Tuesday 30th May 2023
Helping Refugees in Slovakia
[By Ervin Mittelmann, SGA sponsored missionary pastor in Košice]
I was sitting in a hotel reception. I saw more and more families come in through the night, looking for accommodation. This was the first day of the Russian invasion. I sensed the world changing. I could not imagine then, how it would change us.
Košice is the second largest city in Slovakia, a country of 5 million, of which about 0.2% are evangelical. No one likes evangelicals. We are considered a sect or a cult. It took 8 years of spiritual and emotional wrestling to build a church of 26 members.
We found ourselves in a new, troublesome reality. Now 14 thousand refugees were entering Slovakia daily in the early days of war. We helped them get on trains, as many were traveling further west. But thousands wanted to stay in Košice, because they wanted to stay close to the Ukrainian border. They left their fathers, parents, husbands, and sons there.
We didn’t know what to do. We did what we could with help received. We secured transit accommodation for 30 families, created a charity programme with 35 families (90 people), providing crisis food aid for 12 months. We also sent supplies to Ukraine.
Our church services are now bilingual [Slovakian & Ukrainian]. Approximately 40% of our worship service attendees are Ukrainian. We made hundreds of visits, during which we cried, shared the Gospel and prayed with them. I helped find accommodation for 3 families in the Netherlands. I have organized evangelism events, Bible Study Groups, and finance kids to attend summer camps.
We do all of this as a little church. But do you know what changed? We discovered that, together with you – our prayer and financial partners – we can make miracles happen! Indeed, we have experienced the glorious might of the Gospel and the constant strengthening by the Holy Spirit.
We are convinced that God is using the small and the faithful, to change the world. We do not know what will come next. But together with you, we are determined to continue serving, evangelizing, building communities, and loving our neighbours.
Image: Ervin with his family
Tuesday 23rd May 2023
We are very grateful that our missionary families can continue bringing the Word of God to troubled people. This continues to be the focus of the church in Ukraine. One church leader stated that the Gospel is needed more in war times than peace times. People need hope amid hopelessness.
SGA is actively involved in supporting these efforts, by supplying financial support to many Christian workers and their families which enables them to continue in faithful Gospel ministry. However, due to the mass exodus from Ukraine there is a great need for new church leaders.
Alexander Oreshchin, SGA sponsored missionary pastor from Lviv region outlines how he is trying to address this need.
We had 22 groups of leaders enlisted for various programmes which last for 4 or 7 months. The lack of leaders became more acute because of the war. Sadly, a large number of leaders left the country, and this led to challenges becoming even greater. Therefore, we feel a great need in forming a new generation of church ministers and leaders in Ukraine. We thank God for providing us the opportunity to minister to those new leaders.
Pray that this new initiative of training leaders will develop and meet the pressing need in the Ukrainian church.
Monday 15th May 2023
Centres of Help & Hope
The last website post reported how Alexander Oreshchin is continuing to focus on church planting and his vision for Mission 2030 – the establishment of another 20 churches. Alongside this ministry is his compassionate work where he and his team are reaching out to the needy and vulnerable. He shares about the ‘Care Centre’ which he opened shortly after the war began.
The ‘Care Centre’ ministry is being slightly refocused from quantity to quality. We had 150 people coming daily for aid, today this number is around 70 – there are several reasons for this. One is that some displaced people have already found work and housing. Some others have returned to their homes if their homes were located in the liberated territories. On the other hand, having fewer people coming for aid allows us to pay them more attention and to have more time for counselling and sharing the Gospel.
Pray that Alexander and his team will have the stamina to keep going and that the ‘Care Centre’ will be a place of Help & Hope as the Gospel is shared.
Friday 12th May 2023
New Article from SGA on Ukraine (click on title)
Wednesday 10th May 2023
Kingdom work continues!
While our Ukrainian missionary families are confronted with destruction and death, they are fully committed to the Gospel and Kingdom work. It is hugely encouraging to receive reports of how God is building His church.
Alexander Oreshchin, an SGA sponsored missionary pastor, reported that a new church planted last September now has 50 people attending weekly. A further huge encouragement was the establishment in February of another church in which there is a team of faithfully serving people. He went on to share his vision and desire to plant 20 new churches in the Ukrainian region of Lviv by 2030 – Mission 2030.
