Thursday 30th November 2023
Keeping Ministers in Ministry
Since hostilities began in 2022, over 200 pastors have left the occupied territories. The challenge for the Baptist Union is to support them and help them to stay in their calling. For many, they have lost not just their homes but their churches and ministries.
Many towns and villages have been completely destroyed and it is hard to know if they will have a ministry to go back to. One way of addressing this problem is to encourage churches across Ukraine to invite these displaced pastors to serve them.
Many churches lost members, who either moved to other parts of the country or went abroad. But….then new people started to come and churches are full of people every Sunday, especially close to the frontline. Over 3000 were converted last year with this number likely to increase by the end of this year.
There is much work to be done for God and we pray that these pastors will be enabled to fulfil their calling and ministry in new ways.
Wednesday 29th November 2023
Orphans helping others in need!
An SGA team have been able to visit family-type-orphanages in Ukraine, which they found a very moving experience. They were deeply touched by the devotion of the House Parents and affection that was evident in these families. To be a House Parent is a special calling as they care for 10 – 17 children in each family.
There was a poignant reminder that tragically, the number of orphans will increase due to the war. In some cases, both parents are killed requiring children to be provided with accommodation and care. However, more often the young widow and mother is not able to cope with life without her husband, so her children need to be taken away for care, causing further heartbreak and sorrow.
During this trip the SGA team watched young orphan men from one of the families load a truck with firewood for suffering people in the Kherson region. This orphan family were forced to leave Kherson during the Russian occupation and moved further west in Ukraine. However, they have not forgotten about others less fortunate than themselves.
Despite the falling snow and plummeting temperatures, these young men were focused on helping others in need.
Pray for the many family-type-orphanages that are being created in Ukraine.
Tuesday 28th November 2023
Hit by Winter Storms
Alarming reports came in via UK media on Monday of severe storms and blizzards affecting Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Bulgaria. Over 2,000 villages and towns in Ukraine were left without power and roads were closed, as snow and high winds buffeted the country. At least 5 people were killed in the south Odessa region and 3 in neighbouring Moldova. SGA received this report from Odessa Theological Seminary, Ukraine.
‘Greetings from our seminary in Odessa. The weather yesterday afternoon and last night were so very different from the mild autumn we had been experiencing until very recently. The south of Ukraine has been hit with a fierce blizzard of snow with strong gusts of wind. Hundreds of towns and villages were cut off from the power grid, the roads closed. Emergency services are trying to cope with the consequences of the weather. In our area, some roofs were torn off, many trees uprooted, and power is cut off.
However, thanks to the support of our partners, the seminary has a generator and fuel! We have electricity and heating, so the seminary is able to operate. We are very grateful for this support and praise the Lord who takes care of our needs.’
Recently, Pastor Igor Bandura informed us that last winter was the mildest on record for the past 150 years. This was considered a great blessing from the Lord as much of the electricity infrastructure was hit with missiles and put out of action. The SGA team visiting Ukraine recently also encountered snow and freezing temperatures. Pray for Ukraine as severe winter weather has now come early. It could be a long cold winter.
Saturday 25th November 2023
Reality of War
The pain of loss is a tragic reality for many in Ukraine in these days. Suffering is commonplace and takes various forms, but nothing compares to the loss of loved ones.
News was sent from SGA partners at Odessa Theological Seminary of the death of one of their graduates. Bogdan graduated from OTS in 2015 and was described as “one of the most cheerful, outgoing and life-loving students”.
Bogdan was serving as a soldier in the war when he lost his life. Please pray for his family and for God’s special grace to them as they learn to live without a son, brother, nephew and cousin.
Thursday 23th November 2023
Winter is Here!
The Ukraine winter has started. Temperatures have plummeted, and snow is falling. In these conditions, SGA’s Widows’ project is a wonderful blessing to many, as much needed supplies of food, heat, and medicine are provided.
An SGA team has recently travelled to Moldova and Ukraine and witnessed first-hand events where widows received parcels of food and other essentials.
It was a privilege to participate in this. Many widows expressed their deep gratitude to those who made it possible for them to receive these essential supplies.
Throughout Eastern Europe and Central Asia hundreds of widows will be blessed by your generosity over the coming winter months.
