Dearest friends in Christ,
Greetings and peace to you from Kyiv. Thank you all so very much for your ongoing support and prayers for the United Methodist Church in Ukraine. As many of you know, in recent weeks the fighting has escalated again in eastern Ukraine. Pro-Russian separatist groups continue to clash with Ukrainian armed forces, with many innocent civilians being injured or killed by the violence. Diplomats from Ukraine, Russia, and western countries have been meeting this week to discuss how to end the conflict, and today a ceasefire agreement was reached. Although previous agreements have been broken, we pray for the swift implementation of this ceasefire, and a lasting peace for the people of Ukraine.
Across Ukraine, the United Methodist Church continues to assist those who have suffered due to the conflict. Many UMC congregations--in Krasnoarmiisk, Poltava, Ivano-Frankivsk, and elsewhere--have given refuge and provisions to families who have fled the ongoing warfare. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has donated funds to UMC and Protestant ministries that are delivering humanitarian assistance, enabling hundreds of families displaced or trapped by the fighting to receive emergency packages of food, medicines, and winter provisions. You can read more about UMCOR's ministry of alleviating suffering across Ukraine in an article just published on the UMCOR website
Here in Kyiv, our UM Church Center continues to provide housing, food assistance, and spiritual support to dozens of African students driven from their university in the eastern city of Luhansk. Each Saturday, many of the students gather in our Church Center to worship God through song, prayer, and Scripture reading. Their joyous spirit in spite of their troubles is inspiring, and their gratitude for the generosity of the United Methodist community is encouraging.
So even in the midst of the political and economic challenges being faced by the Ukrainian people, the United Methodist Church of Ukraine is reaching out in love to support and assist those in need. Our congregations in Kyiv and across the country are small, but they are Spirit-led, making use of abundant love and spare resources to care for families wrestling with the ongoing crisis.
For me, it has been a great blessing to be a part of the ministry of the UMC of Ukraine these past four years, and to walk with its pastors and lay leaders as they have proclaimed the gospel of Christ in word and deed. My friends in ministry here have taught me many lessons about living faithfully in the midst of uncertainty, showing hospitality to strangers, and giving thanks to God in all things.
Now, however, my time of service in Ukraine is drawing to a close. Recently I have received a pending assignment to serve as a GBGM missionary in another position in the United States. Thus by the end of this month my family and I will relocate to New York. Once this pending assignment has been officially approved, I will share more details about my future service in mission.
For now, please allow to say a word of thanksgiving
to each of you, for the support and prayers you have shared with me, my family, and the UMC of Ukraine. It has been a blessing to be in partnership with you over the past few years. And I ask you to continue offering your prayerful support for the United Methodist Church of Ukraine. I may be leaving Kyiv, but the church's ministry of hospitality and evangelism will continue. I also ask you to continue to support the UMC of Ukraine with your financial gifts, enabling it to meet the pressing needs of those displaced by the ongoing conflict. As always, simply go to www.umcmission.org/Give-to-Mission/Search-for-Projects/Projects/14053A
, in order to learn more about the ministry of the UMC of Ukraine, make an online donation, or find the mailing address for donating by check.
Once again, thank you for your support of my mission service, and for the ministry of the United Methodist Church of Ukraine. May God bless you and your loved ones.
Yours in Christ
Rev. John Calhoun, GBGM missionary serving in partnership with the UMC of Ukraine