— Written by Annik LaRoche Bradford for Biblica Canada, with reporting from Baptist World Alliance
In 2023, Biblica Canada partnered with Canadian Baptist Ministries to provide funding for bible distribution in Ukraine. Thanks to a grant from Biblica Canada, Canadian Baptist Ministries partnered with the Ukrainian Baptist Union to distribute 10,000 Ukrainian bibles to church leaders around the country. Most of these bibles have been provided to internally displaced persons, some of whom were accepting Christ for the first time!
With the country at war with Russia, Christians in the country have been actively sharing God’s news to those around them. Rev. Igor Bandura, pastor and vice-president of the All-Ukrainian Union of Evangelical Christian-Baptists, answers Biblica Canada’s questions on the work being done on the ground in Ukraine.
Why was it important for Ukrainian Baptists to provide Bibles to the church leaders during the war?
The Word of God is alive and active. It heals, restores and gives insight into how to move on. It is this translation of the Bible that promotes renewal in the study of the Scripture. Due to a more modern vocabulary and a fairly accurate translation, ministers of Ukraine have the opportunity to get to know the Bible more deeply.
Many new people started to visit churches and pastors needed Bibles to give them. Many [internally displaced persons] (IDPs) have lost everything, including their Bibles, and people wanted to have a copy of the Bible or New Testament in hand.
How many Bibles have you been able to purchase and distribute?
[Thanks to Biblica Canada’s contribution], we were able to print and distribute 10,000 bibles in a modern translation in most of the regions of Ukraine. Regional pastors distributed them in churches that actively serve people and are involved in caring for and meeting the physical needs of IDPs.
How has this enabled the local churches and displaced peoples to access God’s word.
In different churches, Bibles are used differently: in some places they are given to those who attend Bible study groups for new people, in other places to those who have already repented. There are regions where church members had only a Russian translation; pastors share that this publication is very useful for people in the transition to the Ukrainian language, and also enriches their understanding of the Word, since the modern translation is much more relevant and easier to understand. Now many programs in the churches are directed to IDPs, so many people who are going through special difficulties and do not have the financial ability to buy a Bible, receive the Word and are very happy about it.
Can you share a story about at least one pastor or church who benefited from receiving God’s word during this difficult time?
Among such people is a family from Severodonetsk, a city in the Luhansk region occupied by Russian troops. Stanislav and Lyuba, their daughter Yana and granddaughters Sasha and Lyera, are now in Rivne. Yana was severely injured: her head, body and hands were in dozens of fragments. She has already undergone many operations. Her hand is just starting to function again. Every Sunday, the family attends church services, joins in a Bible study group, and has been on a family outing for immigrants. They hear the Gospel and experience deep changes on the way to God. Recently, each of them received a copy of the Bible and they are very happy about it. “After losing our property and the opportunity to live in our hometown, we found something much more valuable. We thank God for having met you…”
Overall, please describe the current state of Christian leaders during the war and ways that foundations and major donors can engage in your work going forward?
In the chaos of war, churches became the most organized centres for helping people. Pastors are key in serving people who suffer from war. Their service to people brings hope and helps restore people’s souls and destinies. Most pastors are tired and exhausted. That is why we want to organize retreats for pastors from time to time. A great help to pastors in their service to people is:
- Bibles and Christian literature
- Literature on overcoming post-traumatic stress disorder
- Food and other humanitarian aid
- Ability to prepare hot food and drinks for people
- Financial assistance for holding children’s camps
We thank Rev. Bandura for sharing his heart and insights with Biblica Canada. Join us as we continue to support the people of Ukraine by partnering with organizations like Canadian Baptist Ministries. Your contributions give Biblica Canada the capacity to bring God’s word to those hurting and in need at home and around the world.