Church Planter - Cernauti, Ukraine
Vitali is a missionary in the Cernauti area and works with Ion Gireada. He ministers in a number of churches from the county and is planting a church in Cernauti city. Vitali graduated from Immanuel Christian University in Romania with a major in theology. He teaches at the Christian college in Cernauti, writes articles, and trains young people for ministry. Vitali and his wife, Elena, have two children.
Although I was raised in a Baptist family, my way of living was far from God. Being obliged by my parents to attend church regularly, I knew a lot about God, but I never knew Him personally. In 1994, our village church was visited by a group of Romanians from the University of Oradea. On July 30th, while I was listening to their testimonies and sermons, I was called to follow Christ. At the beginning, it was very difficult because of my unbelieving friends. Spending too much time with them, I was attracted by their deeds even though I knew they were not pleasing to God. It was a difficult period for me because I was leading a double life.
When I was fourteen years old, I left my unbelieving friends behind. I began to study the Scriptures, and God began to show me His great love. I attended our small youth group and studied the Scriptures. I can say that it was at this time that I began to meet with the Lord, not just to gain information, but also to know Him. In 1997, I was baptized, and from that moment on, I felt strongly that God had called me into the ministry. For three years, I studied the Scriptures and preached the Word in the church, but I had many unclear issues in my mind. I felt that I was unprepared to preach and was very discouraged. I needed someone to encourage me and teach me.
In 1997, a missionary family from Romania visited our church. I could see by the way they explained the Word that they were far more prepared than I. Seeing my interest, they offered to support me at a Bible college in Romania. For one year, they taught me the Bible and helped me to prepare for my entrance exam into the Christian university of “Emmanuel” in the Romanian city of Oradea. In 1999, the Lord gave me the opportunity to study at the university. For five years I lived in Romania, far from home and in a culture that was not my own, but it was there that I began to better understand what God wanted from me. My teachers and pastors taught me that sacrifice was necessary for success in the ministry. Even today, those godly men still influence my life.
In 2004, I graduated from the university and was invited to teach hermeneutics and New Testament at the Biblical Institute “Timothy” in the Ukrainian city of Cernauti. It was there that I met Elena, a music teacher, and was married. Elena is from a large family in Cernauti, and graduated from the college of music with a double major in theory and conducting. In 2006, God blessed us with a little girl, Naomi Anna. We now live at the edge of the city in a rented apartment. At the moment, I am also involved in editing the national Baptist magazine called “The Messenger”, and am writing articles on the Christian faith for “Bucovina’s Dawn” (the most widely read Romanian newspaper in Ukraine). I also preach (usually twice a week) in the Romanian-speaking churches throughout Ukraine. Finally, I also work alongside brother Ion Gireada in the church plants in Tereblecia and Bahrinesti.
The Lord called me to preach, provided me with the opportunity to study under godly men, and gave me a wife who supports and encourages me in the ministry. My vision in this new year is to plant a Romanian Baptist church in Cernauti. There are about 12,000 Romanians in this city, and many Romanian villages surround it. Nevertheless, the evangelical work is almost non-existent. For more than a year, I have felt the desire to plant a church in the downtown area of Cernauti. At the moment, I am looking for people whom God might send to help me in this project. I know that God can open up the door and provide the means to plant this church. I know that God will give us the wisdom to do the right thing, but I also believe that it is important to form a good team of individuals who are willing to give their lives to plant a church. I am excited that the young people from the Rosa Baptist Church are already willing to help us. Until God brings everything together, my wife and I will continue to pray for the unbelievers in Cernauti.