Sam and Amy Slobodian

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Sam Slobodian was born on May 1, 1954 to Ukrainian missionaries, Peter and Mary Slobodian, in Saenz Pena, Argentina.  Although he had come to the United States at the age of three, he did not have a real introduction to the English language until his first day of kindergarten.  As young children do, Sam learned the language quickly and one of his more vivid memories of those days was the time his father came home with a small green AM radio.  The idea was that somehow the knowledge of the English language would be imparted to the immigrant family as they huddled around the radio and listened to it in their small but very clean fourth-floor apartment, located in a run-down neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Childhood for Sam and his sisters, Ann and Debbie, was quite normal and saturated with church activities since their parents began establishing Ukrainian and Russian Baptist churches to reach the Slavic population of Minneapolis while they both were studying at University of Northwestern – St. Paul and Central Baptist Theological Seminary.

When Sam was ten, he began to do some serious thinking after his Daily Vacation Bible School teacher asked each boy in the class to give not only the date of his birth but also the date he was born again, his spiritual birthday.  Having been raised in a preacher’s home and having heard the Gospel preached continually, Sam reasoned that he must have been saved at some point, even if he could remember neither the date nor the circumstances surrounding his decision.  However, the Holy Spirit soon convicted Sam that the reason he could not remember anything about this event was that it had never happened!  And so by the end of the week Sam received Christ as his personal Savior and wrote the date down in his Bible:  June 24, 1964.

When Sam was twelve, his family moved to Chicago, Illinois. Having completed their studies in Minneapolis, Sam’s parents were drawn to Chicago by the opportunity of ministering to the huge Slavic population of the city.  Though he was not thrilled with spending Saturdays in a Ukrainian grammar school, looking back it seems that even in those days God was preparing Sam for his future ministry.  As a dedicated Christian young man growing up in Chicago, Sam was active in church and youth activities and had an effective witness for Christ in addition to always managing to find employment.  Even though Sam earned academic honors in high school, being named an Illinois State Scholar, his main interest was trumpet, which he hoped to pursue professionally.  Sam became a serious musician and eventually was recognized as one of the outstanding high school musicians of the city.

As a senior in high school, Sam began to struggle with a call to preach.  After the Lord dealt with Sam through the Word and some specific circumstances, Sam surrendered for full-time Christian service.  As a result, he did not audition for any of the talent scholarships available from many major universities. One day the band director called Sam aside and told him the exciting news that he had been offered a talent scholarship that had no audition requirement; others and his reputation had spoken for Sam.  Indeed, the document was on his desk, and it had only to be accepted.  When Sam responded by saying he was planning on the ministry, the director replied, “Sam, that’s wonderful. I’m not even going to try to talk you out of that!”

After high school, Sam served as the youth pastor for East Maine Baptist Church in Glenview, a northwest suburb of Chicago.  The youth group multiplied under his ministry, and he involved many of the youth in the soul winning and bus ministries, starting several new bus routes  During this time, Sam attended Northeastern Illinois University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree.  Feeling the need for theological training and preparation, Sam resigned the youth ministry at East Maine in order to attend Central Baptist Theological Seminary, where he earned a Master of Divinity.  While a student there, Sam served as the first assistant pastor of the Valley Baptist Church in Golden Valley, Minnesota, where he developed the youth ministry into an extremely active program featuring camps, retreats, and cross-country bus trips.  Eventually brother Sam earned a Doctor of Missiology Degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.

While at Central Baptist Seminary, Sam met Amy Lindner, whose family attended Fourth Baptist Church, which housed the seminary. Amy, too, had grown up in a Christian home, where she was saved at the age of 10 as a result of evangelistic meetings in her home church in Littleton, Colorado. Amy attended Pillsbury Baptist Bible College, and after they were married she completed her education at Hyles-Anderson College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Amy and Sam were married on June 6, 1977.  After Sam’s graduation from seminary, they immediately moved to Chicago, where Sam had been called as pastor of Southside Baptist Church of Chicago.

