Normal is nice. There is a sense of security, stability and safety when things around us are normal. And the 14th annual graduation ceremony at the Ukrainian Bible Institute was a significant step in returning to normal for the students and staff. Graduation is always a special event because it represents a sense of accomplishment for the students and a time family and friends gather to applaud and congratulate their loved one, but this particular event was significant in a couple of ways. First, this graduation had been postponed for some of the students due to the fighting in eastern Ukraine and their flight to safety in Kiev. Secondly, for the staff and faculty members who gave up their homes, left behind friends and family in Donetsk, this graduation marked a new beginning in the life of UBI. For people like Natasha Maluga and Ludmilla Haleeva it meant keeping their children safe, enrolling them in new schools, setting up new homes, setting up an office and starting a “new school.” They deserve our thanks and support.
Fifty-two people were present for the ceremony and dinner as eight graduates received their diplomas. Among the eight graduates was our first student to have completed the entire program via the external learning program. We have been working for several years to develop a complete program for those wishing to study God's word but unable to attend regular classes.
Your generous response to the challenge issued by Sunset made all this possible. With your help, the Bible institute relocated from Donetsk to Kiev. Your gifts assisted our staff to find housing and continue their ministry to prepare leaders and preachers for Ukraine. The overwhelming outpouring of love in December has done a great deal in helping the Ukrainian Bible Institute bring that sense of normality back into the lives of numerous refugees in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities.
Sunset is committed to the mentoring and preparation of servants, and we continue to need your help. In the midst of the fighting and bloodshed, word about the Ukrainian Bible Institute is spreading and interest in learning more about the word of God continues to grow. The new fall term has started and almost 20 people have started at UBI. These new students want to be adequately prepared to minister to others and serve the Lord. Because of your generosity we have the classroom space in Kiev and our faculty is present and prepared. What is needed is your continued help. Our goal is to provide $1,000 per month in scholarship funds and $3,000 for Sunset's training in Ukraine. We are seeking your help to continue our efforts and expand our student body in Ukraine
The Ukrainian Bible Institute may never be totally "normal" again if that means returning to the former building, or using the familiar classrooms or being in Donetsk again, but our Lord works in some amazing ways. The school building in Donetsk now serves as a sanctuary and safe haven for several families who have lost their homes and fled the fighting. The same classrooms where our students learned the word of God are now filled with people who are experiencing the love of God in a very tangible way, and we anxiously wait to see how our Heavenly Father will work through UBI to expand His kingdom and touch the lives of so many people.