The concept of establishing a Christian center for soldiers to visit for rest and recreation is strategic. Military service in Ukraine is mandatory. Young men from all over the country get inducted and go to Desna for training before being posted to other bases around the nation. However, Desna offers no wholesome environment for relaxing during off hours. Currently, bars and discos are the only alternative. In another answer to prayer, a former Ukrainian army officer named Igor Balashov (a graduate of our seminary) has accepted the call to head up the ministry among soldiers. Working hand in hand with Pastor Fomichov and the local congregation, he will be a welcome addition to those already ministering in Desna. The basezampolit (officer in charge of ideological instruction of new recruits) has met Igor, accepted his credentials as a former Special Forces paratrooper, and even offered him weekly meetings geared to fortify all new soldiers spiritually. We praise God for this wonderful opportunity!

In April, the latest in a series of BIEM-organized work teams from the U.S. visited Desna to assist with physical reconstruction. On their arrival, Pastor Fomichov expressed hope that the crew would be able to restore the main large room earmarked for the servicemen’s center. In contrast, the team worked long hours and was able to install new walls and ceilings in that room, plus the adjoining room, and to drywall a third room along with the hallway connecting them. The local believers were astonished as how much work was accomplished that week.

The physical labor in Desna isn’t finished. More rooms await repair. A gas line to the building is needed. But every screw and every panel of drywall costs money. Step by step, the Lord is guiding, providing, sending friends to help, and expanding this ministry that was once a mere dream. May He be glorified, and may many more souls come to Him!