Sam and Amy devoted themselves completely to the inner-city work and God blessed with a harvest of souls and a wonderful congregation of loving people.  After three fruitful years, Sam led the church in a move to the southwest suburb of Oak Lawn, where the church had already started a Christian day school.  This proved to be an excellent move for the church and the school soon numbered over 300 students.

In 1982 Sam became increasingly burdened and challenged by the ministry (Baptist International Evangelistic Ministries- BIEM) that he and his father had established the previous year to reach behind the Iron Curtain. This burden and challenge continued to grow to the point where it was evident that this was the calling of God to leave the pastorate in order to serve as a missionary with BIEM reaching Russia and Eastern Europe.

In 1990 dramatic changes came to the ministry of BIEM with the advent of glasnost and perestroika in the Soviet Union. The collapse of Communism resulted in many new opportunities for ministry in Russia and led Sam and Amy to consider moving there. Discussing the matter with BIEM’s board and with others with longtime involvement with the Slobodians and BIEM, both in Russia and the West, helped Sam conclude that they would be most effective operating from the United States. Today Sam serves as president of BIEM, and Amy works in the ministry's office. BIEM specializes in Russia and Eastern Europe, where the mission has planted numerous churches by supporting, training, and equipping nationals. BIEM also distributes Bibles and Gospel literature; maintains a seminary in Kyiv, Ukraine; translates and prints discipleship and pastoral training materials; conducts evangelistic outreach ministries; sponsors Christian summer camps for children and youth; provides material aid; and helps new congregations to build churches.

In 1993 the Slobodian family moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, to establish a new office for BIEM. God has greatly blessed this move and the ministry has steadily expanded. The Slobodians are members of Mt Tabor Baptist Church of Lebanon, Indiana, and have 5 children: Sarah, Susan, Steven, Sharon, and Stephanie. Susan married Mat Harvey in 2007; Sarah married Nathan Crouch in 2007; Stephanie married Aaron Anger in 2011; and Sharon married Ashton Brandyberry in 2012.

The Slobodians' Reports

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Challenger Update

Here is an excerpt from our most recent Challenger publication.

Recently one of BIEM’s dear friends, Pastor Peter Rumachik, passed away. This Challenger includes a special tribute to his life. For the rest of the article, please read the Challenger!

If you were asked to name just one Christian from our time who had lived an exemplary life for God despite great pressure, which one would you name? For many believers around the globe, the choice would be Peter Vasilievich Rumachik.

On January 29, this faithful servant of God (and long- time friend of BIEM) passed to his eternal reward at the age of 87. But who was Peter Rumachik? What makes him so respected among believers? Let’s glorify God by taking a brief look at how He led in Peter’s life.

Early life

Peter was born in the Soviet Union in 1931, the period when Stalin’s atheistic government was already working to strangle the church and eradicate faith in God. Because his mother was a Christian, Peter heard the Gospel from a young age. He and his closest childhood friend Victor regularly met to read the Bible together.

So, even as a boy, Peter believed in God, and he understood the only way to Heaven was by God’s grace through faith in the Savior, Jesus Christ. Yet, he saw the reality as the atheistic authorities imprisoned active Christians, confiscated Bibles, and seized places of worship. Understanding how difficult life could be for a Christian in the Soviet Union, at age 16 Peter made a decision about becoming a child of God. “Not right now, and not even in my youth or when I’m middle aged, but I’ll follow the path of Christ when I am per- haps 50 or 60.”

However when his best friend died at age 18, Peter realized he had no guarantee of living to old age. He could die any time. Three months later, cutting through snowy woods, he knelt in the snow and prayed, putting his trust in Jesus Christ. In 1948 he was baptized.

Becoming active

Peter once recalled, “From the very beginning of my turning to the Lord, I believed deeply in my Savior, loved Him, and strove to serve Him in any way.”

