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To the Ends of the Earth: Ukraine Christianity Explored Ministries

As part of our To the Ends of the Earth campaign we are taking you on a tour of the globe to hear how God is working through our ministry.

Kseniya

This month we want to introduce you to Ksenyia Bondarenko, from Ukraine. We caught up with her when she was in London recently to discuss a Life Explored translation project.

Kseniya is a Coordinator for Michael Gott International (MGI), one of our partner organisations. Kseniya has been travelling around Ukraine with MGI's evangelism programme for the last decade.

Hi Kseniya! Thanks for joining us. First we’d love to know a little bit about you. How did you become a Christian?

When I was little, my sister and mother were given a flyer advertising a Christian concert (like the one pictured below). They went along and there was an evangelistic talk at the end, where they both accepted Christ.

When the event finished they asked for the details of a local evangelical church they could go to. So from the age of 10 I started going along to this church with them.

An evangelistic concert in Ukraine, photo by Antonina Kreposniak

At age of 14 I came to realise for myself who Jesus is, what He did for me and the purpose this gives me in life.

Can you tell us a little bit about what is it like to live in Ukraine?

Ukraine is very poor - the average salary is £220 per month maximum in most areas and people can only supply their own needs. The lowest pension is £43 per month which means our grannies struggle and are dependent on the help of others.

There is lots of turmoil here at the moment. There is conflict in the East of the country around the Russian border and so far politicians haven’t been able to negotiate successfully.

There are high levels of corruption in the government and fighting for Christian values is very difficult. However, there are at least four evangelical politicians in parliament at the moment and we can already see the difference.

An elderly woman looks out of her window

As we say in Ukraine, we’ve survived another presidential election. It was not easy, the media was so brutal and dirty about everything. It was sad to see how the corruption undermined the military too.

Most of the younger generation don’t trust anyone anymore. It will take time to see hope in their eyes again. That’s why our next president is a comedian with no political experience, Volodymyr Zelensky. During the campaign some of his billboards said “no promises, no forgiveness”.

Most of the younger generation don’t trust anyone anymore. It will take time to see hope in their eyes again.

On top of this there is an abortion crisis at the moment as it is so easy to get abortions here and there is very little legislation around it. I am currently working with International Charity Foundation's 'Mission to Ukraine' and local churches to try to tackle this problem in the Zhytomyr region.

We really need the good news here! We pray for the future of Ukraine, for spiritual harvest and revival.

Apartment buildings in Ukraine

What’s the state of Christianity in Ukraine at the moment?

90% of people in Ukraine consider themselves Orthodox. Mostly people just go to church just for Easter and Christmas. There are committed Orthodox Christians but I only know a few.

Less than 2% of the population are evangelical Christians. People are generally suspicious of evangelical churches as they have grown up being told that it is a dangerous cult.

Evangelical churches in the Eastern border face persecution. They are largely unofficial at the moment as the government prevented them from being able to register.

Given that people are so suspicious of evangelicals, how do you reach out to them?

As followers of Christ we are called to share His message of hope and to lead others to a life-changing personal relationship with Him.

People in Ukraine need English lessons. And we know that they need Christ more than they need English.

Ksenyia's church
People in Ukraine need English lessons. And we know that they need Christ more than they need English.

So we have found that running English language programs in local churches has been very strategic. For people to cross the door of an evangelical church is a huge deal, but with these classes they are coming in!

Practical English School and Light House Ministry are Christian English teaching programmes that were founded as a result of the mission work of MGI and English courses are held around Ukraine.

We use Life Explored in English with subtitles to teach people the language.

Photo by Antonina Kreposniak

Why did you choose to use Life Explored?

We’ve been using Life Explored for a year now and we find it so helpful in sharing the news of Jesus in a relatable way.

Life Explored is a great first step for non-Christians in Ukraine, especially the younger generation. The films are a major hook, and we find that people stay and they are interested.

The topics, such as ‘what is the best gift God could give you?, are really cool - they speak to people. Although many would be Orthodox and have some belief in God, the idea of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is mind boggling to them. They are surprised: “What? I can pray to God without a prayer book? I can talk to him?”

And nobody ever talked to them about Christ using media before.

Traditional Orthodox church

We encourage people to ask questions during the course and feedback at the end of the course is really important to us. It has been really positive so far.

We’ve seen some real encouragements. In my city one lady came along who had been told horror stories by her mother about our church. But she said when she came to the church for the classes she felt loved and cared for, and she said it changed her understanding of Christianity. And there are so many stories like this.

What are your plans for the future, God willing?

We now have a database of approx 80,000 people from across Ukraine who have either attended an English course or an evangelistic concert and who have agreed to be contacted in future. So far the local churches haven’t been following up with these people as they don’t feel equipped - they might not have a full-time minister or they may be unsure how to communicate the gospel. So we want to train people to use Life Explored to follow up with all these contacts.

We have been to every region in the Ukraine and established a network of 18 headquarters who are able to provide resources and training to churches in their regions.

At the moment we are finishing a Ukrainian translation of Life Explored, which can be used as a follow up programme for people who do not know any English, and we are putting in place support for people using the materials.

Please join us in praying for Ukraine. Pray for peace in the East and pray for those who are lost and don’t have any hope.

With this unique opportunity, every pound donated as a new or increased regular gift will be matched by some generous friends and given to our international work.

Help us to help people love, live and tell the good news of Jesus to the ends of the earth.

Every £1 you donate enables one person to hear the gospel through our ministry.

  • £10 per month - the total matched amount of £150 (including Gift Aid) helps train 15 pastors to share the gospel in East Africa.
  • £25 per month - the total matched amount of £375 (including Gift Aid) provides 10 East Asian churches with local language resources.
  • £50 per month - the total matched amount of £750 (including Gift Aid) could sponsor 15 rural Albanian churches to run Christianity Explored.
  • £100 per month - the total matched amount of £1,500 (including Gift Aid) helps us provide start-up funds for new translations.
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