Bear Valley Bible Institute of Ukraine
Bila Tserkva, Ukraine
The Progression of BVBIU
When the Iron Curtain fell in 1989, countries that were once a part of the Soviet Union began to seek their independence. At the same time, American Christians realized that God was opening the door to evangelize in places which had been forbidden for nearly seventy years and began traveling in large numbers to these various places. Due to the friendly religious laws, many congregations of the Lord’s Church were established as literally thousands of Ukrainians became Christians. Largely in part to campaign work organized by Eddie Cloer (Editor of Truth for Today magazine), the Church was established in a great manner from 1992-94 in the city of Donetsk and areas surrounding it. In one campaign alone, some 1,500 souls were baptized and to this day, the Church is strongest in the eastern part of Ukraine.
After this time, many Americans continued to come to Ukraine to teach Bible to the locals in churches and in special seminars but no Preaching Training Institutes had yet been established. In 1997 Dr. J.J. Turner, the then Director of Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver, had an opportunity presented to begin such a program in Kramatorsk. Dr. Turner met with Lee Tse Gao, Director of KEGI (Kramatorsk Economic-Humanitarian Institute) and together they developed a plan for using this facility as the meeting place for men and women who were interested in Bible training. In September of 1997, the first Bible training institute in Ukraine was begun, that being BVBIU (Bear Valley Bible Institute-Ukraine). Both men and women were enrolled in the classes but those men who wanted to be preachers were given special training. Additionally, students who were interested in the Bible from KEGI were also enrolled in the Bible classes.
The BVBIU Program
The focus is to training men to become preachers, which mirrors the Bear Valley Bible Institute in Denver and all other Bear Valley extension schools. This means that in a two-year period there are more than 1,800 hours of Bible training and the students participate in four campaigns, spread all over Ukraine. Nearly 75% of the classes are taught by Ukrainians and just a handful of Americans still participate in this process. The goal of all BV extension schools is to eventually “turn over the reigns” to the locals and now at BVBIU, Ukrainian brethren are in the main leadership roles. Our belief is that the locals will be more successful in reaching out to their own people, rather than having too strong of an American presence.
Dean / Director
Dennis Sopelnik is the Director of the school. Dennis is a very godly, bright, and energetic Ukrainian who has been groomed for this position. After graduating from BVBIU in 2005, Dennis began participating more and more in the program and was showing a lot of potential. He then went on to obtain his Master’s Degree from BVBIU and soon began teaching full-time. As a natural-born teacher (God-given ability) who has a Christ-like attitude, Dennis has earned the respect of the students at BVBIU. His stable presence also is a big plus in the Church and has proven himself as a very capable leader / recruiter / preacher.
Terry Harmon - firstname.lastname@example.org