Gary Wilkerson and Nicky Cruz offered a conference to refresh pastors in Ukraine and over 10,000 church leaders arrived to hear them.
Chernivtsi, or Cernăuți as it is called by the Romanians, has been called “Jerusalem upon the Prut” for its strategic location between Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia.
It has traditionally been a cosmopolitan city, home to many Romanians, Germans, Russians, Poles, Hungarians, Roma and Jews.
This city with its long, multicultural history is where Gary Wilkerson and Nicky Cruz went for their most recent pastors’ conference.
History of Ukraine’s Church
Many church leaders in Ukraine face an unusual set of challenges.
Because of people in Chernivtsi’s wide variety of communities, languages and cultural backgrounds, its history is littered with a great deal of conflict between ethnic groups and church denominations.
“Pastors will go out into the community and start ministering to other groups like the Roma,” Anna Kozlyuk, World Challenge coordinator for Europe and Central Asia, explained. “But when they try to integrate the two communities inside the church, there can be cultural conflict.”
Layered on top of this is conflict between church denominations fueled by a past of other countries coming into the region and attempting to force-convert locals to their religion, Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church being the most recent in a long lineup.
In addition, Ukraine’s former president was an avowed Christian and supported churches’ work throughout the country. His tenure came to an end, however, and a new president was elected to office in May 2019.
Volodymyr Zelensky, unlike his predecessor, is not a Christian, and many Ukrainian church leaders anticipate the possibility of, at best, government support withdrawn or at worst, persecution.
At the Heart of the East and West
A crowd of over 10,000 pastors, pastors’ families and church leaders gathered in Bukovyna Stadium in Chernivtsi, shading their eyes against the late afternoon sun and finding places to sit.
Gary Wilkerson and Nicky Cruz stood up and shared their testimonies and heart for church leaders and believers everywhere.
They preached and prayed against division and disheartenment among the Ukraine church’s leadership, praying over pastors and leaders for healing from addictions and depression. They asked for God to bring unity and renewed power to the church there in Ukraine.
More than anything they wanted to bless and refresh leaders at the heart of Eastern Europe who are standing at the crossroads of the East and West. There is great potential for the mission workers in this part of the world, but there are also great obstacles in their path.
Please join World Challenge in praying for these church leaders and believers, asking for the Holy Spirit to ignite a passion for himself in this generation of Ukraine’s church.