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Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary
Address: 57 Kvitky Tsisyk Str.
Pushcha-Vodytsia Kyiv Ukraine
04075

Tel: +380 44 401 82 41

Email: welcome2u@uets.net

PO Box 8 Kyiv Ukraine 04075

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‘Conflicts Which Strengthen the Church’ PDF Print E-mail

Interview with Dan Buttry, UETS guest lecturer, and Global Consultant for Peace and Justice with International Ministries of the American Baptist Churches.

Can you share a little bit about yourself?

As a Christian minister and missionary, I travel around the world, working from grassroots communities to high-level educational institutions. I train church and community leaders in conflict transformation skills, utilizing experiential education methodologies and Bible study. Also, I have been involved in many mediation efforts, especially in Myanmar/Burma and with the Nagas of northeast India and northwest Myanmar.

As for Ukraine, I have just come back from Dnipro (formerly Dnipropetrovsk), which is the center of the warzone arc of eastern Ukraine, and though it hasn’t been in the war zone, it is the closest place for people to flee to, or in this case, come from the war zone to a safe place for training.  My co-facilitator was Veronika Voloshyna, a former student of mine at Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary and a graduate of our 10-day intensive Training of Conflict Transformation Trainers.  We had done a two-day training two years ago.  This time we repeated that workshop for new participants and added a three-day training with far more material for those from the two 2-day workshops.

We did the story of Rizpah from 2 Samuel 21, beginning with participants wrestling with the text.  Then Veronika interviewed two characters from the story, participants entering into the role of first “Merab” (or Michal), a mother whose five sons were executed by David and the Gibeonites, and then “Mr. Gibeon,” a representative of an ethnic minority group which experienced genocide at the hands of King Saul.

What is special about the course you teach at UETS?

This is a course for master’s degree students which is called Conflict Transformation. Simply put, conflict transformation means turning conflict from negative, destructive experiences into positive, constructive experiences in which problems are solved, unjust relationships are structured in more just ways, violence is replaced by nonviolent means of dealing with disagreements, torn relationships are reconciled, decisions become more participatory and traumatized people are supported for healing.

These conflicts may be social and political conflicts within a country, or they may be family conflicts. They all are the same – the stages are not different. Actually, I do not deliver regular lectures. I simply make use of my students’ experience by resorting to role-play peace-making games, as well as stories from the Scripture. Dramatizing is usually replaced with the so-called non-violent transformation, healing and, eventually, reconciliation.

Why do conflicts arise in churches?

Even the early church had conflicts despite being filled with the Holy Spirit. Those were related either to unjust distribution of food, or ethnic discrepancies. However, the presence of the Holy Spirit helped Christians resolve differences rather than avoid them. In Acts 6, for example, both parties to the conflict worked hard to solve the problem. I am convinced that we don’t need to not be afraid of conflicts, as they may be opportunities for spiritual growth from God. So, we strengthen churches by equipping them with tools to resolve conflicts. If this or that church is able to find a constructive solution, energy of the community will be used to serve and transform others. Over the course of 44 years of marriage, my wife and I, for example, have had many conflicts. However, we love each other today more than ever, mostly thanks to the conflicts we have had.

Does conflict avoidance make the situation worse?

No, there are situations when conflicts should be avoided. That is what Jesus did from time to time. When He was about to be enthroned, He went away. His family escaped to Egypt, when He was little. Sometimes it is much better to wait, especially in the short-run. We have to be wise enough to decided what to do.

What words of encouragement do you have for our students?

I would encourage the students with the words that Christ who is in them can do much more than they can even imagine. They have to entrust all their conflicts to Christ, as God’s glory is often revealed in their resolution.

 
UETS Trains Ministers for Central Asia PDF Print E-mail

Interview with Sharshanbek Baibosunov, UETS student in the Transformative Leadership master’s degree program, and 2013 graduate of the bachelor's degree program in Theology and Christian Ministry

Could you introduce yourself first?

Currently, I am chairman of the Kyrgyz Alliance of Evangelical Churches, and deputy president of the Association of Evangelical Churches of Kyrgyzstan. Initially, evangelical churches in Kyrgyzstan were reluctant to unite, but new laws against Christians made them seek common ground to protect themselves. Today, they are trying to influence amendments to religious legislation.

Also, I serve on the board of the Bible Society of Kyrgyzstan, which promotes cooperation among churches irrespective of their denominational affiliation, and I’m a member of the board and faculty of the United Theological Seminary in Bishkek.

I am also a pastor of an evangelical church planted by my predecessors twenty years ago. There are up to 70 people who regularly attend the church on the weekly basis. We are taking advantage of the opportunities we have to minister to children and youth, orphans in particular. We cooperate with almost all Kyrgyz churches, advocating for the rights of believers living in Asia facing prosecution, and organizing national workshops and children camps.

How did you come to know God?

There was a period of time in my life when I felt like dying. The first place I went to when haunted by such thoughts was a mosque. However, my mind could not accept what I heard there. Since some of my relatives had believed in Christ earlier, I used to read Christian brochures from time to time, mostly out of curiosity. Then, one night I saw Christ in a dream saying ‘Come… I am waiting for you.’ So, I woke up in the middle of the night and told my wife that I wanted to repent. So, I went to church and prayed a prayer of repentance.

Do Kyrgyz Christians face any prosecutions today?

Despite the fact that Kyrgyzstan is a secular country, with the vast majority of the population being Muslim (around 86% are followers of Islam), there are still opportunities for ministry. No severe prosecutions have been initiated by the central government, but local authorities keep putting roadblocks in place by imposing various restrictions for evangelical Christians.

 

What prompted you to enroll in a master’ degree program?

I decided to enroll in the Transformative Leadership master’s degree program, because I enjoyed my undergraduate studies at UETS so much. At UETS I got excellent instruction from the best faculty in the field. This education gave me greater confidence in different theological disciplines, in particular those dealing with the protection of sound Bible teaching from various heresies. Since I’m a Christian leader, I would like to further develop as a leader. Also, UETS has expanded my view of the evangelical world and I’ve made a lot of valuable contacts that have become friends and we still keep in touch.

 
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