An update from the Ukrainian Lutheran Church

God has not forgotten or forsaken his faithful in Ukraine in the midst of war. The work of the pastors of the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC) is an inspiration to many. There are many new opportunities to pray with people, read portions of Scripture, have devotions, and even hold services in new mission stations. Since the beginning of the war, four new missions have begun. The Word of God comforts people in times of sadness and despair, and this is evidenced in large measure to the pastors and those lay people who have remained in their homes.

With support from WELS and WELS sister churches around the world, Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC) pastors have been able to buy and distribute needed food, medicines, fuel, and clothing to help those desperate for these daily needs. Many times these are distributed after a worship service. This way the people receive spiritual food as well as physical provisions. Bishop Horpynchuk, who serves Resurrection Lutheran Church in Kiev, said, “We thank the Lord for our brothers and sisters in WELS, and sister church bodies, for your aid that helps so many people to survive physically. Thousands of the needy around all of Ukraine have received and continue to receive food, clothes, and basic medicine. But you rescue not only bodies. All these people hear also the Word, the law and the gospel. And the Word does its work! Hundreds of people became communicant members of the Ukrainian Lutheran Church and attend the worship services faithfully.”

Resurrection Lutheran in Kiev has had many visitors and has now gone to two Sunday morning worship services, averaging nearly 150 worshipers each Sunday. On Pentecost Sunday in 2023, more than 70 people were confirmed in the Christian faith and now commune with their fellow members. Of those 70, nearly all of them continue to worship regularly each week.

Another example of how God can use even the worst of times to bring about wonderful blessings is told by Pastor Yuri Tytski who serves in Bereznehuvate. Due to the Russian invasion, Pastor Tytski relocated with his family to the city of Kremenets, about 500 miles away. While helping distribute aid in Kremenets, Pastor Tytski met two families who were from Snihurivka, a town very close to Bereznehuvate. He met with them, prayed with them, and began having devotions with them. After some time, when it was safe to return, Pastor Tytski went home to Bereznehuvate and the two families to their homes in Snihurivka. Pastor Tytski then continued to meet with them and have Bible studies; some of their neighbors even came. A few months ago, 30 of these people were instructed and are now members of a mission church where services are held once a month. How can one not see the hand of God at work? God caused these people to travel 500 miles where a pastor was led to them, and now they are redeemed children of God, through the blood of Jesus their Savior. It’s safe to say that the war brought them together. We don’t always know how or why God allows the things that he does, but we rejoice in how God continues to grow his church here on earth during what we would consider the worst of times.

All the ULC Pastors are providing an invaluable service to the people of Ukraine by comforting those who they meet with God’s Word and prayer. It reminds us that the kingdom often grows one person at a time. There continue to be so many people who are hurting; those who have lost loved ones, are not certain where their loved ones are, or if they are even alive. Prayers offered by pastors bring these hurting and grieving people true comfort and hope. It also reminds them that there are people who care about them, that they are not alone. Bishop summarized the attitude of the pastors and people of the ULC this way, “The war brought so much suffering, ruin, and death into our country; yet they cannot separate us from Christ’s love and life eternal he has won for us by his holy suffering, death, and resurrection. He lives and we live in him.”

Thank you for your love and concern for the people of Ukraine, the pastors, and Bishop Horpynchuk, their spiritual leader and guide. Your prayers are being heard and God has been protecting his people. May God, in his mercy, bring this war to an end soon.

Written by Rev. Roger Neumann, WELS Liaison to the Ukrainian Lutheran Church

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