Interview with a non-resident student of psychology, Vitaliy Dudukalov.
How did your ministry start?
Before 2014 we were actively involved in children's ministry in Crimea. Living near Kyiv, we went there regularly, mostly with the purpose of serving at Christian camps. However, following the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, the door to Crimea was closed and we found ourselves somewhat suspended in terms of ministry. Then it occurred to us that we could try doing something in the village of Plesets’ke that we had just moved to. So we started inviting neighborhood kids to our home. I must admit that it was frightening at the beginning. They were so poor that some of them did not know even how to flush water after using a toilet. In the course of time, when more and more of them came, the Children and Youth Light Club came into existence.
What is your ministry like today?
There are four major dimensions to our ministry. First, on Saturdays we have weekly Light Club gatherings for children and teenagers. We sing Christian songs, play games, and read Bible stories. Since we rent facilities just across from a local school, we have a wonderful opportunity to invite school kids for tea and cookies during breaks. Quite a few of them come to our after-school child care. In this way we build relationships and attract more children to our weekly gatherings. Occasionally, we hold movie nights followed by active discussions. Also, we stage Christian dramas and skits, which help kids to get saturated with Christian values and a Christian worldview.
Second, we organize summer camps. Two years ago we held our first day-camp in the village, which drew only 25 kids. However, we did not get disappointed, and the next year God blessed us with 120 kids. Last summer we have had two consecutive camps – one for children, attended by 125 kids, and another for teenagers.
Third, we found it effective in terms of ministry to go on bicycle tours with teenagers across Ukraine. This is an amazing time for them to make friends, form a team, and evangelize. Our tours serve as spiritual renewal in the lives of the children. Last week, for example, we went on a six-day tour …
Finally, we launch various social projects that children can be engaged in like collecting trash in a neighboring forest or holding a charity fair. In this way we instill in them civic responsibility.
The ministry entrusted to us by God helps to overcome the depressing reality of an ordinary Ukrainian village on a daily basis by introducing positive changes into the lives of the younger generation. It proves that God can change every person, every village, and the whole country.
What is the role of the seminary in your ministry?
Many of the children we minister to have tragic stories. Sometimes their behavior is so weird that we don't know to respond to it. Moreover, they address us with stunning questions. So, it prompted me to enroll in the psychology program at UETS to learn how to approach them in light of God's Word.
Could you share your vision?
In the future we intend to focus on discipleship, raising up new ministers, involving parents, and strengthening our presence in the village. Apart from that, we are dreaming and praying about buying our own facility which would allow us to expand the scope of the ministry.