Iliya Hlushchak pastors a Romanian Church in Ukraine. He speaks fluent Russian and Romanian. Iliya has been a very devoted servant of Christ as both a pastor and evangelist. In his recent report he shares how he has improvised during the current pandemic:
We have grown tired of all the Covid restrictions. Many plans that we had for this spring were turned upside down. It was like a stolen spring, as people use to say. But as a Christian, I know things are not like that. I know that everything is in God’s hand and that God has put the entire world “on hold”.
In the first lock down month, I felt disoriented in the beginning, but then we found a new way of life, fellowship, ministry and evangelism. I understood I could no longer use the regular methods, so I tried to see what I could do in this new situation. First of all, I tried to stay in touch with the churches I minister to. At the beginning of the lock down, we had small groups for the Sunday morning worship services. Some of them even seemed revived. Then any contact was forbidden and we found out about Zoom. We were glad as we could “celebrate” the Lord’s resurrection. I was amazed to see non-Christian family members sitting together with the believers and joining our church services. I could even see non-Christian neighbors of the believers joining our the meetings. And now some of them are studying the Scripture with increased interest. I began to understood that church can function even in the lock down and its unity can become even better. I was so happy for this. When we were allowed to form groups of ten people, we put the internet into the church building and started having online church services. We also had Bible study meetings on Zoom with even more participants than before.
When things calmed down a little bit, we started a project that we called “the social day”. Along with other brothers from the church, I got involved in distributing food and other necessary things to the old people, who were not allowed to leave their houses. We helped both Christians and non-Christians, and were also able to share the Gospel with them.
Several sisters from the church used to make wedding dresses, but now they make face masks. They also donated face masks to distribute to nonbelievers. The links for our online church services with the free masks became a new evangelistic method!
In the second part of the month, some of the restrictions were lifted and we were allowed to have rehearsals in the church. This enabled us to have better online church services. Because we had a large group of musicians we had to split it into several smaller groups. We worked hard to have better online services. Having had no experience with this, the Lord sent us someone with the knowledge to help us. The process of reorganizing and adapting to these new times is going well now.
I have meetings with the brothers more often than before trying to solve different problems and see how we can use the new opportunities. While I make pastoral visits, I am very careful. We need wisdom and flexibility.
We wanted to use the church courtyard for our meetings, but we had cold and rainy weather this month. On the street where I live, we met outside with about 10 persons every Saturday to sing, read and discuss the Word of God. We pray that God would help us in the near future to have church services in the courtyard. We hope that this pandemic will come to an end, but we must understand that things won’t be the same. The Lord allowed this situation for us to be changed and this is a great responsibility.