The period from 1955– 1960 became particularly memorable for him. During those years he played an active role in preaching and assisting to start a house church in the Moscow suburb of Dyedovsk. By the end of the 1950s, the authorities had fined Peter and the other preachers multiple times. In 1961 the authorities began conducting searches of their homes. The authorities brought criminal charges against Peter and four others: starting an illegal church, holding crowded meetings in a home, allowing children to be present at church, and for disobedience to the VSEKhB (the government-registered and controlled group of Evangelical Christian- Baptist churches). He and the others were put on trial and punished by being exiled to Siberia’s primitive Krasnoyarsk region.

Continued in the Challenger.

 

May Video Update

Watch this video on Vimeo by either clicking on the following link or by copying and pasting it in your browser:

https://vimeo.com/336577337

Dear Pastors and Friends,

Thank-you for your prayers for our missions conference focusing on Central Asia in Kiev earlier this month. God answered those prayers, and the conference was a tremendous blessing and exceeded our expectations. Praise God!

Our May video update features this conference which was incorporated in the May Session of our Seminary in Kiev. There was a strategic purpose in this since there is a consensus among those involved in missions that Ukrainians are best suited to work as missionaries in Muslim Central Asia. They share the Russian language in common, they are in close proximity, and most of all, they are neither American nor Russian.


The Ukrainians received the information enthusiastically as conference speakers, including some from Central Asia, spoke about the need and what God is doing in these places. We praise God that at least 5 responded with a serious interest to serve in these lands. Please pray that God would enable and direct them in this path as well as others who are praying about volunteering as well.

In Christ,
Sam & Amy Slobodian



BIEMs of Light May 2019

Praises Rejoice with us!

  • In April, BIEM missionary Vitaly Keller and others were able to set up a display on a main street in Kyiv, Ukraine. The collection consisted of framed works of Christian art. Using any painting, the display provided opportunities to share the Gospel with passersby. Evangelism—may God water the seeds sown in those conversations!

  • The building that BIEM helped the church in Ternopil, Ukraine, to buy now has new Sunday school rooms. Men from the church refurbished rooms that had remained in rough, unfinished condition after the purchase. They turned out beautifully and are in service!

  • Two different times recently, children of BIEM missionaries Sergei and Vika Skripnik landed in their local hospital. Praise God, neither occasion turned out to be serious, but both occasions gave opportunities to share the Gospel with others!

  • Our missionary in Bila Tserkva, Ukraine, Bruce Tuttle, is thrilled with his Bible students’ receptivity and eagerness to learn. They are halfway through 6 semesters of studies. Bruce says, “Pray that every course will have a part in building the character, wisdom, abilities, and spiritual passion of our students.”

Prayer - Pray with us!

  • In May, BIEM plans to hold a missions conference in Kyiv, Ukraine. A main goal is to increase understanding of the needs and opportunities in the Muslim lands of Central Asia. Please pray God will use this conference to raise up more laborers for those regions.

  • Julia, the wife of one of our missionaries in a Muslim nation, is in her 8th month of a very difficult pregnancy. Please pray for both her and the child to remain safe and healthy.

  • Elections in Ukraine recently brought a new president to that nation. Unfortunately, corruption has been a deep-rooted problem in Ukraine. While no one can promise this new administration can defeat the corruption, Scripture tells us, The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. Therefore, please pray that God will see fit to direct the newly elected leadership in ways that are righteous, especially that the current state of full religious freedom would continue in Ukraine. The blessing of this freedom has greatly aided missionary work in this needy land.

  • Funds for summer camps are slowly trickling in. We currently have $11,403 of the $40,000 needed. Please pray for God to supply the remaining $28,597 through His people.

April Video Update

Watch this video on Vimeo by either clicking on the following link or by copying and pasting it in your browser:

https://vimeo.com/330796929

Dear Pastors and Friends,

Warm greetings in Christ! This month's video update features what BIEM is doing to help the needy in Ukraine's war zone which is along the east, bordering Russia. There are about 20 churches in that area that we fellowship and work with through the Brotherhood of Independent Baptist Churches of Ukraine. On this video you will see Pastor Sergii Sheptala, whose residency in the war zone permits him access to this embattled area and Sergii Debelinsky, who is the president of the Brotherhood. 