Thank you for helping us to fulfil the scriptural exhortation to take care of the widow.
Thursday 16th November 2023
Bringing the message of hope despite difficult times.
It has been 21 months since hostilities commenced in Ukraine and seemingly the situation appears to have disappeared from our news bulletins here in the West. However, the war continues.
During the winter months, it is anticipated that much of the frontline activity will cease but when better weather arrives in Spring, fighting will start once again.
Igor Bandura (Vice-president of the Baptist Union in Ukraine) spoke of the huge pressure that Ukrainians are facing with husbands and fathers away in the army, a harsh winter facing frequent attacks, keeping the electricity, and heating systems working and just trying to survive.
Igor says, “The needs are enormous; the resources are limited. So, we try to provide and give this responsibility into the hands of local believers. This is the best way to bring help to people and their families, and of course, to bring the message of hope to the people”.
Friday 10th November 2023
New Book from SGA & John Birnie
Hope in The War Zone
‘I believe this book will give its readership a fuller and clearer insight into the devastation of war, not only its impact on the people but also the church’s response at such a time.
While at times, it may make quite harrowing reading, I trust that you will be blessed and encouraged as you see the workings of God in the midst of such devastation and despair.’
Derek Maxwell, General Director SGA (UK)
Profits from this book will go towards SGA’s ongoing ministry in Ukraine.
Wednesday 1st November 2023
Our friends and partners, Pastor Sergei Sinni and Natalia Shevelova-Harkusha recently shared about the ongoing war in their city of Kherson, Ukraine.
‘Every day and night our city is under severe shelling. A lot of villages are being destroyed. Today, as never before, people in our region speak about life ending on this earth. We have forgotten when we could sleep calmly and go from one spot of the city to another without loud sounds of incoming and outgoing shells. The battle is being aggravated.’
They expressed their deep gratitude for the prayerful and material support received from SGA’s partners across the UK & Ireland. They begged us to keep praying for their church and the city as they reach out and distribute medicines, and many hygienic goods. They would usually deal with 400-450 people at the church every day.
Pray that God will renew their strength and make them effective witnesses to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Tuesday 24th October 2023
Friday 20th October 2023
Meeting Spiritual Needs in Ukraine [Part 2]
In a previous post we highlighted the ambitious goal of the Baptist Union to plant 1000 new urban churches in Ukraine by 2036! We are delighted to outline Odessa Theological Seminary’s new initiative to help see this vision become a reality.
OTS has introduced a new programme that will span one year, encompassing two semesters from September to June and an internship period from June to September. It strikes a balance between academic learning and practical hands-on experience.
The students will work together in teams and join ongoing church planting projects in the Odessa region. Under the guidance of experienced local mentors, they will gain invaluable practical experience of church work. Following a successful completion of the programme, students will continue with church planting in various cities across Ukraine. This will be coordinated by the leadership of The Baptist Union’s Church Planting and Evangelism Committees.
Beyond their core education, students will have the option to pursue an additional profession from a provided list. This extra dimension equips them to sustain themselves after graduation and develop meaningful connections within their immediate communities.
We are pleased to inform you, our partners, that SGA are committed to this exciting initiative by helping with finance. We believe that this programme will have a positive impact on Ukrainian cities. Together, we can sow the Gospel seeds that can make a lasting difference in the lives of many.
Friday 13th October 2023
Meeting Spiritual Needs in Ukraine
Odessa Theological Seminary outline their plans to meet the spiritual needs in Ukraine.
‘The past 19 months of war in Ukraine have brought upheaval, pain, and suffering to millions. People who have lost everything are looking for something and someone who can give them hope beyond the limits of this fallen world.
However, often Gospel opportunities are more numerous than the local church’s ability to share the good news. And what will happen with those who accept the Gospel? The solution is clear! In order to meet the demand for the Gospel in Ukraine new churches must be planted!
This is why the Ukrainian Baptist Union declared an ambitious goal to plant 1000 new urban churches in Ukraine by 2036.’
Please pray into this need and vision.
Wednesday 4th October 2023
Conscription Military Service
As the war continues in Ukraine so does conscription into military service. Recent reports highlighted that 400 pastors and deacons from the Evangelical Baptists are serving in the army, many on the frontline which stretches 1400km.
