My testimony is one of many peaks and valleys. I hope it encourages your heart and inspires you to serve God in big ways!
I was born and raised in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I became a Christian during a spiritual revival in 1993 at the age of 15. Many years after my conversion, I was working as a youth counselor, but the other counselors and I came under great persecution. Because of our religious beliefs, we were falsely accused of being rebels. By God’s grace, a soldier warned us to leave the country immediately because the military had been given direct orders to kill us.
As I fled for safety, my heart broke. I was forced to leave behind my girlfriend, the love of my life, Rachel. As I left my home, Rachel and I vowed to pray and fast for each other every Friday night. Little did we know then, but we would not see each other again for five long years.
Initially, the Lord led me to Tanzania where I studied theology for a short time. Because I had left my country without a Congolese passport, I had to leave the school a few months into my studies and go to a refugee camp in Tanzania. Those months without adequate food or shelter were extremely challenging times. I’d eat porridge for breakfast and bread with bean water for lunch and dinner. I was a man without a country or a home, but my faith sustained me during those difficult months.
After three months in that camp, God opened the door for me to move to another refugee camp in Mozambique. It was a very long journey by foot, but I thank the Lord that I arrived safely to my new home where I would reside for the next four years. Life wasn’t easy in the camp those four years, but with God by my side, He gave me the hope I needed.
I remember slipping off into the bush for my time of meditation, prayer and communion with God. I would open my heart wide open to Him during those quiet moments. I desperately wanted to be free. I wanted to serve God. It was in one of those moments of meditation that He inspired me to start a counseling ministry right there in the middle of the refugee camp. With the help of two other Christians, we began sharing the Good News of hope with other refugees.
By taking my eyes off myself, I began seeing the immense needs of others around me. I was impressed to give part of my food rations to widows and orphans who often didn’t have enough to eat. These individuals saw God’s love in action which frequently opened their hearts for me to share the Gospel with them. During those months and years of helping others, my life became increasingly more meaningful!
Although living for years in refugee camps was grueling, God used that time to mold and prepare me for the special work He had in store for me. Through a series of miraculous, God-ordained events, He led me directly out of the refugee camp to Scott Christian University (SCU) in Kenya. What a miracle!
I was greatly blessed with a sponsorship for my four year theological program (Bachelor of Theology with an emphasis in Intercultural Studies). And five years after our tearful goodbyes, I married Rachel, the love of my life shortly before attending SCU. God really does work in mysterious ways. We don’t always understand why, but learning to trust Him implicitly has brought so much joy and purpose to my life.
Since graduating from SCU in 2011, I have been privileged to serve the Lord in Tanzania and Mozambique as an evangelist. Currently, Rachel and I are ministering to the unreached Rangi Muslims. Through friendship evangelism and teaching classes at the secondary school, we are building relationships with these precious people. We are certain God will use these ministries to multiply His Kingdom and to lead the Rangi Muslims into the truth.
My journey to Word of Life Seminary (WOL) in Brazil was an unexpected one. Prior to applying to WOL, I graduated from college with an Architecture and Urbanism degree I had plans for my life, and a degree in theology wasn’t on my horizon or so I thought!
Shortly after graduating from college, the Holy Spirit began working on my heart. I began to sense a strong call from God to study theology. It seemed impossible, so I knew God was going to have to make it happen. I started to fervently pray, and God acted in a mighty way!
He helped me overcome what had seemed like insurmountable obstacles. As God answered my prayers one by one, it confirmed to me that God was leading me to WOL. It made me even more confident I was doing the Lord’s will for my life.
I am now in my second year of studies at WOL, working toward my Master of Theology degree. My desire to work full-time as a Christian educator and leader is within reach!
Your financial investment has been a significant part of God answering my prayers. Thanks to you, I have a scholarship that has made it possible to fulfill God’s calling for my life.
I was fortunate to grow up in a Christian family. My father was a pastor, but to be honest, I didn’t think it was cool to be a pastor. My personal and primary goal was to make lots and lots of money. I knew I definitely could not do that being a pastor. But when I went to college, something changed. The Holy Spirit prompted me to repent, and on top of that, I sensed a call to enter the ministry.
