Interview with Oleksandra Andriyashyna, the first-year non-resident student and military chaplain.
How did you come to know God?
In 1990, when I was an Orthodox Christian and hippy at the same time, a friend of mine invited me to watch the Jesus film according to the Gospel of Luke. When the movie was almost over, I was touched by Jesus’s words that He would never leave me.
At that moment, it was not difficult for me to repent of my sins and believe in His love. I repeated the prayer after the presenter, grabbed an invitation to a church, came to a service and responded to an altar call there. In two months I was baptized and in three months I got involved into the children’s ministry which became my main ministry for the next 20 years.
Who has had the greatest impact on your formation as a Christian?
In 1992 I got acquainted with American missionaries George and Pam Markey, who saw God’s gifts and leadership skills in me. I, in turn, saw in them role models like those I read about in the Bible. I was learning from them constantly, especially in conflict situations, when there was a need to apply God’s Word, or have much patience, love and respect for people in the church and beyond. I still keep in touch with them, and they continue to direct me in God’s true paths.
What ministry are you currently involved in?
Today, I am a missionary in two churches near the front line of conflict in Donetsk. One of these churches is in the town of Avdiivka, which is regularly attended by 15 elderly women, has a day center for children and a youth group for seekers. The other church is in Ocheretyno (40 minutes driving distance from Avdiivka). It, being attended by around 15 people too, also has a ministry for children and teenagers.
In 2015, I moved from Kyiv to Stanytsia Luhanska, where the Lord helped me to start a Christian volunteer center which later turned into a church. More than 20 people had been baptized there by 2018. Gradually, however, the Lord guided me towards chaplaincy in the Armed Forced of Ukraine. Recently, God has blessed me with abundant fruit in this ministry. It is constantly expanding. As a military chaplain, I am responsible for 400 servicemen. When they are deployed in the front lines, I live there too for weeks or even months. I am with them in the trenches, in hospitals. I attend weddings and sometimes, unfortunately, funerals. This ministry is not for women, but everybody understands that the Ukrainian Army lacks male chaplains. That is why I got involved in it, using my experience in counseling.
What difficulties do you need to overcome in your ministry?
Actually, I face numerous difficulties in my life and ministry, for example, living in uncomfortable and unsafe conditions. However, the ministry is worth doing, because the Lord influences people and their destinies through me. I am trying to build relationships with people and serve them in different ways so that they can see my love for God. Also, the Lord gives multiple opportunities to settle conflicts and develop communication. It seems that He often uses me to save people who think of suicide.
How can UETS help you in your Christian life and ministry?
My ministry is developing, so I am looking for more resources to make it even more effective. I believe that studying at Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary can help me develop such resources, because it can help me systematize my knowledge, obtain new knowledge, and be enriched through experiences with other students and faculty.