State of the Ukrainian Church Today
Ukraine is one of the countries that broke off from the former Soviet Union, and by the mid-1990s, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, a large number of new churches had been established. The Church today is now trying to re-discover its role in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ, and one of the new ways they hope to accomplish this is through ministry among Muslims.
This new trend is not surprising, as wave after wave of Middle Easterners have poured into the heart of Europe, bringing with them their culture and religion. Accordingly, European Christians are in need of training on how to interact with people whose religion and background are often misunderstood at best, and verbally and physically attacked at worst. Just as the Samaritans were intimidating to and misunderstood by the common Jew during the time of Jesus, so Muslims are often misjudged by the common Western Christian today. One of the biggest questions of our time for Western Christians will be, What does it look like to be a good neighbor to a Muslim, and how do we open their eyes to Christ? In this area, Horizons International’s Muslim ministry has proven out a strong, time-tested, and biblically faithful approach to answering the call to evangelize and disciple Muslims.
Engaging Islam Training in Kiev
On August 5, 2018, Horizons International held a training day in the Ukranian capital of Kiev, to equip a number of leaders and ministers from across the country. On this day, Brother Khalil Abdelahad, our Director of Church Relations, eloquently presented three lectures from the main Horizons’ Engaging Islam curriculum:
- The Rise of Islam and its Current State
- The Religious Life of Muslims
- Contrasts Between Christianity and Islam
The participants of the training expressed great joy at being able to attend the training and learn from someone with so many years of ministry experience in the Middle East. They were excited to implement what they learned in their local ministries, and throughout their churches.
Khalil’s Unique Equipping for Service in Ukraine
God has opened up unique opportunities for Khalil to participate in ministry in Ukraine. Khalil met his wife Julia in Kiev in 2010 while attending was at a conference. Julia is a graduate from Kiev Christian University with a bachelor’s degree in Missiology. She also worked for CBN as an Assistant Director for the project “Gift of Adoption,” with the aim to inspire churches and families to minister to the orphans in Ukraine.
Although Khalil and Julia live in Lebanon, they have returned to Ukraine most summers to visit their family and church, and also to participate in ministry there. In 2012, Khalil served as an integral part of establishing an Arabic church there, which he continues to visit. And in 2013, when Khalil and Julia had their son David in Kiev, and they spent an extended period of time in the city. This blessed their ministry with great expansion, as they spent a lot of time with Arabs in the universities of Kiev.
The Future of Horizons’ Activity in Ukraine
Regarding his recent trip, Khalil said, “I am in a new era with Horizons, and I am trying to help the Kingdom to increase [in Ukraine] with all that I have been given from public relations and opportunities.” Julia received much public recognition from Ukraine’s evangelical society for the “Gift of Adoption” project, and Khalil and Julia hope to leverage this in order to launch Horizons into the missions field there.
“There are dozens of theological institutes and Bible schools in Ukraine, and there is a great interest among them in learning more about Islam and how to serve better with this religious group,” says Khalil. “Horizons International can offer its training curriculum in many of these institutes, and thus we can equip hundreds of ministers and leaders to serve among Muslims in that country and abroad. On the other hand, a large number of Muslim students are studying at Ukrainian universities, coming from several countries [Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and others]. The opportunity to transmit the Gospel, in cooperation with local churches, is excellent—by training leaders and ministers, by supporting their missionaries, and by possibly establishing a direct ministry with students there.”
Khalil was reminded of the verse in Acts 16:9, when the man from Macedonia asked Paul, “Come over to us and help us.” The churches in Ukraine are certainly eager to learn, and Horizons is excited for the opportunity to serve the global church body.
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If you would like to find out when our next Engaging Islam training is, or would like to have us bring a training to you or your church, visit the Engaging Islam site for more information.