Sergey Ovcharenko – Senior Pastor

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 1 Timothy 1: 15-16 …..By God’s Mercy, God chose me to be saved by the faith into Jesus Christ.

Growing Up….

I grew up in a family of 5 girls and 4 boys, our parents were Christians, but out of 9 children only I became a Christian and a gospel preacher. I try to forget my life before I became Christian as my life was very bad – but from great sinners God makes us holy. In 1975 I was baptised a short while after God had made my dead soul alive. There have been many spiritual battles, but praise God He has always been with me.  Even before my baptism I was preaching about the salvation by faith. At that time we were within the Soviet Union, and many times I was brought before the authorities because of my faith and preaching. I got in trouble at work because of sharing the gospel in a company with about 600 staff.  I now have 7 sons and 2 daughters, and as I write 16 grandchildren! All my children are believers.

…We started to do the wonderful work of spreading God’s Word within Sumy region and wider region…

In March of 1997 I was invited to study at “Revival Bible College” in Kharkow. I was the first one in Sumy region to do mission work. There were many obstacles from the authorities and government, but God was there with me, it was His Work. In the early years we registered 12 churches in Sumy region and many people became Christians.

In 1999 something really important happened in my life and in the further mission work. During a missionaries seminar in Moscow I had an unforgettable meeting with Peter Martin and David Ashby, dear brothers from the UK. A short while later we met our dear brother and friend Mike Wadey who for many years has stood with us and remained faithful to our work in Sumy region. We started to do the wonderful work of spreading God’s Word within Sumy region and wider region. We were travelling around Ukraine with our Christian puppet show sharing Good News with people.

God was clearly answering our prayers. We were the first ones in Sumy region to have see great blessing visiting orphanages, schools, colleges, hospitals, prisons etc. Thank to prayers and financial support of our dear brothers from the UK we had such opportunity.

During the past 20 years our mission centre was able to do so many Christian summer and winter camps where each time we had about 200 children (each day). These ministries were so successful, a lot of children and their parents could hear God’s Word. So many who went to the camps have now become members of our church. It is very difficult to say now how many during the years as a lot of families moved from Lebedyn to different Ukrainian towns and to Russia. A lot stayed in the Lebedyn mission centre and the church and a large number who became Christians through the camps are now leaders themselves. Every year our church had a lot of baptisms from 12 to 20 people at once…

My lifelong desire was, and is, to diligently testify of Jesus Christ. God was helping us in a miracle way. For example, God put on my heart to visit all villages of Lebedyn area. I knew that in people’s minds there are so different points of view and a residue of the communist past. In Holubovka village the local authority/leader was Kensa, he was the hero of village work and he was a communist. So I decided to do a Christian service in their House of Culture and only this man could give the go ahead. I prayed to God and went to meet with him. It was a miracle, he received my requests in a very good way and told me: “we are not monsters, go forward, do it”. God is Powerful enough to soften hard and cold hearts.

Thanks to your prayers and financial support in 2000 we were able to buy a former kindergarten, it is one of the best places in Lebedyn, where we were able to do different Christian camps, meetings and events. Inside the building everything was reconstructed, the doors, windows, floor, roof, sewerage was changed. We made Sunday school rooms, guest rooms, rooms for sewing and computer classes, puppet show room for recording and rehearsing, outside walls, fencing, garden, flower beds, tiles laid outside. Praise God for His wise guidance through Peter and Mike, who came to visit us in Lebedyn more than 40 times during these years. Together we have visited so many different orphanages, educational establishments, met different Ukrainian authorities of our region and of the whole Ukraine. Everything played a very important and supportive role in our mission work.

Oversees financial support opened so many doors for our ministry. The financial situation was very bad and poor. In our mission I had three meetings with the Ukrainian Vice-president, meetings with Generals and other senior military leaders, Judges, Prosecutors, authorities and local government from Sumy. All these gave opportunities helped spread God’s Word. I would like to mention that the humanitarian aid from England brought to our mission centre was one of the best not only in Sumy region, but around Ukraine. May God bless 100 times more those who have been supporting us during all these years. Great work for God has been done and still goes on.

