HeartCry missionary, Vitalli Rusnak, pastors Patrautii de Jos Church in Storojinet, Ukraine. Beyond the local church, he is evangelizes and teaches in the region of Transcarpathia. In this month’s report, Vitalli shares some of his gospel experiences with the local people who have been affected by the pandemic:
We bless the Lord for He is good and Sovereign! We have rest and peace in Him and shelter in these times when people are worried, believing all kinds of conspiracy theories about the pandemic.
I would like to share with you about the way in which God has guided us and we have served Him during these times. The clerks from the town hall asked us to be very cautious, because the number of people infected with Covid is increasing. So, we meet on Sunday morning in the open air. All the other church services are online. On July 5th, we celebrated the Lord’s Supper. It was a blessed day as we remembered the high price that had been paid for our redemption and the righteousness that we had been given through Christ. I keep preaching from John every Sunday and Psalms during the week.
God has allowed these times over the entire world, and even if we don’t understand what is going on, we have a shelter in Him. This is what I preach every week to encourage the believers. We discover God is Sovereign, as the Rock in which we have peace. We pray that God would reveal to us the superficiality. Some of the believers couldn’t travel to work in Western Europe because of the pandemic; they were always eager to have more. Some of them are very discouraged now. I also do counseling with several people who are going through a crisis. I am startled to see the way in which they saw God and faith in life. Some of them used to have a very shallow understanding and even though they were members in an evangelical church, they were not born again. I used to see them smiling and thought they were doing well, but this crisis reveals what they used to believe. I pray for guidance and discernment in teaching so that I won’t give them false hope. I wouldn’t make compromises, but be bold and tell the truth in love.
These are the things that I learn and share with others. I met many people who used to be very confident. They had good, but illegal jobs in Western Europe and managed to come home during the pandemic. But then, they couldn’t go back because Ukraine is a high risk area, as we have over 1,000 new Covid cases every day. I met many people in Patrauti who are troubled and have different theories about the pandemic. It is very difficult to share the Scripture with them and speak about God as Sovereign. For instance, I talked to one man who used to work illegally in Belgium and made good money. He made a great fortune and built a house in Ukraine. For him, God is an old person with a white beard, who does good things. He believes that good and evil are two equal forces in the Universe; God is the good force and the devil is the evil force and they are at war all the time. He believes that the devil won with this virus. I shared with him about the God that revealed Himself to us in the Scriptures as the God who exists, who created and who destroyed those who rebelled against Him. The devil is a creature and he can’t be an equal force. This God reveals Himself, makes covenants, runs the Universe and became a man. I shared with him all these things and many other teachings of the Scripture. He couldn’t understand that God is Sovereign over all things and that all things exist through Him. I appreciated his sincerity and that he wasn’t ashamed to share with me his point of view. Most of the people say they are Orthodox, but they don’t want to share about their faith or to listen to our testimony. I pray that God would have mercy on this man and reveal Himself to him.
I am doing a catechism course with four young people who are going to be baptized in August. I pray that they would understand and live the Christian doctrines. We have Zoom meetings every week and are thankful to the Lord for the opportunity. We can’t have VBSs or other activities for young people this year because of the pandemic. So, we try to find new ways to keep in touch with the children who used to attend our previous VBSs. We send them messages on social media.