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“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!” Philippians 4:1 (NIV)
April 2, 2022
An Update on Brothers and Sisters in Ukraine and Russia (April, 2022)
Recorded Zoom panel discussion, from April 2 2022, with Bre. Mark Whittaker, Mark Sheppard and David Pearce – the CBM links for Ukraine and Russia.
March 7, 2022
The Growth of Christadelphia in Ukraine
There were Christadelphians in Ukraine before the Second World War, although at that time it was called USSR. Vladimir Doubrovsky came from a small town, called Shchors, many miles north of Kiev. Vladimir learned Esperanto, an international language.
He met Christadelphian Esperantists at an international congress, studied the Truth, and was baptized. He converted many of his friends in Shchors, but the terrible purges of Stalin, beginning in 1932, brought death to millions. Vladimir himself died of starvation in 1933 before he was thirty years old.
It was Esperanto that brought many to the Truth after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989. Bro Viktor from Russia was baptized at Cambridge in the UK in 1992. He advertised in many Ukraine newspapers for others who might be interested in the Bible. In 1995 a tour of newly independent Ukraine was made with Igor Bakai as the translator to visit these contacts.
Igor, after three years of translating for CBM UK visitors, asked to be baptized. On a warm Sunday morning in a sand-rimmed lake in Kiev, he was helped through the water into a new life in Christ which he still shares with us as we wait for our Lord.
Since those early visits after Ukraine gained independence, the CBM UK team would visit Ukraine several times a year, meeting new brothers and sisters in a very crowded flat in Kiev, hired for the weekend. Eventually the visiting team located a Sanatorium (health center) in the north of Kiev which had proper facilities for accommodation, meals, and a lecture room. Here they would meet two or three times a year for a Bible weekend, to which the brothers and sisters were invited.
The CBM UK paid for their costs to attend, for none of them had a car, and many were pensioners. After the weekend, the English visitors would travel by train or bus to Kharkov, Poltava, Kherson or Dnipro, all of which have been in the news lately, for a three-day visit, meeting the brothers and sisters in their homes and holding Bible talks.
The other big annual event was the Kiev Bible School, which lasted a week, and attracted around forty brothers and sisters, from ten to fifteen interested friends, and up to twenty children. This involved a team of six to eight UK brothers and sisters and three translators, for we ran a children’s class, a Foundations class for interested friends to learn the Truth, plus Bible studies for the brothers and sisters with two UK speakers.
Before the end of the week, any who asked to be baptized would be interviewed, and we would baptize them in a nearby lake before the final breaking of bread, when they would be received into fellowship.
At the peak, we probably had a hundred members in Ukraine. Each of them receives by post an exhortation and a Bible study in Russian for every Sunday. We also send them winter parcels, two or three Good News magazines each year in Russian, Sunday School lessons for their children, and verse by verse study guides and standard Christadelphian works translated into Russian.
Sadly, the COVID-19 epidemic prevented our visits in 2020 and we have not been able to restart them since then. The first opportunity as COVID restrictions eased was to be 2022, but the eruption of the war with Russia in Ukraine has brought an abrupt halt to all plans.
There are about eighty active brothers and sisters in Ukraine
At the last count we have about eighty active brothers and sisters in Ukraine. Many of these live in areas that are currently under bombardment by Russian forces – Kiev, Kharkiv, Melitopol, Kherson and beyond.
It means that a number of brothers and sisters have already made the decision to flee the fighting and are travelling to countries to the West such as Poland and Romania. Bro Igor, whose conversion is mentioned above, is one of those who is having to flee his home in Kiev with his seven-year-old son and head towards the EU.
But many of our members are elderly and are not able to make the journey, so are staying in their home-cities and praying that they are spared the constant attacks. Both those staying in place and those fleeing need our urgent prayers to God, that he will take special care of His children and bring them through this most trying of circumstances.
Mark Whittaker, CBM UK
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