top of page
  • Writer's pictureВІКТОРІЯ ВОЙКО

The cyclicity of history and how Mennonites serve the Lord in new conditions

From the past to the present

You can often hear from people that history is cyclical. Children often repeat the fate of their great-great-grandfathers, in the history of each country you can find a repetition of what has already happened, and the fates of great people very often resemble each other. But there are those who do not believe, saying that none of the events of world history is repeated "one to one" and cannot be replicated due to many structural changes. One way or another, the history of Mennonnites constantly goes through the same stage.

In the first half of the 16th century, many followers of the Protestant movement moved from Holland to Germany. At the end of the 17th century, they moved to the south of Ukraine and the Caucasus, fleeing the war and punishment for refusing to take up arms. At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, many people migrated from Ukraine to America, fleeing the repressions, executions, persecution for their faith and famine, which were carried out by the Soviet authorities. Constant travel has become a part of the lives of many people, as well as the principles of mutual assistance. Wherever the Mennonites migrated, they would help the elderly and orphans, build houses, shelters, hospitals, and collectively fight against poverty. Small-land peasants were provided with leased or reserve land, and were backed financially.

In the 21st century, the Mennonites of Ukraine are experiencing a similar stage. The war in Ukraine has mixed and changed the lives of many Mennonite churches that were located in their historical land - the south of Ukraine - and kept following the principles of solidarity and mutual assistance.

Balkove village

In the village of Balkovoe, which used to be called Firstenwerder and was part of the Molochansk Mennonite colony, the war changed the climate of the Mennonite Brethren Church. For 16 years, the ministers were constantly engaged in children's, teenage and youth ministries, thanks to which about 60 unbelieving children and youth attended the church. Camps and church-wide conferences were held annually. Young people from Balkovoe would often attend to SWW sessions. There was constant interaction with the School Without Walls. Every year the church grew and strengthened.

Alexey was the coordinator of many ministries for 8 years, and after that he became a deacon of the church. When the occupation began, Alexey and a team of leaders organized a bomb shelter not far from the church, where they began to summon everyone who had no place to hide from shelling. For about a week, 20 people would take cover in the basement or in the church building without even returning home.

Many times, they called people to a common prayer and repentance, during which unbelieving people turned to the Lord with requests for protection. After 10 days, Russian soldiers captured the village and the front line shifted.

The bombing was quickly replaced by looting. The Russian occupiers began to take away all the valuables from people: cars, equipment, telephones and food. No one dared argue with them, so as not to be shot. Prices in stores have skyrocketed, and essential products started to disappear fast.

Of the entire spectrum of ministries, only the Sunday worship service remained. It was not safe anymore to hold meetings for youth and often gather people in church. Instead, the leadership team found itself in providing food for those people who were deprived of their livelihoods. Daily they had to interact with Russian soldiers at checkpoints. Each such contact with the military was "the Russian roulette". Many cars were robbed, but God kept Alexey and the aid reached those for whom it was intended.

Some time later, the Russian military began to kidnap some people and interrogate them. On April 14, for security reasons, Alexey, along with his wife and several other people from the church, left the village and headed for Zaporozhye.

After the departure, Alexey began to serve in two directions: to conduct services in the village of Mikolai-Pole and help the team at the Reimer Center.

The revival point

Mikolai-Pole was also founded by Mennonite settlers in the 18th century. Until now, there is an authentic church building. The pastor of the local Mennonite church, due to age-related illnesses, can no longer continue to lead divine services. This was where Alexey came forward to give hand, as he himself grew up in the village and knows what village people need. He began to go to church to build fellowship, to gather people for Bible studies, and to hold services. Together with a team of youth leaders, they encourage parishioners to help the locals. In the evening, after work, Christians come to communicate with neighbors and during the conversation, learn about their needs and talk about Christ. After that, Alexey takes food to Nikolai-Pole, which they distribute to people. Thanks to their work, people in the village see not a dead church, but a church that is living and strong. Many villagers who used to be distant are slowly starting to attend church.

In the summer, the church plans to hold children's and youth camps, which are are carried out annually in Mikolai-Pole. But at the moment, the ministers are faced with a difficulty. Mikolai-Pole is less than 100 kilometers from the hostilities zone. Camping so close to the fighting is both unsafe and difficult. The state and local authorities may not even give permission to gather people and the church. Therefore, the team asks to pray for the resolution of this problem.

In addition to ministering in Mikolay-Pole, Alexey supports the team in Zaporozhye. Together with Sergey, the ministry coordinator at the Reimer Center, Alexey deals with the issue of finding humanitarian aid: he travels for purchases, looks for warehouses and negotiates with suppliers. He also participates in the Bible study, which is conducted for the settlers. Alexei often preaches at community events and learns from people about their needs.

In addition, the Reimer Center center is in need of repair work. In his spare time, what Alexey does is he equips the premises for the reception and distribution of food.

Ministries and prayer requests

Alexey's team asks to pray for peace so that the missiles that fly at Ukrainian villages, cities and houses do not reach their goals, and also that the war does not affect Zaporozhye. Now Zaporozhye is the "crossroad" of ministries. If hostilities engulf the city, it will not be possible to stay there and do everything that believers live now - to help people affected by hostilities and bring the truth to the world.

1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Avdiivka. When a peaceful life seems like a pipe dream

Avdiivka on fire Avdiivka has been a front-line city since 2014 due to its close proximity to Donetsk (about 10 km). Active hostilities were fought here from 2014 to 2017, then there was a period of c


bottom of page