Funds given for clothing, food, coal for heating, and other needs are distributed by the churches not only to their own members but also to those in their community. Since the Gospel is presented along with distributing the aid, many souls are being saved, and several of these churches now have baptized believers in their membership through these efforts. Please consider helping with this need by designating gifts as "Aid for Ukraine."

In Christ, 

Sam & Amy Slobodian



BIEMs of Light April 2019

Praises Rejoice with us!

  • When doctors told new believer Elena in Lvov, Ukraine her cancer would kill her in less than two months, she had one wish: to be baptized and glorify God. BIEM’s Yura Levtseniuk arranged for her to be baptized immediately. Believers and relatives attended and heard Elena’s glowing testimony. Three days later, she was with the Lord. God still saves souls!

  • In Kyiv, the Kellers rejoice: “Our little house church has multiplied by two. We prefer not to call it division, since we have multiplied purposefully to make room for new people to come. We decided to multiply every time there are more than 20 of us in one location.”

  • In Chernigiv, Ukraine, the Savchuks’ church continues their new outreach to orphans at a mental hospital. Although not always an easy ministry, the children are always glad to see them, and this work has become a special type of evangelism for this young church.

  • Over the years, ministry friends have donated guitars, orchestra instruments, and even pianos for BIEM to ship to Eastern Europe for ministry. One church in Kyiv, Ukraine, has formed a saxophone quintet using all donated instruments, and the musicians provide special music at services. Thank you to all of you who have donated good, used instruments for churches. If you have a musical instrument to donate, we can use more!

Prayer - Pray with us!

  • With spring in full swing, the children’s camp season will soon be upon us.  Each year, God greatly blesses these camps for kids and teens with salvation decisions and strengthened faith in young ones growing in the Lord. Please pray that we will receive the target amount of $40,000 needed before the first camps in June. Currently we have $3,527.

  • One of our couples in the Republic of Georgia reports some conflicts and tensions among people attending the church. Please pray for peaceful resolutions and that the name of the Lord not be tarnished. Also, a woman who has translated many materials from English to Georgian for them has stepped down for health reasons. Pray for a qualified replacement.

  • In Yucay, Peru, Juan Bautista Huillca Quispe is happy that his country has religious liberty. However, he notes that his particular area is steeped in religion and customs that create barriers for the Gospel. Please pray for the Holy Spirit to open eyes and draw souls to Christ.

  • One of our missionaries in Russia (it’s best if we not name him or his city) wrote to say: “We need wisdom and strength to fulfill God’s commission in difficult times.” He and his family use a number of methods to meet and evangelize the lost. Please pray for them as they share the Good News, both with ethnic Russians and with Muslims coming for work.

March Video Update

Watch this video on Vimeo by either clicking on the following link or by copying and pasting it in your browser:

https://vimeo.com/325255924

Dear Pastors and Friends, 

Greetings!  This month's video update comes from the military city of Desna and features Igor Fomichov, who is the pastor of the church there. The large military shower facility happens to be right next to their church. Therefore thousands of soldiers are marched past the church building every week on their way to the showers. Brother Igor came up with a plan of using this as an opportunity for evangelism by mounting a Bible verse on their building.  

He began to share this idea with others asking for some ideas of what would be the best Bible verse to use.  Eventually, someone suggested rather that than mounting just one verse, they should mount a digital LED outdoor screen. This would have the ability not only to change verses from time to time but could also display an invitation to attend the church and show the times of the services as well as special events. Folks began to get excited about the possibilities and then one day God provided the funds for this project. Praise the Lord!

In Christ, 

Sam & Amy Slobodian



BIEMs of Light March 2019

Praises Rejoice with us!

