Theology and Christian Ministry Resident Program graduate 2015.
It’s been the best, dynamic and most effective three years in my life. I grew as a minister, became a pastor, and… got married during my study at UETS!
I lived at the seminary’s Dorm No.1 with other fellow-students. We prayed together in the mornings, had lectures at the Academic Center, and worked at the library. Every Thursday we organized students’ chapel services where we practiced what we had learnt.
Besides the learning process, each of us was involved in practical ministry (teaching God’s Word, organizing youth, children ministries, serving tea to the elderly, leading worship etc.) to help local churches. Once I received an invitation from Tuzhar, a little church located not far from the Chornobyl zone, to come and help with preaching and teaching. The village was so far away that few people ever wanted to go there, but deeply in my heart I heard God’s call.
Now serving at the Tuzhar church is my main ministry, and my wife Rima is my best helper. Every week I take a “marshrutka” (old intercity yellow mini-bus – perfect for the “herrings in a can” experience) and go to serve in Tuzhar. People there are very happy to see me, and the kids want to play football and other sport games.
Together with other students (Kostya Ackman, Stas Sebov, Sasha Doronin, Roma Khrystychenko and others from the same Dorm) I organized special events for the kids in the village. All of them showed up on the next Sunday morning!
Now I want to grow as a pastor, and thinking of the next level of education in future.
Finally, I want to thank the Lord for the amazing time I had at UETS, and thank everyone who invested time, efforts and resources in me. May the Lord be glorified and bless you abundantly!
Pictures of ministry in Tuzhar:
Memories of my study at UETS, October 2013
Arguing until hoarse
I remember how we stayed in the Seminary for the weekends during exam periods. We didn’t have enough money to travel home and back. So we, brothers, would buy potatoes, bread and sausages, cook dinner and talk ourselves hoarse afterwards, arguing and disputing on theological issues till 5 AM! I particularly remember how we argued about the Holy Communion – how specifically the process should be presented, what actually happens to the bread and wine during the communion, should we use wine or grape juice, ordinary bread or unleavened bread, etc. Despite the competition on who was right and who was wrong, typical for such debates, those conversations really pulled us together. Instead of sticking to extremes, we found common ground and unity. I still keep in touch with many of my group mates. It was a marvelous time.
Role of Quiet Place
I will never forget the doctrine of the Holy Spirit taught by an Australian professor Bill George. I even invited him to preach about the Holy Spirit at my church. To my surprise, Bill was so modest! From the outside he limped and looked quite weak. But when he started talking, everybody just sat with mouths wide open and listened.
Bill taught us one amazing spiritual practice: “Go to a quiet place with a confident anticipation that the Lord is waiting for you there!” I took the approach literally, and after returning home I found a quiet place in a forest where I went to pray. I don’t know why but I dressed myself in my best clothes. May be I thought that “soon and very soon I’m going to see the King” or something. The Professor also taught us that we had to forget about our cell phones and focus on God completely. No requests, no pleading, just seeking God’s face, His holy presence. This spiritual practice influenced my whole life.
Hachatur Avetisyan (Armenia),
Graduate of the Theology and Christian Ministry program, 2012
Study at UETS has helped me to understand better God’s call for my life. Here at the seminary I was able to see God, His love, acceptance and kindness in new perspective. UETS teachers shared with us their rich life experience, deep knowledge and faith and that impacted our spiritual formation.
Here at the seminary I’ve learnt how to accept and love people who are different from me. Life in the seminary has been forming my character and has taught me to think about other people first. It was not an easy process for me to go through character formation, changing of the worldview and getting new understanding about relationship with people. But I am thankful to the Lord that He has been leading me through all these circumstances in order to teach me and to form me as a minister.
I am thankful to the Lord for wonderful people I had opportunity to meet and friends that I could make here. The seminary life and study has left an indelible mark on my life and I am grateful to God for that.
Mariya Kovtun (Ukraine),
Graduate of the Theology and Music Ministry program, 2011
I have graduated from the seminary in 2011. Thanks to the knowledge I’ve got at UETS I have been able to organize children worship group in my church. There are 5 children in this group. I teach them how to sing and as a result they began to participate at the church worship services. They invite their non-Christian parents to come to see how they sing in the church. This way we reach non-Christian parents through their children. Also at UETS I’ve learnt how to play piano. I give piano classes to one of my good friends. Thanks to these classes now she leads worship in small groups meetings of our church. I am thankful to God that after graduation I was able to grow in my music ministry and I can do more things for the Lord!
Alyona Fedorova (Ukraine),
Graduate of BTh Modular program, 2008, Pastor of the youth and social ministry, The Church of the Living God
When I was 9 I had a great desire in my heart to work with orphans and to help them. Twenty six years passed, and God proved that this dream was from Him. 6 years ago my husband and I decided to invite orphans to come to celebrate Christmas with our family. At that time I had been studying at the seminary. After that Christmas we have decided to adopt Kostya (14) and Vladik (7), those two brothers who were visiting us. In a month they moved to our house and became our own children.
Since 1995 the church, where we serve as pastors, had a vision that charity will be one of the main keys for revival of our area. The situation here is really bad: there are about 230 poor families in our region and many children need a shelter to stay away from alcohol and drug addiction, immoral way of live of their parents. There was no place for such children to go to and social services asked us to open a special ministry house for them. It was a signal from the Lord that prompted our church to act. We moved to a new building and left the old one for the Center of Children Rehabilitation. We’ve started the renovation of the building and we want to make it good and cozy in order to accept kids and show them that there are people who love them and that there is a way out in God. Please, pray for God’s provision and blessing upon our ministry so that we could help more children to get needed care.
Andrei Baranov, Graduate of BTh Modular program, 2009
Missionary, Pastor of the Crimea Tatar Church
The study at UETS has been a great blessing for me. As a pastor I had situations in my ministry when I couldn’t answer some difficult questions people had and couldn’t fully help them. I had very limited understanding of the Bible and ministry at the church.
I have already finished UETS BTh program and continue working on my Master's degree in Transformative Leadership. During my study at UETS my worldview, understanding and ministry have changed. The church I serve in has grown up and more people are able to here the Good News about God and His love. Our family has moved to Crimea from Uzbekistan and has been living there for more than two years already. The first Crimea Tatar church has been planted in Ukraine. Our church has opened home groups in several nearby villages and works with Muslim believers there as well.
It is very difficult to work with this national group. They have their own traditions, lifestyle and culture. Usually people who accept Christ are persecuted by their relatives and neighbors. But, the Lord has been faithful and showed us His miracles in this ministry. There are about 100 church members in the church already and the church continues to grow and to reach Muslims with the Gospel of God.
Please, pray for God's protection and guidance so that more Crimea Tatars would come to know Christ as their savior.
Anna Berezina, Graduate of BTh Modular program, 2009
Church administrator, Dean of a Bible school
I always wanted to minister the Lord and to do that effectively. In 2004 I got an email from UETS with an invitation to study at the seminary. I applied and became a seminary student. The years of my study were not very easy but interesting. In 2008 I finished the seminary and got Bachelor degree. When I was 4th year student I was invited to be a Dean of the Spiritual Center Ministry School. About 30 students from different parts of Ukraine studied there. It was an evident confirmation that I am on the right way and that the Lord prepared a special ministry for me.
I am thankful to God for the opportunity He gave me to study at the seminary. Here I got priceless knowledge and wisdom that are helping me in my ministry.
In two years I have become a church administrator, Bible School dean and a senior leader for small group leaders. I am grateful to God for the opportunity to serve Him and to do the best for His Kingdom.