Pastor in captivity: senseless suffering or God’s providence?
27 February 2023
“Are you willing to pay the price?” Taras Sen, a pastor from Luhansk region, heard after a fervent prayer that he wanted more in his ministry, and he immediately gave God a positive answer.
Taras Sen, director of the Christ is the Answer international mission and pastor of the church of the same name in Rivne. In the past, he served as a pastor in Luhansk region, including during the war in Donbas. In 2015, he was captured by LPR militants and miraculously was set free.
The minister shared what he had been through in captivity and God’s faithfulness in his life.
“I was a pastor in Eastern Ukraine for 15 years. The church ministered a lot to people, preached the Gospel through newspapers and programs on television. When there was a famine in the territory of the so-called LPR, we helped people to survive and preached the good news to many.
During the war, I went to bombed-out villages, although I didn’t want to, because there were inadequate people there at checkpoints. I came under fire, shrapnel flew over my head, mines exploded near me, they called me threatening to kill me if I didn’t stop…but I continued to serve.
And I wanted to see more results, so that more people would come to God. Therefore, to His question about my willingness to pay the price, I answered yes without thinking.”
Two weeks after that prayer, Taras Sen was captured by ten LPR militants armed to the teeth and taken to an unknown destination. He ended up in a basement in Luhansk region. At the same time, separatists looted his house and church premises.
When you become an answer from God
Pastor Taras was thrown into the basement to one prisoner, who was severely beaten by the militants, demanding a confession to the murder. A tired person was looking for God and waiting for a sign from Him whether He hears him.
“After we met in the cell, that man said that I was an answer from God for him, he accepted Christ. Then I told him a word from the Lord…And later he thanked me, because after his release from captivity, his life changed.”
When life is a difficult trial
Terrible interrogations with hands chained to the bed, moral humiliation, speaking the truth and calling for justice – this meant being naive. Taras Sen was repeatedly interrogated to accuse him of “treason”.
“Thank God, all the organs in my body are in place, although the sensibility in my hand is dulled after a blow to the neck. The captivity shook my life. But I will not say that there have been drastic changes in me: the state I was in before I was captured remained the same after. God has once again tested me as to how much I can endure certain things.
Of course, I saw my limit, because when I was beaten hard, it seemed to me that I did not have enough strength: I received up to a hundred blows, mostly on the head. Once, after such a beating, I could not speak for several hours…
I faced many trials during my 15 years of my ministry in Donbas, but none of them could be compared to this trial.”
When God is your only hope
“Lord, free me, and I will serve You zealously, as before.” I prayed like that one night. And when I was reading the Bible, my eyes fell on Psalm 40:2: “Blessed is he who cares for the poor, in the day of trouble the Lord will save him!” God spoke to me vividly through this text. I put my hope in Him, because it was humanly impossible to get out of there.”
Later, the pastor learned that his friends offered to ransom him, but the militants refused to take the money.
God miraculously resolved a situation that seemed hopeless through the German authorities.
“God knew the ways and fulfilled what he promised me personally. He promised to save the one who cares for the poor. And I was still praying to Him from the basement: remember that for the last year I was only doing what I was thinking, where should I get finances and humanitarian aid for pensioners, disabled people, and those with many children who were dying of hunger since the beginning of the war in Donbas in 2014 “.
Half alive and having lost everything he had, Pastor Taras left the occupied territory, finally hearing from one of the militants: “I would shoot people like you.”
When God is the beginning of something new in your life
“God made me understand that He closed the door to the East of Ukraine for me until a certain time. I arrived at an empty place, I had nothing, only the discovery in my heart that I was captured by no fault of my own, but the Lord allowed it due to certain circumstances.
Arriving in Rivne, I had to start all over again.
But it was in this city that I was able to realize all that experience, all the revelations from God. Everything that He allowed me to implement in Rivne in seven years, I had learned in Donbas.”
Currently, the Christ is the Answer ministries works in the regions of Ukraine and beyond, spreading the Gospel with various tools through serving people.
The material was prepared by the CITA press center.