Pray for their protection and that their faith in Christ will impact many military personnel.
The war is leaving a trail of destruction. It is estimated that 50,000 people are without limbs. Many widows and children are facing life without a husband or parents. SGA are continuing to provide for these people through the evangelical church.
Prayer is requested that pastors across Ukraine will have a message from God for every church service. People want to hear from God through His servants.
We continue to trust the Lord for His blessing and a great spiritual harvest.
Thursday 28th September 2023
Conflict Widow in Ukraine
Katia lives with her three children, the youngest born on 3rd June this year. Her husband Pavlo was drafted into the Ukrainian army in September 2022. He fought in Kherson region, and later took part in the battles near Soledar where he was killed.
Pavlo contacted his wife, Katia, on 1st January 2023, after which he was reported missing. The search continued throughout January, but, unfortunately, his body was found in February. His daughter Sofiia was born in June, after his death.
While she was grieving the loss of her husband and struggling with many challenges, the local evangelical church reached out to her through SGA widows’ fund. Katia is one of hundreds of conflict widows who are recipients of this special project across Ukraine. Her life was very powerfully impacted through this practical Christianity.
Katia briefly shares her story.
I lost the dearest person to me and the father of my children. He loved us and for the sake of a better fate for our family he went to fight and gave his life as a hero. We miss him so much! God revealed himself to me and my children through the love and care of the local church. Without this support, I would not have survived! I lost my husband, but I gave birth to a daughter. She is a good sign of hope and future from God for me.
Through SGA’s widows’ project, conflict widows continue to receive vital help through the evangelical church. It is our desire to help many more like Katia!
Look out for the SGA Christmas cards that support conflict widows in Ukraine.
Wednesday 20th September 2023
A Faithful Team in Kherson
Natalia Shevelova-Harkusha with Pastor Sergei Sinni and the team continue to serve in the city of Kherson and surrounding villages.
In response to a request for help, SGA was able to help fund the team of faithful workers. Among the team are those who are teaching Sunday school while others lead the teenagers’ ministry. They work with teenagers who come during the week to have time with the church leaders as all the schools are closed in the city and they have no possibility to communicate with their teachers.
Some of the team visit senior citizens who are ill in hospital or in their homes. Some of the elderly come to the church to get medicine, food, and hygienic supplies and of course to find some answers to their questions and have spiritual food from God through the leaders.
This church faced a real crisis! At the very beginning of the war many of the leaders left for a safer place to live. But praise God that some of the new leaders are able to offer spiritual help and counseling to many vulnerable, needy people.
Many are searching for God with between 350-500 people meeting 5 times per week for church services.
Part of the team is preparing new believers who are going to be baptized.
Pray that God will strengthen Pastor Sinni and all his co-workers and bless the partnership with SGA.
Monday 11th September 2023
A Blessed Retreat
Odessa Theological Seminary continues to equip students to serve people in need. In the next few days, a new academic year will commence with a new intake of students.
However, the seminary also offers a place of rest for pastors who are under immense pressure owing to the war. Recently, 110 pastors and their wives from Odessa, Kherson, and Mykolaiv regions had a retreat for several days where they could have rest, refreshment, seminars, prayer, and fellowship together.
The theme of the retreat was, “The Development of a Minister.” Some of the seminary faculty and Board of Trustees members including Igor Bandura, participated in the event.
Despite night-time missile attacks, the retreat was successful and much needed, since people must find a way to function, organize their routine and rest even in the midst of war, in order to stay effective in their ministry. All the retreat participants were very grateful for this much needed time of rest.
Pray that such retreats can continue. OTS plan to hold similar events aimed at the development of younger ministers during Autumn, Winter, and Spring.
Thursday 31st August 2023 – Diary Date
Ukraine Zoom Update Meeting
Monday 18th September @ 7.30pm
We will have three guests sharing with us:
Pastor Igor Bandura
Vice President of the Baptist Union of Ukraine
Pastor Sergei Sinni and Natalia Shevelova-Harkusha
From the city of Kherson
If you joined us for the previous meetings we will send you the new log-in details. If you would like to join the ‘Zoom’ meeting for the first time, please email our office requesting the link: [email protected]
Tuesday 29th August 2023
Act of Kindness!
