Features of evangelism in the East of Ukraine. Based on the stories of the missionaries

The difficult socio-economic situation in the eastern region of Ukraine, especially after the hostilities that began in 2014, which led to the devastation of already dying villages; “the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors”, expressed in centuries-old pagan rites; the so-called Orthodox faith, which is reduced to formality and blind adherence to traditions; and the attitude of distrust as a way of life determine the specifics of evangelism in this region.

To consider the features of delivering the Good News, some settlements in the Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkov regions were chosen without mentioning their names, based on the stories of eyewitnesses and participants in the lifestyle of that area, that is, missionaries serving in those locations.

A small mining town and adjacent villages in the Donetsk region.

People haven’t received salaries for months and one cannot count on meager pensions. The population is mainly engaged in farming, cultivating the land and those who are younger leave or intend to do so in search of work.

In these parts, not everyone has decided which flag to hang on the façade of their own house, so the villages differ among themselves in these attributes. Ruin. Despondency. Hopelessness. But people still believe in something. Who turns to horoscopes, who turns to fortunetellers, elevating such “healers” to the rank of virtuous, poorly realizing that after such “sessions” they themselves fail in life, suffering from alcoholism and losing families. They also believe in God but only “in the soul”, considering their faith as a personal matter.

The best thing in this state of affairs, the missionaries believe, is to start with social assistance with food and clothing for people in need. And build simple friendships with them for the long term, sincerely participating in their lives, for example, helping with the housework.

It is easiest to contact people who have acute problems. For example, the mother of an alcohol-addicted son turned by herself to the missionaries for help.

Donbass missionaries consider children and teenagers to be the best soil for seeds of the Good News. There is no entertainment in the villages and missionary teams often organize camps, sports grounds, various circles, Superbook clubs for them. Through all these tools and sincere communication, it is easy for evangelists to make friends with children and give hope in Christ.

Missionaries in the Donetsk region note the need to be sensitive to the needs of people and always be ready to start a conversation in any place and with any person.

An agrarian town and nearby settlements in the Luhansk region, where entrepreneurs are concerned about crops and pensioners, low-income people and large families are concerned about how to survive another winter, because utility bills exceed income levels.

Here the population favors pagan holidays, considering them rather as an opportunity to have fun. Even Christmas is gradually losing its religious significance and gravitates in the minds of people more towards a secular event.

“I haven´t seen open opposition to God here. People are not against the planting of Christian values, but they act in their own way. There are no difficulties in building friendly relations either, people are simple at any social level, but, of course, everyone’s perception remains their own. They don’t persecute us, missionaries, but they don’t seek to perceive us as carrying the truth,” said a local missionary and pastor of the church.

Therefore, he, first of all, conducts educational work among the flock and unchurched people, focusing not on the performance of rituals on a particular holiday, but on its spiritual meaning.

There are also many people in need in the town, so social and humanitarian assistance is relevant as an instrument of evangelization, which allows you to build friendly relations for the future.

Missionaries communicate with representatives of other faiths to unite interests in the salvation of souls, noting some passivity on the part of churches in relation to the gospel.

The village in the Kharkiv region, founded in the 17th century, has long been famous for the violent temper of its inhabitants. As a local missionary admits, the “spirit of rebellion” is felt to this day. Not every preacher who has been here at least once decides to come again, because even people who go to church show frank discontent on their faces.

A local missionary who takes care of people in this village and in ten other villages surrounding it, says that the villages are in the process of extinction: young people are leaving, schools are closing and mostly pensioners remain. People are distrustful, disappointed, broken, have no confidence in the future. A few people among the population are optimistic, invigorate, although they also live in poverty. Amidst a thousand, there are only a couple of such persons.

The population is so poor that not all people can have enough bread. The most primitive humanitarian aid handed out by missionaries down to worn things, is in demand.

Under such conditions, ministers do not even think of doing something on their own, only with God’s help and His power.

Before the quarantine, a team of missionaries held mass events in this area – concerts with the participation of well-known performers. From time to time, for example, they came to villages with a population of 120 people, cooked porridge for everyone, held an evangelistic concert with the distribution of the Gospel. 80% of the entire population of the village gathered for such an event.

In those places where house churches were previously opened, missionaries of the region continue to hold mass events, distribute evangelistic newspapers, Bible calendars, and organize children’s camps. The easiest way to reach the older generation is through food packages.

The missionaries of the Kharkiv region also have doors open to local hospitals, where people with incurable diseases lie. In the practice of ministers, there are many cases when, after a conversation with them, people accepted the Lord and left for eternity.

Summarizing the above, we can highlight several features of evangelism in the eastern region of Ukraine. This is personal evangelism based on friendship with the individual. Guardianship of the elderly, social and humanitarian assistance as the fulfillment of physical needs and the introduction of the population, especially children, to Christ through various evangelistic and entertainment events. Missionaries also have to carry out educational work both among parishioners of churches and non-churched people.

The material was prepared by the press center of the Mission “Christ is the answer”


Source: https://ieshua.org/osobennosti-blagovestiya-na-vostoke-ukrainy-iz-rasskazov-missionerov.htm