While there could be many distractions in war-torn Ukraine, there is no doubt that Alexander and his team are focused on Kingdom work. He is aware that the financial support received through SGA enables him to be involved in the Lord’s work. He expressed his deep appreciation for all the practical support received.
Your support was very important to our family and ministry. It helped keep our inspiration alive and ministry going even through this difficult period for our country. I really appreciate the support. It would be very difficult for us to do the ministry of expanding God’s Kingdom without you. I thank God for you and pray for Him to bless you abundantly.
Pray that the plan to plant 20 new churches in Lviv by 2030 will be achieved with the Lord’s help. Praise God that Alexander has been able to plant two new churches within the past year.
Through SGA’s Leadership Support programme, almost 40 Ukrainian missionary families are receiving long-term financial support.
Tuesday 2nd May 2023
God’s Plans are Perfect!
The war has impacted SGA sponsored missionary families both in Ukraine and Far East Russia. Due to implications associated with the war, families have had to make difficult decisions to uproot and move away to other regions. Yuri Tunin, who was supported as a missionary in Far East Russia, had to go through this painful process. While his relocating was complicated as he is Ukrainian with only Russian travel documents, God miraculously led and provided. Today, Yuri and his family are living in Balti, Moldova. SGA’s Regional Coordinator for Moldova, Pastor Peter Mihalchiuk, believes that God, in His perfect plan, has opened an effective door of opportunity for Yuri to serve. He outlines a little of Yuri’s involvement in ministry.
‘Currently, there are several thousand Ukrainian refugees in Balti and the surrounding areas, many of whom need material and spiritual help. Brother Yuri took on this challenge and serves them very diligently and devotedly. There is already a group of people who attend church regularly. In addition, Yuri works with young people, especially students who study in Balti, and brings them to the church through various events. It would be a great blessing for all of us if SGA could continue to support him financially.’
We are pleased to confirm that the Mission will continue to support this wonderful family.
Recently, SGA teams were impressed as they observed Yuri’s interaction with people, especially Ukrainian displaced people, and his commitment to God’s work. Yuri is the only person dedicated to working among displaced people in the Balti region. The SGA team had a wonderful opportunity to share at an event where 60-70 refugees attended, many of whom were non-believers. SGA- funded food bags and hygiene packs were distributed.
Praise God for his protection and provision for this family. Pray that Yuri, his wife Julia and family will settle into their new environment and be enabled to reach many people for Christ. We are thankful that Yuri had men trained to take on the responsibility of leadership in the church in Far East Russia.
Tuesday 25th April 2023
Recently, an SGA team visited Mohyliv Podilskyi, western Ukraine where Sergey Shalinsky, a graduate from Balti Mission School and sponsored missionary pastor, serves the Lord.
A visit to the public school was arranged where Trevor Morrow and David Anderson were given a tour of the building. It soon became very clear that the school kitchen was no ordinary kitchen and the people here were not simply good cooks.
The team listened intently to what had been happening in this school over the last year. Shortly after the war broke out thousands began fleeing from eastern Ukraine. Hundreds of families were needing to be fed. The school sent the children home to study while their school became a centre for internally displaced families. Many of the staff worked sacrificially and on a voluntary basis to provide for their fellow Ukrainians.
SGA was able to provide funding to purchase much needed kitchen equipment, as well as food supplies at a time of crisis and great uncertainty for so many. The staff began to thank the Mission and all in the UK and Ireland for their love and generosity. Trevor and David were lost for words in expressing their appreciation to the school staff for the love witnessed amidst such pain and suffering.
Monday 17th April 2023
Some of the SGA ministry team who are currently visiting Ukraine had the opportunity to hand over a second-hand minibus to Pastor Sergei Synii for ministry in the city of Kherson in South East Ukraine.
Sergei, who is 70 years old and diagnosed with cancer, recently requested help to purchase a second-hand vehicle so that he could provide food for people in nearby villages and transportation for many who are struggling. He and his wife Luba are an inspiration. They shared about their desire to serve the people of Kherson. Some of his children who live in the US pleaded with him to leave Kherson for treatment elsewhere, but he replied, “I cannot while people need food around me”.