Wow! What a transformation happened in my heart when I gave my life to Christ. Money was no longer my all-consuming focus. God directed my path to Odessa Theological Seminary (OTS) in Ukraine where I studied Theology. I did not want to stop there, so I am now working towards my Master’s degree.
I entered the seminary at a crucial point in my life. My time here has significantly impacted my life and my character. By God’s grace, I am not the same person now that I was a few years ago!
Recently, I entered the missionary program at OTS, and it has even further enriched my life. For several months, I lived in Tajikistan and worked among the non-Christian community. I ministered primarily to children and teenagers during those months. While sharing the love of God with these young people, they in turn shared with me some of the horrific challenges they face.
Many have suffered domestic violence and sexual abuse. They are literally starving for love. In the midst of utter poverty and human neglect, I have the awesome privilege of showing these children Jesus’ love. I have had numerous opportunities to share with them the Good News about Jesus who will always love them and take care of them, no matter what.
My time in Tajikistan has brought back to mind the many years I dreamed of making lots of money. Now all I dream about is being a long-term missionary in Tajikistan. It is truly amazing to see the transformation God has brought about in my heart!
Recently our Regional Director for Euro-Asia, Taras Dyatlik, shared this devotional with the team at our Indianapolis headquarters. While the context from which he shared is the ongoing conflict in his home of Eastern Ukraine, we pray this message encourages your heart no matter what circumstances you find yourself in.
Philippians 4:6-13 (NIV)
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
As I reflect on the essence of theological education, how and why we prepare church leaders in Eastern Ukraine in the midst of conflict between two nations and the hidden conflict between Ukrainian and Russian churches…
When my soul leaves its mortal body, I would like to say with Christ and many saints who have moved to the shores of the Heavens: I will know the joy of the resurrection, through knowing the fear and tremble in the gates of death.
Meet Sergey Konyshev, Sergey Litvinko and their families. Both are pastors and graduates from Minsk Theological Seminar in Belarus, and both are involved in Overseas Council Compassionate Care projects that reach out to orphans in need. Here are their stories:
Sergey Konyshev’s Ministry
My wife, Nadezhda, and I have seven of our own children. Our family has been ministering to orphans since 2002 when we started to visit the Children’s Social Shelter. In the beginning, we supported the children spiritually as well as materially with clothing, shoes, medicines and personal hygiene items.
In 2003 after much prayer and consideration, we accepted two orphans into our family, Maxim and Sergey. Then one year later, a girl named Katia joined our family. Our family began to grow by taking in these children, and we loved participating directly in the lives of orphans. During the time we lived in Belarus, we helped eight children to grow and find their places in life.
Today we have two orphan boys living with our family, Arseny and Evgeny. We also still help Maxim, one of the boys who grew up in our family. Now he is married to Marina, and they have a son named Artem. Marina is also an orphan; her parents passed away when she was 10 years old. Maxim’s father passed away, but his mother doesn’t lead a good life which is why her sons were taken to the children’s shelter. Right now, Maxim has changed jobs, and it is quite a difficult time for his family, so the Overseas Council Compassionate Care funds really helped us support this young family to survive a difficult period in their life.
Your funds are a great blessing from the Lord for our family. Each year, we hold a children’s camp and invite other children from orphanages to take part in it. Your funds made it possible this year.
We continue to support orphans and accept them into our family to help them find their place in life. We do everything we can so that they have opportunity to learn about Jesus Christ and have eternal life. Thank you!
Sergey Litvinko’s Ministry
My wife, Tania, and I have four of our own children, and we also have five orphan brothers living with us. Their father died, and their mother could not care for them because of her way of life. The children are grateful to have the possibility to live within a family.
Our project is called “Warm House.” Orphans come to our house on weekends and school vacations. We spend time with them, help them with their studies, help with their psychological and social adaptation problems, teach them necessary skills for everyday life and attend church together. Once a year, we organize a children’s camp at our house for orphans and other troubled children. Every year, we have about 35 children, and we try to pass on Christian family values to them.
With the support of Overseas Council Compassionate Care funds, we can hold the children’s camp this year. Through our project, many people in our town have learned about our church and received a better understanding of evangelical Christians. We would like to continue this ministry as long as God will give us strength and possibilities.