“This is the first time I have heard the Word of God preached in my native language!” Nina spoke with her new pastor, tears welling up in her eyes. “We immigrated to the United States many years ago and found out about Adventism from friends. Since then, every sermon I have heard has been through a translator until today! How beautiful the Word is!”
Nina’s story is part of an amazing new ministry God is building in the Cleveland, Ohio, area for people of Slavic descent. Northern Ohio is home to 70,000-plus eastern Slavic people from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Now in her 80s, Nina has been a Seventh-day Adventist for several years, attending church and hearing English but not understanding it, because she only speaks Russian.
On May 14, 2022, the Cleveland Slavic church held its first Saturday (Sabbath) worship service for people just like Nina, ministering to them in Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Russian. Approximately 45 Adventists and non-members attended the service.
The journey of this new congregation began more than a year ago, as Ohio Conference leaders began to pray for a pastor who could minister in the native languages of the eastern Slavic people. As 2021 drew to a close, Gennadii Kasap accepted the call to serve and began the process of moving with his family to the U.S. from their home in the Euro-Asia Division. God’s timing could not have been more perfect, as the Kasap family arrived just as eastern Europe closed due to the ongoing Ukrainian conflict.
Kasap immediately went to work. “With God’s blessing, beginning May 14, a worship service will now be held every Saturday for eastern Slavic people living near Cleveland,” Kasap told the Ohio Conference Executive Committee.
He continued, “Our first missionary project was a charity dinner to raise funds for the ‘First Aid Kit of Life’ project. The goal of the project was to raise funds to buy first-aid kits with essential medicine and bandages, then send the kits to the active war zone in Ukraine. We raised more than US$3,000, which will be used to buy 200-plus kits and hopefully save at least 200 lives!”
Ohio Conference president Bob Cundiff said, “We see God’s hand in the timing of the Cleveland Slavic church plant. When we started this process nearly a year and a half ago, we had no idea that Russia would be at war with Ukraine and the world at odds with Russia. What an opportune time for us to minister to both the Russians and the Ukrainians who reside here in the territory of the Ohio Conference!”