  • On Feb. 20 BIEM’s David Cateam (Central Asia) underwent surgery, which he calls “a miracle blessing.” Months earlier doctors had told him he had an irreversible decompensated bladder. They predicted tubes, bags, and catheters the rest of his days. But God sent a Christian doctor who made a referral to a leading surgeon who performed a “perfect” operation, giving David his normal life back! Grateful for praying friends and this amazing answer, he says, “Our ministry continues by God’s grace for God’s glory.”

  • Praise God for the new BIEM church planter that has been appointed in Latin America.  Douglas Serrudo Quispe, his wife Julia, and daughter Heidi have begun their ministry in Cuzco, Peru.  Please pray that souls will be saved and that a strong church will be established in this place.

  • In the Republic of Georgia, the Hoblitzes are excited at how God has been growing their church. Two newer members are young men who escaped persecution in other lands and have become active in the church’s evangelism team to their community!

  • God is continuing to bless the puppet ministry of the church in Chervona Sloboda, Ukraine.  Church planter Vitaly Yurchenko reports that last month they had 15 different Evangelistic Puppet presentations in schools, orphanages, churches and other children’s institutions.

Prayer - Pray with us!

  • More evangelistic services emphasizing widows have been held in Belarus, and a couple more are planned for the near future. Please pray for God to enlighten those invited, so they will appreciate not only the gift bag of groceries, but also the love of Christ and His offer of salvation. May souls come to him through these outreaches.

  • In Chernigiv, Ukraine, BIEM’s Lyosha and Alusia Savchuk and others from their church made an initial visit to an orphanage near them. Praise God, the administration appreciated this visit, which included a presentation of the Gospel. Please pray they can start a regular ministry here.

  • This month our national missionaries Vitaly and Olena Yurchenko will be visiting a number of American churches with Sam Slobodian. Please pray for safety during travels, but even more importantly that God will be glorified as they bring firsthand reports from the fields.

  • Many have been praying for Sam and Amy Slobodian's grandson Noah Harvey ever since he had his heart transplant.  The Harveys are now facing some new challenges. A website has been launched where you can get more information. It is www.COTAforMightyNoah.com/

     

February Video Update

Watch this video on Vimeo by either clicking on the following link or by copying and pasting it in your browser:

https://vimeo.com/316168759

Dear Pastors and Friends, 

Our dear brother in Christ, Peter Rumachik, went to be with the Lord on January 30th. This same day we were already heading for Moscow from Ukraine so we had the wonderful opportunity and privilege of attending the funeral on Saturday February 2nd. This month's video features this funeral. Brother Peter was 87 years old and spent the very last days of his life ministering in Shahovskaya with the new church planted there. He preached there that Sunday and spent a lot of time calling on folks with brother Andrei, the church planter he recruited for this church. After returning home, he passed away during the night. 

We praise God for the life of this dedicated servant of God who was a blessing and example to all of us. He spent 18.5 years in Soviet prisons and labor camps because of his uncompromising faith in the Lord. 

Pastor Peter Rumachik played a huge role in our ministry in Russia. Many churches were planted and church buildings built through the fruitful partnership we had together for many years. Our next Challenger will share more about brother Peter. 

In Christ, 

Sam & Amy Slobodian



Vitaly and Katerina Bilyak

Vitaly and Katerina Bilyak are Ukrainian national missionaries to the western part of Ukraine in the city of Ternopil. They have three children, Karina, David, and Mark.

Vitaly's Testimony

My parents are Christians of deep faith. From childhood I have known much about God, but as I grew up, the idea of being a Christian pleased me less. I preferred to live according to my own pleasures. I enjoyed being with my own friends. In time I began to lead a double life. On one hand I wanted to be a good son; but on the other a “hip” friend.

At first everything worked out the way I wanted, but in time it became harder to live the double life. Everyone knew that I had a Christian family. I never hid this and was not ashamed of it. I was never in the “Octobrists” or the “Young Pioneers” [Communist clubs for school children]. And because of that I experienced various gibes and mockery. But when I went to church, I could not feel like a genuine Christian. What’s more, as time passed, I grew farther apart from my friends and from the church.

