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  • Writer's pictureВІКТОРІЯ ВОЙКО

For the first time in a long time: AMBCU pastoral council conference held in the Zakarpattia region

The Russian-Ukrainian war has been going on for more than nine years, and the full-scale invasion has been going on for more than a year and a half. This means that millions of Ukrainians still have nowhere to return: approximately 20% of Ukrainian territory is still under occupation, and there are still no signs of the conflict ending soon. This also means that AMBCU must continue to fight on its own front: on the front of compassion and helping one’s neighbor.

During the war, some of the AMBCU churches were occupied or destroyed, and everyone lost what was dear to them. Like the prophet Jeremiah, who lived through Israel's destruction and exile, we do not comprehend God's full plan. We see loss of life and new destruction every day, but we have a sustaining and unshakable hope in Christ. Not hope in our own strength or that the war is about to end, but in the fact that God will use us in the fight against the evil and untruth of this world.

From the very beginning of the invasion, our main priority was food relief for displaced people and those in need. Our humanitarian hubs in different parts of Ukraine continue to respond to the physical needs of people. But we also understand the importance of meeting people's spiritual needs: our leaders give people not only physical bread, but also spiritual bread - hope in God's Word.

To combine efforts and resources to serve people, share experience, hope and wisdom with others, and together find answers to difficult questions of Mennonite doctrine - that’s why all the presbyters of the Mennonite Brethren churches in Ukraine came together to hold a conference.

The conference took place on November 1 in the Transcarpathian region offline, for the first time during the full-scale invasion. The meeting was attended by pastors, chaplains and ministry leaders from our churches in the cities of Mukachevo, Vinnitsa, Novomoskovsk, Zaporozhye and Mirnograd.

The main goal of the conference was to combine the experience and capabilities of each church for effective interaction and coordination between communities in response to wartime challenges. Each participant had the opportunity to present their ministry and offer their ideas for partnerships and interactions.

In connection with the mobilization in Ukraine, one of the hot topics of the conference was also the issue of Mennonite military service during the war. Many young people in Ukraine are now being actively conscripted for military service, sometimes without their consent. Therefore, unanimity on this issue is critical in wartime.

One of the areas of AMBCU service in wartime is chaplaincy. Some of the AMBCU elders are military chaplains, bringing God's Word to the soldiers who fight for the freedom of Ukraine. At the conference, they had the opportunity to share their point of view, features and difficulties of counseling work with military personnel at the front.

Dear friends and partners, your constant prayer and financial support has enabled our churches to maintain unity and serve thousands of Ukrainians whose lives were crippled by the war.

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