Today our mission team visited the church in Slovyansk where we worshipped together with our Ukrainian Brothers and Sisters. What a wonderful experience! Thoughts of Ephesians 4 –where Paul writes of the oneness we have in Christ became a reality. “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” became real for us; especially when we sang together the hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul.” After being treated to a wonderful lunch at the church [imagine that at a Baptist Church!!], we visited in the afternoon a Women’s Rehabilitation Center and a home for orphan young women who had to leave the State Orphanages. Pastor Oleg and His wife Anna are the leaders of these amazing ministries. These two are amazing people whom God is using to help so many people. We finished our day by traveling to the church at Kramastorsk. There we met with the brothers of the church including the two pastors of the church. They told of their ministry to refugees and their support for both the Women’s Rehab center and the orphanage ministry for young women. The church also is helping its poorer members to pay for the heating of their homes. This city is in a depressed state due to the war. Unemployment is high. Please pray for the ministries in these cities. They are doing so much work with people with so few financial resources.
We have a lot of traveling to do tomorrow. Please keep our team in you prayers.
Day 6 of our trip took us to the village of Toretsk. This place is in the so-called “Gray Zone.” It is called that because it is close to the front lines of the war in the East. This village was under Separatist control until the Ukrainian Army seized control and drove the Separatist back to the current front lines. There we met with Pastor Maxim and his wife Lena. Maxim told us that he was chosen to be the pastor by the church even though he did not want to be a pastor. But soon he was ordained and took the leadership of the church. It is a church of about 80 members. We met with Pastor Maxim and several of the deacons and their wives. Not only are they enduring the constant threat of artillery shells exploding near them, but also the city is in much economic distress. Despite these problems, the church is still ministering to the people of the area. They have a drug and alcohol rehabilitation ministry and there are 4 locations in the area where they have home Bible Study groups meeting. We went to see one of the homes where they have such a Bible Study meeting. It was a home that was slightly damaged recently by an exploding shell. What a display of faithfulness by Pastor Maxim! Please pray for him that God will continue to protect him and the church from the present danger of the war.
After enjoying a delicious meal at a home of a church member, we then drove for a number of hours to the city of Zaporizhzhya. We will stay there for the night and then meet the LOR staff tomorrow. Continue to keep us and the church in the Ukraine in your prayers. Dos Vedanya!
[Pictures: Church at Toretsk; Pastor Maxim & wife Lena; Church meeting]