An account of the stirrings of God amongst souls in the Ukraine.
William Fleck and I flew into the Ukraine, convinced that if the contacts we had did not want to gather on scriptural lines, we would help them materially and move on. What did we find? We found a group of believers interested in the Scriptures, willing to be taught and desiring to put the Scriptures into practice. For the first time in the town of Lutsk we sat down with 27 Ukrainian believers to remember the Lord Jesus. Every sister, married and unmarried, had her head covered and remained silent.
The contact – Sergei to Norway
Seven years ago, in August 1994, Sergei arrived at our front door in Kristiansand. His Baptist pastor had arranged through a contact here in Norway for Sergei to attend a school for 2 years. On his first Sunday in Kristiansand he had gone to the Baptist church. On coming out of the meeting Sergei noticed that many began to smoke and he thought to himself, “This is not the place for me.” He began to walk up the street and noticed our meeting room. The following Sunday he knocked on our door. This led to a two-year period during which he seldom missed a meeting. He moved back to the Ukraine in the summer of 1996. Since then we have kept in contact, supporting him in his work and seeking to influence him whenever possible.
Sergeis faith tested
Having known Sergei for 7 years I knew what he believed on many subjects. I knew that Sergei was absolutely clear on the Godhead, the fall of man, the need of repentance and salvation, believers baptism, separation from the world, and the dangers of Pentecostalism. When he was with us in February we sat for hours and discussed assembly truth regarding gathering to the Lords name, the priesthood of all believers, headship, and the sisters role in the local assembly as well as separation.
Sergei has had his beliefs tested to the core recently. Not only has he had to stand up to the Bishop but also the whole power structure behind that organization.
I had often been invited to the Ukraine but felt it unwise to go before Sergei and the other believers had taken the step to come out of the Baptist union. William Fleck from N. Ireland came with me and we had a great time of fellowship together. I very much appreciate all the help William gave as well as our brother David Brandt (USA), Malcolm Stanley (Canada) and our sister Flo Kancir (Canada). It was our desire that if this group of believers desired to meet as the first Christians met, then the apostles doctrine would need to be practiced. We taught truth regarding the local assembly. Rather than offending these believers, they were thrilled to hear the truth of God and some of them told us that this is what they had believed for years though they had been taught otherwise.
What a joy to sit down with a company of 27 Ukrainian brethren and sisters as well as William Fleck, David Brandt, Malcolm Stanley and our sister Flo Kancir to remember the Lord for the first time. After seven years of encouragement, it was all worthwhile. We met in the forest as no suitable building could be found. A few hours after this when we had got back to the town of Lutsk, Sergeis telephone rang and it was the secret police. They were demanding a meeting at 9 am Monday morning. Sergei had two meetings with them that day but would not agree to their demands. By Monday evening he got yet another phone call this time from the head of the religious committee in the town of Lutsk demanding a meeting. Sergei appreciates the truth of separation and will not bow to any pressure that is put on him. He would appreciate your prayers.
The work Sergei carries on
Lutsk is a city of approx. 280,000 people with 30,000 starving.
(1). Each day the believers feed 96 street children. This is the only meal that most of these children will get in a day. They are coming from homes where they are badly abused, as their parents are alcoholics, drug addicts, and prostitutes. Sergei clothes them as well as provides medicine when they are sick. These children study the Bible for 1 hour each day before mealtime. One of these young girls wanted to know what the two immutable things of Hebrews 6:18 were, while another wanted to know what the treasure was that was hid in the field Matthew 13:44.
(2). There are also 50 retarded children who live locally that cannot get out of their homes and the young sisters visit these homes with clothing, food, and medicine.
(3). Each day a room is opened for the distribution of clothes and Sergei and the believers are the only ones in the whole city who distribute clothes freely.
(4). Twice a week the believers visit an orphanage which houses 120 children. Conditions are shocking and when we were there the children were getting their main meal of the day, rice and beetroot, eaten out of old battered tin bowls. William Fleck spoke to the children from John 3:16 and then one of the Ukrainian believers distributed 5 pairs of shoes.
Up until Sergei left the Baptist union, people from Sweden and Norway supported him. Since leaving the Union, support has stopped. We trust that the Lord will encourage this young assembly by meeting their needs in carrying on this vital work amongst the poor and the sick, despite their limited resources.
Three of these believers are unemployed with no benefits. Poverty is unbelievable. All of the believers live in high-rise flats with some sharing a bathroom with one other family and a kitchen with ten families. A building is urgently needed. The building they are using for the childrens work and clothes distribution has to be vacated soon. They need a hall as well as rooms for the teaching of 96 street children plus a large kitchen/dining room. Storage rooms for clothes and literature are needed.
We feel that literature is vital if this young assembly is to carry out an effective gospel testimony. Good assembly literature is also essential. To date we have ordered hundreds of books in Ukrainian and Russian as well as ordering 3,000 Ultimate Questions and 3,000 calendars plus concordances, word dictionaries, and the Bible on tape. The assembly is going to distribute these books freely among other believers throughout the country who they know have shown an interest in coming out of the Baptist Union. Pray that these books will be used of God to influence others. We feel it would be a help to set up a printing project and a young sister and her husband (from the assembly) are eager to do what they can.