The last thing Lora said to me as I was boarding my flight to Moscow in October 1991 was, “Honey, let’s not move to Ukraine!” “Don’t worry,” I said, “this is just a three-week trip!” Twenty-eight years later we are still working in Ukraine.
We spent most of those years living and working in Gorlovka, a city in the Donetsk region in Eastern Ukraine. In 2014 a Russian incursion began an ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine for parts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions as well as the annexation of Crimea. We cannot return to Gorlovka currently because of the ongoing conflict. I preach via Skype each Sunday for the few ladies from our church family who remain in Gorlovka.
From 2012 through 2017 I was on staff at the Palo Alto Church of Christ in Panama City, Florida (one of our long-term ministry partners) to help them revitalize the congregation. Our original plan was to spend two-thirds of our time in Florida and one-third in Ukraine. When the war broke out, we were no longer able to return to Gorlovka. After making two trips to Kiev, Ukraine in 2017 we decided to return to full time work there.
In 2018 we relocated to Kiev to work with about twenty-five young adults who were active in our ministry in Gorlovka and who had relocated to Kiev due to the war. We want to help these young adults grow as disciples of Jesus and we meet with them in a small group on Sunday evenings. We also began a small group on Friday nights for teens and college students.
I volunteer my time as a visiting teacher at Borys Grinchenko Kiev University where I engage students and teachers as a “native English speaker.” I regularly talk with the students about faith, building character, making good life choices, growing strong relationships, and other important topics. Around 200 students from the University follow me on Instagram and receive a daily post which encourages their spiritual growth.
You can follow our work on Facebook at Facebook/Cross Culture, Inc. and on Instagram at Cross Culture Kiev.
If you would like to partner with us to “Share the love of Jesus with the people of Ukraine” you can visit our website www.CrossCultureInc.org and choose your preferred option for donating. We need ministry partners to help send us, and we hope that you will join the Cross Culture Support Family.
Grace and peace,
Kenny Payne, D.Min.
Director, Cross Culture Inc.