With a population of 42 million, 65% of Ukrainians are Eastern Orthodox, 16% are atheistic/agnostic, and only 7% declare themselves as Evangelical Christian. Although communism fell over three decades ago, its effects are still deeply felt.
The World Bank classifies Ukraine as a middle-income state. Nonetheless, significant issues include underdeveloped infrastructure and transportation, corruption and a stifling bureaucracy. According to the Corruption Perceptions Index, Ukraine is the most corrupt country in Europe, ranking 142nd out of 175 countries worldwide. Children are at greatest risk in the Ukraine. There are over 100,000 children living in orphanages and many others are in precarious situations. Under current conditions, the majority of orphans are destined to become involved in drugs, crime or prostitution unless they can be lovingly reached by Christians.
Cults remain a serious issue. From Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons to Hare Krishna and indigenous pagan groups such as RUNVira and the Perunists, there is much false teaching for churches to combat. To effectively deal with these issues, leadership training is the primary need in Ukraine. We have an excellent group of pastors and leaders, but aspiring workers are in need of training and the funding to make that happen.
World Link Ministries has partnered with Kiev Theological Seminary, which provides excellent theological training. We provide a monthly stipend to graduates and students to allow them to focus on church planting. An average of 40 graduates per year over the past 20 years have elected to participate in our church planting program, resulting in over 1000 churches planted since we began the program in 2000.
Prayer/Church Planter Support Request
Please pray for:
- the people of the Ukraine and especially for the children in dire circumstances;
- the seminaries as they promote greater discernment among Christians, encourage, reach out to cult followers, and plant multiple churches based on sound doctrine;
- peace and reconciliation in a culture ravaged by war, which is continuing to some degree to this date; and
- protection of our church planters as they fearlessly strive to reach people for Christ and prayer for those in need.
Also, please consider supporting a church planter at $100/month.
Letter From a Church Planter
We are pleased to share this letter (edited for English and brevity), as a further insight into our work in Ukraine.
During my study in the seminary God placed the desire in my heart to plant a new church. At first it was rather hard to imagine because I was already quite busy as a youth leader in my church, and it seemed unrealistic for me to go somewhere else for the sake of a new church. I continued to pray that God would either take away that desire if it was not from Him or that He would strengthen my heart and show me where to plant a new church and who would be on the team. Gradually, God began to answer in a place I originally did not want to go. In an amazing way, God has brought different people from different places of Ukraine, and now we all have moved to Uzhgorod City to work as one team.
We realized that planting a church in new places is incredibly hard work. Laying foundations, building relationships, exploring the city. We had to start from the beginning.
Through our ministry in Uzhgorod, God has revealed so much to us! He was teaching and humbling us. The most valuable understanding we have gained was about the importance of reliance upon God and dependence on Him. We had known that everything depends on God, yet in fact we relied upon our expertise. And it was amazing to watch God not helping us in what we were doing but using us in His plans! No one except God can do anything big, yet for this He needs submissive people.
There actually was no church working with non-believing youth. In a year and a half of ministry in Uzhgorod, we had carried out several camps, and several evangelistic events in the center of the city. Also, we taught in educational institutions about healthy life; several times we were invited to appear on television. When missionaries go to some country to share about Christ, they do not speak their native language but that of the local people to whom they address. That is why we decided to translate the gospel into the language that is common for youth–the language of hip-hop, sports, and the culture of the 21st century. We organized break dance festivals, hip-hop parties, pickup basketball games downtown, and soccer tournament. One cannot lock God in a church sanctuary, keep Him away from one’s daily life and from one’s music or hobby because he wants to be right there!
I can remember the story of a man named Norbiah who heard about the camp we organized, and wanted very much to go to the camp but he was scared at the idea that we might offer him as a sacrifice (this is a misconception some people have of the protestant church in Ukraine). At last he voluntarily gave his life to Christ. Praise be to the Lord! He is at work!
Now we have regular weekly meetings and small groups at homes; we are preparing the first group for baptism. We have been going through countless difficulties, but we are not going to stop. We want to fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus Christ and “to rescue those being led away to death; those staggering toward the slaughter.” (Prov. 24:11)