For years, Pastor Natalcinko toiled faithfully, leading his church of 12 members to reach his community with the Gospel. His son, Ilya, joined the mission as he came of age, ministering alongside his father.
When their city, Mironovsk, near the eastern border of Ukraine, became a war-zone the church grew to over 100 regular attenders. Many who were atheist or apathetic toward faith and the Lord suddenly found themselves "in a foxhole" and sought the Lord as a result.
Many of them found the Lord, thanks to the continued faithfulness of those 12 believers!
From 12 members to a full house!
Mironovsk is 8 miles from the frontline of Russia's attack on their western neighbor. The situation is reigning havoc on the lives of the residents of the city. Between the fighting and the pandemic, many are stricken by poverty. Many have been forced to leave.
Pastor Natalcinko suffered a stroke and went to be with Jesus early in 2021, but Ilya continues his ministry as the pastor of House of Prayer Baptist Church.
ITMI's Adi Ban took several of the men he disciples to this part of Ukraine in 2018 to encourage the believers there. As a result, several families that Adi and Ema disciple in a group called the Young Couples' Fellowship began helping Ukrainian churches financially.
One of the things they helped with was some funds so Ilya's church could hold a summer camp for children in Mironovsk.
Ilya, his wife, Carina, and their daughter.
Youth in Ukraine during a previous year's summer camp.
After last summer's camp, Ilya wrote Adi and Ema and the families who provided for the Gospel to go out in Ukraine.
“With the generous help you sent us, this summer we were able to organize a camp for children in Mironovsk. We had over 80 kids in attendance, many of them from non believing families, and we were privileged to share the Good News with them, sing praise songs and memorize Bible verses. At the end of camp, we led some of them in prayers of repentance, and they opened their hearts to Jesus.
Many of these children come from very poor families, families who have been deeply affected by the war situation.
Some of their parents also came to our church services, and they were somewhat familiar with our ministry. After the camp was over, we organized a special church service where all the parents were invited, and the children sang for them the songs we taught them in camp all week, and recited the Bible verses.
Because of this, many who had never heard the Good News before were blessed to listen to the Gospel. We praise the Lord for providing us with these opportunities to be salt and light in our community so fractured by war, and so impoverished by this terrible situation.
Through our ministry, to which you were such a big part of financially, a lot has been done for God’s glory. May the Lord bless you with the joy which comes from serving Him!”
Some of the children reached through last year's summer camps.
Children enjoy a craft activity at summer camp.
Reaching people in eastern Ukraine is crucial and time sensitive.
One of the churches Adi visited also held a summer camp for youth a few years ago. Dasha was one of the teenagers who had the opportunity to attend. She was introduced to Jesus and reportedly gave her life to Jesus there. She continued worshipping with the church after camp was over.
Later that year, Dasha was killed by a Russian bomb that landed in her backyard, reminding us how urgent the mission of these churches really is.
Ilya and his church are already planning next summer's outreach. They'd like to reach many children and their parents from their community with the Good News that though they find themselves in difficult circumstances, the Lord pursues a relationship with them!
This year, ITMI supporters have the opportunity to help Ilya and these faithful believers declare the Gospel in their city through the ITMI Christmas Giving Catalog. It costs about $17 for each child to attend the week-long camp, which covers the materials and meals.
This means that for just $17, you can give a Ukrainian child the opportunity to hear about and open their heart to Jesus! They'll get to hear about Him in a fun environment, tailored for their age group.
But that isn't all!
You'll also be helping create the opportunity for the believers of Ilya's church to reach and build a relationship with their parents, too.
People in Mironovsk are searching for something. Will you help Ilya's church tell them it's Jesus their heart longs for?
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