Update on Ukraine emergency, new student ministry in Kyiv

Update on Ukraine emergency, new student ministry in Kyiv


10/3/2014

Dear friends in Christ,
 
Greetings and peace from Kyiv, and I pray you are well.  Last month I shared with you an article from the website of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), detailing the many ways in which UMCOR is assisting persons displaced by the ongoing fighting in eastern Ukraine.  The article mentioned that among those affected by the violence were dozens of African students uprooted from their university in Luhansk and forced to flee to safety.  The impact on these students has been heavy.  One young man was beaten severely by the pro-Russian separatists, sustaining a broken leg and hip.  Others were treated harshly by the rebel fighters, under suspicion of supporting the Ukrainian army.  All were ordered to flee their dormitories on short notice, leaving behind their textbooks, winter clothes, and many personal possessions.  Adding to their woes, these young men and women were also forced to abandon the vibrant English-language student ministry they had developed in recent years, in partnership with the local United Methodist congregation in Luhansk.
 
After enduring harrowing journeys by car and bus through rebel-held checkpoints, these students escaped the conflict zone and continued westward, with many of them settling here in Kyiv.  Upon their arrival, the United Methodist community in Kyiv welcomed these students with open arms.  A church-owned apartment is now home to ten students, and many more gather each day in the apartment to enjoy a meal, study the Bible, and engage in fellowship.  The UMC has also assisted the students register with the city government, enroll in local universities, and receive medical care.
 
Perhaps most significantly, the UMC in Kyiv has partnered with leaders of the student group to renew their worship community.  Last Saturday, our UM Church Center hosted the inaugural worship service of the English-speaking Methodist community in Kyiv.  Sixteen persons—African students from five nations, as well as other English-speaking internationals in Kyiv—gathered in our Church Center for an afternoon of worship and fellowship.  The worship service was designated as a “Day of Thanksgiving,” with many young persons leading the service:  playing keyboard and drum, singing and dancing to hymns of praise, and offering intercessory prayers.  I was given the honor of preaching the main sermon, and presiding over the celebration of Holy Communion.  The spirit of the service was indeed one of thanksgiving, as the congregation gave thanks for God’s many blessings:  deliverance from the war in eastern Ukraine, safe sanctuary in Kyiv, the resumption of university studies, the generosity of the United Methodist community in Kyiv, and the prayerful support of UMC members and partners worldwide.  A few photos from the worship service are attached.
 
There remains a great deal of uncertainty within our community, as the conflict in the east continues and the entire country is in need of economic and political development.  But here in Kyiv in recent months, we have seen God at work in our midst.  God has intervened not only in the lives of the African students who have come to us, but also in the lives of Ukrainian Methodist believers who have opened their hearts, minds, and doors to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the displaced.  We give thanks to God for all of the blessings, both given and received, that have transformed our lives in Kyiv during this time of conflict and suffering.
 
And, we thank God for you, dear friends, who support our ministry in Kyiv with your encouraging words, faithful prayers, and generous gifts.  As we continue to assist the displaced with housing, food, and medical care, we welcome your financial support.
 
As always, donations may be given online via the GBGM Advance Program.  Just go to GBGM Advance Project #14053A, “Eurasia Mission Initiative – Ukraine and Moldova,” and designate your gift “Kyiv Ukraine Emergency.”
 
Thank you for your continued support and prayers.  Please be in touch with me at any time for more information about the ministry of the UMC in Ukraine.
 
Yours in Christ,
John
 
Rev. John Calhoun
GBGM missionary serving in partnership with the UMC in Ukraine


Brother Ervee leading prayers

Choir singing praise

Congregation in fellowship

Pastor John preaching

Pastor Salieu delivering message