Interview with Serhiy Murza, a third-year student of theology and pastor of House of Bread Church in Poltava.
Could you tell us couple words about yourself?
My name is Serhiy Murza. I am a missionary in Ukraine. My wife and I moved from Sacramento, California, to Poltava, Central Ukraine, nine years ago to start a new church there from scratch. At that time, we had two children – now we have four.
How did your ministry start?
Our ministry in Poltava began in June 2010 when we started a youth club with a team of missionaries from the Florida Bible Missionary School, who came for half a year to support us. Our motto was “We live to bring our generation to God!”
It took a couple of more months of youth gatherings for Poltava House of Bread Church to begin holding its first service. The main objective of the church was to reach as many young people as possible with the Good News about Jesus Christ. We wanted the church to become a place for people to grow spiritually and to serve God and society. Confidence that God could do much more than we even dreamed helped us to joyfully look to the future. Today, there are 250 people including children who go to our church.
What was your Night at Bethlehem project about?
Actually, we’ve come up with various projects. This time we decided to hold a Christmas project. Though Ukraine is considered to be a Christian country, most people have no idea about Christianity. For some it is about Christmas trees, for others about Saint Nicholas or presents. So, the idea behind our Night at Bethlehem project was to demonstrate what real Christmas is all about. We organized in many different locations at the Art and Culture Center in downtown Poltava for people to feel the atmosphere of Christmas. The experience began with a census where everyone could be registered as a “resident of the Roman empire.” Then visitors had the opportunity to “meet” with angels, shepherds and other characters who shared the essence of Christmas with them.
Generally, it took us about 6 months to prepare for the event. All of the sets and costumes (we had more than 150 costumes) were homemade and brought to the site just before the event. In fact, we had 200 volunteers, mostly from our church plus some from other churches.
How many people visited your Night at Bethlehem locations?
The number of people who went through all the locations was around 11,000, both adults and children. We were really happy to have such an opportunity to share the main idea of Christmas with such a great number of people in just five days! Hopefully, we will be able to organize similar evangelistic events in the future, especially on Easter.