Pro-Russian militants seize Church of Christ in eastern Ukraine during Sunday worship

Armed men seized a building used by a Church of Christ and a ministry training school in the eastern Ukrainian city of Gorlovka during Sunday morning worship.

The men, who call themselves soldiers of the Russian Federation, interrupted the worship service "and demanded we leave," said Olga Paziura, a member of the Central Church of Christ, which meets in the building. "After much negotiation, we were given two hours to remove contents from the building that we wanted, and (they told us that) the rest would be destroyed."

The building also is the home of the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Ukraine, an extension program of the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver

Church members spent nearly three hours removing the congregation's belongings from the building as the armed men stood and watched, Paziura said. They had to leave behind a television, washing machines and refrigerators. It took another three hours to load the belongings onto two trucks. 

"So it was just very shocking and stressful," Paziura said. "Some girls lost consciousness (or) started crying." None of the church members were injured.

Seven students graduated May 24 after studying for two years at the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Ukraine, said Howell Ferguson, stateside coordinator for Bear Valley. The school's director "went to bed Saturday night feeling good and relieved that they were able to accomplish the graduation in spite of the turmoil in Ukraine," Ferguson told The Christian Chronicle. "They never expected something like what happened this morning during worship." 

Ferguson asked for prayers for the displaced church members and Bible school students.

Another ministry training school, the Ukrainian Bible Institute in Donetsk, is closed until further notice, said Jay Don Rogers, director. The school is associated with Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock, Texas. Concerned for the safety of the school's staff and their neighbors, Rogers and his wife left Donetsk and currently are in Canada.

Recently, Rogers received a report that about 20 armed men broke into the school's facility and searched its dormitory and classrooms. The facility was unoccupied and nothing was taken. The men also searched a hotel above the school and left with a man in their custody.

"We are praying first for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine," Rogers told the Chronicle, "and we are praying for the evil men that are hurting the people of the region. We are praying that they will repent and come to know the Lord. God wants them, too, to be saved."

(Jeff Abrams, minister for the Tuscumbia Church of Christ in Alabama, provided information for this report.)


The Following translated from russian on the "Gorlovka.UA" website

Today, May 25, Gorlovka armed men took over the building in Balaclava Protestant Church of Christ and the Bear Valley Bible Institute, located in an art museum in the courtyard on Pushkin Street.

Gorlovka armed men seized the building of the Protestant Church of Christ and Biblical University. They say that "This will be our headquarters"

"The church has moved out and in front of the building stands a police bus and SUV, painted in camouflage colors. Like talking about placing there some staff, " - reported witnesses .

We have bee unable to contact to any of the leadership of the church to get their comment.

Bible classes for children of different age groupswere previously held in the church, along with youth meetings and Book Study .

" Bear Valley Bible Institute - Denver" is located in Denver, Colorado in the " Bear Valley Church of Christ ." Right out of this place Denver men and women around the world are leaving , carrying saving message of the gospel . Gorlovka branch of the institute is from 2007.

From the "Bear Valley Bible Institute" in Denver, Colorado which is part of the Bear Valley Church of Christ come men and women who travel worldwide, bringing the saving message of the Gospel. The Gorlovka branch of the institute began in 2007.



OlgaPThe following comments from Olga Paziura describe this morning's events as she witnessed them during worship services at the Central congregation in Gorlovka. We are still trying to receive information, but ask that you pray for the displac...ed church of our Lord and the students/staff and their families at BVBIU:
"During the morning worship service in Gorlovka(the church I attend), armed men(they called themselves the troops of the Russian Federation) came in and demanded we leave as they were seizing control of the building for their own purposes. After much negotiation, we were given 2 hrs to remove the contents from the building that we wanted and the rest would be destroyed. And they also told us that this building now belongs to Russian Federation. While we were taking out stuff they watched us standing there with the guns. Although we were not able to take out the everything. The Tv, washing machines, fridges were left there. We all together started to take everything out. It took about 3 hours to carry most of the stuff out. Then it took another 3 hours to load 2 trucks. So it was just very shocking and stressful. Some girls lost councesiousness and started crying. It is good that they didn't take us hostage cause it could be possible in fact. Anyway now it passed and I'm at home but I still cannot believe in what happened."
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