Against a backdrop of shelling and skirmishes, Ukrainian Christians are risking their lives to distribute supplies and resources, sometimes going directly to the front lines. While many fled as conflict grew, these are some of the faithful who remained—sharing God’s Word and supporting those who couldn’t leave.
Slava Kogut is a pastor and chaplain who works in social services ministry bringing hope to prisons, substance abuse centers, hospitals, and homeless shelters. Through his church’s work in prisons, they have baptized many new believers. The officers have shown interest in the In Touch Messenger, too—they can see that the Word of God is changing the inmates’ hearts every day.
Only the Word of God is able to change a person’s heart. Everything starts there.
Twenty-three years ago, Aleksandr Kupchinenko came to Christ while incarcerated. Today, he serves as a chaplain, counseling and sharing the gospel with inmates and soldiers in Ukraine. Sometimes, several inmates will approach him at once for counsel, so he will connect the Messenger to a speaker and play it for them to listen together. Aleksandr and his wife have eight children, and the work they are able to do with the Messenger has inspired their whole family—reminding them what a blessing it is to serve God by ministering to others in prisons and on the front lines.
Four years ago, The Maryntseva family lost everything when they were forced to flee their home in Donetsk. Since then, Sergey and Olya have built a new life in Kiev, attributing their recovery and success to God’s provision. In addition to their work running several restaurants, Olga and Sergey help soldiers whenever they can. Olga volunteers in military hospitals, where she distributes Messenger devices. The Messengers have proven to be valuable to the soldiers, often seen as a precious gift to ease their healing.
I see God in every little, tiny thing.
A pastor for more than 25 years, Yuri Svashinko has made it a priority to minister to the marginalized. From distributing basic necessities to ministering to the blind and disabled, his church is sharing the gospel by meeting needs and building deep heart-to-heart connections. And the Messenger plays a huge part in this, drawing people in to hear the Word of God and come to Christ like never before.
Russian pastor Lev Belov had initially planned to do ministry in Ukraine with the Messengers, but God called him to distribute the devices in Russia. So every few months Lev travels to Ukraine to pick up Messengers and smuggle them back into his home country. He has faced harassment and punitive fines from the Russian government, but he is certain this is where God wants him to be.
I believe that I am fulfilling God's command. Jesus' command is to go and preach the gospel. Jesus never promised that it would be easy. He was crucified. And I just got fined.
Originally from the nation of Georgia, Bondo Macharashville came to Ukraine in the late 70s. He primarily serves as a chaplain in hospitals and juvenile prisons, but since 2015, Bondo has also served as a military chaplain, distributing Messengers as part of his ministry. The Messengers have offered peace of mind and touched the hearts of many. In the past he would distribute physical Bibles to the military. After the troops cleared camp, he’d find many discarded on the ground. But the Messengers are never left behind.
Volodimir Streltsov is dedicated to serving the men and women who are willing to sacrifice their lives for their country. Only one battalion has an In Touch LightStream at its outpost. Quite often there is no mobile phone connection or internet access, but the LightStream always works. As he was setting it up for the first team, the soldiers asked what it was for. Volodimir told them, “We will hear the voice of God.”
Artur Pavenko comes from a family of pastors. In the early days of the conflict, half of their church members fled. Four men from the church were kidnapped and killed, including two of Artur’s brothers. Today Artur serves as a military chaplain, and the Messenger is a big part of his ministry on the front lines. Sometimes the devices even make it into the hands of the soldiers they are fighting against, sharing the Light of Christ across borders and over enemy lines.
After searching the bodies of dead Ukrainian soldiers, [a soldier from the opposing side] found the Messenger. He said that he believed the words spoken by Charles Stanley in his sermons and the words that inspired our soldiers. And he says, “I probably won't be afraid to die anymore.”
More than 20 years ago, Aleksandr Gerasimov fled Ukraine as a religious refugee. Now an American citizen, he desires deeply to serve and minister to the people in his homeland. And for the last eight years, In Touch Ministries has helped him distribute more than 20,000 Messengers to Ukraine, bringing peace and hope in a dark and turbulent time.
In the middle of this crisis … God in His wisdom is using the Messenger to bring more people to Christ.
The founder of a humanitarian organization, Yaroslav Malko is Aleskandr Gerasimov’s primary contact for distributing Messengers in Ukraine. He has committed his life to supporting orphans and widows of war, offering comfort to the disabled and elderly, ministering to prisoners and the military, and connecting with many others in need. And the Messenger helps Yaroslav share the Word of God with the people he encounters.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
—John 1:5 (NIV)
With help from people like you, In Touch Messenger devices are bringing the lifesaving Word of God to Ukrainians living in constant danger. And each day, more soldiers and civilians are opening their hearts to the gospel of Jesus Christ.