Lviv, UKRAINE "Before the Invasion"


Spring 2022
Written by Edmund & Agnes Johnson - Ukraine
johnsoneajohnston@lviv4316.com

Ukraine is the 2nd largest country geographically in Europe but is not a member of the European Union. With a population of 44 million, steeped in "religious idolatry," and landlocked by seven other countries except in the south where the Black Sea forms a beautiful coastline. Since 1991 they became independent from the USSR and left communism behind as the "iron curtain" fell. Since 2014 and the invasion of the mighty Russians in the east of the country, their armies have been entrenched 60 kilometers inside the Ukrainian border occupying large cities like Luhansk, Donetsk, and Mariupol. Presently there is a further threat of an invasion with 100,000 Russian troops positioned on the Eastern border with Ukraine and the Southern border of Belarus with Ukraine. We appreciate the support and backing of Europe and the West, but we pray that this will not be needed and that God would overrule at this critical time and that in no way will the Gospel be hindered and the dear believers protected.

In 1995 Flora Kancir, after the death of her husband, who was Ukrainian, attended Gospel meetings in Kapuskasing, Canada, and was gloriously saved, baptized, and gathered with the saints in Kirkland Lake N. Ontario. She made a vow to God that she would go if he gave her health and the financial resources to travel to Ukraine to bring the Gospel to her late husband's family in Lviv. She kept her vow and visited Lviv twice a year for 17 years until the Lord called her home in September 2012. Agnes and I had the privilege of working with Flo for two years after our commendation from the Kingsmoss assembly in 2010, learning much and being introduced to different aspects of the work. We did not understand the enormous impressions she made on us and the counsel and instructions we received in those two years.

ASSEMBLY
At the end of 2010, it pleased the Lord to plant an assembly in the "dark idolatrous " city of Lviv. Through the personal witness of the aforementioned Flora, many found Christ as Saviour during the preceding years. They were baptized and met together for bible study and singing twice a week. The assembly is "first generation " with much to learn; however, Spiritual growth is evident for which we give God thanks. It is encouraging to see development and maturity in the elders, Ruslan, Volodia, and Micha, as they preach the Gospel and share the Word of God to the saints. We meet on Wednesday evening for prayer and Gospel/Ministry and Lord's day for the breaking of bread and ministry. Unfortunately, the Sunday school remains suspended due to Covid restrictions. Every year we print an assembly Gospel calendar for distribution and rent a large church hall for our annual conference on the last weekend in October when we have a special overseas speaker to conduct the bible reading and minister the Word of God and other brethren.

ORPHANAGES
Presently we are involved with eight different orphanages in the city and surrounding region. They all present wonderful opportunities to open the Bible and preach the Gospel to both young and old, with many staff and management present at the meetings. We never go "empty-handed, " always bringing material needs, clothing, and sometimes financial aid to these state-run, underfunded institutions. We always sing with the children, teach the Scriptures and share the truth of the beautiful Gospel stories. Many times on these visits, we conclude with a personal conversation with the director and her staff about spiritual matters over a cup of tea or coffee.

CARPATHIAN MOUNTAINS
The mountains stretch southward along the Polish, Ukrainian border and as far as the Hungarian border. We have a contact in 5 different villages who arrange a day and time to have an "open-air " Gospel meeting. About 2 hours from Lviv brings us to the villages and has provided wonderful opportunities to "Sow the Seed. " Conditions in the mountains are a little primitive in relation to housing, farming, and even the standard of the village schools. We often think of the verse in Acts 1:8 "the uttermost part of the earth, " but also the truth of John 3:16 "For God so loved the world "

HOMELESS SHELTER
We are so thankful to the authorities in the city who permit us once a month to have a Gospel meeting with the "guests " "overnighters. " The system is very simple, if you have "NO roof over your head " or maybe no documents or passport, you can come to the shelter for the night at 8 pm, but you must leave the following day by 8 am. You must not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs and behave yourself when on the premises. Sometimes in the winter, we can have up to 50 men and women at the meeting. In the summertime, numbers are down due to the extremely hot weather (+33deg), and they sleep in the parks or under the city's bridges. It is a tremendous opportunity to open the bible with these dear people and share the "unsearchable riches of Christ " in a simple way. The attention and reverence is always good, and we leave the results with God. We try to support these poor people with a little food and clothing as the Lord provides.

REHABILITATION CENTRE
The Rehab Centre is located 50km from Lviv in a remote country area. The inmates farm the land and have sheep, hens, and ducks. Most of the men are young with lives that have been shattered by alcohol and drug abuse, many of them losing their marriages, families, and hope! We have the wonderful opportunity to open the living Word of God and speak to them about the God of Hope, Love, and Peace and the only Saviour of sinners, Jesus Christ. Some respond to the message with searching questions and comments about their circumstances.

GYPSY CAMPS
It is difficult to understand the "Gypsy way of life " their mentality and standards, but one thing is sure they each have a precious soul which will exist eternally. On camp, each family has their own "plastic covered dwelling, " no lighting, no running water, "earth flooring, " but warm and cozy and a big welcome to come inside. We share literature and bibles, food, and clothing, which is much appreciated. We are convinced the "gypsy queen, " the mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, is "born again " she brings order, and everyone must attend the meeting when the "Irish preacher " and his wife come to visit. We always have a great time with these people and such beautiful children, most with dirty hands and faces and many with no shoes listening to the wonderful stories of Christ, His miracles, Words and works, and his death at Golgotha to pay the price of their sin and shed His own blood.

PERSONAL CONTACTS
We try to visit many different families with different and varied circumstances. Our main priority is sharing the Gospel and reading from the Scriptures. Some are very poor, and our exercise is to support them with essential needs that arise in life and also, a "big bag " of groceries always goes down well.

With many discouragements, disappointments, and difficulties, we have experienced God's faithfulness, guidance, and wonderful provision. This has been the source of our joy to serve the greatest of Masters. God has blessed in salvation and preserved the little assembly in Lviv, and we ascribe all the glory to the God of our salvation.

We must remember this is the Lord's work, and it is only the Grace of God that has allowed us and strengthened us to be a small part of His "great harvest field. "

PRAYER POINTS

  • Spiritual growth and commitment in the assembly.
  • A solution to the war in the East.
  • Salvation of precious souls.
  • More opportunities to share the Gospel in schools.

Spring 2022
Written by Edmund & Agnes Johnson - Ukraine
johnsoneajohnston@lviv4316.com