Voices only: At singing camp, ‘We are marching in the light of God’
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Editor’s note: Sasha Prokopchuk, a native Ukrainian who once served in the Red Army of the Soviet Union, ministers for the Transfiguration Church of Christ and hosts a Christian television program in Donetsk, a city in eastern Ukraine.
Pro-Russian insurgents seized government buildings throughout the region and held an autonomy referendum in Donetsk on May 4. Though the Ukrainian government rejects the results of the vote, pro-Russian forces have proclaimed that the Donetsk People’s Republic is independent from Ukraine and have asked to join Russia, the Associated Press and CNN report.
Prokopchuk used to host church-planting seminars in Ukraine’s Crimea region for viewers of the gospel television show, baptizing new believers in the Black Sea. Eastern European Mission provided materials for the new Christians and their churches. That region also has declared independence from Ukraine and asked to join Russia.
Here, Prokopchuk reflects on the events of the past weeks — and the past two decades. Though the region is in turmoil, he is confident that God is in control.
Sasha Prokopchuk baptizes a woman in the Black Sea during a church-planting conference in Crimea in 2011. (PHOTO BY ERIK TRYGGESTAD)
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:19, 20)
Beginning in 1992, many Churches of Christ were planted in Ukraine. We are thankful to our God and grateful to missionaries supported by Christians in America who came to our country.
Out of deep chaos created by the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukrainians enjoyed a measure of freedom. Our calendars mark Aug. 24th as the day to celebrate Independence Day. Yet, perhaps until recent events, few have understood the real meaning of freedom, even as the children of Israel did not fully understand their newfound freedom — and even desired at times to return to their former lives in Egypt.
Now, a little more than 20 years has passed. During this time we experienced some tests in our Christian life. Most churches struggled to find permanent meeting places and moved many times from one rented hall to another. Sometimes we were even tempted to be discouraged when it seemed our ministry to Christ was not as stable as politics, business or other new enterprises.
Then, recent conflicts and the severance of Crimea from our country of Ukraine took from us the possibility to continue hosting our church planting seminars there. This untimely event came even after we registered people and prepared for the next seminar. Thankfully, God blessed us to find another place.
In this world, we have no guarantee of stability — not for politics, business or even our borders. We can find our permanence only in our continuous service to God.
Still, in all of this, God teaches us a most important lesson. In this world, we have no guarantee of stability — not for politics, business or even our borders. We can find our permanence only in our continuous service to God. Stability is only for those who follow Jesus Christ.
And so, to our amazement, in spite of recent upheaval and conflict in Ukraine, it now becomes clear that the ministry of Jesus is the most stable thing in our country. Even now, churches keep on meeting for worship (sometimes on the street where violence occurs), people still come to the Lord and are baptized, orphanages continue to be helped and prisons are visited.
Today, as never before, we realize the words of Jesus – “I am with you always, even to the very end of the age.”
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