L'viv is located in the western part of Ukraine with approximately 1,000,000 people. Being part of the former Soviet Union, Ukraine offers a unique mission opportunity. Young people in these nations represent an entirely new generation. While their parents experienced bread lines and bank failures, these youth never lived under the Soviet regime. They look at the world much differently, and have a renewed sense of hope. Many believe that these post-Soviet generations will build the waves of change to reform Eastern Europe; the Ukraine is no exception. In L'viv, there are over 100,000 university students. In 2000, there was no campus ministry trying to reach this generation of youth. Fred and Stacy Vanderwerf were commissioned to start a university ministry in L'viv. They arrived in the spring of 2000 and spent approximately a year in language training and culture acquisition before beginning a small group in their apartment with university students; they studied the Bible together with young individuals. By the fall of 2001, the small group was growing by word of mouth and an English club had been added on another night of the week as a form of evangelism. Through these efforts, a number of young people began to confess a faith in Jesus Christ and desired to be more serious about living a life of faith. Fred and Stacy formed a small community of students in a campus ministry. By the end of 2005, the ministry had an official name (Youth to Jesus), and it was officially registered under the government as a mission of the Ukraine and Moldova United Methodist Church. The ministry had purchased a ministry space, and was reaching a number of Ukrainian youth, from Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, and agnostic backgrounds. In 2007, Fred and Stacy Vanderwerf had to unexpectedly return to America and in 2008; Shannon and David Goran took the Vanderwerf s place as the resident missionaries in L viv. Under their leadership, Youth to Jesus continued to grow, a student leadership was established, and more students became a part of the ministry through the many activities available at the student center, including a weekly worship meeting on Thursday evenings called "Pilgrims", small groups, prayer nights, fellowship activities, outreach and service opportunities, and evangelism. Due to the high number of students graduating from the student ministry and not being able to find a church home, a United Methodist Church plant was started in 2010. Lubomir Rudko, one of the first individuals who met with Fred and Stacy in 2001, became a United Methodist in 2004. He was accepted as a probationary elder in the United Methodist Church after completing his seminary education at the Moscow Seminary in June 2009. Due to the growth of the United Methodist ministries in L'viv, another missionary, Michael Airgood, was commissioned and assigned by GBGM in late 2010 to L'viv. Today there is also a small group/church plant meeting in the nearby city of Street.
Goals & Objectives
(a) To annually build and renew a worshipping community of young people. (b) To annually create and train a student leadership team, student led small groups each semester and regular student participation in service to the poor. (c) To identify, train, encourage, and send out young people to be future leaders of the church, and particularly the United Methodist Church in Ukraine. To continue to build and plant two United Methodist Churches in the next three years. (d) To complete the purchase and renovation of a new student center in the course of the next year to accommodate growth for ministries.
(a) Carry out a weekly contemporary worship service called Pilgrims. (b) Recruit and train a student leadership team that serves in ministry. (c) Carry out a weekly English Club as an evangelistic outreach and a service to the student community. (d) Participate with other ministries in service to/with the poor, through participation in a homeless feeding program, local outreaches to orphanages and assisting a local homeless shelter. (e) Send out students and church members to plant United Methodist Churches.