Volodymyr Degtyaryov is a long-time partner and friend of READ Ministries. He is President of Zaporizhzhya Bible Seminary, teacher of Systematic Theology, Church Pastor of the Zaporozhye regional union of ECB (Evangelical Christian Baptist) Churches, and a member of the READ Ministries Board of Directors.
Below are some encouraging words from him, written as an Easter message in the midst of war...
Dear friends of ZBS,
"He is not here. He has risen, just as He said!" (Matthew 28:6)
"I am with you always, even to the end of the world." (Matthew 28:20)
Our risen Lord cannot always be found where we assume, yet He is always with us in ways that transcend our assumptions. How vividly this reality strikes home to us, again and again, these difficult days.
Never did I imagine I would be celebrating Easter in such conditions, far from home, far from the seminary, every day checking the news for what's happening at the front, to see whether the enemy--russia, as it turns out--is advancing or whether our military is repelling them.
War and Easter...seemingly incompatible concepts, but this is our reality today in Ukraine. Bucha, Irpin, Mariupol, and other towns barely ever heard of outside Ukraine are today the lead stories in news around the world. Thousands of innocent civilians--men, women and children, yes, infants--dead at the hands of russian butchery. Churches, seminaries, homes obliterated.... "Lord, how long?"
Yet, "I am with you."
Even though ZBS has temporarily suspended classes, our ministry has not halted. Every day finds approximately 100 people on the seminary premises who have managed miraculously to escape besieged Mariupol and other occupied towns and who arrive in Zaporizhzhya in need of food and shelter at least for a night before heading on. Not all of them are Christians, and this is an opportunity to share the Gospel with them. The seminary, thanks to your support, is in a position to aid these people even as we all cope with this ordeal.
I thank you, on behalf of ZBS teachers, staff and students, for your prayers, your sacrificial gifts, your phone calls and letters expressing solidarity and compassion. May the Lord bless and reward you for your loving care.
Keep praying for Ukraine, for our students and seminary personnel in this time of war. Please pray for my daughter-in-law who will very soon give birth so far from home and under such grievous circumstances. Please pray for the Lord to grant Ukraine's defenders victory, expelling the enemy who has wrought such savage destruction and death among us.
"I am with you always...." Yes, even to the end of this ordeal, even beyond what comes next, even when heaven and earth pass away. "Always" is the Father's gift to you in the glorious might of Christ's resurrection. With that assurance, in His might and not our assumptions, let's follow...always.
Blessings to you!