There are times in our lives when something truly amazing happens. When the right people are at the right places at the right time. And when the right calls are made. Eastern European Mission (EEM) has been privileged to be in the right places at the right time to meet the right people.
Communism created and left a lingering moral void in the former Communist Bloc nations that continues to have detrimental effects today. Many parents, educators, and teachers in these nations are concerned about the future of the young people. Some have decided that the Bible should be the basis for bringing up the “next generation” and are acting on that belief to bring the Bible back into their society.
THE RUSSIA CONNECTION.
Beginning in the mid 1990’s, entire regions (or oblasts – equivalent to states in the U.S.) in Russia began to ask EEM to supply all of their schools with enough Bibles and biblical literature so each student could thoroughly study the Bible. These requests came through a Russian Minister of Education, Vladimir, and required meetings, documentation, and lengthy approval processes from government and region officials. EEM responded to those requests, with Vladimir’s help, and to date, EEM has supplied Bibles and biblical literature in five regions in Russia. This country alone represents 7,250 public schools with more than 1.5 million students having the opportunity to study the Bible.
UKRAINE CALLED NEXT.
EEM’s experience and success with placing Bibles in public schools in Russia translated well to the country of Ukraine. In 2008, the move into the schools in Ukraine, began with the region of Donetsk with 1,187 public schools and 366,000 students. The successful completion of the project in Donetsk created increased interest in EEM’s work, and the word began to spread throughout Ukraine.
A turning point for EEM in Ukraine was in the region of Ivano-Frankivsk. Several factors worked in concert to generate their request for Bibles in public schools.
For seven years, one of EEM’s youth camp program teams from the U.S. visited a former communist youth camp in the region of Ivano-Frankivsk and developed strong relationships between the camp director, staff, and campers. Thousands of Bibles and biblical literature were given to the campers who took them home and even to school, exposing the Bible to many in that region.
Then a member of EEM’s staff in Ukraine renewed a relationship with a former acquaintance at a university in Ivano-Frankivsk, which ultimately led to a meeting with the Minister of Culture for the region. Discussions with the Minister of Culture resulted in a request to the Lubbock Christian University choir to visit and sing in Ivano-Frankivsk. The choir accepted the invitation and performed a concert, which was well-received by many local dignitaries, including the mayor and several area educational officials.
EEM followed up on contacts made through the previous activities, ultimately resulting in a meeting with the Minister of Education for the region of Ivano-Frankivsk. From that meeting came the official request for EEM to provide Bibles and biblical literature to all 763 schools in the region, representing 170,000 students.
In 2010 EEM fulfilled the requests for Bibles in public schools in the regions of Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine and Krasnoyarsk, Russia. Yes, Russia was still asking for Bibles as well.
THE DELIVERY. “ARE YOU REALLY GOING TO DO THIS”?
At the end of 2010, with the Bibles printed and ready to deliver to Ukraine, EEM met with the Minister of Education to arrange the delivery details. On hearing from EEM that the Bibles were ready for delivery, the Minister of Education asked, “Are you really going to do this?” To which EEM replied, “Yes, we are ready to begin.” The Minister then said, again, “Are you really going to do this?” To which the reply was “Yes, we said we would, and we are ready to deliver the Bibles.” At this point, the Minister of Education said, “We have been promised so many things by so many groups who never did what they said they would do. So, if you are really ready to deliver the Bibles, then here is what I will do: if you can have all of your Bibles and literature here in two days, then I will call all of the schools in the region and instruct them to send teachers in whatever vehicles they have to pick up the Bibles and literature for their schools.”
The news was exciting, for sure; however, at that point, the Bibles and Biblical literature were still at the printer’s warehouse in Kiev, over 350 miles away. But EEM went to work. Using 18-wheeler trucks and working around the clock, all of the Bibles and biblical literature arrived in the city of Ivano-Frankivsk in just two days.
Then, true to the Minister’s word, groups of teachers showed their excitement at getting the Bibles for their schools by driving whatever transportation they had available, through ice and snow, from all over the state to pick up their school’s Bibles. They came in yellow school buses, blue vans, old green trucks, or any vehicle that would make the trip and carry stacks of Bibles. Genuine excitement accompanied each group, and teachers offered statements of appreciation for the Bibles as they signed for their allotments.
THE DOOR OPENS WIDER IN UKRAINE.
As thrilling as these events are, the door has opened wider. Much wider, particularly in Ukraine. When the Minister of Education in Ivano-Frankivsk saw that EEM was delivering as promised, she picked up her phone and called fellow Ministers of Education in three neighboring regions and strongly encouraged them to visit with EEM. EEM began receiving more requests from more regions for Bibles in their schools. Over the next few years, Bibles were delivered to the Saki district in Crimea, and the Poltava, Rivne, Lviv and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. These regions alone contain 3,674 public schools with over 743,000 students. In Luhansk, we were asked to supply Bibles and biblical literature for 570 public libraries, as well.
CAN A BIBLE CHANGE A NATION?
While we do not control politics, the economy, or other factors affecting nations, particularly in Ukraine, we do believe the opportunity to provide Bibles to all of the public schools in Ukraine can change lives…and a nation. As one of our dear Ukrainian friends, Vasyl (Dean of Humanities at a national university), said, “If we can put the Bible into the public schools, we can change this nation in one generation.” Unfortunately, in our own nation, we have seen the effect of removing the Bible from our public schools in less than one generation.
In 2014, we have the opportunity to place Bibles in the public schools of three additional Ukrainian regions: Kherson (including universities), Ternopil, and Zaporizhzhya. These regions represent 341,000 students in 2,071 public schools (plus 27 universities) who will be studying the Bible. Visit www.MillionDollarSunday.org for more information.
Only God could orchestrate this. It is to Him we give all the credit and praise. It is from Him we ask for the wisdom and strength to faithfully respond to whatever He calls us to do.
The Bible. We want everyone to get it.