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Thanks to your support and donations, this major event went off well.

Bro David Welch from Teignmouth ecclesia, UK came over and he reports as follows: “Four superb days in Kiev draw to a close as I write. I had never been to the Ukraine or anywhere east of Innsbruck in my life and was much more acclimatised to plus 30 degrees by visits to Jamaica than below freezing virtually all the time in Ukraine. However I was assured that I would not be outside at all and that proved the case. About fifty brethren and sisters gathered on the Thursday morning.

Most had come a distance. Three or four from the war area on the eastern border, and one or two from Russia, Poland, Belarus and Moldova, and the rest from various parts of Ukraine. Kiev is at almost a central point in the country and quite near the northern border. It is a large sprawling city with the airport well out to the west. The building for the Bible School was half-anhour beyond the last buildings in Kiev on the east so the taxi from the airport took nearly an hour-and-a-half. Each day there were usually four sessions of Bible exploration. Two or three of the sessions were devoted to the early chapters in 2 Corinthians for no better reason than to ring the changes with previous years, reading each time of year the same chapters from the Bible Companion. Because the Bible School falls on roughly the same date every year, the chapters from the Bible had always been the same year on year. Hence the slight change this year, reading the daily readings from March.

The other sessions had the common theme: “‘Your ways are not My ways’, saith the Lord”. Alex and Igor turned my English into beautiful Russian. I was surprised how sweet the sound of Russian was. The main function of the building in which we were accommodated was to provide recovery facilities for the wounded in the war. Some readers may recognise the irony.

The food was adequate with a preponderance of rice and pasta. From the menu I understood that fish was a Ukrainian favourite. As I like fish, I did not mind that at all. Each session ended with lively and good-humoured questions and answers. Brethren and sisters showed a very good knowledge of the Bible and the Truth in Christ.

Marina’s baptism

There were four baptisms in the bath tub in my bedroom. No one seemed to mind that I tidied and cleared the room just in time. Two were a married couple, Alexei and Marina. They had brought their two young children with them all the way from the war zone in the East, reporting that fighting was ongoing in some border areas and half their town was in ruins. Also baptized were another Alexei, and Oleg.

The experience would be valuable to all brethren but particularly to some a little (or much) younger than me. It would be a thrilling service for the Lord as the days and the opportunities grow fewer before his return.”

The community here is growing older; Brother Jozef attended although blind, brother Viktor can hardly walk and has to be almost dragged along by his wife, pictured below. But he and she are keen to come. The temperatures were low, down to minus 16C, with icy pavements and roads in this bankrupt country. The way our old brothers and sisters travel such distances in such conditions, when they are far from steady on their feet, is a great testament to how much they really value these gatherings. Bro David’s talks went down well, and you can see above the blessing of Manasseh and Ephraim being acted out under his direction.

Everyone returned home on overnight trains and buses leaving on the Sunday evening. That night was the worst night of casualties in the war for many months, with Ukrainian media reporting over 40 deaths and many injuries in random shelling along the eastern ‘frontier’. Six of our number passed through it that night and we thank God they reached home safely.

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