Church planting among Roma people in Ukraine
Alexei Bezkorovaynyy shares his testimony as to how the Lord first saved him and now uses him in outreach to his own people
My life was full of darkness and helplessness. Only God could save me from the grip of Satan. I accepted Christ in winter 2007. Before that, I was a drug addict for eight years. When trying to stop taking drugs, I would drink alcohol.
My relatives have been Christians for more than 15 years now. They tried to help me to come to Christ. Every time I did evil things, they took me to Volchansk, where my sister and nephew lived, so that place became a kind of ‘rehab centre’ for me. For nearly 13 years, I’ve heard the Word of God there.
Once I nearly died, but my cousin from Merefa suddenly called and invited me to stay with her on New Year’s Eve. I told her that I couldn’t, but she said that she would pray and that I would come.
Tired of sin
And I did go there. My brother took me to the New Year’s Bible study group. As we talked, my nephew Kolya asked me, ‘What would you like in your life this coming year, that we can pray for?’ I said that I was tired of sin.
The next day, as I travelled home to my native town Stakhanov, something strange started happening to me.
I called my nephew and he answered, ‘You have got on the boat of Jesus Christ’. ‘Nonsense! What boat is he talking about?’ I thought.
But it was at this time that I quit taking drugs and alcohol; all that had become disgusting for me. My nephew said that I should go to the evangelical church, and I went.
At the beginning of February, there is a national holy day when everyone asks for forgiveness. I saw that this practice was insincere for many, so I asked the Bible group to study what true ‘forgiveness’ is. I asked my relative to conduct the study through his speaker-phone. There were indeed incredible changes taking place in my life.
On 19 February 2007, I repented; and, on 9 September, I was baptised. Later, I went to Rivne to study at the Bible college there. Then I lived in the Good Shepherd Community Church for a year. The church helped me to grow spiritually.
At the same time, I served the Roma people who came from the Transcarpathian zone. Working with them was a kind of internship. I led the Bible study group and taught them how to read. From autumn 2010, I studied at the Institute of Inductive Bible Studies.
Holy Way Church
I then moved back to Stakhanov, where I serve my people on behalf of the Good Shepherd Community Church. I have been conducting Bible studies for over five years now.
Two years ago, the first Roma church was founded when 15 people covenanted together before the Lord. The church is called Svento Drom (‘Holy Way’). Many people come to hear the Word of God. Three people repented as a result of Bible studies on John’s Gospel. All summer, I visited them in their homes and taught them in the Word.
It is now the second year since seven of us gather together every Monday for Bible studies from Romans and Galatians. Slavik and Oxana, from the Ukrainian Baptist church, have been supporting us over five years and join us each time.
Every Tuesday, we have brothers’ and sisters’ prayer meetings. May 2012 brought the first anniversary of these meetings. We draw up a list of needs to pray for. We use the Voice of the martyrs calendar and pray for various missionary works.
Every Wednesday, 15-20 church members and adherents gather at my home and together we study Ephesians, chapter by chapter. On Thursdays, there is an outreach group to the Roma people. We discuss with them such questions as religion, church and icons, and testify about the way Christ has changed our lives.
Come to Christ
On Fridays, I visit individual, non-Christian Roma people. One of them is Kolya, whom I’ve known a long time. He asks many questions about religion. He believes that the person should first change and then to come to God, although I try to convince him that a person should come to Christ just as he is.
On Saturdays we have a Roma worship service, beginning at 4.00pm. We rent the building cheaply for a few hours. Slavik and I preach, and people recite poems and share their needs. Together we sing God’s praise in Russian or Roma. Thirty people or more attend these services.
I am constantly learning how to preach. I worry every time! But I prepare the notes and share the things God told me through his Word during the week.
Finally, on Sundays we attend the Ukrainian evangelical church, along with other Roma. I sometimes preach there too, recently from the book of James.
Also working among the Roma is Volodya, who was a drug addict for 15 years. He first heard the gospel from my second cousin, Vasiliy. Then he came to our Bible studies and became interested in the truth.
After coming for the fourth time, he repented. Now, he and I together serve the Lord among the Roma. He studies at the Institute of Inductive Bible Studies. We visit and support people, sharing with them about Christ.
Volodya’s life has changed greatly. The local Roma used to come to him for advice when they had various conflict situations. But now his old friends keep their distance and watch him to see whether or not he is secretly taking drugs. They still think he is trying to fool them.
When he was baptised, we went from house to house to invite people to the baptismal service. Three hundred people came! Many were laughing, but others were interested. His wife’s parents began to attend the church.
Volodya has a great desire to plant a church among his people, so that there will be a backbone of faithful Roma believers, all of them serving God in fellowship together. He is very sacrificial and loves his people.
Our God is a wonder-working God! Too often we take his wonderful deeds for granted. But my heart is filled with joy as I see the powerful influence of the gospel on those who were once deep-rooted sinners. We give thanks to the Lord for all his encouraging work.
You too can join this outreach! Please pray for the Roma people and Svento Drom church in Stakhanov, Ukraine.
Edited from an article
by Hope to People, Ukraine