Where is UBI right now?
An update on staff and students
Since the beginning of the war three weeks ago, UBI classes have been cancelled and our staff and students have been scattered. Today I would like to give you a brief update on where everyone is and what they are involved in.
We have a hardworking staff. Even though we have all landed in different places, I am not surprised to see everyone doing anything they can to help from wherever they are.
Here in Sopot, Poland, Katie and I have been joined by Natasha Maliuga, Ludmilla Torshina, and Ludmilla Chubenko. It feels so good to have part of our team here. Natasha and I have been busy organizing funds from the States, communicating with sponsors, and looking for long-term apartment options for refugees. Our two Ludmillas are a vital part of our center here at the Sopot Church of Christ. Their work with registration, benevolence distribution, information gathering, and organization keeps things running smoothly. Katie and Carmella have been working closely with them to keep things organized in spreadsheets and to help with the distribution of funds.
Sasha Maliuga chose to stay behind in Kyiv in order to minister to the remaining members of our local congregation, as well as to help others in the community who are in great need . He is there working together with a couple of our UBI students.
Sergei Voitsekhovskiy and Zhenya Tochilkin evacuated to western Ukraine along with their wives and are helping the local congregation there minister to people traveling through to the border. They are involved in leading worship, washing dishes, preparing food, and many other things.
Sergei Chubenko is working with a few men from our congregation who are now in western Ukraine to help shuttle people from the train station to the border crossings. They are also ministering to the local congregation in Ternopil where they arrange accommodations for people traveling through, and Sergei has been preaching there as well.
Dima Grishuk is directing a group of “Volunteer Brothers” as part of Let’s Love relief program. This group packs up their vans with food and other supplies, delivers it toward central Ukraine, and then pick up people who are trying to make it to the west. Many in this group are men who have sent their families over the border and are now devoting all their time to relief work.
All of our female students have spent time with us here in Sopot. Some of them have stayed, while others have moved on to Germany, Belgium, and Cyprus. The men, who are not allowed to leave the country, are involved in different ministries. Here are a few words from some of them.
The whole church here is helping refugees from further east. We take them in, give them the opportunity to rest, shower, and eat. I have personally been studying with an old classmate who is interested in baptism. I’ve been helping her read the Bible. I am doing fine, and I’m just doing my best to help other people.
My home, my family, and my church are here and I don’t want to be anywhere else. From the very beginning, I have been helping elderly people with groceries and food. I am also working with children every day in the shelters. They are living through such a difficult time. Has it been scary? No. From the very beginning of this war I have gone to bed each night and woken up each morning thinking about how I could serve others. This war has given me the blessing and opportunity to baptize my parents, and every day I am evangelizing to children and adults in shelters. The fighting in Kyiv has gotten worse over this last week, and there are shells hitting houses not too far from us, but God is watching over us.
I have been taking part in the service of the Church at Poznyaki. My wife and I are doing what we can to help those who have stayed. Many people just need support and encouragement. Some have been hiding out alone in the stairwells of their buildings which has been very, very hard for them. We have helped move people out of dangerous areas of Kiev, and I have been coordinating (as much as I’ve been able), humanitarian aid for the church in Ternopil, my home congregation.
My ministry responsibilities in the church have greatly increased now that there are so few of us in the congregation. On Tuesday evening I have been teaching Bible classes and on Sundays we divide up the work among the brothers. We have been posting all our services online for others as well. I am certainly gaining invaluable experience during this time, especially with so much teaching. I know you are praying for us, and I ask that you continue to do so. Over the last few days the shelling in our area has gotten worse.
I have been helping people who have left the war zone. I help load and unload different humanitarian shipments from other countries, help organize them in the warehouse to get them ready to send to individual churches or families, and I’ve also been helping send medicine and food to church members in Kharkov, my home town.
I am so encouraged by our staff and students at UBI. Their passion to serve during this tragedy is such an example to all of us. They are reacting to this terrible war in a way which brings glory to God. None of this is easy for anyone. Everyone misses home, misses family, and misses safety. But praise God for their love and self-sacrifice in the face of danger.
Untile next time,