Besides that, I began to see that I could not be a good person on my own. The more I desired not to sin, the less successful I was at this. Our pastor almost always ended with an invitation to repentance. I began to feel the crucial importance of this. But I could not imagine life without my unchristian friends. In order to not hear the pastor’s invitation, I began to slip out of church services 15-20 minutes before the end of his sermons. For a short time this “solved” the problem. But God continued to knock at my heart. And one time I opened it to Him. In 1992 I was baptized. Christ was victorious. Now, looking back, I see that the Lord was drawing me to Himself. “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44).

Vitaly's Call to Preach

In 1993 I went into the army. I ended up serving much of my duty in the south of Ternopilskaya oblast near the town of Skala-Podolskaya (Borschovsky region). When I was permitted, I went several times to worship services in the city of Kamenets-Podolsky, which was 60 km away (Khmelnitskaya oblast).

All my time in the army I tried to find there (in that general region) evangelical [non-Russian Orthodox] Christians. Here are results of my almost year-and-a-half long searches. In Skala-Podolskaya (population 5000 as of 2003) there were no believers; in the city of Borschov (population 12000) there were 3-5 Pentecostals who visited the small Pentecostal church in the village of Mushkativka, which consisted 80% of grandmothers of retirement age.

And then God showed me the need for Baptist churches in Ternopilskaya oblast. When I returned home, I said, “If I become a missionary, then it will be in Ternopilskaya oblast.”

But life went on. I took part in the work in my own church, I fulfilled various ministries: was involved in the Christian library ministry, sang in the choir, preached, and was later the youth leader in the church. My last ministry was to be responsible for the youth in independent churches of the western region. At various times the Lord reminded me about Ternopil oblast, but at that time I was not able to do it.

During this time I became a dentist and got married on July 14, 2001, to a wonderful, humble girl named Katya.

I also completed my studies in the Kyiv Theological Seminary.

Since we did not own our own place, and time was passing, I decided to go to England to earn some money. Beginning about that time, God began especially to speak to me through the reading of the Bible, various sermons, conferences, and seminars. A fearful thought occurred to me: “While I am earning money in England, many sinners in Ternopil oblast will go to Hell!”

That is when God specifically called us to the full-time Christian ministry of church planting in Ternopilskaya oblast. After that decision, we began to gather information about Ternopilskaya oblast. Everything that we learned strengthened us even more for this direction.

 

Under the Bilyaks' guidance, a church has grown up in the city of Ternopil.  The congregation is actively engaged in evangelism, youth ministries, runs a Christian rehabilitation center, and now owns their own building! Praise God!

 

The Bilyaks' reports

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Eugene and Sophia Buyko

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Eugene Buyko (who also goes by the nickname “Zhenya”) oversees BIEM’s team of church planters and children’s workers in Ukraine. He has been instrumental in helping church planters to get established even in difficult areas, and he frequently preaches in their churches and joins them in evangelistic outreaches. In addition to ministering the Word of God, Eugene is exceptionally gifted in navigating governmental bureaucratic requirements and processing paperwork connected with such projects as receiving 40-ft. containers of humanitarian aid, purchasing a building on a military base for a church, and establishing our homeless children’s ministry. Every summer Eugene organizes BIEM’s Ukrainian camping program, which involves over 800 campers in several camps. As BIEM’s director in Ukraine, Eugene is able to offer an excellent overview of Christian ministry in this corner of the former Soviet Union.

 

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Andrei and Anna Eliseev

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Andrei serves as Director of the Christian Rehabilitation Center located just outside Ternopil, Ukraine. In this role, he and his fellow ministers at the center have been used of God to free men from their dependencies on drugs and alcohol. Even more important, the Lord has blessed them with opportunities to free men from the bonds of sin and to lead them to new life in Jesus Christ! Anna doesn't work directly with the rehabilitates, but supports her husband in this ministry and is involved in their local church.

For more information about the Eliseevs and their ministry, please contact our office.


