Mission in the Modern City is a new program of the Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary launched couple years ago. We are privileged to have young ministers, who understand the need to use new evangelistic approaches in the present-day world to reach out more people for Christ, as students on this program. The following is the interview with two of such students, Yuriy Hannych and Veronika Pohrebniak.
How did you come to know God?
Yuriy Hannych: "Actually, I am not sure if there was time in my life when I did not believe in God. His existence has always seemed rational to me. At the same time, the family I grew up in were rather non-believers than believers. When, at the age of ten, I got sick and stayed at home, I read all Old Testament in my children’s Bible. I remember well having a feeling of inner elevation that I associated with God. It was around that time when my father converted and started to attend a church. So, he invited me to different church events, youth meetings in particular. I found them interesting but not convincing enough to become a ‘fanatic’ believer. A youth camp in 2014 became a turning point for me in my search for God. When I saw life and behavior of believers I decided that I wanted to live like that. I was so impressed with their example that I reconciled with God. The next year became a year of deepening my relationship with Him. Today, though I like coherence of Christianity, its intellectual and practical value as a world view, I can say that I am captivated by the beauty of Christ rather than rational arguments. He is not just real and true, but worth being served. It is only Him who can be the Master of my life. That is what I promised Him at the camp."
Veronika Pohrebniak: "When I was six, my mother got acquainted with our neighbor who had moved to our street. She turned out to be a wife of the senior pastor of Philadelphia Church that we started attending later. At that time our family was going through hardships. My father was drinking; my mother had been diagnosed with a serious illness. The church and faith in God saved our family. It was my mother who repented and got baptized first. Then my father, having left all his sinful habits, accepted the Lord as his personal Savior. As for me, I simply attended the church with my parents without understanding of its importance until I turned 12 or 13. Though I was absorbing church culture, listening to sermons and attending the Sunday school, I did not feel any calling in my life. Only when I became older, started praying more and developing my personal relationship with God, did I realize that I had to make the most crucial decision. So, when I was 14, I responded to an altar call and got baptized soon."
What ministry are you involved in?
Yuriy Hannych: "First and foremost, I am a preacher at my church, influencing in such a way all social groups there. All my main efforts, however, are directed at ministering to youth, namely through being a member of a youth ministry team and, secondly, leading a Bible study group for young people. I have been involved in this ministry for around four years during which my group has multiplied three times. I plan to continue working in this direction. Also, I do lay counselling, encouraging people in hardships they endure. For this reason, I pay more attention to personal mentorship and leadership."
Veronika Pohrebniak: "As for me, I am involved in the media ministry. In particular, I create and edit content on the Instagram and Facebook pages, and web site of my church. We also have a YouTube channel for which we create special video content. Our ministry is intended to make evangelistic content available for different people. It is not easy for Christians to be seen and heard in the present-day informational mainstream, but we are looking for ways to be understandable for our readers and viewers. I really want to develop in this area, proving that everything is possible with God."
What are the biggest challenges you see around in churches and society?
Yuriy Hannych: "It is a great pain for me to see that many of my peers are reluctant to make sense out of the Gospel. To my mind, it is difficult to reject it after studying it impartially and objectively. I am sure that what people often discard is not the Gospel but ‘religion’ and their wrong ideas of God. Therefore, I see my calling in using all gifts I have from the Lord to eliminate the walls of negative experience and superstitions my generation has separated itself from God with. I sincerely want to see revival in our churches and society I will be able to contribute to by God’s mercy."
Veronika Pohrebniak: "I see a great need of evangelism through social networks and other media. Based on my observations, at least in our country the church is rarely addressed to as an expert in this or that field – whether these are family, social or political issues. This is what needs to be changed. The modern church must be proactive rather than only respond to challenges of today. We are called to educate the society and demonstrate sound Christian values. Impartiality towards the church, which remains a stumbling block for many people on their way to God, is one of the biggest problems we are facing.
How can we do it? We can create online evangelism projects, post educational interviews on different current issues, get into a dialogue with authorities, representatives of other denominations, leaders of opinion, non-governmental organizations, etc. YouTube, Telegram channels, Instagram, TikTok and other platforms can be used for the purpose. I think that we have to train young generation of modern and mature Christians who are ready to face these challenges."
What prompted you to enroll into the Mission in the Modern City program?
Yuriy Hannych: "The program I have enrolled in fits all the goals I have set. I have not found a similar program in any other seminary in Ukraine. Being society(culture)-oriented, it is intended to reinforce the mission. This is what I am interested in. For this reason, I hope to obtain necessary experience and knowledge, conduct efficient research and get acquainted with like-minded people."
Veronika Pohrebniak: "I am sure that Mission in the Modern City Program will help me to obtain necessary knowledge and skills, new relevant instruments for effective development of my ministry."