Kherson is a port city located by the Black Sea on the Dnieper River. It was the first city to be captured by Russian military but was liberated last autumn.
Shortly after the war began, numbers reduced to only 30 attending Sergei’s church, but today there are more than 400 attending 4 services every week. 95% of these are new to the church. God is working, people are getting converted and the church is growing. Every day Russian missiles hit the city and people are being injured and dying, but in the midst the tragedy God is working!
The vehicle was handed over in the city of Vinnytsia. Sergei expressed his deep appreciation for the minibus and gratitude to all who made it possible. With tears of joy, Sergei, Luba, the church secretary, and administrator departed to commence the 8-hour return journey to Kherson. Pray that this vehicle will be greatly used for the kingdom of God.
Monday 3rd April 2023
The Doors Are Open!
Zaporizhzhia is a city on the Dnieper River in southeast Ukraine. The region has been the scene of intense fighting during the war. While Moscow controls large swathes of the southern part of the Zaporizhzhia region, its main city, Zaporizhzhia, and northern part are held by Kyiv.
The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and among the 10 largest in the world. It has been under Russian control since 2022.
Due to wartime challenges, conditions worsened during the blackouts when many people no longer had any access to light.
When the church was able to get a powerful generator, families with small children, the elderly, and other vulnerable groups found shelter, warm tea, and an opportunity to wash clothes in the church. The church also organized a small public laundry where free services are available for displaced people on the premises.
A small school with computers has also been set up in the church, so that children can study online. The Church continues to seek ways of serving people and showing God’s love to them. A team of church leaders organizes Bible study time for those who come to the House of Prayer.
Churches have become places of Help and Hope to those who are weary and broken. The doors are open to accommodate the homeless and provide for the hungry. All over Ukraine the church doors are open day and night.
Thank you for making this possible by helping SGA to provide funds for generators.
Friday 24th March 2023
A few weeks ago, the SGA sponsored Odessa Theological Seminary hosted a 4-day seminar on overcoming war trauma. The sad reality is that for decades to come, millions of Ukrainians will have to cope with war trauma in its different forms, as many people have already lost and continue to lose their loved ones, their health, homes, and belongings.
Many lives have been destroyed and uprooted. The loss is real, and the pain is excruciating. Many questions are addressed to God and people feel they are left without any answer. How can they continue to live under such devastating circumstances? This seminar was an attempt to tackle these issues and provide answers and solutions. Odessa seminary was very glad to be able to facilitate the seminar, as training leaders and volunteers to work in this area is a very relevant need.
Some who attended provided the following feedback from the seminar.
Valery: “I serve disabled people. When you deal with real cases, you usually have many questions. For me, this seminar was an opportunity to answer them.”
Tatyana: “In our church a small group of believers regularly visit wounded soldiers in a military hospital. It is not just their bodies that are wounded. It is their souls as well. The material I received was what I really needed.”
Roman: “I am a psychologist. What I really liked in this seminar is how well the medical information was combined with spiritual truths and a Christian worldview.”
Another participant: “When I come back home, I will start a small group among women whose sons or husbands are now in the war.”
Odessa Theological Seminary plans to start a one-year training programme for people serving in this field. Pray for this vital ministry and that OTS can be a powerful tool for training such ministers.
Friday 17th March 2023
Frontline Pastor Continues!
Chornobayivka is a city located in the Kherson region, Ukraine, where serious fighting has taken place and was under Russian occupation for many months until liberation in the autumn.
At the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Pastor Serhiy Deynekin decided that if members of his church remained in the city, he would not leave. His grown-up children pleaded with their parents to leave, but Serhiy and his wife decided to stay.
Serhiy describes what it was like to live there. ‘Every month it became more and more difficult. Constant shelling continued, people were dying, and the emotional situation was extremely tense. People from the church continued to leave.’
It was very challenging for Serhiy as almost all the people were fleeing the city. This was compounded when a missile hit the church. The membership of the church was reduced to seven. Serhiy did not know what to do. Then he said, ‘a miracle happened’. At that time, aid began to be delivered to the region and the church began distributing it in the city and surrounding villages.
