Equipping Ukrainian Church Leaders with HOPE International
Last summer, a team from Chalmers’ long standing partner, HOPE International, visited some of the Ukrainian church partners that they had supported in the early months of the war. While encouraged by incredible stories of life-saving relief work, they also detected challenges that often accompany sustained periods of relief: overextended church leaders, dependency from recipients, and frustration from volunteers.
We began dreaming about a way to help the local churches more sustainably meet the needs of the vulnerable people they were serving in the war —and do so in a way that honored and dignified all participants. We knew without a doubt that Chalmers was the right partner to work with on this challenge. – Dan Williams, Vice President of Integrated Strategy, HOPE International
In January, after months of collaboration and planning, a joint team from HOPE and Chalmers spent four days in Eastern Europe equipping 48 Ukrainian church leaders to create sustainable solutions for the challenges their war-torn communities face.
Using Chalmers’ Innovate Local curriculum, the pastors learned to apply practical innovation tools, principles of asset based community development, and Biblical theology as they equip their churches to better serve their vulnerable neighbors.
“We need new thinking”
Things that we did previously will not work anymore. Covid proved that, and now the war. Things changed dramatically. We have to reshape, rethink radically what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it.
Some churches lost a whole team of key people. Some churches just lost 80 percent of their entire congregation.
What we do, how we do this, and why we do it the way we do, are three critical questions that we need to answer. And here, we need new thinking. A lot of techniques that were used here will be great tools if we want to promote thinking, seeking new ideas, just giving you space for people to show their creativity. – Pastor Anatoly
“All of our church members are young people”
Natalya and Pastor Ramon shared that they plan to introduce the Innovate process at their churches to equip young leaders engaged in serving Internally Displaced People (IDPs).
Our biggest challenge is our ministry to IDPs. All of our church members are young people with an average age of 26. They lack life experience to relate to people who have experienced such tragedy in their lives. We have to simultaneously work with the internally displaced and train our church members how to do that. – Natalya
One challenge is a lot of young people who were active in the church have left the country. We now have more people we need to serve (IDPs), but we lack people to actually serve them. We have a group of younger youth who still need to be trained. – Pastor Ramon
Reflections from church leaders and HOPE leadership
The most important thing is I noticed my prayers changed. I feel more grateful for all the resources He has given us and I thank Him for the ideas that he gives and how I can apply those resources in the ministry. It has made me more grateful. – Pastor Ramon
We have many problems, but we also have a lot of resources. If we know how to use them, we can really do much more than we are doing now. – Yulia
We need to remind ourselves of this: Creation, Fall and Redemption, especially in the condition of war. For so many here, it’s so critical to remind ourselves that we’re in the process of redemption even in the midst of the horror we are going through. – Pastor Anatoly
Simply put, we are better together. This Innovate training was an incredible collaboration between Chalmers, HOPE, and 17 Ukrainian churches wrestling with one question, “How can we best love our Ukrainian brothers and sisters throughout this war?” By coming together in humility and fellowship under King Jesus, and offering our strengths and experiences, the Spirit is given new space to do more than we can ask and imagine, and more than we could ever do on our own. – Dan Williams, HOPE International
With the training complete, the work of implementation is just beginning. Over the next few months, the church leaders will use the Innovate Local curriculum to equip innovation teams within their churches to engage church members, IDPs, and other community stakeholders to create ministries that will sustainably meet the needs of their vulnerable neighbors.