Last year was very difficult for ministry because it was a time of revolution and Russian aggression. But at the same time we have seen God lead and support us in the ministry. Praise the Lord!
It was a quiet time after a battle in early January 2014. When I prayed for protestors at Independence Square in Kyiv, I also asked God for his guidelines for the fathering ministry and my participation in the revolution. I asked, “Where and how did God want to use us in this current situation?” I struggled within me because my heart wanted to be at the barricades in the Square and at the same time I wanted to follow God’s call for the ministry according to the vision. Once He told me to continue in the ministry and follow the plans He directed me to the Eastern regions of Ukraine. We made agreements with local pastors in those area to do ICF ministry presentations.
One day before my mission trip, the conflict in Kyiv escalated. Protestors started to use Molotov cocktails and police units used their weapons. My team and I were very surprised to see the protest spread around Ukraine and exactly in the regional cities where we had just met with pastors. On our presentations we discussed the political situation in the country, and the place and role of the church in these circumstances.
Many pastors had a dilemma. Our team encouraged them and the members of their churches to support the desire of the people to defend justice and freedom and to build a free democratic society in Ukraine. We encouraged them to take spiritual responsible for the people, city and situation to pray for them not just in church but right at the place of the conflicts. And they did. I was very happy to see that in every city that we visited, the authorities failed to quell the protests and the ruling party failed to develop separatist movement. So God used us in two ways: ministry development and spiritual protection for Ukraine.
As of last July ICF began to work in ministry on its own. It means that our parent organization, the National Fathering Ministry from Minnesota, handed the leadership of the ministry off to ICF leadership changing from their parent relationship to a supporting role. This meant new reliance on God to provide new partnership contacts, help develop the fundraising process and follow the goals of the ministry plan. One struggle was to raise up funds for training Regional Coordinators to lead seminars. All indications looked like we would not be able to have this training. My last visit to the States Nov – Dec 2014 was our last chance to have the needed support. We continued to pray with faith believing God would supply and he answered our prayers. One church and other individuals made donations for this purpose. Praise the Lord!
The training was held December 26 – 27, 2014. We invited our coordinators and their wives. We had representatives from Kyiv, Sumy, Dnipropetrovsk, Kirovograd, Rivne, Ternopol, and Lutsk. Unfortunately not all of the men could participate but we will try again next February. We had training for men and my wife, Larysa, led seminars for women. Seminar training for RCs helped us to revise and renew the ministry vision, to work on planning ministry events and tasks for 2015 and to encourage, unite and develop the national team. It was a really creative and exiting time for all of us. Praise God!
The most powerful part of this ministry is to see the changes in people’s lives. Last year in Krivyi Rig (Crooked Horn) we had a fathering seminar for couples. One of them came with their little 10 years old daughter. This girl stayed with us in room the whole time. She did drawing, looked at her picture book and walked around the room. It looked like she didn’t pay attention to the seminar topics. I was very surprised when she was asked for her response. It was so toughing. She was asked: 1. Why do you think this seminar is important for you? – Because the speaker taught us to love our dads. 2. What topic of the seminar is most important for you? – Reconciliation with my dad. 3. What will you do first at your home after the seminar? – I will say to my daddy “I love you.”
All of these and others testimonies are encouragement from God for me personally and for the national team to continue our ministry and follow our commitment to reach men in Ukraine with the message about responsible fathering.