A U.S. ministry is rushing to the aid of a one-of-a-kind “church of compassion” targeted by arsonists in Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear fallout zone.
The only church in the village of Mlachivka – on the edge of the Chernobyl radiation “exclusion zone” – was badly damaged by fire on Jan. 6, Christmas Eve in the region’s Russian Orthodox calendar. Evidence at the scene shows arson as the cause.
The church – the only evangelical congregation for miles – is a unique place of hope and help for children living on the doorstep of a toxic wasteland, the result of the world’s worst ever nuclear disaster more than three decades ago.
“This little church is a major compassion haven for so many children in a very dark place,” said Michael Johnson, president of Illinois-based Slavic Gospel Association (SGA, www.sga.org), who has traveled to the area many times.
“Most of these children are from dysfunctional homes with alcoholic parents. Domestic violence is common. Pastor Nikolai’s church is a unique place where they feel loved, safe, and cared for,” said Johnson, who announced SGA would be helping the church rebuild (https://www.sga.org/chernobyl-zone-church-hitby-arsonists-on-christmas-eve/).
The fire – called a desperate act of arson – didn’t stop the congregation from holding a special service outside in the snow and bitter cold, as local firefighters and police looked on. Later, children received gifts, warm coats, and Bibles – part of an SGA-sponsored local church Gospel outreach called Immanuel’s Child.
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SOURCE: Assist News Service, Peter Wooding