Yana Onischuk, a student at SGA sponsored Odessa Theological Seminary, is from the city of Rivne. During the war she began knitting socks for the soldiers. For those who survived the damp and cold trenches it was a piece of warmth from someone they did not know. It was a small, but very valuable support for those who were in need.
She and her husband also helped provide food for displaced families. Yana and her husband are not rich at all, but they grow vegetables in their garden and share what they have with internally displaced people. These acts of kindness, while not directly proclaiming the Gospel, were done with Christian love which made a great difference to those in need.
Pray that Yana’s acts of kindness will be blessed by the Lord. Ukrainian believers are sharing the Gospel through many practical means.
Tuesday 22nd August 2023
While the city of Kherson has been liberated it is under constant shelling and bombing. Every day and night the people suffer a lot owing to shelling and explosions. When the Nova Kakhovska dam on the river Dnieper was blown up, many people suffered because of flood waters that rose more than eight metres deep in parts of the city.
Pastor Sergei Sinni and Natalia Shevelova-Harkusha, who both appeared on the SGA zoom update in June, with their team, provide necessities for people in need. Their humanitarian centre provides fresh drinking water from the church well while a team in the church basement prepares food for distribution.
It was wonderful news to hear about a children’s summer camp in Kherson. Here the children from the city spend time with Sunday school teachers reading Bible stories about Jesus and His disciples, sing songs and play games.
Natalia explained that this was a special blessing for the children. ‘It was a good witness and testimony for these kids as they could forget about war horror that keeps going on in our land.’
The team sponsored by SGA continues to organize camps in some surrounding villages not far from Kherson. Natalia shared how they hope to have camps in eight villages. She went on to express appreciation for the support from the Mission.
‘We are so thankful to you, as we are able to organize all this work due to your invaluable prayerful help and immeasurable financial support that you have given to us. We couldn’t do a lot of work with such a big amount of people without your help. We thank you one more time for your mercy and love that you revealed to us. We will only be able to thank you in full in heaven. Only there you will see everything you really do for us, our church and our city.’
As Natalia finished her report she shared about a very difficult day in her life. ‘Yesterday we spent half a day in the hospital where we witnessed horrible events after one of the numerous explosions. Some people we knew rather well, were wounded, some of them were in the intensive care block, but some of them were killed.’
Pray for Sergei, Natalia and the team who are faithful servants of the Lord.
Monday 14th August 2023
Preparing Believers; Planting Churches
The goal of SGA sponsored Odessa Theological Seminary is to equip and strengthen believers. Alongside the normal curriculum, they now offer counselling courses with the emphasis on working with people subjected to traumatic war experiences. Besides this they have conferences on war trauma led by people who have had first-hand experience helping victims of the war.
Despite the difficulties which complicated travel, many students continued to attend classes in person. However, since some were unable to attend, teaching sessions were introduced off-campus in more secure regions of Ukraine, while other courses were taught online.
They are planning to enroll approximately 60 new students to commence in the autumn term. Security issues are a major reason why they cannot expect a larger intake of students.
Another programme they are commencing in the new academic year is “Urban Church Planting”. The programme is part of a bigger plan initiated by Ukrainian Baptist Union to plant 1000 new churches by 2036. They believe that regardless of the war this is an important project. OTS was identified as one of the centres that should equip people who would be involved in implementing this plan.
Pray that OTS buildings will be preserved, and that the student body will be well equipped to serve the Lord.
Friday 4th August 2023
A Precious Box!
In the midst of this unrelenting war in Ukraine, God’s servants are determined to continue with their precious ministry. In a Christian printing house in West Ukraine, volunteers are packing food parcels and oversee the printing of New Testaments. Included in each food box is an adult and children’s Bible, as well as additional Gospel literature explaining the way of salvation.
The printing house director, Slavic, outlined the continuing need:
We cannot satisfy all the requests that are addressed to us. When we have money, we buy different food, make parcels with food and the Word of God. These are given to missionaries who distribute them in the east of the country. Children’s New Testaments are in great demand as this is summer camp period. New Testaments are also requested not only in the east, but also throughout Ukraine to serve refugees and displaced persons.
