UKRAINE (INS)—Chaos has struck Ukraine, and the future of that country is in jeopardy. But Good Samaritan missionaries partnered with Intercede International are committed to working in Crimea and other parts of Ukraine, despite the danger they may face as the political drama unfolds.
Good Samaritan Mission has a long history of working in Ukraine and surrounding countries. This year the mission will celebrate and thank God for the opportunity to work for 25 years in the former Soviet Union. Since 1989, GSM has planted more than 1,000 churches in that region—despite opposition from various governments. Through GSM’s crusade evangelism and TV and radio broadcasts, many thousands have put their trust in Christ.
“Our vision is to teach students and missionaries and send them across the former Soviet Union,” declared Slavik Radchuk in an interview with myself. Radchuk is a well-known Ukrainian evangelist who began his ministry work in Ukraine before the fall of Communism there and is now closely connected with GSM. He often preaches at crusades across the former Soviet Union—at which many thousands of people have come to Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit. Crusades are an important part of GSM’s work, but these meet with some resistance and red tape from authorities.
“In Russia, you cannot preach publicly outside a building,” explains Radchuk. “You have to use facilities and preach only inside. Before, we would sign an agreement, a contract, and use a facility from former Communists, or some culture house. Now they require us to have a church building.
“‘Okay,’ we told them, ‘we need a piece of land to build a church building.’ It’s not easy to get a piece of land in Russia.
“But Ukraine is a mission field for people in the Soviet Union. We send 90 per cent of missionaries from Ukraine.”
GSM has a Bible School in Rivne, Ukraine. But now GSM plans to expand its teaching through a new video Bible school. “We cannot teach at one time 2,000 people,” observes Radchuk. “In our Bible school, there are only 30 students maximum. We teach them for three months and send them across the nations. A video Bible school we would open separately in different places. I want to bring in leaders and key people—good teachers (and) professors who have good experience.” Such teachers can train students to be evangelists, pastors and missionaries—using video technology.
Hundreds of stations broadcast GSM’s radio programs across Eastern Europe as far west as Germany. GSM’s TV programs are broadcast from Tel Aviv, Israel, across Europe, part of India, part of China, through the former Soviet Union, North Africa, the Middle East and beyond.
One telecast from Kiev now reaches the entire nation of Ukraine. Another from Rivne reaches the western half of the country. Every month, thousands of letters jam the GSM mailbox requesting counsel, prayer, New Testaments, and teaching.
Facing New Challenges
But now GSM missionaries face new challenges because of Russia’s brash takeover of Crimea from Ukraine in March. Radchuk visited GSM and other missionaries in Ukraine from March 16 to 23. That nation seems “very different, because people are very scared, and the prices are going up,” Radchuk explained, in an April 8 telephone interview. “Inflation in one month was 40 percent. People don’t have enough for living. The economy now has stopped, and business has stopped. Nobody knows what is going to happen in the future. Everybody waits for the presidential election, May 25.”
Radchuk observes that Oleksandr Turchynov, the interim Ukrainian President, who was in power from February 27 till May 25, “is a a good Baptist brother and preacher. One time he preached and I heard his message, and one time I preached and he heard my message. He has requested all of the nation: ‘Please pray. Only God can protect us.’”
In March, “I spoke with some government people, and they said, ‘Can you ask the people in America to pray for us, because we need prayer support,’” reports Radchuk.
The crisis is bringing Ukrainians to their knees—literally. “People in Ukraine every evening come to church for prayer—every evening, every day,” Radchuk asserts. “Once a week, people are coming to church and pray all night for protection. Once a week, Sunday at 4 p.m., in every city, every village, thousands of people, Christian and non-Christian, believers and non-believers, come into squares and parks and pray to God. So many preachers shared the Word of God that if a nation prays to God and asks for forgiveness, God will heal and deliver. They obey and pray. Orthodox or Protestants, they get together and pray.”
In Ukraine, GSM churches “are packed,” declares Radchuk. “Many people are coming to Christ like never before.”
Radchuk has a message for concerned Canadian Christians. “My message is very simple. For many years, I told people, ‘Can we work together for His glory in the former Soviet Union because the door is open for a short time?’ Now everybody recognized my message. Somebody called me and said, ‘We are very sorry because we were blind. You were right. What can we do to help this nation?’ Our goal is, before the door will close, to reach unreached people and save unsaved people—because hell is for the devil, and heaven for people.
“We want to ask Christians in Canada, pray for Ukrainian people and for Ukraine, for the young generation and for our churches. And also, if it is possible, someone will help us bring Bibles to every home and preach Good News for evangelism—radio and television ministry. I still have television and radio using government stations.”
While in Ukraine in March, Radchuk met with GSM leader Rostyslav Boryshkevych, and spoke in GSM’s Bible school. “They have 25 students,” he reports. “Twelve of the students are ready to move to Crimea. There are 30 missionaries from Ukraine in Crimea, and all missionaries made the decision to not move from Crimea but stay in Crimea. We’re helping now missionaries to build a church building in Crimea. It’s very important because… everybody has to make a decision to be a Russian citizen and stay in Crimea or move.” GSM has sent some building materials for the church building in Crimea, which will also serve as a Bible school.
In April GSM started a bold new outreach. “We are working on a big project with Good Samaritan to deliver in every village four plus New Testaments,” explains Radchuk. “We have 25,000 villages with zero churches—not any kind of church. Not evangelical or Orthodox or Catholic—nothing. This is in all Ukraine. In 25,000 villages we have a plan to deliver over four New Testaments to every village. We send in groups and preach in every village. If people are interested, we can open a church” in someone’s house.
“We have this project from April continuing to September. In the next five or six months, we will cover all Ukraine by the Gospel, by New Testaments and by preaching. Also we want to mobilize young people who will go from village to village preaching and distributing New Testaments. We have thousands of brochures and tracts that we can deliver to people who never got a chance to hold a New Testament.”
Pray for GSM missionaries to be strong and of good courage as they labour in a challenging mission field.
Photo: Listeners respond to the Lord at a Good Samaritan Mission crusade in Ukraine.