Here is a story from our recent Challenger publication.
When it comes to building churches, a major concern in most of the world is justifying the cost of a facility that’s used only a few hours per week. So, there are great advantages to buildings that are usable for more than worship services. Three of BIEM’s current construction projects are examples of buildings that multi-task for their congregations. Since most of you won’t have an opportunity to visit them, let us take you on a brief “tour” via this article.
In the early planning stage of this church building, a question arose concerning a basement. Should the building have one? Building from the ground up would be cheaper, but would skipping a basement be shortsighted? Because Bilogorodka is near the capital of Kyiv, discussions led to the realization that, with lodging facilities in a basement level, this location could fill various needs, including:
• Lodging for seminary students.
• Guest quarters for attendees of conferences.
• Pastors’ meetings.
To accommodate such specific goals, the plans were revised to include a full basement with eight bedrooms, restrooms with showers, and a meeting area, plus more rooms and restroom facilities on the second and third levels. The design included a kitchen and eating area. The result was a multi-purpose church building that could house 30–40 people. Long before the building was complete, the downstairs quarters were made available for seminary students, who were thrilled. These new surroundings provided a huge upgrade from the crowded housing situation they had previously endured. Since then, the building has housed mission teams, Christian refugees in transit from the war zone, and pastors who gathered for annual meetings.
Due to the downtown location of this church, the cost of a stand-alone building was far out of reach. The solution, by God’s gracious provision, was to purchase the first floor of an apartment building. (This is an area most typically used for stores, shops, and other businesses in Ukraine.) The first floor that BIEM helped the congregation to buy includes two separate entrances besides the main church entrance. This large downstairs area makes possible multiple uses that dovetail with the church’s outreach to the community. For instance, church leaders immediately designated basement space to receive and store BIEM’s container shipments of humanitarian aid and ministry equipment. (We’ve already sent one shipment.) BIEM missionary Vitaly Bilyak plans to use another room in the basement as a youth ministry center. A separate entrance from the street leads to two separate rooms, one on the left; another on the right. As the church grows, these will be ideal for developing ministries such as a day-care center, food-pantry, or clinic. Any of these would enhance the ministry of the church and provide opportunities for evangelism.
Since this community of over 200,000 people has had no Gospel witness (the believers there travel by train to reach the nearest church), this church-building project is the answer to the prayers of pastors and other Christians who have been praying for this city. A second prayer was that God would provide a church planter to shepherd this work. The church-planter God provided brought a big challenge. Brother Andrei, the experienced church-planter called to this work, has a huge family with thirteen children. Where are you going to find a home for so many people? Since blueprints for the building had yet to be created, the solution was to make a good portion of this church building a large parsonage adequate for this family.
Amazingly, God provided a donor who offered a matching-fund gift large enough to push all three projects to the point of being able to hold services. As these three projects near completion, the last step is to finalize their interiors, including church furnishings and seating. Praise God! And as if that were not blessing enough, BIEM has now received another matching-fund offer of up to $40,000 to match whatever other donors will give toward Church Construction. Thus, if gifts from friends of BIEM add up to $40,000, then those funds will automatically double to $80,000 — enough to furnish these three buildings, plus provide a badly needed roof for the Soroon Women’s Shelter in Central Asia. Dear friend, if you would like to make a special year-end gift for Gospel ministry, this matching-gift offer will maximize your donation’s impact. To finish these jobs, simply designate your gift of any size “Church Construction.” May God bless these constructions, and may He save many souls in their communities!