Thanks to the mission centre we have organised the Lebedyn church in the same building. 98% of all who became Christians and members of our church were from non-believing families. There was a lot of work done to help them understand God’s Love.

In Bishkin village Lebedyn area there were no Christians at all but right now there is a registered church that has been set up. Two teachers, who were the first to become Christians, have had a huge influence which was noticed by local authorities in the village. It was the great beginning of Christian family growth in this village. There is Sunday school there too.

I would like to share one more story. Local Christian brothers were holding a meeting at the local Sanatorium (hotel) in Tokary village (6 km from Lebedyn) came together with one man to meet with me. His name was Victor. Victor heard singing, God’s Word and everything touched his heart. He came up to those 2 brothers and told them: I don’t have patience in my soul, the song words “Jesus Christ knocks gently, calls gently” stuck in my mind.” The next day Victor was drunk, but alcohol could not stop God’s Word rising up. Praise God!!!! I spoke with Victor about his sin and faith and grace in Christ, and praise God he became Christian that day. (James 1:18). So Victor went back to his native village Banichy. Next year he came back to Tokary sanatorium again. When I met him I asked him: What did you say to your wife when you came back? And Victor replied: “Halia, please, forgive me, all these years I was very bad to you. Now I believe in Jesus Christ”. A lot of people respected Victor in his native village and at his work. He told me that when he got back home he took to work the machine he used to make homemade vodka and destroyed it telling everyone at work that he would never take part in any bad affairs. It was the great testimony for everybody to see…not just by his words but in his deeds.

After this God put on my heart to do Evangelism in Victor’s native village Banichy (It is a big village!) and in December we made it all happen. It was very cold, but people were eagerly listening to God’s Word. When I called people for repentance Victor’s wife came out and said: When my husband Victor became Christian he made my life with him like paradise. Everyone was crying. She prayed and she became Christian too. After a while some of their children became Christians, not all of them, but everything is in God’s Hands. For now, they have a church there and I visit regularly.

Dear Peter, Mike and all who prayed for and supported our common ministry, your work and time spent on the ministry are not in vain. (1Cor.15:58). Victor is a deacon in their church. Praise God! God has no accidents. For example, one day late in the evening I was driving home. I saw one man walking, I offered to give him a ride. We started to talk, I invited him to visit our evangelistic meeting. He was very interested and asked many questions. He prayed in the car and he became Christian.  He invited me into his house where his wife was also very interested and she prayed to God too and became a Christian. Now Nikolai is a deacon in the church in Lebedyn and his wife Nadia sings in the church choir.

A lot of families joined our church: Shulovs, Vorobiovs Shevchuns, Dubnickyiеs, Shulgas etc. In some situations the wife or husband started attending first and then the whole family became Christians, in some situations children came first and then the parents.

We keep doing evangelistic meetings with those who are convicted and serving a prison sentence. The government and authorities are so thankful for these meetings as the behaviour of the prisoner’s changes in a positive way and they value the Christian education which we provide. We keep doing the evangelistic meetings and camps with the disabled, adults, children and with refugee families who had to escape from Ukrainian parts occupied by Russia through the war. Thanks to your support we were able to buy a house for a poor refugee family Tatiana, her daughter Anna and 3 grandchildren. This year Anna has been baptised after her mother Tatiana became Christian 4 years ago. So the seeds in this family are growing into spiritual fruit.

We also keep doing the puppet ministry around Lebedyn, the Sumy region and further outside. Because of your support we were able to go to Odessa few times to do a lot of evangelistic meetings with children and adults on the main square there.

Our puppet show participants were able to do a lot of such meetings at Azov Sea recreation centre’s for children and adults on vacation. A lot of them listened to God’s Word and watched such puppet shows for the first time.

The Lord said “.. the gospel will be preached as a testimony to all nations and then the end will come”. Matt 24 v 14

I will never forget, dear Peter and Mike your kindness and hospitality. May God gives you all long happy life, peace, strong health, joy, sanctify and cleanse yourselves to be always prepared to meet with our Lord any time.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (Colossians. 3:1).

With prayers and love from your younger brother in Christ and your old friend Sergey.

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