Interview with a UETS graduate, who is planting a new international All Nations Church in Kyiv (no name or photo is used in order to protect identity of the minister to nationals of Muslim countries).
Could you say couple words about yourself?
We are missionaries of Tabernacle Church in Kyiv. A year ago the church blessed us to imbark on the mission of planting a new international All Nations Church to reach out numerous foreigners living in the capital of Ukraine.
What prompted you to plant an international church?
It all started when I was assigned a task to find information about Ukrainian cities we needed in terms of the master’s program Mission in the Modern City. While searching for the information, I came across statistics about foreign students in Ukraine, which changed my mindset and the whole course of my ministry.
According to official data of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, at that time there were 66,310 foreign students from 147 countries (today we have 75,605 students from 154 countries). In addition to students, there are diasporas in Ukraine, including a great number of Crimean Tatars. Needless to say, most of these foreigners are Muslims.
What do Ukrainian churches do to reach out foreigners?
The problem is that Ukrainian pastors are not always ready to overcome existing cultural barriers to show love and acceptance towards foreigners. Many of them don’t understand that the notions of care and Christian love could be revealed in different cultures. What care is in the eyes of Ukrainians often is not care in the understanding of people, for example, from Asia.
How do you build up relationships with foreign nationals?
It is worth mentioning that we are a part of a leadership team of the international Compass mission uniting several churches serving foreigners. Actually, we started with conducting a survey about major needs of foreigners in Kyiv and analyzing how we could meet those needs. Today, along with other members of the team we hold weekly meetings attended by nationals of different countries such as Algeria, Livia, Azerbaijan, India, China. We go with them on summer and winter trips trying to reveal the essence of real Christianity. Also, we hold Russian and Ukrainian language classes for foreigners, play soccer with them, etc.
What difficulties do you face when trying share the Gospel with foreigners?
As a matter of fact, they believe that we believe in what we actually don’t believe. The often think that all Ukrainians are Christians and that is why Christianity is something not really serious. The greatest challenge we face is to show through our love and acceptance that our God is a God of a stranger, orphan and widow. Having built strong relationships, when they see that Christianity is, in fact, serious, we eventually get an opportunity to share the Gospel with them.