Ministry In East Ukraine’s War Zone

Working closely with Ukrainian churches, GCMM has conducted large-scale media campaigns in both Kiev, and in the Black Sea port city of Odessa. Using Ukrainian state television channels and mainline media, the message of God's power to change the hearts and lives of men and women has reached millions of Ukrainians.  A third media campaign was originally planned for 2020 in the current war zone. But due to the pandemic, as well as the recent hostile Russian military activity along the Ukrainian border, we have re-scheduled the launch of the campaign to the fall of this year, the Lord willing.

Gennady is the pastor of the church in Mariupol and lives with his family15 kilometers from the front lines. He is also the founder and director of a major local ministry to orphans and street children. We asked Gennady about the current situation in the region. His response:

– "This is the eighth year of the war here in the war zone in Eastern Ukraine.

During this past month, my nightly dreams are filled with rocket and mortar attacks and of my family being taken, prisoner. Once again, we are frantically drawing up evacuation plans for the children and the women. Among the men, we are discussing ways to protect our city.

– At night I have nightmares and I see fear in the eyes of the children at the orphanage. Yesterday, as we left the house we could hear the thunder of shelling. The threat of an all-out attack by Russian-backed rebel forces increases by the day.

We are stockpiling fuel and food because we know from experience that when a large-scale attack begins, fuel will run out at gas stations within half an hour, the  Banks close their doors, avenues of communication break down, and daily commodities will disappear in no time.

That's why we are planning for this kind of emergency. We are drawing up contingency plans for the evacuation of our women and children.

Enemy media spins news on how Ukraine is gripped by “civil war”.  This is not a civil war. Part of our country is occupied by Russia.  This war was started by Russia and has been going on for eight years.  Now there is the threat of a full-scale war against Ukraine.

A couple of years ago, we visited the bombed front-line village of Shirokino.

What is happening in Shirokino?

We have a direct view of the front lines from the windows of my bedroom and our children see it when they wake up.

My youngest son is 13 years old. He has spent eight of those years in this war zone.

In other words, he has seen war for most of his life. He doesn't remember the earliest years of his life.   When he wakes up, the first thing he sees from his window is war.

Yesterday, he heard shelling again and the thunder of artillery fire.  The windows shook. That was yesterday. It means that there was heavy fighting in Shirokino. We could see flashes from explosions and billowing smoke through the window.

Yet, the children rejoice that spring had arrived. They were out playing volleyball, running, and laughing.

It still feels like this is just some kind of a nightmare, and that somehow we will wake up to discover that it was not real.  But the nightmare continues...

– Since the beginning of the year, 27 soldiers have died from the war. Dozens have been wounded including civilian casualties. No one can estimate how many lives have been lost as a result of traumatizing fear and despair.

Gennady, How is your health?

–  I am suffering from the Coronavirus.  I should be resting and thinking of pleasant thoughts so that my immune system can regain its strength.  But instead, I have one meeting after another.

We are brainstorming solutions for evacuating the children, women, and the elderly to safety, in the event that the enemy steps up military action toward our city.

2012 Evangelistic Media Campaign In Sevastopol, Crimea

How are things in Crimea?

– Things in Crimea are pretty grim. It seems it wasn’t until after the Russians occupied Crimea that they realized that they had forgotten to take into account that Crimea is a peninsula that is structurally and economically dependent on mainland Ukraine.

Crimea doesn’t have freshwater of its own, it all comes from mainland Ukraine.

First, Russia occupied Crimea and then demanded we supply them with fresh water. "If you don't help us, we will occupy another slice of your country."

In other words, it is like breaking into your house, taking over one room, and saying, “Provide us with water and food to this room, and if you don’t do this, we will occupy another room in your house.”

How are things at the chicken farm and greenhouse?

– I would like to thank Hannu and Laura and the whole GCMM team.  We think of you every day. The farm is doing well. We have chickens, eggs, and now we even have a couple of goats and a pig.

Work is ongoing in the greenhouse.  It is spacious and greatly appreciated. There is room for seedlings as well. This has been a huge help during this war.

Thank you for partnering with us.  We are grateful. The Niva autos that you donated have allowed our chaplains to deliver food supplies and water to villages and churches in need of assistance in the war zone. We enjoy the produce grown in the greenhouse sponsored by you.

What's happening with the house churches in the war zone that we visited with you and Albert?

Life goes on. They continue to minister under difficult circumstances. For strategic reasons power is cut every night and communication is down.  The threat of major military action creates a lot of problems for these churches. Some people have been able to evacuate sensing that something terrible is about to happen.

Most people have stayed. They are weary of war and are in a state of apathy.  They are saying, “whatever happens, let it happen. If they kill us, let them kill us, we will not leave."  Our military chaplains and volunteers are there, ministering non-stop.

We plan to go back soon to see them again. Our soldiers have no time for visitors, yet they ask that we come.  In a few weeks, we will do a lengthy visit to the front. There will be a lot to do.

Thank You For Your Prayers

I am thankful that you keep us in your prayers. I have contracted the Coronavirus and have suffered from fever this past week.  Three of my children also have the virus.

We have isolated my wife from the rest of the family so that no one will infect her. She has suffered from a health condition for many years and her immune system is weakened. Vaccinations are not yet available in our area.

Thank you for your prayers. Please greet our beloved friends at GCMM.

Preparing For A Media Campaign

As mentioned, GCMM month-long media campaigns were conducted in Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine as well as the port city of Odessa. By using television and mainline media, the Gospel reached millions in the country. We saw thousands come to know the Lord and witnessed new churches planted.

Lord willing, the upcoming campaign in the war zone in East Ukraine is likely to reach six million people with the message of God's reconciling love for Ukraine.

Paul wrote: "…God reconciled the world to himself in Christ… and has committed us to the message of reconciliation… to be reconciled to God.”  (2 Cor 5:19-20)

This campaign which was to take place in 2020 was postponed. Testimonies of transformed lives have already been prepared for television, radio, and print.

We are looking at a start date at the end of this year.

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