Pastor Pavlo translating while I teach from 1 John
Several people have asked about the church we serve in here in Bila Tserkva, Ukraine so I thought I would share a little about it now. Edna and I have been blessed to be a part of this small, but growing church called Дім Милосердя, or in English, House of Mercy. The church began about three years ago when a group of Christians who were involved in a large denominational church decided to form their own non-denominational church. They wanted to get away from the politics and legalism that had taken root in the local church they attended. They wanted to be free to study God’s Word, fellowship, and worship in away that put Jesus in the center of their lives rather than an organization. The result is a growing group of people who love the Lord and are functioning as one body. We are truly blessed to be part of a family of believers who value God’s Word and serving one another.
Pastor Pavlo Ivanovich Mitichev was asked by the founding members if he would pastor the church which he has been doing from its start. Pastor Pavlo has been a pastor for 12 years in a sister church in Kyiv about an hour and a half away. Our sister church is a messianic church that meets on Saturdays and also has the name House of Mercy (you can check out the website that his daughter, Maria, designed for their church by clicking HERE) . Pastor Pavlo also works within an organization in Kyiv called Світло на Сході, or Light on the East (click HERE to see the website). They print Bibles, publish Christian magazines, and have a missions training program for Ukrainians who are interested in church planting. Pastor Pavlo and his wife Ira have four children, Ivan, Tanya, Maria, and Anya (Little Anya is in our children’s ministry). Pastor Pavlo lives in Kyiv so he has to make the trip to Bila Tserkva each Sunday and he said he will continue to do so as long as he is needed here. We are grateful for someone like Pastor Pavlo who is willing to serve wherever God calls him.
Miss Edna handing out Ukrainian song sheets
Edna and I have been serving in children’s ministry which we started in September of 2007. I have also been teaching short messages in the church since last July. I was ordained as a pastor in the church in early February of this year and have had the great privilege to be teaching through the book of 1 John. It is my blessing to be surrounded by people who are so eager to hear God’s Word and be excited about applying it to their lives. They make it all to my joy to be able to explore the Bible with them each week.
God led us to House of Mercy through a girl named Maria. Maria was hired as our interpreter when we first came to visit Ukraine in April of 2007. We knew that God was calling us to serve in Bila Tserkva and we thought that was with an organization here that ministers to orphans and the disabled. When we came back to live here in May of 2007, we soon realized that God had a different plan for us. We contacted Maria and she agreed to be our Ukrainian teacher while we waited on the Lord to show us the next step. She invited us to her church, House of Mercy, and we knew then that God had a plan for us there. It wasn’t long before they asked us if we could start something with children’s ministry where they had a huge need. Our involvement grew from there and we have since become very close friends with Maria and her family.
Nastia and Maria singing at church
Maria is now working in Kyiv and going to school to complete her Masters degree in Business, but she usually comes home on the weekends. Her sister, Nastia, has helped us start an English Club on Saturdays where we hope to reach people through English. Maria and Nastia often sing together in church. Their voices are absolutely beautiful and Edna loves listening to some of the Christian songs they have recorded together. Maria’s parents, Fedir and Vala, are founding members in the church and are the administrative back bone of it. The amount of time and effort they pour into the church is amazing. I honestly don’t know how they do it.
Vala, Fedir, and Nastia
Maria’s father, Fedir, works as an announcer for various events and was even the master of ceremonies for the Franklin Graham Festival that was held in Kyiv last year. He has also been working on recording audio versions of the Bible in Ukrainian and is an elder in the church. Fedir told us that his first language was Russian as it was for most people during Soviet times, but he made a point of learning Ukrainian. When Maria and then Nastia were born, Fedir and Vala decided that their daughters would learn Ukrainian first and then Russian, which was unusual in Soviet Ukraine. We’re convinced that’s why Maria was such a great Ukrainian language teacher for us.
Maria’s mother, Vala, told us that she became a Christian when she was 14 years old and she knew in her heart that Jesus was real. Her first Bible was a hand copied Russian Bible. As a Christian during Communist times, she wasn’t allowed to attend music school or any of the good schools. This didn’t stop her from learning to play the very complicated bandura , a traditional Ukrainian instrument. Vala has been so encouraging to us and so grateful for any help we give her. We always look forward to spending time with her and her family.
Fedir presenting his wife Vala with a yellow rose
Today in church they handed out yellow roses to all the women in honor of National Women’s Day that was on March 8th. As usual, Maxime was with us after spending the night on Saturday. We took him out for pizza after church and made sure his physical body as well as his spiritual body were well fed. We think that he actually seems to be putting on some weight.
Andriy handing out yellow roses to the women
Hopefully I’ve answered some of the questions I’ve been getting from friends and family and have given everyone a glimpse of our church here in Bila Tserkva, Ukraine.
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. -1 Corinthians 12:12
Бо як тіло одне, але має членів багато, усі ж члени тіла, хоч їх багато, то тіло одне, - так і Христос. - 1 Кор. 12:12