see.
This rehab ministry is under the leadership of Pastors Dennis and Sergei and the church in the city of Kharkov. Both Pastor Dennis and Pastor Sergei, along with their church in the Lughansk region, left their homes when the war broke out in the eastern part of the Ukraine. Since re-establishing their lives in the city of Kharkov, they return occasionally to their former city in the war-torn east where a new church has been planted and a Rehab ministry started. Pastor Dennis has a great heart for this ministry to those addicted to drugs as he himself as once addicted to drugs. Please continue to pray for these brothers and their families as they continue to minister to the people in the Ukraine. Praise be to God for His love, mercy and grace!
At the end of another day, our mission team has experienced more blessings from the Lord. We began our day of ministry at a village not far from the Russian border. There we met with Pastor Vadim and his family. Pastor Vadim has a similar testimony as many of the other pastors we have met during our travels in the Ukraine. He is a former drug addict who also spent two separate terms in prison for a total of some 15 years. It was the last time in prison that the Lord opened the prison doors of his heart. After his release from prison, Vadim went back to his home village. There he began to minister to his mother who was gravely sick. Others from the village then began to come to him seeking spiritual help. Soon Vadim was ordained and became a pastor to the people of the village.
The church in the village is new. There were 30 to 40 people present for a specially called meeting. Seven are members. There were 18 people who are with the Rehabilitation center; 5 women and 13 men. We also met with a refugee family that recently left the Lugansk area in Eastern Ukraine because of the fighting near their home. There was also a lady there who gave a testimony of how in Soviet times the government persecuted her family. They did so because they were Baptists. In an effort to end the line of her father, the authorities shot and killed her grandfather who was a pastor and who refused to deny his faith. Her father was sent to a Siberian prison camp where he was subsequently executed. Several of her brothers were murdered. Other men of the family changed their name to survive. Today, the family name continues on with her sons who took their mother’s maiden name. She praised God for His goodness to her and her family.
After eating lunch with the village church, we then visited with Pastor Sergei and Pastor Anatoly at the church in Kharkov. This church housed many refugees when the war broke out in the east. After 2 years, they still minister to these people by giving them food packages. During the past two years, some 70 tons of food have been dispersed and some 7000 refugees have been helped by this church. When the refugee crises occurred, many donated funds to DMI to help meet the needs of the people who had to leave their homes because of the fighting. This church in Kharkov received most of the funds that were donated.
Our day of ministry ended with meeting Pastor Dennis and Pastor Sergei. The Board members for DMI voted to help these Brothers with the purchase of an apartment for each of them. Due to the outpouring of donations, we were able to give each $5000 towards the purchase of a home. These Brothers are doing a great work both in Kharkov and in the city in Lugansk where they had to leave because of the fighting. Please continue to keep them in your prayers. Our Lord has been good to us these past days. We look forward to worshipping Him tomorrow with more of our Ukrainian Brothers and Sisters.
[The pictures are of the church in the village; Pastor Pat McCoy and the lady whose family was persecuted; and the refugee family from Lugansk]