Widows and Children Outreach at the Evangelical Church of Jesus Christ in Ternopil
On May 27, 2023, READ Ministries presented the "Books in the Life of a Pastor" conference for fifty pastors hosted at the Evangelical Church of Jesus Christ in Ternopil. This church is led by Pastor Igor Bilorus, a sweet, faithful man of God who leads a very effective refugee ministry. They serve approximately 125 internally displaced people weekly. After spending time with Pastor Igor and the church family and experiencing their ministry, God moved on our hearts to add them as new READ partners and URF recipients.
On Sunday, May 28, the team divided and conquered by preaching at different churches in Ternopil. Bill Arvan and Volodya Degtyaryov spoke at God's House Church. Pastor Igor invited them to return to the Evangelical Church of Jesus Christ in the afternoon to talk with a small group of moms over dessert & tea while the children attended activities.
This outreach is for women whose husbands are either fighting in the war, injured from battle (and have not returned to their families yet but will statistically come back changed), or sadly, killed in the war. Most of these women are not believers but are open to regularly attending these gatherings at the church because Pastor Igor is so willing to reach out and help with their physical and spiritual needs.
The time started with the ladies discussing their lives and experiences of surviving a traumatizing year. Bill described it as "a rich time" as the women openly shared about their lives. In response to listening to their stories, "Pastor" Bill, being deeply moved, wanted to encourage them from God's Word. He shared the story of Hagar from Genesis 16. Hagar was pregnant and, with no plan, was on the run and afraid. At a very alone moment, the Angel of the Lord called her by name and asked her where she was coming from and where she was going.
She had no clue about her future.
The Angel of the Lord told her the Lord had heard her cries and told her about her future. Hagar's response - she gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me." (Gn. 16:13)
Side note: The blessing of God's Word is so good - it has something to say about every situation.
Through this story, these widows and single moms understood that God knew them by name. God knows where they have been, and only God knows their future - because God Sees. Making sure each woman had a Bible to take home with her (provided by Pastor Igor), Bill suggested they each read this story daily for the important reminder that God indeed sees them.
The ladies asked for prayer because, due to the war, their lives have changed in ways they don't understand. Husbands are dead, or husbands will come back changed; they, with their children, are traumatized. They are experiencing tremendous fear and anger.
The next day, Pastor Igor shared a text with Bill and Volodya from one of the women in this group. She went home and read Genesis chapter 16, as Bill had suggested. She said it is "a very interesting idea of God to exalt us in our weaknesses, to be rewarded for our suffering, God's presence in our stumbling." And she realized that it doesn't matter where she's going; it only matters who she is going with. "It matters that the Lord is your main companion, and no matter what obstacles you encounter, God will always keep you safe and protect you, turn you to the right path, and help you get up if you fall."
*This is how effective humanitarian aid and the Gospel reaches hearts for Christ. We thank God for this church and its ministry to these women; it is like an oasis for refreshment and help. Hopefully, in time, more will come to know the Lord.