Then about 200 people started coming to the church. Praise God this has continued until this day. At first, Serhiy thought that people were only interested in getting aid, but when it stopped people kept coming. Now the sanctuary is full of people.
Although it is still very dangerous in the city, Serhiy and his wife continue to serve God and the people with no reserves. Serhiy concluded his report by sharing how God protects and sustains.
‘The Lord protects me, my family, every member of our church, and their homes. All of them remained intact and unharmed. If you promise something to God, trust Him, He will help you fulfill it. We work, day and night without days off. A lot of energy goes into service, so sometimes we really need physical reinforcements. And God gives everything else in abundance.’
Through the generosity of SGA supporters, we are able to support displaced missionary pastors and those like Serhiy who serve on the Frontline.
Friday 10th March 2023
Another Family Devastated
Angelica’s husband, Oleksandr, was a border guard who served since 2014. During the current full-scale war, he was involved in military action in Kyiv and later in Kharkiv region, where he died. He was only 38 years old. He loved his wife and two sons and dreamed of buying a car to travel together.
His eldest son Ilai, who is 6 years old, starts his first grade at school this year. Angelica longed that her husband would take their son to school on his first day. Unfortunately, that will not happen now, so his uncle will stand in to carry out this special duty. He will try to give the boys the necessary parental love, support, and education that they will require.
The Levchenko family are sadly only one of many who have been bereft of a loved one and devasted as they go through this deep trauma. With support from SGA’s widows’ project, people like Angelica are receiving much needed help through the local evangelical churches.
It is our prayer that many broken hearts will find healing in Jesus.
Friday 3rd March 2023
The Kmenyuk family have formed a family-type orphanage where they offer care and love that children need. With support from SGA, they are now providing for 9 children/youth, three of them have disabilities.
The father serves as a deacon in the local evangelical church. Currently, the family, like the whole country, is going through very difficult times. Rising prices of food, fuel, and heating, compounded with power cuts are the new reality and challenges for this family.
Coping with the consequences of war is a huge trial. Children are exposed to circumstances and experiences that they should never encounter. The married daughter lives in Zaporizhzhia, a city under constant fire from the military.
Pray for this family and all such families across Ukraine who are offering vital care for those impacted by the war.
Tuesday 28th February 2023
Providing for widows
The Stupnik family were members of a church in Poltava region which is in central Ukraine. Daniel, husband of Ksenia and father of two small children was a drug addict in the past. The Lord not only completely freed him from his addiction but also entrusted him with responsible service last year. He was ordained as pastor of a local church.
From the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Daniel accepted the challenge to serve the people and God in these difficult military circumstances. He provided spiritual and physical aid to displaced people, provided humanitarian aid, and was the senior pastor of Blagovist Church. Sadly, he died in a car accident while transporting necessary aid to war victims.
Ksenia and her two small children were left alone. Despite her extremely difficult circumstances, she decided to stay in the village and serve the community. Now Ksenia is responsible for women’s ministry in the church.
Through SGA’s widows’ project, Ksenia, alongside many other widows is receiving support through the local churches.
Pray that God will comfort and strengthen the sorrowing widows and fatherless children.
Friday 24th February 2023
One Year On!
Today [24th February] is the 1st anniversary of the war that engulfed all of Ukraine. It has been a year of destruction, desolation, and death.
Sadly, some of those involved are children who have suffered dreadfully at the hands of military operations. It is reported that 1148 children have been killed or injured during the full-scale war.
5 million families have fled active war zones and 2 million have left Ukraine altogether. Parents have lost jobs leaving many in financial difficulty. It is estimated that 1.5 million face mental health problems.
Facing this heart-breaking situation, our partners realised that they needed to protect the most vulnerable in society – the orphan and devastated children. With funding from SGA, plans were made, and projects developed to provide for these children in communities.
One such project is helping people create a family – type orphanage. One such family is in Zhytomyr, located west of Kyiv. The Godovan family have 2 children plus 6 foster children aged 4 – 8. Despite the young age of the children, they try to provide for others who are suffering due to the war.
These small hands are trying so hard to help cook bread and cakes for the military and those who are affected by hostilities caused by the invasion.
Many such family-type orphanages have been established across the country.
