February 4, 2017

Major Outreach Program Launched in Ukraine, Former Soviet Union

Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Seventh-day Adventists from around the world descended on a Ukrainian college campus to finalize local plans for an enormous evangelistic endeavor that church leaders hope will spread across Europe.

On Friday evening, February 3, some 500 evangelistic meetings will kick off in Ukraine, and hundreds more across the former Soviet Union, as part of Total Member Involvement (TMI), a world church initiative that encourages every church member to share the gospel in their communities.

General Conference president Ted Wilson, second right, greeting lay evangelists from Mexico on an Adventist college campus in Bucha, Ukraine, on Feb. 2, 2017, as Euro-Asia Division president Michael Kaminskiy, right, watches. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)

More than 2,000 meetings will begin a week later in Romania and elsewhere, followed by a third wave and a fourth wave of meetings across Eastern Europe.

In all, more than 4,300 sites will host evangelistic series in eight countries: Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine.

Seventh-day Adventist General Conference president Ted N.C. Wilson, speaking at an orientation meeting for evangelists in Ukraine on Thursday, expressed hope that “what God is going to do in Eastern Europe over the next six weeks will inspire a spiritual revival across … Europe.”

“This is a good opportunity to encourage people to get involved and to preach”

“Eyes are upon you,” Wilson told a group of lay members, ministers, and church administrators gathered on the campus of the Ukrainian Adventist Center of Higher Education in Bucha, a town outside Ukraine’s capital, Kiev. “People are watching what God will do here because God wants to do this everywhere.”

The evangelistic meetings are patterned after a combination of prayer, Bible study, community outreach, and preaching that resulted in a record 110,476 baptisms in Rwanda last year. But church leaders are not yet planning on a large number of baptisms at the conclusion of the East European meetings. In Romania, for example, guests will first be invited to attend Bible studies. The first baptisms may only take place in June. In the former Soviet Union, a vast territory with only about 113,000 members, church leaders hope the evangelistic meetings will re-energize local churches.

New Friends, New Contacts

“This is a good opportunity to encourage people to get involved and to preach,” said Michael Kaminskiy, president of the church’s Euro-Asia Division, whose territory covers much of the former Soviet Union.

Pastor Ted Wilson, General Conference president, at left, speaking at an orientation meeting on the Bucha campus as Euro-Asia Division president Michael Kaminskiy interprets into Russian. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)

Reinvigorated members are needed because some churches in Ukraine, for instance, have not had a single baptism in the past year, he said.

“The main goal of the evangelistic meetings,” Kaminskiy added, is not baptisms but “to help the church make new friends and new contacts.”

To that end, the Euro-Asia Division will organize meetings at 2,150 sites, mostly in February and March but some as late as May, Kaminsky said. Of those meetings, 1,000 will be in Ukraine and another 700 in Moldova.

In addition, 2,017 meetings are planned for Romania in February, said Ștefan Tomoiagă, president of the Adventist Church in Romania.

“We strongly believe that God is able to bless Romania abundantly,” he said in an e-mail to church leaders. “Let our prayers continue to be fervent and constant and our actions accord with them.”

Among those who will preach in Romania are Wilson and his wife, Nancy, who will have their own sites. Nancy Wilson, who also preached in Rwanda last year, will lead an evangelistic series at a predominantly Roma church in Romania’s capital, Bucharest.

Wilson said in an interview that Adventists have been able to reach out to their communities in marvelous ways in Western Europe, but secular and materialistic challenges can be discouraging at times. He said he hoped that the TMI spirit showcased in Eastern Europe this year would spill over to Western Europe.