Ukraine War Disrupts iBAM’s Partnerships and Mission Work
iBAM began engaging with the nation of Ukraine in 2016. We formed several partnerships with pastors in the Donbas region, the highlighted portion on the map below in the eastern part of the country. Later, we formed another partnership with a company called BizLabs located in the western half of Ukraine. In all, we had established 80 direct contacts in the nation.
Because of the Ukraine war, all of this work has been disrupted – some of it probably forever. Some of the churches where we conducted trainings in the Donbas region have been utterly destroyed and there is no business activity happening at all. Women and kids from these churches have fled, and the men have stayed behind.
We had been working with a translator in the area too named Elena, but she too was forced to escape.
All of this upheaval has compelled our Ukraine partners to focus on survival, meeting immediate needs, and relief work, with the hope that one day they can return and rebuild.
Ukraine Mission Field – Tense from the Start
It has been a tense mission field since we first arrived in Ukraine and started working with local pastors in Donbas back in 2016. Russian separatists took control of the far eastern section of the nation in 2014 (the small dark red portion on the map) before we arrived, and a cloud of uncertainty hovered over everything the whole time.
The uncertainty pertained not just to the future of the region and the nation, but to daily life and the stability of local laws and governments.
But missions work in the Bible rarely took place in times of perfect stability, and God still moved mightily. So none of that deterred us from going in and forming partnerships and conducting trainings for local churches.
The churches in the Donbas area were very excited about our approach of blending business entrepreneurship with discipleship. They wanted to liberate themselves from having to depend on outside donations to fund their ministry work, and wanted to start creating wealth and influence within their own communities.
iBAM conducted a training with ten members of local churches, and then ran another training after that with ten more. These initial seeds eventually produced about 14 businesses including a mobile food truck shop, a translation business, a beekeeper, several agricultural businesses, and more.
The churches were growing and becoming self-sufficient. Good things were happening.
In the western part of Ukraine, our partnership with BizLabs resulted in about 40 people going through our training, which BizLabs adapted for more effective use within their context. This is the exact vision we have laid out for how to work with local churches and entrepreneurs. There isn’t just one way to do this, because every region has its own unique needs, ways of doing business, laws, cultural norms, and other contextual features.
And it was working great.
Russian Invasion Hits
Once Russia invaded, most of the businesses and churches who were growing through this discipleship model went dark. People fled. Some of the church buildings where we ran trainings are now just rubble.
It’s been heartbreaking to watch. One of our field worker missionaries from the US had to flee and is now coordinating relief work remotely. We’re hoping to get one of our trainers back to Western Ukraine soon to help with what’s left in that part of the country, which so far has not been hit as badly.
There are at least two farmers in the west still operating who came from the BizLabs training. One is growing wheat, and the other grows raspberries. We are hoping and praying that the war can be brought to an end soon, and that these still-surviving businesses can provide stability for other parts of the nation that will need to focus much more on rebuilding.
How You Can Help Missions Work in Ukraine Continue
iBAM’s mission does not usually focus on relief work as it’s not our calling. We work on raising up businesses through local churches that will facilitate discipleship, church growth, and new church plants using local leadership.
But, our work is based on partnerships too. And right now our partners are suffering – some with great loss. We are partners in good times and bad times, and right now they have asked for help with immediate needs.
If you’d like to donate to directly help afflicted churches and Christians in Ukraine, you can give here.
Under the dropdown menu that says “Choose support area for your donation”, select Ukraine Relief Fund, and your gift will go to help afflicted believers and churches in Ukraine.
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