This month was very special for us because we traveled to Eastern Ukraine to visit our students who live near the war zone and who are recipients of the warzone scholarship. As many of you remember, two years ago we started the warzone scholarships which we award to people who are affected by the war. We have about 30 students who benefit from this scholarship.
We went to the Luhansk and Donetsk region to lead a conference for pastors and young people in which we addressed about 500 people in various settings. It was very moving and sad to see the destruction that war brings to the lives of people. I do not think it will be profitable to dwell on the destroyed buildings, roads, factories, streets and bridges that carry the signs of war, but I can assure you that the land is filled with new opportunities to plant new churches, to reach young people, and to bring hope to the hopeless.
We visited one city of 150 000 people which has one evangelical church of about 150 people. Many cities do not have churches at all. The work that our students is crucial. We will do everything in order to support them in these initiatives. I heard from many students that their time at the seminary gives them hope and strengthens their faith.
The biggest challenge for people in Ukraine is a lack of faith among believers and, with our vision, we can address this issue. We help people see that the church can grow and that there is always hope. I would like to thank each one of you who continue participating in our war zone scholarship and I would like to challenge others to please consider the opportunity to join us as we plant new churches and rebuild the nation of Ukraine in the East. A full scholarship is $5,000 per year, but any amount given to the War Zone Scholarship Fund would be helpful.
President of UBTS, Dr. Yaroslav Pyzh
In mid-February, the Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary held another session of Youth Bible School which is organized in cooperation with the School Without Walls educational project. We began our session with a time of uplifting worship, which traditionally begins every session of the school, organized by the freshmen of the Worship Ministry department of UBTS.
At the previous session, the students were divided into small groups for homework which was different for each group. On the basis of the information learned, the students prepared an analysis of one of biblical passages using the historical-grammatical method.
The speaker at the February session was Igor Zeleny, a teacher of theology. The students heard about the church, its nature, images, functions, structure and studied two important ordinances – communion and baptism.
A student from Mukachevo, Anita Hunza, shares her impressions about the session, “For me, this was an eye-opening session. I learned how rich and interesting the nature of the church is, its biblical significance, images, and particular problems. And I want to say that UBTS is, first of all, a family, not just a place for studying. The people here have given their lives to God, they love Him and are willing to serve others. Ecclesia is not just a church gathering, it’s people united by one mission. UBTS is ecclesia.”
The Key Accountability Document is a document with a regulatory function for students and also serves as a “job description” for the staff of the Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary. This document contains the main responsibilities of a person, short-term goals, vision for life and ministry. As it turned out, KAD works not only for students and seminary workers. It also works for church teams our students serve among. And also, for first graders of the Irpin Christian Gymnasium.
UBTS student Darina, who works as a teacher of first graders, has integrated KAD for her students by developing a children’s format of it. Goals are determined for each child, taking into account his or her individual characteristics.
Darina said, “My goal is for the children to learn to set goals for themselves and to reach them starting from the first grade. This will help them to be successful in adult life. I help them achieve and fulfill their goals, I strive to encourage and motivate them. In April we will see the first results and small achievements of the first-graders.
You can also adopt this idea and implement KAD in your environment, thereby helping people to become better and make their life more effective. And in relation to these children who made KADs in the second semester of the first grade, just imagine how their future will change if they learn to take responsibility for their own lives and their own decisions from the age of six!”
From now on in Ukraine, higher education certificates in theological studies will be recognized at the same level as state universities certificates. Graduates of theological seminaries, having a bachelor’s or a master’s degree, will have a documentary state confirmation of higher education.
On February 13, 2018, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine held a solemn ceremony to award certificates that confirm the recognition of higher education certificates. The certificates were presented by the Deputy Minister of Education and Science Yuriy Rashkevych, a member of the National Team of Experts on the Reform of Higher Education in Ukraine. Over two hundred graduates of the theological institutions of several Christian denominations received recognized certificates. Among them were employees (and graduates) of the Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary: Alexander Savych (head of Pastoral Ministry department), Elisey Pronin (head of Church Planting department), Oleg Borys (coordinator of Youth Bible School program) and Ivanna Popudnyk, the librarian of UBTS. Congratulations to our dear colleagues! The very fact of such an event seemed impossible a few years ago given the post-Soviet past of our country.
The L’viv group of the Young Leaders’ Development Program together with the pastor of Irpin Bible church, Sergiy Sologub, and the coordinator of the group, Peter Sapegin, spent several days on a spiritual retreat.
During the retreat, Sergiy Sologub demonstrated to young leaders various methods of quiet time with God which could immediately be put into practice. They also spent several hours a day in prayer. The last day of the retreat there was a culmination: they spent two hours, one on one, with the Creator. All this happened in the midst of the beauty of the Carpathian Mountains.
Several students shared with us about their experience:
“An unforgettable time with the brothers. We learned a lot and got refreshed.”
“They asked me why I chose UBTS. I said that UBTS opens a lot of new opportunities: opportunity to see everything from a different perspective, have good friends and a lot of practical experience.”
“I thank God for such wonderful brothers in Christ and this institution that cares about its students! I am grateful to our teacher Sergiy Sologub.”
“Seeing who God is, is more important than seeing His actions.”