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Rev. Fred Vanderwerf shares an update from Ukraine

By: Rev. Fred Vanderwerf, In Mission Together—Ukraine, General Board of Global Ministries, Minnesota UMC's Bishop's Assistant

"There are signs of hope. We are grateful for the ways United Methodists around the world continue to support the United Methodist ministry here in Ukraine. It is a small and modest ministry. We are thankful for your prayers and gifts." —Rev. Fred Vanderwerf, In Mission Together—Ukraine, General Board of Global Ministries.

Rev. Fred Vanderwerf reports from Ukraine about the ministry of The United Methodist Church in the country feeling the impacts of Russian military attacks. He coordinates "In Mission Together-Ukraine" for the General Board of Global Ministries. Fred also serves as the Assistant to the Bishop for the Minnesota Conference.

Are you seeing signs of war?

Vanderwerf states, "I have been in western Ukraine, where it is safe. People are going about their daily lives. There are signs of active war."

Mobilization: Vanderwerf worked with students in Ukraine several years ago. Now, those students are eligible to be drafted into military service. It weighs on their heart because they love their country and want to defend it. It is scary to go to war when you have not been trained.

Injuries and death: Daily you see funeral services for people who have died in war. The medical facilities are caring for the injured.

Displaced people: People from eastern and southern Ukraine are seeking refuge and shelter in western Ukraine. The United Methodist Church is mobilized to assist displaced people. Currently, the UMC rents two floors of a government building to house people.

Five-year Plan for The United Methodist Church in Ukraine

The Annual Conference was held for the eight churches in Ukraine. There were about 60 people in attendance. A new five-year plan was unveiled with the following goals.

  1. Establish ten new churches. Currently, there are eight active churches in unoccupied areas of Ukraine. The hope is to have six new church plants in Ukraine and four new church plants where the Ukrainian refugees are settling.
  2. Create two development centers in Ukraine to deal with the trauma of war. The focus of the centers will be discipleship and leadership development. Your contributions will help make that happen. 

In a discussion about the five-year plan, it became apparent that one of the biggest concerns for The United Methodist Church in Ukraine is leadership. Many leaders have left.

Emerging leadership

New leaders are beginning to step forward. Please pray for leadership development and for the Holy Spirit to breakthrough. Here are emerging leaders to lift in prayer:

  • Two young women leading their praise team after the entire praise team left the church.
  • A young man who was a software engineer, returning to serve as a pastor.
  • A couple from eastern Ukraine, whose home was destroyed, are responding to God's call to serve as pastors. Once Baptists, they feel called to plant a United Methodist Church in L'viv.
  • A young man in L'viv has organized a group—Fresh Expression, that is meeting and discussing ways God is showing up in their lives.
  • A young woman who recently accepted Christ into her life is an active leader in the L'viv University student ministry.
  • A lay leader from Kyiv, now in Hamburg, Germany, is planting a house church among the Ukrainian refugees. He is now entering candidacy for ministry.

"The good news is that they have their eyes on the church's future. They are focused on planting new churches and discipleship as they respond to the trauma of war. Thank you for sending me to represent you in Ukraine. Thank you for your prayers and support," stated Fred.

Financial gifts: To donate, please give to UMCOR’s International Disaster Response and Recovery fund, Advance #982450.
Updates, information and prayers: Join the In Mission Together—Ukraine Facebook group for the latest information and ways you can support the ministry with your prayers. 


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