October 2015 - Our Sister Church

Posted by Beth Cortez on October 30, 2015 @ 9:20 AM

A History of CMBC & South Church

It is wise for a local church to recall some of the events of the past to project possible actions for the future. Older persons in the congregation need their memory stirred as time has the ability to fade an important memory and relegate it to the deep recesses of our minds. Newer members need to hear of the events of the past so they can appreciate what God has done in the local church of which they are a part. It is no surprise that the mention of our sister church in Ukraine may stir a fuzzy memory for some while being an obscure reference to others. With that in mind, the following is an abbreviated history of a significant relationship that Calvary Monument Bible Church (CMBC) has had with a church in Zaporozhye, Ukraine.   

The story of our church’s involvement with our sister church goes back to May 1990. The church’s leadership decided to join with Slavic Gospel Association (SGA) to assist a church in the U.S.S.R. An offering of $4,000 was received to provide Christian reference books and children’s materials for a church to which SGA would assign CMBC. In the fall of that year we were assigned South Church pastored by Leonid Petrenko in the industrial city of about a million people.

This began the correspondence and relationship between our two churches. Laura Moore, one of our missionaries, traveled to Ukraine in 1992 and returned with an invitation for a pastor from CMBC to visit and she also made us aware of the desperate economic conditions in the city. This launched the first of our humanitarian aid involvements. Several tractor trailer containers were shipped with the shipping costs being paid by the US Government. The first container was filled with individual boxes packed by church members along with clothing and medicine. Later containers were shipped with bulk food items. In the fall of 1992 Pastor Reid and Abe Fisher traveled to our sister church to further explore how we could aid them in their difficult situation. Our sister church asked for help to develop a way to help themselves so they could become economically self-sufficient. From this request the seed was planted to launch HOPE International in 1994 under the leadership of a member from our church, Jeff Rutt, and a board comprised of many members from CMBC. That ministry incorporated in 1997 has now expanded into 17 different countries around the world.

Our church has also been involved in providing funds to support Zaporozhye Bible College and Seminary (ZBCS), helping them to purchase land and fund the support of faculty. CMBC has also provided funds to assist in the building of an educational building used by the church, ZBCS, and the regional Baptist Association of Churches.

What has been most important in linking our church to the sister church in Ukraine is the connections we have made face to face. Over the years we have sent numerous ministry teams small and large to serve the church in their summer children’s camps and in other capacities. We have hosted a number of friends from our sister church, ZBCS, and members of HOPE International working in Ukraine. It was a special privilege on two occasions to have Pastor Petrenko visit our church.

In 2008, CMBC was recognized by the Baptist Union of Ukraine for the significant impact that was made by our relationship with our sister church over the years. During the evening of the presentation in Zaporozhye, Pastor Reid and Neil Feltham heard of many ways that region was impacted because of the faithful long term investment CMBC made in our sister church to the glory of Jesus Christ.

Now Ukraine is again in need due to the invasion of Russian military into the eastern regions of Ukraine, not far from the city of Zaporozhye. Displaced refugees have flooded into the city and the Baptist Union churches have risen to meet the need of the refugees. It is great to hear that CMBC is looking for ways to reinforce this long term relationship with our sister church. I trust the Lord will guide you as you prayerfully investigate ways to partner with people we love and who have a reciprocal love for us. May our two churches continue to unite their ministry hands to have a significant impact for the cause of Christ in the region of our sister church.        

In Christ,
Bob Reid, Pastor Emeritus
Calvary Monument Bible Church

 

 

A Letter from Pastor Petrenko

Dear Brothers and Sisters at Calvary Monument Bible Church,

We very much appreciate to renew contacts between our churches. We also appreciate your concern about Ukraine and your interest in our church’s ministries.

I am still in ministry as the first Pastor of the South Church. Recently our church has elected two more pastors – so now we have six. Both my wife and I pray for our health and for our grandchildren. The Lord does show many mercies for my family.

The military situation in the east of Ukraine has added to our cares for people. There are more than fifty six thousand refugees in the Zaporozhye region only. I do meet regularly with the widows of fallen soldiers and their children. There are more and more people suffering from depression and mental disorders who are turning to me as the Pastor for help and for prayer. Every day I meet with such people, and then, with a heavy heart, I need encouragement and prayer for myself.

Each week I visit two other churches in the Zaporozhye region. I am teaching the Bible Survey class there. The new Sunday School building has been used together with ZBCS. They use the classrooms for the teaching process. Every day we provide lunches for students at the cafeteria. On the top floor of this building there are several rooms which are being used to house refugees.

There is now a great need to replace two gas boilers in the Sunday School building. The price of gas has risen strongly (more than 10 times what it used to be). These boilers were installed ten years ago and were designed for heating an area up to 1,077 square yards. The boilers are now heating the entire church building which is more than 1,733 square yards.  We look forward with fear as the winter season approaches. We need to find two new types of boilers that will more operate more efficiently. In order to replace the boilers and prepare the needed documents, we will be in need of $12,000 USD.

Please pray with us for this need. Thank you for your encouragement. Say greetings to your church from your Sister Church in Ukraine.

In Christ,
Pastor Leonid Petrenko, Senior Pastor, South Church
Zaporozhye, Ukraine

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