Igor and Alexandra Fomichov

The Fomichovs

The Fomichovs

Igor Fomichov was one of the first converts of BIEM's church-planting outreach in the military town of Desna, Ukraine (on the edge of the Chernobyl region). As he grew in the Lord, Igor felt the Lord's calling to preach. In time he attended BIEM's Seminary in Kyiv and graduated with a fervent desire to be used of the Lord

Igor and his wife Alexandra originally served with BIEM in the military town of Goncharivske, some 20 miles farther north. But when the position of pastor opened in Desna and the church invited him, Igor felt this was God's call for him to minister in the area where he formerly lived. He and Alexandra moved to Desna, where they continue to minister in that church. 

The Fomichovs have two children, a daughter named Anna and a son, Daniel. Please pray for the Fomichovs as they lead this congregation in evangelism and discipleship.  

 

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Charles and Nina Hoblitz

Charles and Nina Hoblitz have served the Lord for many years, church-planting and evangelizing on multiple fields. After serving with BIEM in St. Petersburg, Russia, they accepted an invitation to relocate to the field of Tbilisi, capital of the Republic of Georgia. There they have planted yet another local church, where they serve to this day. In addition to church planting in Tbilisi, the Hoblitizes visit churches in other communities of Georgia, where they take part in preaching and teaching and do what they can to promote the growth of other local churches. 

The Hoblitzes have helped to start the first truly sound Christian Rehabilitation Center in Georgia, and they are presently involved with starting medical missions to villages in Georgia, all connected with their local Baptist Church.

Vitaly and Alexandra Keller

Vitaly was born and raised in Communist Leningrad, USSR. Marxism-Leninism was the main religion of the day, both for him and his peers. Russian schools were full of Communist propaganda. Growing up in this atmosphere, Vitaly became a follower of the system. By the age of 16, Vitaly was already a member of the regional Komsomol group (Communist Youth League).

Starting with the perestroika of 1986, drastic changes occurred in the Soviet Union. The “strongest country in the world” dissolved in 1991, and without moving to another location Vitaly became a citizen of St. Petersburg, Russia. In May of 1994 Vitaly was working as a teacher in one of the local high schools. It was at that time he met a born-again believer for the first time in his life. A Canadian evangelistic team of schoolteachers came to share their teaching skills with Russian colleagues. The team witnessed to Vitaly and other teachers and brought them to a newly established Baptist church. It was started by an American missionary named Charles Hoblitz. It was then that Vitaly finally came to an understanding of the sacrificial gift of Christ’s death for his sins  Since then, Christ began to gradually take total control of Vitaly's life.

After Vitaly decided to go to the United States to learn more about the Word of God, the Lord used local missionaries in St. Petersburg to buy him a ticket and to provide additional funds to help him on the way. It was truly a provision from God, as with an average Russian salary of about $30 a month Vitaly could never even dream of buying a ticket and flying to America. That first year at Word of Life Bible Institute was filled with the joys of grasping what he desired to learn – the Word of God.

The following four years at Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary were filled with the same joys of spiritual growth and grounding in the Scriptures.  While in the seminary, he completely devoted himself to his studies and ministry in the church.  The last two years were a little different.  At that time Vitaly was already thinking of going back.  Now that the Lord allowed him to learn His Word, it seemed quite natural to go back to his country and proclaim it to his people in their own language.  God gave Vitaly a desire to follow Him in His calling to St. Petersburg, Russia. In 1998 Vitaly began deputation to raise the necessary support for missionary work in Russia.

At the same time Vitaly had an opportunity to go to the country of Ukraine with a team of professors teaching at the seminary in Kiev.  This trip turned out to be another important step in Vitaly’s life as well as in the life of a beautiful Christian girl, Alexandra.  A year and a half later they were happily married.

