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This spring, a number of Ukrainian conferences provided ministry training and a holiness focus for Nazarenes across the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Field.
Twenty-nine child development workers from the CIS Field met in late April for a training conference in Kiev, Ukraine. The workers represented child-focused ministries in Kazakhstan, Moldova, Armenia, Russia, Ukraine, and two other countries*.
The conference’s objective was to help children’s workers identify available resources and possible challenges, discuss solutions for difficult situations, and develop a three-year strategy for child development in the field, said Iryna Galisevich, CIS child development coordinator.
This conference was a follow-up to the first CIS Field training held three years ago.
There are 30 Nazarene kids clubs in the CIS ministering to more than 850 kids every week. Three hundred and seventy children are supported through the Nazarene Compassionate Ministries Child Sponsorship program. Those who work with children often do so in the context of orphanages, children with special needs, and HIV-positive children. Prevention work is conducted through schools and educational institutions, as well as through camps.
“CIS has a lot of children qualified as children at risk," Galisevich said. "Only the church can equip a child with all necessary tools that can help him develop holistically. Only the church can help a child to fully develop [their] God-given potential."
Five conference participants were living proof of God using child development programs for life transformation: each began their spiritual journeys as members of the kids clubs. Now they are children’s ministry leaders in their local churches, Galisevich added.
Atul Meshramkar, who oversees NCM Child Development on the India Field, was the conference’s main presenter. He showed how developing the community around the child affects the child’s development, offering concrete examples and strategies that are at work in India.
Nazarenes involved in child development in Ukraine prepared workshops and presentations on various topics, including child sponsorship, creative approaches to program planning, children’s rights protection, spiritual formation of the child, methods of working with teenagers, and team-building and teamwork principles.
“[The training] was needed and I think it is still needed, because in our ministries … from time to time our leaders also need to be encouraged and to participate in different activities and conferences to grow in their ministries and to go more deep in their faith,” said Anna Artsrunyan, who coordinates and supports the directors of seven active kids club ministries in Armenia.
One important thing the training addressed, Artsrunyan said, was how to work with teenagers.
“It is always wonderful to have children and work with them, but we also should know how we need to work with them when they are growing,” she said.
Four holiness conferences for women took place in four Ukrainian cities – Mariupol, Odessa, Khmelnitskiy, and Kiev – to strengthen women and encourage their growth in spiritual maturity. More than 200 women participated in total, said Galisevich. Some men also came.
The theme was how to live a holy life in everyday life.
“I liked the message about the rooms of our hearts,” said Zhanna Serdukova, who served as an interpreter at the Khmelnitsky conference, which drew 20 women. “Some of them are closed for the Lord. We are unhappy, unsuccessful in these spheres because we don’t want God to take care of them. Carolyn [Johnson, the speaker] told us how blessed she was when she opened these rooms for the Holy Ghost.”
At the Kiev conference, four Nazarene churches and two other denominations were represented. Three different denominations joined for the conference in Mariupol, in southern Ukraine.
Some of the women testified that God was helping them understand what prevents them from having joy in the Lord, and freeing them from unforgiveness and despair, Galisevich said.
“We hope that women’s ministry in Ukraine will develop further, because we have five million more women than men in Ukraine and they need support, encouragement, and someone to point them to Christ.”
--Church of the Nazarene Eurasia Region
*Countries not named for security reasons