18 Dec, 2017 | Ukraine
OM International
A young boy listens cautiously during a church service in eastern Ukraine as mortars go off in the distance. - Photo by Garrett N
A NEW DAY IN UKRAINE, By Anne Viljoen                                     


Over the last three years the country of Ukraine has frequently been in the news. Russia has seized the Crimea and the Donetsk region in the East. Malaysian Airlines passenger plane was shot down. Years when many people have died, and even more have fled. Internally displaced people (IDPs), or refugees, wander all over Ukraine, many helped by the churches. Others have left the country for Russia, Europe, USA and Israel.

Thousands of Ukrainians had gathered hopefully at the Maidan Square in what became known as the Kiev Maidan Revolution, watching, waiting, praying for days. Clashes killing approximately 130 people and wounding 1,100 others resulted. The president fled to Russia, leaving the glorious riches of the palace displayed to the world, in stark contrast to the poverty many of his people experienced.  Then the Russians moved in.

Painful events; and yes, there are losses to be mourned, especially for those who lost loved ones, or had to flee their homes in the East, and for the non-Russian inhabitants in the Crimea. Although the news media has moved on to other crisis, in the Ukraine things are still happening, and even more important, God is on the move.

“The churches are busier than ever,” says OM team leader and pastor Oleg in Rivne. “Many people are seeking God. It is really a new day. Since the Kiev revolution, there is a new sense of freedom. There is also the awareness that in our time of need, our help did not come from Europe, not from USA, but from God himself. With our new president and people seeking God, we are excited to see what God will do. Please continue to pray for Ukraine, and for the new day dawning in our country.”

With this, there are many social problems, often alcohol-related.  That is why the churches feel compelled to operate a ‘dry theology’ as Pastor Oleg calls it – absolutely no alcohol or cigarettes in the churches. Alcohol does take the blame for some of the poverty and medical issues, and for thousands of children growing up in orphanages because alcoholic parents were unable to care for them.

The OM teams work with several churches in the cities of Odessa, Rivne, Vinnitsa and Kaharlyk. The focus is often on children, through Sunday schools, clubs and camps. Teams also help refugees from the war zone in the East, as well as reaching out to Jews and creating business opportunities. Short-term teams are welcome, especially during school holidays when week-long camps for children sometimes run back to back for several weeks.

“In the past, the churches had no vision for mission and the Ukrainians could not travel anywhere. This is now changing and some students are ready to go on short term mission outreaches. Some have gone for a few weeks, for instance, to the war zone in the East or to a neighbor country. When they come back and share their experience with the church, it is changing the church! 80% go to Russia,” rejoices Oleg.

The OM team praises God for what He is doing in Ukraine, asking for further prayer: for protection and an end to the war in the East; for the churches and OM teams to reach out in many different ways; and for even more people to turn to God and experience spiritual freedom, as well as the political freedom.

Source: AnneMarit Viljoen, OM Europe Communications

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