Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)
The Russian Federation is part of the CIS, but because of its size it will be described separately on the Russian Federation page.
Membership of the Commonwealth Independent States: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan. Minsk in Belarus is the headquarters for the CIS.
Ukraine - Cradle of the Rus
As the ship moves down the Dnieper River approaching Kiev, you are struck by the beauty of the cluster of churches in the monastery complex of the Pecherskaya Lavra. As the gold cupolas glisten in the sunlight, you wonder whether you are in Russia or the Ukraine. But then you find out that Kiev―capital of the Ukraine― was the centre of the kingdom of Rus, long before Russia existed.
Ancient Kiev was the headquarters of Grand Prince Vladimir (see Articles) who united the various disparate states under him by introducing Byzantine Christianity.
To the south, on the shores of the Black Sea, lies Odessa the largest of the Black Sea cities. Like St Petersburg, it was established to be a window on the west with its trade and commerce. Its first governor was the Frenchman, Duke de Richelieu, and among its most prominent early philanthropists was the German, Baron Arrest Mass, who also headed the council for the Reformed Christian community in Odessa. To some people Odessa looks more like a Mediterranean city displaying French and Italian architecture. Its people are very cosmopolitan and strongly independent.
Culturally, eastern Ukraine is primarily Russian-speaking and Christian Orthodox, while the west is Ukrainian-speaking and Greek Catholic.
Politically, Ukraine is caught between the desire of some to belong to Western Europe, and the desire of others to find stability in its relationship with Russia.
What does CDA do in the CIS?
Until recently, Ukraine served as the base for the publishing of our study materials, and the recording of lecture material onto CDs. Ewald has had the opportunity to lecture in biblical subjects at the following places in Ukraine: Kiev Christian University, Odessa Theological Seminary, Donetsk Christian University, Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary, and in Rovno.
Where is Ukraine?
Ukraine sits in the centre of former USSR countries.
Ukrainian became the official language in 1991 when the Ukraine gained its independence from Russia, and became a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
A Missionary church
Many of the pastors in the Russian Federation today have come from the Ukraine, and still regard Ukraine as their home, although they have had to become Russian citizens in order to continue their work in the Russian Federation. Many Russian churches owe a great deal to these dedicated men and their families.
Many of these pastors are men of vision who serve at great cost, and who receive little support from their sending churches. They have much to teach western churches about church planting, sacrificial service, and community outreach.
What about the evangelical church?
Currently, Ukraine is home to the largest evangelical community in Europe, as well as having numerous evangelical educational institutions. The Evangelical-Baptist Union of Ukraine is the largest Evangelical union in Europe and Russia. It unites more than 140,000 Baptists, and at least 1,600 churches.
As evangelical churches seek to make the most of their opportunities, they are also training leaders at the highest levels. While more and more excellent facilities are springing up in various parts of the country, there is a serious shortage of qualified academic staff to teach all the degree courses on offer. As in the Russian Federation, English texts still fill a disproportionate percentage of library shelves.
As in Russia, pastors in the field need to increase their Bible training. BEE (Bible Education by Extension) program has been doing an excellent job in providing biblical education through small groups. But even the BEE leaders are constantly looking for suitable material that they can use with their groups. Some of these leaders are also involved in teaching at regional Bible institutes and need all the help they can get.