Training pastors in Uzzhorod

Above: classes at Uzzhorod, Western Ukraine

I have mentioned in previous updates how many of the pastors that we train lack even basic education levels; so are in great need of help as they study and preach from the Bible.  But providing teaching for those with very limited educational levels is also a great challenge to us as trainers.  This is especially true of the Gypsy pastors we are training in Uzzhorod.

Gypsy communities in Ukraine are generally very poor and experience a huge amount of discrimination from other ethnic groups.  Because of this, many of them have been prevented from going to school, and lack even the most basic education levels.  Some can’t even read or write. 

But the Kingdom of God has been expanding tremendously within the Gypsy community, many people have become Christians and many new churches have been planted.  However, most church leaders feel wholly inadequate to lead these churches effectively.  As you can imagine, not being able to read the Bible hinders them greatly as they try and understand God’s Word, preach to and teach their congregations.  This is why there is such a need for the work that we are doing.

We started training in Uzzhorod in August, and so far have completed three modules.  Rev. Mike Wood (Baptist Union district minister) was in Ukraine with Lesley, his wife, this week teaching the latest module, which focuses on the person and divinity of Jesus.  Mike remarked how blessed he had been to be a part of the vibrant Gypsy community.  In turn, many of the students had expressed how appreciative they were of GLOMOS and Mike’s teaching.  One student came up at the end of training so thrilled by what she had learned, she told Mike that she loved him and was very thankful to God for sending him to teach in Uzzgorod.  But training pastors who can’t read was a challenge for Mike and Lesley, who had to come up with lots of creative ways to communicate material normally presented in written form.  For future sessions, Phil Long, Global Action president, is working with educators in the USA to re-write the training material for audiences with very limited education levels.

As is their custom, at the end of the session, Mike and Lesley asked whether anyone needed personal prayer.  They were delighted when everyone in the room immediately stood up and clamoured into a long line in front of them.  They were able to stay there for hours, praying for and encouraging each church leader in the particular circumstances they were facing.  It was a wonderful scene to behold; sometimes just providing encouragement is as important as providing training. 

However, already the pastors we are training are expressing how much it is helping them in their ministries.

Ynush, pastors a Gyspy church called Abanazor, based in Uzhhorod.  He is in his forties and shares that he has served God for many years.  His desire has always been to be able to teach the word of God in a better way.  He was so grateful that he had finally finished his primary school education because this meant that he could be accepted into the GLOMOS programme.  Imagine that.  We are so excited to have him as part of the training, and we pray that God will bless him through the training, and fulfil his desire to be able to share the word of God in a better way.

Similarly, Alec is a Gypsy pastor who is leading the “Jesus Christ” church in Uzzhorod.  He expressed how impressed he had been with GLOMOS.  Not just because of the teaching, but because of the example of the teachers, who he says “clearly know the Lord”.

Alec’s desire is that God reveals Himself to Alec in a clearer way as a course of the training.  Alec shares that there is a great need for the Gypsies to know the word of God.  At the moment there is little provision for this people group.  Alec shares that GLOMOS meets this need well.  “It’s super”, he says.

Thank you for your support, allowing us to train pastors like Ynush and Alec.

Above left and centre: Mike and Lesley Wood praying for trainee church leaders; Above right: pastor Ynush (centre)