Vulnerable people groups: CITA missionaries continue to minister in Ukraine
2 February 2024
In January, mission teams from the south, west and east regions of Ukraine met with internally displaced people, pensioners, severely wounded soldiers, widows, the sick and prisoners, providing them with material and moral support.
They ministered to children, held charity events to distribute eyeglasses, organized a trip to the Carpathian Mountains, and spread the Gospel in the regions through newspapers and calendars.
Mykolaiv and the region
The 72nd, 83rd and 93rd penal colonies in the Mykolaiv region are institutions that Mykolaiv missionaries regularly visit with the Gospel, humanitarian aid and words of encouragement. In the prisons, the ministers conducted a program called “The Way of the Convict” based on the Gospel of Luke. Participants in this program often become members of the churches planted in the colonies.
“It takes us about 360 kilometers to get to one of the colonies, but we try to visit them regularly with the financial support of caring people, the CITA ministry, and our local church,” said missionary Hennadiy Holota.
The Mykolaiv missionaries have been ministering to prisoners for more than 15 years.
The pastors visited patients in Mykolaiv’s drug treatment unit, which is currently the only one unharmed by Russian shelling of civilian infrastructure.
According to Hennadiy, the composition of the patients changes twice a month, so they have the opportunity to minister to different people, including addicted military personnel. The missionaries also help with clothing and medical supplies.
“This is not the first year we have ministered to the homeless on the streets: we feed and clothe them, and if they want, we help them get rid of their addictions. We have seen lives changed by God among them,” said Hennadiy.
Traditionally, during the winter, a warming tent for the homeless is set up in the center of Mykolaiv with the support of the local authorities, where the missionaries, together with Christians from another church, minister to these people. In January, they held several meetings and services for this group of people.
Every Saturday, the Mykolaiv missionaries held services for drug addicts and their families at Bethany Church. The focus of the work with these people is to share testimonies of how, with God’s help, people are free from addiction.
According to the missionaries, in January, a former drug addict was baptized in water after his mother began praying for him and attending church a year ago. Today, this family is involved in social ministry together.
A team of missionaries from New Odessa holds regular weekly meetings – Sunday School Circles – in the villages of Mykhailivka and Dilnyche. About 80 children participate in the children’s activities.
In times of war, the missionaries emphasize to the children not to be afraid, but to put their trust in the Lord.
The missionaries successfully linked the workshops to Bible stories.
“When we learned the macramé technique, we talked about Apostle Paul, who made tents with his own hands. In the cooking class, we talked about Mary and Martha, and Tabitha when we were making handicrafts,” said Inna Titova, a missionary from New Odesa.
The missionary shared that she would like to have more ministers or volunteers dedicated to children’s ministry.
In Ternopil, the chaplaincy ministry continues to actively develop on the basis of the Bread of Life Church, of which CITA missionary Andriy Vasenda is a member:
“We continue to build relationships with the soldiers in the local hospital. Some of them are lightly wounded, others are seriously injured. However, I find all these meetings very effective. We have heard different stories, for example, how they caught crabs at the front and cooked them for meals, etc. Such stories, although very simple and everyday, allow the soldiers to open up, share their lives and receive healing for their emotional traumas.
We also took them to different places where they could eat, and through this we built relationships in a relaxed atmosphere.
During this month, as part of their ministry to the wounded, the church’s chaplaincy team was able to reach out to about thirty soldiers…
The Christ is the Answer missionaries in Yaremche held their fortieth evangelistic charity camp for 55 people.
“We gave six children from underprivileged families the opportunity to have a free vacation in the mountains. We also had a girl who lost both her parents in Donbass.
We traditionally try to include in our trips to the Carpathians internally displaced people who have lost everything in the war and have to start their lives from scratch. On this trip we took more than ten IDPs from Bakhmut.
The program included sightseeing, Sunday school, many quizzes and sports activities. The main thing I try to do in our camps in the Carpathians is to support people who are having a hard time, to give them a chance to relax. I see that our camps in the Carpathians provide an opportunity for participants to heal spiritually, grow closer to God, and understand the Bible,” said Taras Sen, director of the ministry.
According to missionary Ihor Pimenov, every Saturday morning a team of pastors holds prayer breakfasts attended by up to 50 people. Among them are low-income people, pensioners, the homeless, and internally displaced persons. In addition to hot food and tea, the missionaries pray with the participants for Ukraine and its defenders. Pastors invite those who are interested to attend Sunday services, and addicts to meetings to prepare for rehabilitation.
In January, the CITA missionaries held youth camps in Zaporizhzhia. There were about 80 participants. The topics discussed were the gifts of the Holy Spirit, respect, and the importance of having a mentor friend.
“Such events are a good opportunity to bring young people closer to God. They have opened their hearts to His voice. It also helped to strengthen friendships among the teenagers because they study at a distance and rarely communicate offline.
Some experienced restoration, some experienced forgiveness, some were ignited by God for further active ministry, some were renewed in strength, the gifts worked through the youth, encouraging them and making them feel the potential God has given them,” said missionary Ivan Kaliev.
In Ukraine there are 16 CITA missionaries and dozens of volunteers in the eastern, western and southern regions.
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