In Ukraine, where the evangelical church makes up less than two per cent of the population, a local partner has followed his call to plant a church and is seeing God at work, writes Camilla Lloyd.
Valery Alymov, a local partner serving in Kiev, is called to preach the gospel, make disciples, and plant new churches in Ukraine and internationally. Due in part to Ukraine’s history of communism, the evangelical church makes up less than two per cent of the population and 20,000 towns and villages have no evangelical church. Valery works to develop the gifts and callings of the next generation and help build spirit-filled teams for personal and public evangelism.
Born into a communist military family during the Soviet era, Valery first heard about God in 1988, when an audible voice said: “I exist. Seek me!” After two years of searching, he personally experienced God’s presence and forgiveness after watching the Jesus film. On joining an evangelical church in 1994, Valery realised God was calling him to serve with his whole life. In 1996, he preached the gospel to others from a military background and a year later started the first military church in Ukraine. Over the next six years, Valery and others started another four churches in the region. He appointed local pastors and was invited to serve at a national level.
In May last year, Valery and the missions team he leads started preparing the ground for a new church plant in Kiev. For three months, they focused on prayer and building relationships within the team and with new people who shared their vision. Part of their vision was to be a resource church – to be able to support new or struggling churches.
In October, they held an official launch event for their church, Tabernacle of the Living God, to help get the word out. In the first few weeks about fifty people visited, most of whom have started attending and are now building relationships with each other. Valery and the team have already baptised several new believers.
About 20 people in the church are able to take leadership responsibility and help run their services. Most of the congregation are involved in one of four home groups, and the church also has a prophetic prayer group. Valery and the team are not advertising, but rather trusting that God will add those who have a similar vision and heart through conversion and relationships.
They hold their services on Saturday mornings to help the congregation realise their vision of being a resource church. On Sundays, many church members travel to different places to preach the gospel or visit and support new and struggling churches.
One of these new churches they support is a church plant 60km west of Kiev. The family starting this church are one of many internally displaced families in Ukraine. They feel God has used to the war to move them to this village where there is no evangelical church so they can start one.
Meanwhile, the Kiev church plant continues to grow, and the team is very aware of being under spiritual attack in a number of ways as a result. Valery is very well known locally, so many people visit the church out of curiosity, and some of them are added to the congregation. Having baptised several new believers last year, and welcomed more new Christians since then, the church has started a new training programme for a few of these young believers, who are clearly benefiting and growing spiritually.