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.
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!