Alexandra comes from the country of Ukraine, which was formerly a part of the Soviet Union (After the break-up of the USSR, Ukraine became a separate independent country).  Alexandra was born to a Christian family at the time when believers were persecuted for their faith.  She remembers growing up in a situation when Sunday services were held secretly deep in the woods far away from the eyes of police. In spite of all the precautionary measures, many Christian gatherings were disrupted by the police, preachers were hunted down and all participating believers were fined with a penalty of a month’s salary.  All Christian literature was confiscated.

Alexandra is the oldest of six children in the family. The faith of her parents and grandparents became her own saving faith at a very young age. Alexandra considers her grandmother to be the one who had the greatest impact in her decision for Christ. She feels very privileged to serve the Lord as a missionary in Russia, even though she misses Ukraine.

Vitaly and Alexandra returned to Russia on June 13, 2000, for the ministry of church planting. September 2000 marks the birth of New Life Baptist Church of St. Petersburg, Russia.  The Kellers’ plans include planting of other indigenous independent fundamental Baptist churches in the country of Russia and Ukraine. Their ministry also includes training other national church planters.  As a family, their greatest desire is to be pleasing to their Lord and Savior and to be sensitive to His leading throughout their lives.

In 2018, the Kellers moved to Ukraine to continue their ministry of planting churches and evangelism there.

Vitaly’s favorite verse is found in Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth....”

If you are interested in receiving updates from the Kellers, please contact the BIEM office at missions@baptistinternational.org or 317-718-1633. 

Anatoly & Ludmila Kosyanchuk

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Brother Anatoly Kosyanchuk has played key roles in multiple churches in Ukraine. He was largely responsible for planting two churches in the neighboring towns of Borivka and Komarivka. Each of those communities now has a church building and ongoing services. Meanwhile, Anatoly has accepted leadership for the first Baptist church in Bilogorodka. With God’s help, and thanks in part to Anatoly’s vision for church planting, yet another church has been planted on the opposite side of that town! So, although Anatoly still oversees and participates in the ministries in Borivka and Komarivka, others now minister weekly in those churches, and the Lord has expanded the Kosyanchuks’ labors to include other ministries for adults and children in Bilogorodka.  

 The Kosyanchuks' Reports

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

Yura and Violetta Levtseniuk

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Yura, Violetta, Aaron, Benjamin, and Elizabeth Levtseniuk have been called into ministry in the city of Lvov in western Ukraine, where Yura pastors Salvation Baptist Church. In the excerpt below, Yura shares the story of how God called him and his wife into ministry.

“Before telling about the ministry in Lvov, I’ll share how the Lord called us here. God called me to serious ministry to unbelievers, to people seeking God, and to church members. I began with ministry to children and teens, then to youth and adults. I’ve been serving thus for some years already. I’d recognized my great need for understanding theology and practical disciplines. I saw my lack of knowledge of the Bible despite the fact that I’d been reading and studying it since childhood.

For these specific reasons, I enrolled in Bible college. Praise God, for the theological education I received. As a family, we were invited to join a short-term mission trip to the Far East of Russia, with the goal of revitalizing a church that had sunk into spiritual weakness. God granted us success in that mission, for which we are very thankful to Him. As a result of that, we felt God’s calling to establish a new church for Christ.

The members and deacons of a small congregation named “Salvation” invited us to Lvov. We began to pray concerning this ministry. As a family, we traveled from Dubno, Ukraine, to Lvov to hold a service. This church invited us to come, and this is where we have been ministering for the past three months. The Lord has blessed us with new people, who have received Jesus Christ into their hearts and are now preparing for baptism. This is a great joy for us.”

 

2018

Sasha and Ira Petrenko

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The Petrenkos serve as church planters in Goncharovsk, Ukraine, a town that is known primarily for the nearby military base. Their ministry includes various ways of meeting others and getting involved in the local community, such as Bible studies, cooking classes, and organizing a local floor hockey team. In the summertime, they team up with church planters in other cities and together they run summer camps for children and teens. Brother Peterenko, along with a couple other nearby BIEM church planters, is starting a new church in the nearby town of Smolen. This will be the fourth church planted by BIEM in the Chernihiv region.

2019

2018