The Ukrainian service started with some very engaging singing led by a gifted worship team. I again noticed the soldier in uniform. It was not unusual to see uniformed soldiers, especially in a country at war and here in Kramatorsk, a town quite close to the front lines. He had arrived early, and though quiet, he seemed friendly. We had greeted each other as best as we could, me with no Ukrainian, him with no English, nonetheless, warm and friendly. I sensed he was new. He did not seem to be connecting with others, but I sensed he was there with purpose. As he was early, he had taken a seat front and center. By the time church started, the room was packed with people standing in the back and along the side. The worship was so full of life that I stood on the side of the room, and just as I was trying to capture the moment on video, he was to was videoing the worship and the congregation, also trying to save the moment.
As the second song ended, Pastor Yura, the leader of this local Evangelical Free Church of Ukraine (EFCU), stood to make some announcements. Initially I did not understand what was happening and was concerned. The soldier stood and interrupted Pastor Yura, saying something in what I felt was like an agitated tone. Pastor Yura simply stopped, smiled and extended his hand to the soldier, inviting him to come near. That was when my Ukrainian missionary friend sitting beside me leaned over and said to me in English, “He said he felt compelled to come to a church today and just asked, ‘Can I repent today?’” Pastor Yura placed a strong arm around the soldier, and the man shared a bit more, then Yura asked and he answered a few questions, and finally Yura prayed for him. There were tears shed and Yura lead the congregation in three “Hallelujahs” before resuming the announcements. Was this just a normal day!?
I felt like I had just witnessed an Acts 2 moment, except the gospel message had not even been shared. Clearly the Holy Spirit was moving and preparing this man’s heart, and had led him to the church. There was more worship, then Yura invited me forward to share a message on baptism, with a real life sermon example sitting in the front row!
As the service ended, the elders invited the serviceman to again come forward and they laid hands on him and prayed. This close to the front, these men all recognized the seriousness of the physical dangers and need for spiritual grounding. As the Lord prompts, please remember this soldier in your prayers, and the hundreds of thousands of others he represents, that amidst the conflict, God would continue to make Himself known in real ways to these men and their families.
ReachGlobal staff continue to travel in and around Ukraine to support the Ukrainian Refugee Response. Once a month the team offers a Chaplaincy Training to equip pastors and church leaders who find themselves ministering under conditions they were never trained for or prepared to handle. We have also been offering Trauma Care Trainings as requested by our partners in Ukraine. Pray with us for an end to the war, and for more opportunities to share the love of Christ and encourage the Church in Ukraine. To give to the response or learn more about how to get involved, click here or email email@example.com.
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