I was raised in a wonderful family. At the age of 16 Jesus met me and I still remember the choice He gave me that day. And my response to His question was yes, I do. I’ve always been very active in life. So, I jumped into my new Christian life and became part of the youth group. The very first group I led was a group of boys only. God has a great sense of humor. I guess I was moved by an eager desire to introduce the Kingdom of God to them and bring them into the Kingdom. I’m old school when it comes to doing something when asked and listening and obeying.
The Lord was always the real cornerstone of my life and I can definitely say that He moved me from place to place. So, in my 10th year walking with the Lord I was a youth leader. And being a good leader, I was willing to study at a good youth ministry school and listened to the teaching. I felt that there might be some strategy or understanding for building a youth ministry and I was looking for it. God brought Doug Landro to us and he explained JFYM and taught on every element of it. I was so excited. Finally! Simple, understandable, and most importantly for me I saw the connection between all the elements. What stood out for me was that prayer and Jesus’ lordship are the foundation—not just the ministry but my personal daily walk with Christ.
I graduated from this youth ministry school and was invited to the JFYM Eagle Leaders’ retreat in May 2009 in Uzhgorod. Little did I know that God would call me to move to this city in August 2009. I left Chernovtsi my hometown, said goodbyes to my family, friends and church and was ready to move to the unknown. It was really a walking-on-the-water experience. God supernaturally provided me a place to live and work in Uzhgorod. I was asked to work as administrator at the same school where Doug was coaching on JFYM. It was such a pleasure to become a part of this mission. The younger generation is my passion. I’d like to see them grow in love and freedom and know their Savior. So, another chapter of my life started.
Of course, there were up and down moments, questioning God if this is the right place for me to be. Always, with a great kindness and patience He nudged me to continue following in His footsteps. And I did. I do remember a crucial point for me. We were out of funds and the school couldn’t pay me a salary anymore. It was the most terrifying and the most beautiful moment at the same time and I cherished it. Terrifying was being left without funds and the beauty was how quickly His response came. He promised that He would never leave or forsake me, and He is keeping His word. So, Doug and Igor stepped in and started a fundraising campaign for me. I was speechless when people who never saw me in person were willing to support my ministry here. You see, it’s not a very common practice in Ukraine to support missionaries. We used to do ministry while working to provide for ourselves. So, after this incredible moment of God showing Himself and His desire for me to continue doing ministry, I treasured this moment of His love in action. I’ve become one of His agents on the field. I helped in coaching, logistics, organizing local and national youth conferences—all sorts of opportunities.
The Almighty God also provided the time and a chance for me to go to Israel. I visited my homeland and thought maybe He wants me to stay there. But He wrote a different script for me. I’m willing to live out His script rather than make my own decisions. He knows best our present and future, right? At that moment of my life I struggled with some frustrations and disillusions. I guess all of us face our giants and need to be David at some point. So, I did take a challenge and fight my personal battles. That was 2017.
I haven’t mentioned yet about the unexpected war in my country. We can’t expect war, but the invasion really became a strong force that brought the whole country to the next level of unity and repentance. War, desperation, economic collapse and thousands and thousands of IDP’s are on the list of giants the church faced. As a mission during 2014-2016, we became involved in all kinds and volunteer programs. Life slowly was coming back to the country at the end of 2016. For Ukraine and for me another chapter was unfolding. I accepted God’s Will for me to be back in Ukraine and serve at our mission. I was even offered the position of director of our youth ministry school. Frankly, after being asked twice, I denied it. Women actively involved in ministry in our part of the world is not very well accepted. Too many challenges and obstacles down the road. I refused to receive the position, but at that very moment I sensed it was exactly what God wanted from me. Here we are again, walking on water, doing something risky and unstable. I’ve learned to lean and trust His craziest ideas. And I agreed to accept the position.
Little did I know that at the same time some unique changes were happening at Reach Out. Randy Riggins became the president of the organization and I became the leader of expanding JFYM strategy in Ukraine. It wasn’t a coincidence. I felt that it was a time in His history and in His global plan. I was greatly encouraged by Doug, Igor, and Randy in my position and ministry and all of them gave me strong support. in February 2019, Randy flew to our first-in-five-years-national conference for youth leaders. We had over 150 leaders attend from all over Ukraine—from more than 15 different churches. It was a blast. We held over 10 local one-day Forums, presenting the JFYM strategy to over 300 youth leaders. Also, we re-launched our youth ministry school. Basically, we presented each element of the strategy in a year’s course including implementing the strategies. We mentored youth leaders. We coached churches. We saw more than 300 young adults and teenagers come to Christ at the churches who are implementing the strategies.
Last year when COVID brought so much confusion and fear to the church we didn’t stop. We launched online prayer meetings, forums, and support for the youth leaders, encouraging them to continue running the great race. I was so blessed to be a part of the Reach Out celebration in October 2021 and see other leaders from all over the world. I’m excited to be a part of a ministry and mission that values collaboration. We all have a great common mission. It’s so vital that we run our common race with humbleness and support of fellow coworkers.