We are delighted to report that the Mission sent substantial funds to help provide these precious boxes. Pray that many will have not only their physical needs but more importantly their spiritual needs met as they receive the Word of God.
Wednesday 26th July 2023
Our friends at Odessa Theological Seminary have requested prayer as they face a new wave of destruction in their city. In recent days they have encountered huge challenges which they describe here.
It is already three nights in a row as Russian forces fiercely attack Odessa and other Ukrainian Black Sea ports close to Odessa (Yuzhny, Chernomorsk, Mykolaev) by cruise missiles and drones to destroy port infrastructure involved in grain exports. They use the missiles which Ukrainian air defence cannot currently intercept. Unfortunately, dozens of people were wounded, and some were killed. Despite all this the seminary buildings stay intact, and employees and students are well.
The OTS staff requested that we pray for this terror to stop, so that the grain transportation can carry on, as it is not just impacting Ukraine, but other countries as well. Pray that the seminary will be able to continue functioning normally despite the reality of war. OTS is an SGA sponsored ministry.
Wednesday 19th July 2023
Spiritual awakening in Ukraine
The following is a brief report from Pastor Peter Mihalchiuk, SGA’s Regional Coordinator in Moldova.
We were on the road again, with food for the churches that have hosted displaced people. Some of the products were purchased in Moldova, and after they were distributed, we purchased more in Ukraine. Supermarkets were already operating in the liberated areas.
Passing through Kyiv, Chernigov, and Nikolaev regions, we saw the terrible consequences of the war; destroyed houses, blown up bridges, burned businesses. In many fields near the roads there were inscriptions, “Beware of Mines!” Despite all this, many pastors from local evangelical churches testify to a great revival in their communities.
Pastor Anatoly from Chernihiv speaks about this with particular emotion:
There are churches in our region where the first baptisms took place in the last few years. Previously, these churches were half empty, and after the start of the war, there were even fewer people – many left because of the hostilities. Now in some churches there is not enough space – more and more people are coming.
We are seeing a great spiritual awakening in our region. Now we ask you to pray for the pastors and all ministers, so that the Lord will give us wisdom and strength to embrace all these people with spiritual care.
These difficult circumstances have become a huge opportunity for Christian churches. For us now the main thing is not to miss this opportunity, but to show people the love of Christ and His salvation.
Wednesday 12th July 2023
Displaced but not despondent!
Yuri Tanin and his wife Julia are an inspiration! While they have been displaced, they are not despondent. They acknowledge God’s leading as they have had to flee from their previous location.
Eventually they arrived in Balti, Moldova where they were able to offer love and care to other displaced people. Being fluent in both Russian and Ukrainian enabled them to communicate the love of God and offer counselling and support to the vulnerable.
Praise God that every Thursday about 100 displaced people come to a special meeting where they sing Gospel songs, listen to God’s Word and have fellowship.
SGA’s Regional Coordinator, Peter Mikhalchuk, recently requested funding to help provide food parcels for these people. We were delighted to send support to cover two months.
Pray that SGA sponsored missionaries, Yuri & Julia, will be effective in sharing the Gospel and that many displaced people will not be despondent but have the hope that Jesus gives.
Thursday 6th July 2023
A Special Opportunity
“Even when we have rumours of war the Gospel should still be preached; this is the main purpose of Christ’s church”.
This profound comment was made during an interview with SGA’s long-standing friend, Pastor Igor Bandura, three days before the start of the war in Ukraine. It reinforces the incredible dedication of Ukrainian churches to the work of the Gospel in what was to become an extremely challenging region of the world.
Recently, almost 400 pastors from all around Ukraine attended a pastors’ conference. The topic was “Worshiping God in the midst of the war”, with ministry based on 1 Peter. Igor considered this a very special opportunity, especially during a time of war. While devastation and death are all too prevalent, the preaching of the Gospel is central to all the churches’ activities in Ukraine.
Yet the pastors and church leaders are extremely exhausted. Pray for their strength to be renewed and that those who attended the conference will have been invigorated for service.
