UPF Board President Joe Privott recently returned from a trip to Ukraine where he visited the Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary (UBTS) and conferred with educators and leaders there.

“I am truly in awe of what God is doing at UBTS,” noted Joe. “Growth and opportunity abound everywhere you look.”

ubts--august-2019In particular, Joe noted the record number of students enrolling at UBTS from throughout Ukraine. Many are drawn by the mentoring program and technology that helps them maximize every teaching and learning opportunity. He also observed the renovation and construction activity at the seminary’s new academic building. UPF spearheaded a capital campaign to support this expansion of facilities, raising over $2.5 million during the first 18 months.

“UBTS is no longer a struggling start-up. It has become an established, innovative Baptist seminary that is fulfilling a critical need to equip church leaders with the skills and spiritual values that will guide Ukraine’s future,” observes Joe.  “What a blessing that God allows people like us – from nearly 6,000 miles away – to support the learning and growth of UBTS students and, through them, to impact hundreds of churches and communities throughout Ukraine and beyond.”

Adds Joe, “The outstanding financial and spiritual support of UPF donors and friends has helped to make all of these achievements possible. May God continue to guide and bless this tremendous work and may we always give Him the glory!”


Ukraine Skyline

As UPF expands its efforts to reach and cultivate broader support for UBTS, we are pleased to welcome two new board members.

Scott E. Reed is the former Senior Executive Vice President and CFO of BB&T Corporation, one of nation’s premier commercial lending banks. Scott has more than 40 years of front-line and leadership experience in the banking and financial sectors. He has offered his expertise to advance the mission and work of a number of nonprofit organizations including the North Carolina Zoological Council, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Young Life of Forsyth County, The Salvation Army, and The Nature Conservancy of North Carolina.

Scott holds degrees from Wake Forest University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Rutgers University. We are honored to add Scott’s experience and wisdom to the UPF Board.

Tony Vermillion currently serves as Vice President for Global Security at Emerson, a decentralized $25 billion global manufacturing and technology company with 65 divisions, 235 manufacturing locations, and 135,000 employees. His career includes prior service in the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and as director of global security operations for Proctor and Gamble’s North American and Asian sectors.

Tony earned a Master of Science degree from Indiana University – Purdue University in Fort Wayne, and a Bachelor’s degree from Indiana University in Bloomington. Since 1995, he has been designated as a Certified Protection Professional (CPP) through the American Society for Industry Security International. Tony’s global perspective and expertise add a new and important dimension of insight to the UPF Board.

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church planting

Imagine living in a War Zone where open hostility to the Christian faith is expressed through violence against people and property. Where the “new normal” is an atmosphere of fear, deprivation, and mistrust. Where it seems the rest of the world – and maybe even God – has forgotten about you and moved on to other, more pressing issues.

That’s the reality for thousands of Ukrainians who live in the Eastern Ukraine War Zone. A year after the hostilities began, half a million people from the area were homeless; today Christian persecution in the War Zone is widespread. Many have fled, becoming refugees in their own homeland.

Thankfully, there are Ukrainian Christians from the Zone who imagine a better way – a way of hope, reconciliation, and peace. Some have undertaken an arduous journey to attend UBTS, located in Western Ukraine, in preparation for the time they can return home to minister to their broken communities.

Strengthened by the Gospel message, all UBTS-trained students and graduates are equipped to encourage and disciple family members, friends, and other refugees.  They model leadership, integrity, and accountability in the midst of confusion and corruption. They share Christ’s love with people hungry for acceptance and stability.

There is great risk in this commitment – as well as an even greater reward. The following video demonstrates the powerful impact of a church planted in Lviv, by UBTS faculty and students from the War Zone. It shows them ministering to refugees from the War Zone and, in the process, changing the life of a young man who is now attending UBTS. It is a vivid affirmation of Joseph’s bold declaration to his brothers in Genesis 50:20: “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” The “Evil” that separatists meant against churches throughout the War Zone has transformed to “GOOD” for countless more people within and beyond the War Zone for generations to come.

Ukraine Partnership Foundation Overcome

UBTS utilizes a Cohort System of instruction for students pursuing the four-year Bachelor’s degree and Diploma programs. These students leave families and jobs, travel to Lviv for one week of on-campus study, then return home for five weeks, then return to UBTS.

Currently, this process is repeated six times a year, or three times in each semester. As noted above, students come to UBTS from throughout Ukraine, including the Eastern War Zone. Train travel from Eastern Ukraine can exceed 24 hours one-way and out-of-pocket expenses are substantial.

Watch UBTS Students Describe Their Travel

ukraine women

The women of Ukraine are daughters, wives, mothers, and friends – much like other women all around the world. They share the same desires – to be safe, loved and appreciated; raise healthy children; and find meaningful ways to contribute to other people’s lives that will, in turn, bring joy and purpose to their own lives. Adding to their day-to-day financial and emotional strain is a hovering sense of uncertainty from the ever-present shadows of an uncertain economy, disintegrating families, and war in the East. These women need encouragement and fellowship with other women who understand. The Women’s Ministry Program at UBTS is designed to meet this growing need.

The women who attend UBTS have traveled many different paths to faith. A few were raised in evangelical Christian homes, but most found faith in a non-Christian environment at a desperate time in their lives. Some are partners with their husbands in service to their churches and communities. Most have spouses who are either indifferent or hostile toward Christians. All have open hearts and are dedicated to serving women and children through a wide variety of ministries.

And these students and graduates from the UBTS Women’s Ministry Program are having an impact! They bring hope, friendship, and salvation to women of all ages as they learn about and experience God’s love. Young women, in particular, are eager to learn about God’s purpose for their lives and his design for marriage and family life.

Sasha Furmanchuk is a UBTS student and mentor in the Women’s Ministry Program. She has a compelling vision for how churches can help care for Ukraine’s 71,000 orphans; help them experience God’s love; and grow into healthy, independent adults. You can meet Sasha and learn more about her ministry in the following video.