Thank you for your support! Together we can partner with these families.
The Bible instructs us to care for the orphan and widow – both are receiving substantial funds. We have received reports with testimonies which we will share on our website over the coming days.
Thursday 23rd February 2023
Scattered Believers keep on Serving!
Sergey Shalinskiy, a graduate from Balti Mission School, Moldova is serving the Lord in a large town in Ukraine bordering with Moldova. In his recent ministry report he shared about the joy of baptizing 6 new believers.
It is always a delight to welcome new members into the church but for Sergey it was a ‘bittersweet’ experience as 15 people left for other countries due to the war. But Sergey explained how they are being used by God to establish groups in their new locations. It is a reminder of what happened in Acts 8 where a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem scattered believers throughout Judea and Samaria resulting in the spread of the Gospel and establishment of churches. Here we can read about Ukrainians from Sergey’s church who are active in serving the Lord.
One of our families went to Spain and they settled in a city where there is no evangelical church, but they decided to hold a home Bible study group, to which other refugees from Ukraine came. Three sisters from my church left for Talin (Estonia) and formed the backbone of the group from which a Ukrainian church was formed. Two more families live in Moldova and Poland, where they contribute to serving the local churches. I see that this forced emigration contributes to the expansion of the Gospel.
Pray that the many Ukrainians who are scattered all over Europe and beyond will be strong in the Lord and passionate about the spread of the Gospel. It would be wonderful to experience the light of the Gospel coming from Ukraine across the dark continent of Europe. God is Able!
Tuesday 21th February 2023
Children Return Home!
Almost 1 year ago we followed the journey of Grace Shelter children as they travelled the long, tiresome, and sometimes dangerous route [due to Russian missiles] from the Black Sea port of Odessa in the south to the Polish border in the northwest.
Many of you prayed for their border crossing into Poland. God answered prayer as the group of 65 including House Parents made the crossing in record time. From there they travelled to Ruptawa Christian Centre where they spent 3 weeks before their final journey to Germany. Since then, they have been accommodated in the west of the country.
When corresponding with our friends over the past year, they always expressed their desire to return to Odessa. The children longed to be back ‘home’ again!
Today they are making that journey! Praise God, that while missiles fell close to Grace Shelter, the building is still safe. Pray that this large group will have safe travel and that they will be able to quickly adapt back into life in Ukraine.
The war is certainly not over yet, so pray that God will protect them. For them, Odessa is ‘home’ and with God’s help that will be their destination!
With your support SGA has been able to continue with our financial commitments and recently sent a large one-off gift to help with extra costs.
Thank you for providing for these orphan families!
Saturday 18th February 2023
HELPING CHILDREN WITH HEALTH ISSUES
Financial hardship brought about by the war has resulted in many children with serious health conditions unable to receive treatment and medication. Through the financial support provided by SGA, our partners have been able to support some of these families. Here are a few examples.
Anya from Tarasivka, Kyiv, suffers from severe autism that has impaired her cognitive development. She needs ongoing treatment. The support has enabled her to have an MRI scan and purchase medication. The family are very thankful.
A four-year-old boy from Shepetivka with severe speech difficulties needed regular visits to a psychologist and speech therapist. The war caused the cost of treatment to multiply along with the cost of the 100km journey to the specialist centre. The support has enabled the treatment to continue. Once again, the family are very thankful.
The Korba family evacuated the war zone to the relative safety of Rivne. Mother is a believer, but father is currently an unbeliever. Loss of income meant that their disabled child was unable to receive the treatment he needed. The financial assistance has been a great encouragement to this family.
Thursday 16th February 2023
Families Under Strain!
The war has had a devastating effect on many families in Ukraine. Five million families have fled active war zones and two million have left Ukraine altogether. Parents have lost jobs leaving many in financial difficulty. This is compounded by rising prices for food and fuel.
One family that decided to stay put are the Kuzmych family. Despite constant shelling they continue to serve as missionaries in the city of Dnipro. Oleg works in the construction industry, but that work has all but ceased as the remaining residents are afraid to build. As a result, he was without work and income.
With the receipt of financial help from SGA the Kuzmych family can continue to serve their community and share the Gospel. The family are very grateful for the help they have received.