Why Ukraine matters to Churches of Christ
The number of Churches of Christ in eastern Ukraine once…
Blogging live from Feodosiya, Ukraine
More than 300 church members from across this Eastern European nation are praising God, getting to know one another and baptizing new believers on the shores of the beautiful Black Sea.
My shorts are still wet from kneeling in the frigid water to take photos of 11 new souls added to the church just minutes ago.
I’m in Ukraine — where Churches of Christ have found the most fertile fields in Europe — at a church-planting conference. Sasha Prokopchuk, a minister in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk (Ukraine’s “Bible Belt”) hosts the annual conference. Prokopchuk also hosts a TV show about the Gospel, and many of the attendees are regular viewers who write to the show, study a Bible correspondence course and then get invited to the seminar.
Eastern European Mission provides support — and Bibles — for the event. Yesterday participants got a stack of books from the ministry, including children’s Bibles and songbooks.
Valera Onischenko found out about Churches of Christ through the program and first came to this conference in 2006. He was baptized, and he and his family have attended ever since. Today his son, 16-year-old Roman, became the final member of the family to be baptized in the Black Sea.
The family worships in their home in a small village, and the conference provides them with a chance to worship alongside other believers. Roman Onischenko’s wife, Irena, used one word to describe the event — “indispensable.”
At least that’s how it was translated to me by Mike Boldyzov, a minister in the Ukrainian city of Odessa who helped me interview the family.
In addition to meeting people from all over the Ukraine, it’s no surprise to me that I found a church member from Africa. Imoh Anthony is here, taking a break from his studies in Kharkov, Ukraine, where he’s working on a degree in computer engineering. Anthony’s father is an elder of the Hawkins Road Church of Christ in Calabar, Nigeria. It’s his first time at the conference, and he said he’s impressed by the turnout. He hopes one day to return to Nigeria and carry on his family’s legacy of evangelism there.
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