SGA Building Bridges in Eastern Ukraine

KIEV – Ukraine (fka “the Ukraine) presents many conundrums. Because of the Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, many measurements and statistics must be listed and compared as “including Crimea” or “not including Crimea” – an issue that remains a point of contention for Ukraine.

Although Ukraine is the largest nation located entirely on the European continent, it is still considered as a developing country. With the lowest-ranked personal income and GDP per capita in all of Europe, the country suffers from severe poverty. At the same time, it has the second-largest military force in Europe and boasts one of the world’s leading grain-producing regions.

The population has been declining at the fourth-highest rate in the world due to multiple factors, not the least of which are a high emigration rate, low birth rates, and higher-than-average death rates. The death rates have risen primarily to pollution, alcoholism, smoking, diets lacking in nutrition, and inferior health care.

Many of the elderly have no means of support. Without a government-issued ID card, they are not even allowed to ride public transportation in some areas.

According to the Slavic Gospel Association (SGA), fighting and suffering are “disturbingly normal” for Eastern Ukraine – and it seems to be getting worse with homelessness on the rise and the availability of food getting worse.

An SGA spokesperson lamented that “Every week there will be artillery fire. Every week there will be challenges and suffering. [For] example, if you get hungry…in eastern Ukraine, I’m told time and time again that even if you had money, you would have nowhere to go to spend it.”

In the midst of these bleak conditions, the SGA is partnering with Bible-teaching churches through its Compassion Ministry to “follow the example of the Lord Jesus in demonstrating His compassion by word and deed.

It’s church and pastor partners help to provide and distribute food, clothing, and health assistance wherever possible. It is this mission to “poor, distressed, and dispirited” that helps to build the bridges to share the love of Jesus Christ. By graciously meeting their physical needs, they become aware that someone cares. Although they see people, those people representing Jesus as the source of their love and compassion.

The women in one church in Eastern Ukraine have been making hearty soups and filling buckets full of it. Young men from the church distribute the soup door-to-door.

The response is that “people are turning to the only answer . . . Jesus Christ.”

Eric Mock summarized SGA’s mission and ministry in Ukraine saying, “The need is overwhelming, not for the sake of poverty, as Jesus reminds us the poor will always be with us, but for the sake of bridge building for the sake of the Gospel.”

Pray for our fellow believers as they build bridges in Eastern Ukraine.

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