Wednesday 28th June 2023
Meeting Pressing Needs
This war in Ukraine has devastating, life-changing consequences for hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians. The fatality figure will probably never be released but sadly, the number of widows is growing every day. Recently, Pastor Igor Bandura outlined the need for financial help as churches reach out to the needy.
He shared about the expanding ministry of the churches to young (but not restricted to the young only) widows of the soldiers killed at the war and their children. Usually, churches organize meetings for them to provide a safe space where they can find support, understanding and hope. Meals are provided, friendships develop and the fellowship at these events is precious to those who are trying to come to terms with their great loss.
Funds from SGA helps provide food at these church events as well as each widow receiving financial help. Another need raised was funding for displaced pastors who were forced to leave the occupied territories but continue pastoral ministry in different places in Ukraine. Thirdly, for churches who are preparing hot meals for food distribution.
We are pleased to inform you that recently the Mission sent funds for the invaluable work among widows and their children, displaced pastors, and food distribution. Thank you for partnering with us, making all this happen! We are deeply grateful for all your support!
Thursday 22nd June 2023
A recent report from SGA sponsored Odessa Theological Seminary
These days the name “Ukraine” is a synonym for long-term pain and suffering. The war, with its genocide and ecocide, is the ugliest thing on earth. After Mariupol, Bucha, Borodianka we thought that we had reached the bottom. But then the Kakhovka dam was targeted… Our hearts are breaking as we meet new waves of people who have lost their homes; see videos of people sitting on the roofs of their houses; receive messages from people in the occupied, flooded territories begging for help; hear stories of people who miraculously survived both the flood and the targeted Russian shelling during their rescue operation.
The shock at what is happening makes everything else look unimportant and irrelevant. As one of the seminary staff said on the morning after the explosion of the dam: “It is a strange feeling to continue with our educational routine here and now, knowing that at this very minute the catastrophe is under way.”
However, we believe there is good sense in our “educational routine.” There are things that we can do to oppose the destruction and terror of the war. Equipping people to do what is right, teach what is right, and preach what is right is the right thing to do even now, during the war….
This past Friday we had a graduation ceremony for 61 men and women from different programmes. However, because of recent intensive missile attacks over the entire country, and Odessa particularly, only 30 graduates could attend. We praise the Lord for all of them, who, despite unprecedented challenges, had the courage to study during the war.
We thank all who have prayed for us and supported the seminary during these excruciating months in the history of our country. May the Lord bless you! Please pray for Ukraine; pray for us as we continue our ministry, and for our graduates as they continue theirs.
Wednesday 14th June 2023
Mission to Remote Villages
In this video, Pastor Sergei Sinni and other believers are traveling by minibus to remote villages bringing SGA funded food, water and medical care. They also take the opportunity to share the Gospel with the needy people.
Pastor Sergei will be sharing this Monday (19th) at our Ukraine Zoom Update Meeting. Please contact our Office for the meeting codes: [email protected]
Thursday 8th June 2023
Pastor Sergei Sinni appeals for prayer about the floods in Kherson.
Tuesday 6th June 2023
A prayer request from Odessa Theological Seminary
Dear Friends and Prayer Partners,
This morning, Russian forces have blown up the dam of Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant. The dam is completely destroyed. At this moment water is flooding dozens of settlements. Part of Kherson is under water already. [Participants at the next SGA Ukraine ‘Zoom’ Update Meeting on 19th June, Natalia Shevelova-Harkusha and Pastor Sergei Synii, are from Kherson city].
Water supply in a number of big cities in Ukraine would be disrupted. The Zaporozhzhia nuclear power plant, the biggest atomic plant in Europe, relies on the water to cool its nuclear reactors from the Kakhovka reservoir. So far, the situation there is under control and we pray it would stay so, however; risks remain.
At the moment the government is evacuating people from the affected zones. We expect the new wave of internally displaced people. It could be from 50,000 to 600,000, as IDPs would be not only from flooded areas, but from the territories deprived of water. The dam destruction could have a number of other serious consequences for ecology.
Please pray for people to be saved, for rescuers and all who are helping to evacuate people. We have already informed churches that the seminary can provide facilities for the IDPs. We trust the Lord to lead us through this another trial.