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Ukraine: Adventists tell stories of hope, part 2

Ukraine: Adventists tell stories of hope, part 2

Gaping holes covering the side of a building (credit: D. Mishenin)

Donetsk, Ukraine, July 30, 2014 [Adventist Review; CD EUDNews]. While many people might consider the circumstances to be horrific in eastern Ukraine, Adventist pastors and other members said they have witnessed much good.

July 31, 2014 | Adventist Review; CD EUDNews

Donetsk, Ukraine [Adventist Review; CD EUDNews]. While many people might consider the circumstances to be horrific in eastern Ukraine, Adventist pastors and other members said they have witnessed much good.

“Attitudes are changing toward the church, God and ministry. Many people have begun to look at faith differently,” the Eastern Ukrainian Mission said in an e-mailed statement.

“Churches are holding prayer meetings, sometimes daily,” it said. “Church members have become more sympathetic to the needs and concerns of others. They support and encourage one another. They have become more open to God and receptive to His truth.”

In addition, people who had stopped attending church have returned to worship, and new people are showing up for Sabbath services.

The Mission lacks the income to cover its ballooning conflict-time expenses, but church members have become more generous despite their meager resources, it said. Offerings have increased during every surge in fighting, just when the Mission needed extra funds to assist affected members, it said.

Unexpected expenditures have included an outlay of 100,000 hryvnia ($8,500) to cover the basic needs of Adventist retirees in Kramatorsk and Sloviansk when their government pensions didn’t arrive.

“All this time, church members have not stopped distributing the sharing newspaper, and inviting people to turn to God and to attend church,” the Mission said.

The response to the outreach has surprised church leaders.

The sharing newspaper, called Eternal Treasure, includes a contact phone number that used to average one call per month. Since the unrest started, six to eight people have been calling every week, with many requesting leaflets with the Lord’s Prayer or Psalm 91, which describes the safety of abiding in God’s presence.

In Mariupol, a city of half a million people, so many people are now attending worship services that church leaders are seeking additional seating. The church is also caring for 11 people who fled fighting in other cities.

Church members themselves spoke of how their faith has grown.

Olga, who attended the Kramatorsk church with about 25 people every Sabbath before the city returned to the control of Ukraine's central government recently, told one worship service: “I thought about not coming to church after the shelling last night, but my husband, who is not an Adventist, said: ‘You’ve been praying to God. What are you afraid of?’”

Even on the darkest Sabbath, nine people managed to make their way to the church.

"We felt the power of prayer, understood the importance of repentance, and prayed every day with our brothers and sisters as well as with our neighbors in the basement during the shelling,” said Tamara, a church member.

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