A Year Of Testing, Difficulties, Turmoil, And Hope In Ukraine...

Dear brethren, 

Here comes the end to the year, 2014. It was a year of testing, difficulties, turmoil, and hope for us. This year started quite positively: Ukraine got rid of its former president, Yanukovich. The whole country felt relieved, thinking we’ll have a new life from now on. However, new problems in Ukraine started in March. In the first weeks of the new and temporary government, Russia invaded Crimea and annexed it as a result. Then full-sized war in the Eastern Ukraine got started. The very same Russian troops and displeased Ukrainians who considered themselves to be Russians took arms and started proclaiming new republics. The church in Ukraine was persecuted. When you look at the map of Ukraine, you can see that 65% of the church of Christ congregations are located in the Donetsk area. It seems to be a coincidence, but I think that Satan knows whom he should be fighting against. We found ourselves in Ternopil and, with God’s help, we were able to plant a church of Christ here and continue the work of the Bible Institute. Your prayers concerning our future were heard. 

Institute Church of Christ
In December, we placed a banner above the entrance to the church building. Earlier, I was afraid that our activity in this rented place could cause aggressive actions on the side of Orthodox or Catholics. However, gradually we saw that people accepted us, and they don’t care much who will be in their area. Actually, we’ve got more visitors due to the banner. One young man, Maksim, noticed our new banner, and Bogdan, out youth minister, invited him to the Bible class. Now, Maksim attends our services often. 

Also, we were able to start another Bible class group. On Mondays, the Sergey Chubenko family hosts all those who want to study God’s word. They intend to invite their neighbors, acquaintances, and their landlords. This way we try to use every opportunity to proclaim the Good News of the gospel, and it’s the second home group formed to study the Bible. 

Mostly, the students and staff at the Bible Institute attend our services. We’ve had no baptisms yet. We try to work actively via Bible school for kids. Last time, we organized a movie event and presentation of the school. Usually kids would come with their parents, and they are interested in which church we represent. 

At the end of December, we had festive events together, exchanged presents and congratulations and summed up the passing year. Most of the students went home for the Winter Break. We are expecting their arrival in January. 

Bear Valley Bible Institute
In December, the first-year students took such courses: How We Got the Bible and Matthew-Mark (Albert Bagdasaryan teaches those); the second-year students had 1-2 Corinthians (taught by Dennis Sopelnik) and Denominational Teachings (taught by Andrew Zhuravlyov). 

We have already made the schedule for the second semester, even though we have to correct it from time to time. I’m grateful to many American brethren who are willing to come and teach. It seems that we went back to the 90s when most of the teachers were American. Seeing that many people are willing to help with teaching, I want to find a place and time for everyone to come to Ternopil. 

Another young man from the Kiev region contacted me recently. He attends the Shevchekivska church of Christ in Kiev, and right now he is thinking about moving to Ternopil and attending BVBIU. It’s really a very difficult decision for him since he has a family and a small baby. We’ll pray that his decision would be according to God’s will. 

Also, I’m urging you to pray for Ukraine, especially for the military actions to stop. I’m grateful for those brethren who help refugees and those who stayed on the occupied territories at this difficult time. 

We send you our greetings. Thank you for spiritual and financial support of the Institute and the church in Ternopil. We would not be able to train ministers and reach the lost with the gospel without your help. 

Your brother and coworker,
Dennis Sopelnik

To see Dennis' report, with pictures, please click here.

Posted on January 4, 2015 .