A very warm welcome to the brand new Hope Lebedyn website. Hope Lebedyn is the new charity name for the work formerly known as EC Missions. The EC stands for Essential Christian, more widely known for running Spring Harvest a Christian conference attended by thousands every Easter.
My name’s Peter Martin and it has been my honour to work with Pastor Sergey Ovcharenko who birthed this work from his small church and more recently alongside Pastor Bohdan Tymchyshyn who now heads up the Mission Centre in Lebedyn. Not forgetting the wider team in Lebedyn, Ukraine who for years have given their time and energy to serve, train and love the forgotten people of this region.
A personal welcome from Peter Martin…
In 1999, my good friend and long term missionary in the former Soviet Union, Jimmy Leonovich, invited me to a conference where 650 pastors and partners would be gathering to share testimonies and to see how best they can help each other going forward. Many of these people had planted churches in secret for fear of persecution but out of that came the abundance of richness through life changing stories.
I was moved and my heart and spirit was stirred in a way never experienced before. The passion for God and the answered prayers bought tears of joy – and sadness. They wept for their people, for those that were lost and who didn’t know Father God. Love abounded but it seemed a mission never fulfilled. They committed their lives, even if it meant death, to see people come to know Jesus as their personal Saviour and to help them have hope in a desperate situation.
Helpless, and feeling very inadequate, I asked if I could speak to the person whose region needed the most help. I spoke with Pastor Sergey who came from a town called Lebedyn in a county called Sumy which borders with Russia. He showed me pictures of the poverty within the town. Back then 85% of the population was unemployed and sadly this figure has not changed today. Within the photos was an image I will never forget. It was of a boy walking the streets alone, dirty, no shoes, T-shirt and shorts. He could have only been 7-8 years old. He was one of the street children there who had nothing at all. Sergey shared his story and that of others.
I was told of how the orphanages were full and had no clothes for children. 27 orphanages locally with thousands of children packed in them. Again my heart broke and I committed then to do something to help. Immediately we arranged and funded with another charity to get 80 tons of aid in the area and did this repeatedly. We also put in basic supplies to help feed the children.
Pastor Sergey shared his vision for a centre (see his story) that could be both church and a mission centre to do all the works he wanted to do. The kindergarten school had been closed and up for sale and we helped to raise $10,000 to buy this building. Then we set about the repairs and today on this website site you can see the great facility that is there. Another answered prayer. Today we are looking to build a second building to help grow the work we do and are currently fundraising to this end.
We have recently conducted our summer camp programme even in these challenging times we are living in. We engaged in such a special way with the neediest of children and youth in the area and showed them so much hope for the future. What was really pleasing was to see that all the workers and helpers all had attended the camps in previous years. This shows how successful these type of activities are creating life changing stories.
There are 7 team members which we in the UK fund. Everyone is Ukrainian and lives in Lebedyn area. Each of them receive a fair salary for the work they do. You will be able to meet the team on this website to find out more about them and the work they do. We also try and obtain all the resources we use locally to try and help stimulate the local economy with the hope it might bring more employment to the town. It is now very difficult to send aid into this area.
Through these past 20+ years this work could not have been done without the help of others. We have a select and small support group in the UK that meet regularly to help steer the advice we give, to help raise funds and importantly pray regularly. These people, like Mike Wadey, who has visited over 40 times to encourage and assess where things are for us, have given in every way to see this activity of Essential Christian grow.
Within this website you will get just a glimpse of the activities but behind every activity are many stories to tell. If you would like to find out more and share in this exciting ministry please do let us know as we would love to chat further. With your support and giving we can make such a difference to lives that have so little. Humanly speaking there is no hope if left to just exist. That is why we have re-named this charitable activity “Hope Lebedyn” because we believe that everyone should have the opportunity not to live in fear, poverty and isolation but should be able to share in the Hope that our faith in Jesus Christ gives and receive the love Jesus gives practically.
Please join us on our journey as we try to enable the team there to do their work. And for those that already are on this journey – THANK YOU! Without your support we really could not do the things we do.