Carelinks | Ukraine
A wonderful trip to Ukraine resulted in the baptism of Sergej and his grandmother Lidia. Sergej had gone from being a trainee Orthodox priest, then to the JWs... and then to searching the Bible independently, at which point he came upon us online. He has carefully studied all our material and is thoroughly persuaded of all our doctrinal points. The result of all this is that he has been rejected by his family and become very close to his grandmother Lidia; and he has shared all he learned with her. He has little money and all he has really is his phone. He goes to where there is free WIFI and downloads our material and then plays it back to his grandmother. This is the way things are done in this digital age.
The baptism of Lidia is really the story of an incredible woman. Having worked all her life on the Russian railways, but now living in Ukraine, she doesn’t receive her pension. She is 83 and in poor health. She is in an awful situation, living in a high rise block comprised of single rooms with a toilet on each floor; and no lift. All she has is her bed and a few clothes. The walls are damp, and she is bedridden much of the time. She has no lock on her door as she has nothing to steal. Her grandson brings her food, she has no means of cooking for herself nor the ability or money to get out and buy food. It is awful to have worked all your life and then be stuck in a situation like this, trapped up several flights of stairs, unable to really care for herself... all because of a political situation. But she is very mentally alert and has followed her grandson’s spiritual journey with keen interest. She is very spiritually-minded.
So having learned the true Gospel from Sergej, she decided that she wanted to be baptized. She has no running water in her room and there is no bath tub in the block. So she made what for her was a brave missionary journey to baptism in our hotel room in central Odessa. She had not been off the floor she lives on for some years and she has major heart problems. The first thing was that she wanted to wear a head covering for the journey and the service; and Sergej put this on for her. Next was the painfully slow journey down the stairs (she had to be pretty much carried back up); and thence to the taxi we arranged. She had a pleasant smile and was so determined to do the baptism. We finally arrived at the hotel, with another brother, Sergej Chernysh, being a great help all through; he’s now living in Odessa and plans to meet with Sergej and Lidia regularly to break bread. We had lengthy discussions and Sergej Ch. and Duncan both gave a baptismal talk. Lidia answered and asked questions and offered extra comments. She has a very sharp mind despite her failed health. We were all concerned she might have a heart attack during the baptism, but with great difficulty we got her into the bath and achieved baptism by immersion as she so wished. She was so very happy.
She recited the Lord’s prayer and encouraged us in our work of taking the Gospel to others. We then had a very emotional breaking of bread in the hotel room. She particularly had asked to do this, and so we had a silver cup and made it as memorable as possible. Of such is the Kingdom of God. The poor in this world, truly rich in faith.
Please do pray for this lovely brother and our incredible sister, with that Mona Lisa smile from the joy of being now secure in Christ. She has hardly any clothes, nothing at all in this world. We provided what help we could.
We made a video of it all, although it’s in Russian you will enter into the spirit of everything: https://tinyurl.com/carelinks-ukraine-baptism And specifically that wonderful breaking of bread (again in Russian only) at https://tinyurl.com/carelinks-ukraine-bofb
In December we were able to make a visit to the Ukraine to give some Winter welfare and also to baptize Sergej. He lives in a really remote spot in western Ukraine where he is a subsistence farmer. He has many problems at the moment as his cows are not giving any milk. He is paid only 5 Ukrainian Grivna for one litre of milk, which makes 1 Euro for every six litres of milk. But his cows aren’t giving milk at the moment, also one of his wells has dried up and the other has frozen up, so he’s really in a bad way materially, which is so sad as he is such a hard worker.
Sergej’s baptism involved one of those incredible journeys. He left home at 4am to walk the 7km to the nearest bus stop in order to come in to Kiev for his baptism. The ice was so slippery, as no salt is ever scattered there, that he just couldn’t walk fast enough to get to the bus stop in time. He hung around and got another bus, that bus broke down, the passengers then got lifts on other passing buses... until he got to Kiev. But being a country man and having hardly ever travelled to Kiev in his 36 years, he got out at the first stop in Kiev, which was on the very edge of this large city of 3 million people. Thank the Lord for cell phones...
Our brother first heard of the Bible from a JW who came to the village and preached, and then came across our material and left involvement with them. In all the difficulties and set backs on the day of his baptism, his faith was sore tested that it is God, not a cosmic evil being, truly in control. We did the baptism in a sauna with literally freezing water. Please pray for him in his lonely, hard and difficult life.