This article was originally published in the February 2022 edition of ITMI Monthly.
Pastor Ilya shepherds a church just a few miles from the battle front in eastern Ukraine.
Ilya’s father, Peter, faithfully pastored this church for years. When he passed away from a stroke in 2020, Ilya accepted the responsibility.
The church was once just 12 people, but since the attacks from Russia began, more and more people have responded to the church’s faithful witness and their numbers have grown under the fire of persecution.
Ilya’s church can’t pay him for his service to them, so he supports his wife and two young children by working construction 2 days a week. He can’t afford to live in the town where the church is located, so he commutes to minister as the pastor 4 days a week.
ITMI partners, Adi and Ema Ban have discipled families in Romania for years. Now one of the fruits of their labor is this group of Romanian families coming together to help their Christian brothers in Ukraine, including Ilya and his church, under Adi and Ema’s leadership.
Last month, we shared with you that as the military situation in eastern Ukraine intensifies, Ilya was praying to be able to hold a children’s camp during the Christmas season that would give his church an opportunity to share Jesus with those who don’t yet know Him.
The Lord moved in many of your hearts, prompting you to give, and many of you were faithful to obey and follow His leading. We were able to bless Adi and Ema with $700 USD for Ilya’s Christmas outreach.
Ilya writes, “Thanks to your donation, we were able to hold a Christmas camp for children.”
More than 50 children from unbelieving families heard about the birth of Christ!
The camp also served as a discipleship opportunity for a group of teenagers in the church, who grew in their relationship with the Lord by serving at the camp and ministering to the children.
Five children and several teenagers repented before Jesus and submitted to His Lordship in their lives!
The children who participated in the camp were well-fed and received a gift. They also participated in the church’s Christmas night service, and every child who came was accompanied by their parents.
Campers proudly display their crafts made at camp.
Pastor Ilya (holding the microphone) shares with campers.
Campers enjoy a snack during camp.
So many campers and families blessed through your gifts!
“We hope that parents will continue to attend church with their children and get to know Christ better,” Ilya writes prayerfully.
Before the service, four groups from the church and the camp went out to tell the people of nearby settlements the good news about the birth of Christ, as well as give Christmas calendars and invite them to worship. Several new adults did accept the invitation and came to worship with Ilya’s church that evening!
“Thanks to the Lord and to you, dear friends, for showing mercy and participating in this project. We were very happy to serve with you. May the Lord bless you abundantly and meet your needs,” Ilya says.
All of our partners and staff echo this sentiment for your involvement in sending out the Gospel to the suffering and needy around the world. Thank you for your faithfulness!
About the Authors
Steve Evers has advocated for and served the ITMI partners as ITMI Director since 2001. Approximately once a year, Steve visits with ITMI partners in their countries and brings stories back to encourage supporters. Steve enjoys photography and mechanics, (both hobbies that have greatly benefited ITMI partners!) Prior to becoming ITMI's Director, Steve served on the Board of Directors for 4 years. Steve lives in Arizona with his wife, Darlene.
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