East-West Church & Ministry Report
Vol. 8, No. 3, Summer 2000, Covering the Former Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe

A CoMissioner's Firsthand Report

Jena Gaston

While in Ukraine with the CoMission, I tried not to create my own agenda, but to allow the Holy Spirit to work while heeding the primary goals of the organization.  These included follow-up visits with school teachers and administrators who had attended past convocations where a Christian ethics and morals curriculum was introduced along with the JESUS film, the Bible, and other teaching aids.  Another goal was to start Bible Discussion Groups (BDGs) to introduce the teachers and others to the Bible--a book that has been a mystery to 99 percent of the population for over 70 years.  The BDGs were to serve a second purpose as well--to train nationals to eventually lead BDGs of their own.

As we began contacting teachers and others in Zaporozhye, we found some were quite open to further communication.  They invited us into their schools to speak to students and to have Bible studies in their classrooms, their homes, and--more often--in our flats.  Others were not so open, and we said goodbye on a friendly note.  What struck me, as I spoke personally with the teachers through interpreters, was their diligence not only to read the Bible, but to begin from the beginning and read through to the end.  Most also showed amazement that the Bible is filled with so much "practical information."  Others commented on the Bible's relevance in classroom teaching.

I was most impressed, however, with the large number of high school and university students that God brought our way.  The majority initially came to meet Americans and practice English.  However, they were more than open to the truths being introduced in the Bible studies.  Slowly they gained confidence and eventually led discussion groups on their own.  Eventually, Ukrainians also took the initiative with other ministries including dorm evangelism, Christian summer camps, and witnessing to their families and friends.  They also became key workers in teacher curriculum workshops and JESUS film showings.  Boris, for example, called himself Saul because he had persecuted the church during the Communist years.  Now he is a soldier for Christ.  He was a key networker in one Christian ethics and morals curriculum workshop for Sunday school teachers and church administrators.  Due to his efforts we were able to address over 80 people from eight denominations all over the Zaporozhye Region.  When we left Zaporozhye, Ukrainians were leading three Bible discussion groups, students continued to minister at orphanages, Christians had been identified at five university campuses and had been taught how to share their faith, and a Ukraine for Christ evangelistic team had been formed. 

Jena Gaston is assistant editor of the East-West Church & Ministry Report.

Jena Gaston, "A CoMissioner's Firsthand Report," East-West Church & Ministry Report 8 (Summer  2000), 5-6.

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© 2000 East-West Church and Ministry Report
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