Ukrainian Churches Utilize Innovation Tools To Love Their Communities

When two Chalmers staff members connected with two churches in Ukraine over Zoom, they began by telling us: “First you need to know that the war has been going on since 2014, not since 2022. (2022 was significant as it was when the war moved into Ukrainian territory).” 

The Ministry of Lviv Church

In 2019, Lviv Church* began ministering to women who had lost husbands in the war. “The hope was to get to know one another and provide mutual encouragement with the Word of God,” the pastor told us.

The church hosted several events each year to provide support and comfort to the wives of fallen soldiers. In 2022, the number of fallen soldiers only grew, leaving more and more women alone. The church and one of our strategic partners, HOPE Ukraine, realized it was time to do more.

In January of 2023, HOPE Ukraine invited The Chalmers Center to facilitate our Innovate training for a group of 50 pastors and church leaders serving in Ukraine. They believed the training would enable these Christians to create, strengthen, or expand their ministries in the midst of the war. Several staff from Lviv Church were part of that training. 

For Lviv Church, the Innovate training equipped them to expand their ministry to widows to include others who had been greatly impacted by the war. The pastor told us, “We used to be focused only on our small, internal community. After the training, we were moved to look outside of our church to our larger community.”

Lviv Church shared the story of a family staying in an apartment that was unsuitable for living. The husband had died in the war, leaving his wife as a single-mother of two. The church helped them to renovate the apartment to make it livable, and now the woman is a part of their regular Bible study. The church has also seen three women come to Christ and seven attendees join their Bible studies from their outreach efforts over the past year.

In addition, Lviv Church began a number of new initiatives, such as programs for children and internally displaced persons (IDPs). In a stunning example of Christ’s love, they began visiting Russian soldiers in captivity in obedience to Christ’s command to “love our enemies.”

Pastor Viktor

Pastor Viktor was another participant in the Innovate training. His church created a plan to buy and convert a nearby property into a community center.

Unfortunately, Pastor Viktor’s initial plan was thwarted by tragedy: his son-in-law was killed in the war, leaving his daughter, Martha, a young widow.

As he supported his daughter through the death of her husband, Pastor Viktor felt a strong sense that God was calling him to start a ministry aimed at walking alongside war widows. But starting this ministry was more challenging than he expected. 

“Our first attempt and event was not very encouraging. We were looking for the names of the families that lost loved ones in the war, but only three families showed up.” Pastor Viktor explained that “people did not want to come because they knew these events were being held by a church.”

Martha noted, “The first meeting conducted was supposed to pray for the nation. But we realized that many people were closed off from God.” They pivoted their approach to begin by creating relationships with the families and serving as comforters before expecting spiritual engagement from the women.

In less than a year, the meetings have grown from three to several families. Most recently, they hosted a camp attended by 20 families, 46 people total. They are planning another camp this fall for families unable to attend the first.

The camp offers time for the church to help widows wrestle with major questions such as: what does it mean to be human, why has God allowed evil to persist in the world, and where do people go after they die?

Support from Chalmers

For both ministries, these larger events and gatherings have provided opportunities to welcome people into the church. Yet, the leaders from both churches emphasized that the most important part of their work is building personal relationships, hosting small bible studies, and creating opportunities to walk closely with individual families.

While Chalmers’ books and videos have had a major influence, Viktor emphasized the Innovate training has two big advantages. First, it gave him the time and opportunity to pause his usual routine and take a better look at the community. Second, it enabled him to meet and learn from others who are doing similar work. As we finished our conversation, Viktor had one question for us: “When and where will the next Chalmers’ Innovate training be?”

*Names have been changed for the safety of the churches.

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1 Comment

  1. Harden Wiedemann on May 24, 2024 at 10:22 am

    This is amazing ! I particularly liked hearing about helping the woman who’s house was uninhabitable with 2 children & who’s husband was killed in the war. This kind of puts everything in perspective. Things like the Russian war to occupy & take-over Ukraine has actually been going on since 2014. It stirs me up to pray more for the Ukrainians & maybe starting with this Lviv Church & the Chalmers Center’s assistance & support to them is a good place to start.

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