Ilie and Marina Hlusceac have moved to the region of Transcarpathia, Ukraine, to serve a large group of people who have shown much interest in the gospel. Having enjoyed a flourishing ministry in Cernauti, Ukraine, after planting a church there many years ago, they felt God leading them to a new gospel venture in Transcarpathia. In Brother Hlusceac recent monthly report he shares some of the glorious details of his ministry transition.
Calling to a New Ministry
Four months have passed since I was sent out by the Romanian Churches of Cernauti to a new mission field. I never thought in the last few years that I would ever move to another mission field again. But it has happened twice thus far. Once when I went to Siberia, and then when I moved from Siberia to Cernauti, Ukraine. My ministry in Cernauti flourished, and I felt like I would finish my course with the church I planted, and some other churches that I had ministered in. But three years ago, the Romanian Churches Association proposed to me to take a new ministry, implying to transfer my churches to the oversight of another pastor, and my wife and I to move to a new field. At that point I felt my work was not done as I did not have anybody from our church ready to take the ministry. Furthermore, my parents were old and sick, and I did not sense the call to a new work. So I declined. Two years later, the call was renewed. So I brought this before the Lord and shared the proposal with my church and family. There was no green light for leaving. Then in July 2020, I came to understand that this call had come from the Lord and I agreed to take the challenge. I asked the pastors from our association to give me a time of half a year to turn my ministry over to other men that I had trained to be elders. We celebrated the installation of the new leadership on Jan 5, 2021. Then I loaded what I was able to fit in a small car and with my dear wife, Marina, we left for a trip of 250 miles, leaving behind three sons that are still unmarried. After hours of driving to reached Poroscovo, a five thousand in population town with a mixed population of Ukrainians and Volohi (some kind of Romanian population that settled here 150 years ago).
The New Field
It was not long until I came to realize why the Lord called me to Transcarpathia. I spent more then ten years on the mission field in Siberia and I thought I saw all that can be seen in terms of mission challenges. But I could not imagine that one day I would see Africa in the Ukraine. We faced a striking cultural shock in the first few weeks, although I was in my own country. As weeks went by I came to realize how great a need of workers we had. This people group called Volochi seemed to be forgotten by God, but now He began to move among them. Despised by the Ukrainians, isolated, forgotten by their own people, the Volochi lived in poverty, dirt, drunkenness, robbery, and ignorance. Most of them are illiterate, having no job, borrowing money from some rich and corrupt people, so that later they became slaves to these men, as they could not pay them back. They adopted a tribal life as a way of defense against adaptability. Everyone that is older than fifty can’t read at all and only a few up to thirty years of age are able to read a bit. The language is a mixture of old Romanian, Slovakian, Hungarian, and Ukrainian. Few people can understand them well. The isolation was almost complete.
But ten years ago, the Lord turned His face upon them. The Gospel came to this despised people group, and they experienced a massive turning to the Lord. At first we traveled from Cernauti to minister them, then a family decided to move and take the ministry. John and Gabriela Patras has been ministering among them for ten years now, and the ministry has grown considerably. The Volochi received the Gospel and hundreds were baptized. The services hold a couple of hundreds of men and women, while there were around four hundred children also attending.
The first services were quite challenging as we had the four hundred children mixed with the adults. It was practically impossible to have a decent worship service. I realized that not all are there to really seek the Lord, and worship Him. Some are coming just to get food, others came because it is a nice and clean place, others to socialize and have fun. The frustration was growing as I saw there was no way to alter the chaos. So, I decided to split the group into smaller groups, so I could effectively minister to them.
I composed a group that would be chosen from converted and unconverted adults that would meet twice a week, then a group of children, and another one of teenagers that gather once a week. The climate changed dramatically, and I began to see how effective this approach became. I also started to visit each family, spending hours teaching and answering questions. My wife works with me in teaching the ladies and girls.
I began to implement a structure for the whole ministry including vital things such as teaching the Word, praying and fasting with the congregation on a regular basis, counseling couples, visiting the homes, disciplining in a Biblical way, and having class membership. The work began to get easier, not in volume, but in effectiveness. More people came to repentance, even among those who were considered believers. They began to confess sins like lying, stealing, envying, even witchcraft and adultery. The Lord began to clean His church! I live on a key road in the town that goes to the downtown where everybody passes the missions house to go shopping. Most people stop by my residence to talk and ask for advice. They have an open heart to be taught and encouraged with various aspects of life. The Lord is at work here.
Please pray for the need of more workers to keep in balance with the work of the Gospel. We need people who will help teach them how to read and write. Also we need men for the ministry. Most of all, pray for us to be faithful.