Ukraine church vows to continue ministry despite missile strike

Ukraine church vows to continue ministry despite missile strike

by
Daniel Sperry for Nazarene News
| 02 Aug 2023
Image
Odesa Church of the Nazarene after a missile strike

The Odesa Church of the Nazarene building was severely damaged during a barrage of missile strikes in Odesa, Ukraine, during the early morning on 23 July. The explosion blew out all of the windows and rendered the doors unusable, causing the church to shut down for over a week.

The apartment building next door to the Odesa church took a direct hit, displacing occupants of 25 apartments. In the hours after learning of the damage to their church, Pastor Nabil Babbeisi and a few others on the leadership team risked the war-time curfew and raced to the church.

Despite being stopped by police and military personnel, Babbeisi was allowed to visit the church after he explained the situation. From there, he and his team assessed the damage and secured the building.

Babbeisi says they will not be shaken or swayed from their calling to continue ministering to Ukrainians during the war.

“It’s our choice to be where we are,” Babbeisi said. “We’re not planning to go anywhere because it’s our place, our ministry, and we are there to serve people in need.”

This is the second Church of the Nazarene to be damaged by missile strikes in the last two weeks. The Kherson church’s building was completely destroyed, and the congregation is still looking for a new place to meet. Babbeisi said that recently the strikes have picked up. The night Odesa Church of the Nazarene was damaged, there were 19 missile strikes. Days prior, 63 strikes targeted the city in one night.

Babbeisi acknowledged that this was a difficult time for the congregation but said “Happiness is our power, and God is giving us that.”

“We’re strong when we’re not concentrating on the difficulties; when we are doing what God told us to do then we are working in His will,” Babbeisi said. “And God is helping us to serve these people and help them to know Jesus Christ.”

Babbeisi continues to see God’s hand at work in the lives of the Ukrainian people. The Odesa church baptized 67 people since the start of the war. The church has helped open two new locations: the one destroyed in Kherson and another in Snegerovka. In the coming weeks, the church is planning a youth camp and children’s camp, and leaders are also considering planting churches outside of Ukraine.

“I can see God’s hand in everything we do,” Babbeisi said. “God is changing our focus from the war and anxiety that we have for what we’re going through, and He’s putting our focus into the things that are important for Him.”

Continued prayer is requested for those in Ukraine dealing with the displacement, death, and destruction caused by the war. Babbeisi asked for prayer so that his congregation may not be shaken by the difficulties they continue to go through. He also asked for prayer as they begin to plan and position themselves for ministry after the war is over.

Churches and individuals around the world can provide support through the NCM Ukraine Crisis Response Fund – Eurasia Region. Donations will go toward ongoing support associated with transportation, shelter, food, water, and essential supplies. To support churches as they care for people within Ukraine and those now living in neighboring countries, give today: ncm.org/Ukraine.

To send donations by mail:

In the U.S., make checks payable to "Church of the Nazarene" and send them to:
Donor Services
Church of the Nazarene
17001 Prairie Star Parkway Lenexa, KS 66220

Be sure to put 137089 in the Memo area.

In Canada, make checks payable to "Church of the Nazarene Canada" and send them to:
Church of the Nazarene Canada
3657 Ponytrail Drive, Mississauga, ON | L4X 1W5

Be sure to put 137089 in the Memo area.

For any other country, give through your local church or district, designating your gift to NCM Ukraine Crisis Response Fund – Eurasia Region.

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