Situation in the country
With 603,700 km², Ukraine is the largest European state by size and is situated centrally where Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe meet.
It borders on Romania, Moldova, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Belarus, Russia and the Black Sea. Ukraine has about 43 m inhabitants, with Kiev as capital (approx. 2.9 m). The Crimea and parts of East Ukraine have not been under the control of the central government in Kiev snce 2014.
Ukraine is a very varied country, renowned for its vast forests and grain-growing areas, and used to be the granary of the Soviet Union. It is rich in coal and iron ore, and has oil and gas resources. The country has great economic potential. After the collapse of the USSR, the country developed into a market economy, but because of corruption and outdated bureacratic structures it is still in its infancy.
While the poorer rural areas are being increasingly depopulated, the towns are growing. A high rate of unemployment and the lack of a perspective for the future lead people into alcohol and drug dependency, and the divorce rate is high. Ukraine's suicide rate is one of the highest in the world, as are the number of alcohol and drug fatalities and of abortions.
In the last few years, the country, its population and politics have been influenced by the war in the east of the country. Officially 1.5 m people have fled from the occupied territories in the regions Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea and have registered in the west of the country.
The Orthodox Church with about 70 % of the population is the largest church in the country. Since January 2019, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine was recognised as independent by the Patriarchate in Constantinopel, thus no longer being subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROK). In the eyes of the Orthodox churches, all non-Orthodox groups such as the 3.8 % Protestants are considered to be sects, although the Orthodox Church of Ukraine is more tolerant towards Protestants than the ROK.
Nevertheless, from time to time there are amazing possibilities for spreading the Gospel. In state school books, articles from our children's magazine TROPINKA are used, and "Polyanna", a book published by LICHT IM OSTEN (LIGHT IN THE EAST), has been introduced into the syllabus for higher grades. Through all the suffering in the war, an amazing openness for the Gospel can be observed in the population.
Almost as never before, Christian literature is being accepted and Christian meetings are being attended. At evangelistic tent weeks, many people become Christians.
What we do in Ukraine
Translating and editing books, brochures and flyers and their layout.
Preparation of magazines for printing (translation and adaption) in the Ukrainian language (STESHINKA; FAITH AND LIFE).
Layout of four children's magazines (in Russian, Ukrainian, German, Romanian) and of the Ukrainian FAITH AND LIFE for adults.
Printing all Ukrainian-language literature
Despatch to individuals using our address data bank and to public libraries in Ukraine.
Distributing literature at evangelistic events and street evangelism
Distributing literature when speaking at Ukrainian churches, and through partner churches and Christian partner organisations
Children's clubs (theatre studio, puppet theatre, voice studio)
Evangelistic events with the STESHINKA-club children participating (theatre performances, puppet theatre performances and Christmas events in the towns and villages of Ukraine
Camps for children and teenagers. (At the moment there is no regular ministry especially for teenagers, although the need is great.)
Annual evangelistic events in the entire Ukraine (2019: 51 events in 5 teams with approx. 150 workers from different Ukrainian churches.)
Public library in the Mission Centre where the librarian is also a counsellor
Evangelistic activities spread over the year (including street evangelism using reproductions of paintings)
Recordings of Christian books in the Mission's own studio with speakers from Ukrainian radio and experienced mission staff
Recordings of audio broadcasts for children which are then broadcast on the Radio "Emmanuil". (In the past they were broadcast via TWR, but this has now been stopped due to internal changes at TWR.)
Regular recordings of the STESHINKA audio magazine by professional speakers and children from the voice studio (6 issues per year)
Duplication and despatch of audio products for the visually handicapped, approx 1,400 addresses
Transport and distribution of humanitarian relief aid in Ukraine together with other non-profit organisations who we have been in contact with for many years
As far as possible, assistance for refugees from East Ukraine, including the area at the front
In very rare cases and as far as possible, specific aid for individual especially needy people
Children's correspondence course "Follow me"
Online library (liolib.org) (still being developed)
The Mission's own website, where books and magazines can be ordered or subscribed to online
At the moment we employ 29 staff members permanently and six free-lance.
They work in: evangelistic ministry (5), mission library (2), despatch (4), ministry to the blind (2), book ministry (2), online projects (3), children's ministry (3), social ministry (4), administration (4), editing STESHINKA magazine (1), domestic management, maintenance work and security (5).
Every year we organise in the summer months - at the moment with five teams at over 50 venues in the whole country - week-long tent meetings.
This is how they are organised: We put up a tent in the village where we hold evangelistic meetings every evening of the week, inviting the people in the villages to come. We also go through the village during the day from house to house, telling the Gospel to everyone who wants to hear. In the middle of the village, we exhibit reproductions of paintings and tell the Gospel using these pictures. In the daytime, we hold evangelistic meetings in the tent for children. Sporting events are organised for teenagers and young people. One of the five teams provides medical examinations free of charge, and distributes material aid to the needy (in the form of clothing, shoes, glasses, etc.). Members of the local churches are involved in all the events.
In the winter months, as part of the Christmas gift box initiative we hold up to 30 evangelistic meetings, at which we creatively convey the Christmas message and the Gospel, and also give great pleasure to children, families and senior citizens by giving them Christmas boxes.
Mission: "Your mission team has done more in one week than our entire church could have done in a year!" "Do you remember coming to us with the tent four years ago? Recently someone in our church was converted who says the way to God began then in that tent."
Literature: "The book you sent was such a valuable present for me! It has influenced me greatly! I could hardly put it down!"
Social ministry: "I have always known: If I ask you for books, you will not reject my request! I have already given your book 'Polyanna' to 150 people who asked for our help. Can I ask for another 50?" (Director of the Red Cross in Kiew)
Visually handicapped: "Whenever I hear your CD I enjoy it! Great programmes! Great books! I especially like the audio editions of FAITH AND LIFE."
Evangelism: "Preaching with the reproductions of paintings is a wonderful way of passing on the Gospel! But we have one request: If you are going to exhibit the paintings again this year, please replace the collection. Last year the pictures were in such a bad condition that it hurt to look at them!" (But a set of painting reproductions costs around 500 €.)
Our website needs to be completely revised and updated
We urgently need a permanently employed editor
The work of the PR department needs improving
We are in the process of compiling our online library, where all the literature that LICHT IM OSTEN has
ever printed in any language will be made available in digital form. Completing the library and putting it
into use is a large task.
It is our aim that the composition and layout of the four children's magazines might be carried out by
our own staff, with no free-lance staff whatsoever.
If possible, the Mission's existing areas of work should be retained and expanded.