Update 21st December 2023

Christmas 2023 Lebedyn Team photo

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Dear Friends,

What a year this has been! Today’s update will be the last of the year, as next week the team are busy with the Christmas programme and preparing for the Christmas camp the following week. Today, this will be an update of two halves. The first being an up-to-date report on what needs prayer and support, and the second half a review, which puts into context the amazing work and ministry the team have achieved through the year, plus a message from Bohdan!

We struggled to video this week as power outages are more common than not. Today was 20 minutes on, and 20 minutes off! We got there in the end!! There is sad news in that Lena, who used to head up the cooking and now helps on a voluntary basis in the office for Bohdan, was informed that her son had been killed in the war. Her grief is strong due to the fact that her daughter died quite some time ago, and now she has lost her son, Sasha. They cannot hold the funeral yet as the body has not been repatriated back to Lebedyn. In fact, Sasha’s body still lies in a battlefield somewhere along the frontline, and the Russians will not let the dead bodies be collected.

The view of Bohdan is that many people are suffering and getting angry about the war. People are leaving the area, including people within the church, to try and find a safer place to live. Rumours of further invasion are rife. The government has also cancelled any days off over Christmas, so there is no time off to celebrate this season. The church and Centre will be celebrating Christmas on the 25th December instead of the old orthodox Christmas on 7th January. On Christmas Eve they have a special service in the morning, and then in the evening until curfew they are holding a massive meal for all the church family, team, and families and friends to celebrate together. On Christmas Day they all celebrate at home with their families. On Boxing Day the team start their 4-day visitation to orphanages, hospitals and special daily events for families. Then, after New Year the camp starts from 2nd-6th January – war permitting. We ask that you continue pray for the team over this period, for their safety and effectiveness in all they will be doing.

Still the team are visiting and helping those they can with aid, including freshly baked bread. Youth groups and children’s clubs continue. There’s no stopping for Christmas. See pictures below…

A quick review of 2023

The list below is not exhaustive, but an indication of what has been achieved by the team in Ukraine in partnership with Hope Lebedyn in the UK. Nothing done in Ukraine happens without the people hearing about God’s love, whether in a service or through Bibles and literature given out.

  • A further 50,000+ meals given out with iCare boxes and aid.
  • Over 10,000 loaves of bread distributed which will grow to over 20,000 in 2024.
  • A further 20 tons of aid found and distributed.
  • Helped orphanages with aid and meetings.
  • Made hospital bed sheets and taken aid into hospitals.
  • Visited orphanages to give help and encouragement.
  • Distributed thousands of Bibles, John’s Gospels, and around 2,000 Jesus Story Book Bibles for children.
  • Had nearly 1,000 children in total attend children’s camps at various times of year.
  • Started weekly children’s clubs at the Centre (average attendance between 50-70 children).
  • Started weekly youth clubs (average attendance between 30-50 youth).
  • Started youth and teen homegroups for Bible study where around 50 attend.
  • Distributed over 10,000 nappies to families, especially with military serving families.
  • Helped other churches in the region especially in Samotoivka and Okhtyrka.
  • Worked with Lebedyn Hospital to provide help and activities for children waiting for treatment.
  • Performed over 50 Puppet Theatre shows each sharing Bibles stories in a contemporary way.
  • Rebuilt a new Bible College ready to start in the New Year.
  • Part completion of a new playground creating a safe space for families, with artificial grass and outdoor toilet facilities.
  • Rebuilt, and fitted to government standards, the bomb shelter so all the children’s work can continue.
  • Gave a grant for the purchase an apartment for workers.
  • Purchased a new (second-hand) 7-seater vehicle for Bohdan to use on his many mission trips.
  • Purchased a minibus (second-hand) replacing the old one to help in many aid trips and other areas.
  • Gave over a thousand packets of seeds away to help Lebedyn residents be self-sustaining.
  • Visited the many care homes for the elderly in the region taking in aid such as incontinence pads.
  • Purchased 14 computers for the new computer workshop and Bible School. Multiple classes and sessions happen from teenagers to pensioners!
  • Started English classes for children of various ages.
  • Reaching around 1,000 children this coming Christmas through their busy programme.
  • Bought a new piano for the work in the church.
  • Helped those with disability, even sourcing disability aids such as crutches.
  • Worked continually with in-country refugees and the displaced to receive help, love and care.
  • Seen many of the church take in children and young people who are without parents or family.
  • Countless miles have been driven along roads some with broken bridges and bomb craters to give help where needed.
  • Supported 9 team in Ukraine.
  • Counselled and supported many families who are coping with grief and loss of loved ones even among the team, as well as those we help.
  • Seen 7 people been baptised.
  • Set up Hope Lebedyn as its own independent charity in the UK.

When ask about how many people had come to faith, Bohdan thought and said, “more than I can count!”

This is the reason for our existence. The only hope for those people who are living in this conflict is the hope found in Jesus Christ.

We have also seen many praying for this work. Our prayer update is shared around the world, not just in the UK. In Eastbourne, Victoria Baptist Church continue to hold a special prayer meeting for Lebedyn and Ukraine every week.

The financial generosity has been exceptional, and whenever a need has been there, a donation has been received. These have come from churches, from sponsored activities, individual’s, companies, rotary clubs and charitable trusts, both home and overseas. We are conscious that God has provided for all the above and much more besides. THANK YOU!!!

Our trip into Ukraine in the summer was something we will never forget. The joy of being together with Bohdan and Alla, their family and Sergey, albeit in a country at war, will forever remain in our hearts. To be able to hear the stories of how the war is impacting the Sumy region was both heartbreaking but inspirational. To find out the level of commitment of this team was just incredible, and the times of prayer, powerful.

Thank you for your help, support, and encouragement through this year. The team in Lebedyn and Trustees here in the UK send our Christmas greetings.

At the top of this page is a Christmas card from the team in Ukraine, but if you click on the image it will take you to a YouTube video with a Christmas greeting from Bohdan!

Christmas 2023 video greeting still

May you enjoy a Merry Christmas, and we look forward to journeying with you through the New Year.

Peter Martin

Founding Director of Hope Lebedyn

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    From 17th - 24th February we are holding a week of prayer as we remember the 2nd anniversary of the war in Ukraine.
    To help you pray, we've created a PDF guide that contains some daily prayer points. 

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