In the first century we read of the apostle Paul making tents. We have often added our reason for this – it was to pay his expenses! It is true that on three occasions Paul spoke of not being chargeable to the believers in both Corinth and Thessaloniki but on other occasions following his profession enabled him to reach others for Christ.
In recent years this has been a growing aspect of our work. Abe Samuel is using his medical knowledge as a witness in Ternopol, Ukraine, Roger Brind his educational knowledge in Terebovlya, Lutsk, Kyiv and Zaozerne in Ukraine and Dömös, Hungary and Mark and Rachel Bartlett and Roger their language skills in Czechia.
Some remarkable doors have opened as a result. In Czechia for example we saw the relationships we have made with local teachers developed this year and we had some great conversations. Our main topic was based on the life and writings of C S Lewis and that presented opportunities for discussions about faith and philosophy.
With the youth, the 17-year-old who came to Christ last year is a very bright witness and brought her mother and friends to the meetings. The whole group is very positive about the programmes we arranged, and we praise God for these developing contacts. Some have asked can they join us for the International Conference in Hungary next year.
Parents and grandparents were very happy with the programme the children’s programme devised by Mark and Rachel and a number contacted family and friends and suggested they should bring their children too and so numbers grew.
About 150 people attended during the week and are very positive about the programmes and are keen we should develop them further.
School links are a further opportunity for us to demonstrate the work of Christ in our lives. Professional links have been established between schools in Hungary, Ukraine and Wales.
The war in the East of Ukraine in the Lugansk and Donetsk Regions has brought great need. Both areas have with strong links to Wales. Lugansk is a twin city of Cardiff and it was the industrialist John Hughes from Merthyr Tydfil who established the steel works in a small village Donetsk in East Ukraine that became the great city it is today.
Paul and Sally Thomas and Roger and Susan Brind have links with the Lugansk through visits and contact with many young people who have fled the areas. The Philadelphia Trust is involved in channelling support to three Ukrainian Christian organizations. Two are involved in bringing aid to the area and the third supports the refugees start life over again in the West of Ukraine.
The Charity “Warm the Soldier” was set up soon after the outbreak of postilities between Ukraine and the Separatist movement supported by Russia. Initially it was to support the Ukrainian soldiers who needed suitable clothing and equipment for a conflict during an Eastern European winter. Their ministry was much appreciated and linked with the work of evangelical chaplains has provided for the holistic needs of those engaged in the conflict. As time passed those involved in supporting the soldiers were touched by the need of the innocent civilian population and so widened the charities remit to bring aid to civilians. Those who have donated to the Philadelphia Trust have asked us to support the aid to civilian’s work of “Warm the Soldier.”
Our contact with team came as a result of meeting with Kate Bliashyk in Lutsk. She is a medical student who has worked with the mobile clinic close to the frontline on a number of occasions. They provide an holistic approach to medicine – healing for body, mind and soul.
Fimiam Church in Lutsk have developed an outreach among mainly professional people who need to learn English. Each summer they organise a summer school which is attended by up to 1000 people. As a follow up they run a course during the winter for two semesters of 10 weeks one evening each week and for the last two winters have run a “Retreat Weekend” in Zoazerne.
UK assembly workers’ involvement in service for the Lord in what is now West Ukraine has a long history. In the pre-war days, when it was the Ukrainian Area of East Poland or Greater Hungary, the Hines, MacGregors, Griffiths and Schneidrooks worked there. During our recent visits, we have met
with several older believers who remember those workers and hold them in high esteem. They also speak very highly of Fred and Ruth Kelling (GLO) who visited Transcarpathia, particularly Khust in the last years of communism and were a great source of support. In recent times Paul and Sally Thomas visited the area until Sally’s illness made it impossible. More recently I responded to the call from believers in the Volyn, Ternopol and Cherkassy Regions to lead discipleship and teaching programmes and Mark Davies (GLO) and others have agreed to partner in this work. We are doing this under the guidance and leadership of church leaders in the areas we work.