Ukrainian youth step toward change

KIEV, Ukraine (BP)--As an evening worship service begins at Central Baptist Church in Kiev, Ukraine, more than 25 young people crowd into a basement room to pray for the contemporary youth service to follow. Among the group is youth worker Vladimir Goloschapov from Transfiguration Baptist Church in Donetsk, Ukraine.

"Young people are the future," Goloschapov says. "The kind of young people we have in our church today will determine what kind of church we have tomorrow."

Today, 15 years after the fall of communism and only two years since Ukraine's Orange Revolution, many Ukrainian believers sense their nation is on the verge of change.

As believers in Ukraine become accustomed to their post-Soviet religious freedom, Mick Stockwell of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board suggests Ukrainian young people will be the ones to fulfill the Great Commission in their own country and abroad.

"The church that survived communist persecution, the older generation, is in survival mode," Stockwell, an IMB strategy associate, says. "The new generation is what God will have to use to evangelize, disciple and train leaders."

With approximately 20,000 students enrolled in Christian universities across Ukraine, young people are doing just that. Last year, 13 Ukrainian young people boarded a train in Kiev for Kazakhstan to work alongside IMB missionary Joe Ragan, sharing Christ through events from English lessons to children's camps.

Ukrainian young people are responding to the call to participate in global missions. At the close of the Central Baptist youth worship service, 40 youth step forward, committing the next year to changing both their community and their world through Christian ministry.


Kristen Hiller is a writer-photographer with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board. This year's Week of Prayer for International Missions, Dec. 2-9, focuses on missionaries who serve in the former Soviet Union as well as churches partnering with them, exemplifying the global outreach supported by Southern Baptists' gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.