Here is an excerpt from our most recent Challenger publication.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, that God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
This fall, BIEM missionaries in Ukraine are once again organizing special meetings for two distinct categories of people: widows and orphans. The services for widows will share the Gospel, plus a meal, and each woman who doesn’t own a Bible will receive one along with a sack of helpful items. The services for kids will be held primarily in orphanages. Typically, the kids hear a Bible lesson where they learn about Jesus, and children’s Christian literature will be distributed along with an age-appropriate “care package” for each child.
Why the special outreaches? Pastor Sergei Debelinsky, one of BIEM’s first church planters and President of the Brotherhood of Independent Baptist Churches of Ukraine, explains:
“Probably most people wonder about the meaning of their lives: why we’re alive, what we can change, and what we should be doing. God’s plan for believers is to live for others, to live a life whose purpose is serving others. Intrinsic in the Bible verse above is the idea that God has prepared for us a field in which to perform ministry services. He expects us to do them as if for Him....
“Probably one of the most famous Scriptures concerning good deeds is ‘Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the father- less and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world’ (James 1:27). God expects His people to have a special mindset concerning orphans and widows. His will is that they be visited and given assistance as a smaller imitation of God, as it is written, “a father of the fatherless and a judge of the widows, is God in His holy habitation...” (Ps. 68:5).
Not just hearers of the Word, Sergei and his wife have adopted numerous orphans. Passionate on this topic, he points out additional Scriptures:
In Exodus 22:22 God protects them: “Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.”
In Psalm 146:9, God portrays Himself as aiding them: “The Lord...relieveth the fatherless and widow.”
Through Isaiah 1:17, He calls upon us who believe in Him to aid them: “Learn to do well... relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.”
In Ukraine today, the pension a widow receives isn’t large, only $100–$150/ month, depending on work history. And numerous widows are far from elderly. These are young women who have lost their husbands in the military conflict that continues in the East. Believers can guide such women to spiritual truths amidst their loss and despair. In God, widows and orphans can find fresh hope, meaning, and support.
Sergei advises, “It’s precisely when the wound is bleeding that we must apply God’s balm for healing and hope. We must hurry to do good deeds, remembering the transience of a person’s life. The opportunities that are available today may not exist tomorrow....
“These people don’t just happen to be near us. God allows them to be near us, and He expects something from you and me concerning them.”
Sometimes, widows who first enter a church for these services take an interest in the Gospel. Some accept Jesus Christ as Savior. And no one can count the number of orphans who gain a Heavenly Father through loving Christians.
BIEM appreciates these special opportunities to reflect God’s love. A minimum of $6,000 is needed for gifts to be distributed. However, in order to magnify the potential, we hope to raise $12,000.