Finding Jesus in Ukraine

December 3 2019

Mary’s spiritual story begins during childhood visits to her grandmother. She was curious about God and the Bible, but her grandmother told her the Bible was a special book—only accessible to a select few chosen by God. So Mary didn’t even try to read it, believing she wasn’t chosen.

That is … until three years ago when she heard about an English camp offered by the OMS Ukraine team.

She was just finishing her first year at Grinchenko University with dreams of a successful business career and financial independence. She decided the camp would be a great way to improve her English skills.

But Mary got way more than English practice.

She experienced an atmosphere of love and acceptance that she had never seen before. She saw and heard people talk about Jesus like he was easily accessible—and when camp participants discussed the Bible, it came alive and was quite understandable. On one of the last nights of camp, Mary prayed to follow Jesus and experienced a joy she had never felt before. She left camp excited and ready to follow Jesus wherever he led.

But when she returned home, her parents were skeptical, and her friends were closed. She felt a coldness from them and began to question her new belief. She dealt with her questions in the way she always did—by burying herself in work, achievement, and success. And slowly … Mary’s passion for Jesus burned down to almost nothing.

But last Christmas, she responded to an invitation to attend a Christmas worship celebration hosted by the Kyiv Life Group Network, a network of home-based churches started by the OMS Ukraine team. She had rejected many of those invitations before but this time couldn’t find a reason not to come.

Jesus touched her heart again during the worship time. Feelings of joy and love for him flooded her soul again. She made a decision to return to Jesus with a passion and boldness that hasn’t passed away.

Now, one year later, Mary is a key member of the Life Group Network, was baptized this summer, and is boldly sharing with others what it means to follow Jesus. She also joined the summer English camps—but this time as a student assistant, sharing her testimony and building relationships with pre-Christian Ukrainians looking for opportunities to share the Good News.

This fall, she’s been meeting with multiple young women from the camps to discuss the Bible and to help them grow in their relationships with Jesus or to come to know him. She’s even feeling a call to ministry and missions and has started to study at an online Bible school.

Her parents have been concerned, worried that she might be involved in a cult. But after attending a network retreat recently, they realized she’s connected with good people—and they, too, have become more open to God.

Thanks for praying for Mary … that God would use her powerfully as she seeks to share the Good News with those around her.

You can help others, like Mary, have a wonderful camp experience and be introduced to Jesus for the first time. Or give to one of our other seven Christmas projects.

Tags: summer english camp, ukraine, finding jesus, ukrainian youth,

​Bibles for Cuban Youth

July 19 2016

Cubans want Bibles to satisfy their hunger for God and for his Word. Youth especially need Bibles that they can connect with easily. Fifteen-year-old Alexis Guzmán Mouriz (pictured on right in green) never owned his own Bible. He read a copy that his grandparents owned, but he really wanted a Bible that was geared for his age.

One Mission Society’s Bibles for Cuba project provides Bibles to Cuban church leaders so that the people can have access to God’s Word and grow in a relationship with him. Bibles for Cuba not only provides Bibles, but it delivers them in a version that can meet people, like youth, where they are.

Alexis’ first Bible is special to him, especially because it is a version that is easy to read and understand for him.

“This version contains interesting ideas, stories, and notes about characters from the Bible, and it also shares about themes of interest for youth,” he said. “This Bible, for me, is the best!”

Alexis prays that God continues to bless Bibles for Cuba so that others, especially Cuban young people, can learn more about the Word of God. As they reach critical growing points in their lives, the fact that they can own their own copies of the Bible to guide their lives closer to God is an irreplaceable value.

“Know these Bibles are very important for the Christian youth of our country,” Alexis said. “Thanks to God and to you (OMS’ Bibles for Cuba), many young people can have their own Bibles, just like me.”

Please pray for Alexis, that God will speak to him and guide him through his Word, and that other young people can have their own Bibles as well. Please also continue to pray that Bibles for Cuba can provide as many Bibles as this nation needs so the hunger for the Word is satisfied.

Would you like to help people like Alexis own Bibles so they can grow in relationship with God? To learn more and give to Bibles for Cuba, visit onemissionsociety.org/give/biblesforcuba.

Tags: bibles, youth, cuba, god's word, first bible,

An Example for the Believers

November 10 2015

Sitting around a dining room table with cups of tea, walking along the Dnieper River, or going on a retreat at a camp outside Kiev, young Ukrainian believers are learning to minister to one another as they grow in their knowledge and love of Jesus Christ. Each week, they meet together in homes for Life Groups to encourage one another in Christ. They take turns sharing responsibilities, preparing ice breakers, leading Bible studies, selecting songs, and praying for one another.

Everyone has busy schedules with either university studies or full time jobs. Finding ways to equip these young believers with knowledge and skills for ministry is a creative adventure in theological education, working in partnership with the OMS missionary team in Ukraine. Just as the Ukrainian believers follow the early church model of house churches, we are following the example of Paul’s methods for leadership training and discipleship. Paul wrote letters to teach and to encourage the new believers. We are also writing. Rather than letters, we are developing a series of lessons that give biblical answers to questions such as: “What will happen at the end of time?” “Who is the Holy Spirit?” “What is worship?” “What is sin?”

Paul traveled and made personal visits to encourage new believers. In October, I had the privilege of making my third trip to Ukraine to share in a weekend retreat. I was asked to teach about developing our friendship with God through the practice of spiritual disciplines and to lead a discussion on what it means to be community in Christ. Each time I return, there is a deepening bond of trust. We discuss joys, questions, and concerns over cups of tea. This is the life-on-life model of theological education that Jesus modeled with his disciples.

These young believers represent the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to transform lives through their personal testimonies and outreach to others. They represent the hope of things to come as the kingdom of God extends across Ukraine. As Paul encouraged Timothy, let’s pray that they will receive and live out these same words of encouragement: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (I Timothy 4:12, NIV).

By Colleen Fitch, One Mission Society Missionary and Theological Education Consultant for Europe

Tags: ukraine, youth, community, retreat, theological education,