Ukraine has been in the prayers of many Christians around the world since 2014 when the military conflict began in the eastern part of the European country.
The nation comprises about 45 million and has a good number of evangelical Baptists, who are actively involved in a thriving mission work.
Enthusiastic workers all over the country are implementing numerous social and evangelistic projects.
The Baptists in Ukraine trace their origins to at least 160 years ago. The first pioneers of the Baptist faith suffered much oppression from the authorities and the dominant Orthodox Church; however, the movement grew.
By 1926, about 1,000 local congregations existed, but later Baptists faced harsh persecutions from the Soviet regime, which tried to impose communism and atheism.
New opportunities arrived with the independence from the Soviet Union in 1990, which resulted in an impressive growth of the Baptist movement.
Currently, around 2,270 Baptist local congregations have approximately 110,000 members.
The European Baptist Federation (EBF) has been facilitating the ministry of several Baptist church planters in different parts of Ukraine.
Pastor Serhii Moroz is the vice president of the Ukrainian Baptist Union, responsible for mission and evangelism.
Because of war in eastern Ukraine, he has moved to Kiev from Luhansk, where he had previously served Baptist churches for many years. Serhii also coordinates the church planting work in the whole union.
Numerous projects are under his oversight. One of them is in Ternopil in western Ukraine, where Baptists are scarce.
The majority of the local population belongs to the influential Greek Catholic Church, which makes them rather skeptical to the gospel message.
Alexandr Maximov, who was sent from the mother church – Grace Baptist Church of Rivne in western Ukraine – has led the ministry.
Grace Baptist has been supportive by praying, sending mission teams and contributing financially.
The mission team – comprised of Alexandr and his wife, Ivanka, along with two other couples – has established the principles of conduct, which include regular meetings, praying for each other, tithing and accountability to each other.
Each leader should have at least one disciple.
The team organizes regular evangelistic activities as well as social ministry. Their goal is to make friends, particularly among neighbors, and build bridges of trust.
They also go to visit public schools with lectures about avoiding dependency from drugs and so on. And God is opening new possibilities. Many high schools welcome them and recently about 300 students participated.
The team is particularly successful with children and youth work. They know how to organize interesting and regular activities, which draw many young people from the neighborhood.
Their relationship with the mother church is very important as they often visit and share testimonies.
This summer, the team organized a family camp, a baptism of a young couple and accepted one other team member.
The group is also planning to start a Sunday School and a youth club, so they pray for an appropriate building and finances.
Antal and his wife are missionaries among the Roma people in the village of Gat in the Trans Carpathian region. They have been commissioned by the regional pastor, Ivan Kondor, to do the work.
The Roma people are very sincere and friendly but also specific and distinct. Most of them live in poverty and are marginalized, and many consider them to be forgotten by God.
In order to convey to them the love of God, the mission team decided to prove it by starting a social ministry.
The ministry is based on personal encounters with these people when the team members visit them in homes called “shalash.”
These Roma people are peaceful and slowly become open to the gospel. This method of personal approach helps build bridges; some of them start attending home groups and church meetings.
This is a new and small congregation, with only 11 members. They conduct regular services attended by about 40 people, and Bible study as well as youth and children’s meetings.
About 20 teenagers come to the youth group, and about 15 children are included in the children’s group.
Recently, five people repented and four of them expressed a desire to be baptized.
Last winter, a new Bible study group was started for people who previously did not attend any church.
Daniel Trusiewicz is mission partnerships coordinator at the European Baptist Federation.