Zhenia Bondarenko lives in Chaplynka, Ukraine, with his wife Natasha and his daughter Olga. BCC has supported Zhenia since 2001. He graduated from Tavriski Christian Institute in Kherson in 2000. He is currently pastoring Chaplynka House of Prayer and overseeing six additional village churches. Zhenia has been evangelizing the Ukrainian troops in 2014 working with approximately 2,500 troops in multiple military bases. He travels to all of them over a three day weekend to hold worship services and preach. In addition, Zhenia is a part-time English teacher in the public school.
Zhenia is involved in many other activities in the lives of each of the seven churches. Recently a schedule was implemented to free Zhenia to more easily visit the other 6 churches. Sasha Kobzar, a deacon will preach two Sundays a month.
Using a van purchased by BCC, Zhenia can now visit more regularly the 6 other churches he leads. The churches are spread over a wide area with one located 80 kilometers from Chaplynka. The visits to the villages serve to encourage the saints in the faith while training leaders and meeting various specific church situations.
Zhenia and the leadership of the church in Chaplynka feel it is God’s will to keep their primary focus on children. Typically in the Ukraine it is more effective to minister to the children. This is done through Sunday school classes and puppet ministries given in public schools, kindergartens and orphanages throughout the region. Children are often on their own and will follow the one who wins them. “We want to let them know the One who is worthy to follow”, says Zhenia. Using the puppets has enabled his ministry to reach more children and adults from non-Christian backgrounds. The Lord has placed the Chaplynka church in a unique position to provide a government-required "summer camp" to hundreds of children throughout the region. Summer after summer they hear the Good News about Jesus.
Zhenia feels blessed to be involved in a full time ministry with the church in Chaplynka and the 6 other churches in the region. He cosh teacher an added blessing to his ministry. “To be saved and to pass on this saving message of love is the greatest blessing in my life” he says. "I consider it a great blessing to partner with BCC. The Lord has made us to be one team and it would definitely be impossible to reach where we are without our American family. We are in reverence of our God we serve together."
Sasha and Anya Kobzar are both 2003 graduates of Tavriski Christian Institute, and have been supported by BCC since then. Upon graduating Anya assumed the position of Director of Children’s Ministry at the church in Chaplynka. After their marriage in July 2004 Sasha officially came on board to be the youth leader and assist Zhenia. Sasha is also involved in an Orphanage Ministry. In addition to the ministry they find great joy in raising their 2 sons and 1 daughter; Timothy, born August 13, 2005, Jacob, born April 22, 2007, and Irina born October 22, 2010.
As Director of Children’s Ministry, Anya oversees the Sunday school, is a leader for the puppet ministry and makes frequent home visits in an effort to establish a relationship with the children’s parents. She is responsible for developing the VBS curriculum to be used each summer.
Currently there are about 20 children regularly attending Sunday school. Most children come from non-Christian homes.
A member of the church in Chaplynka regularly assists Anya with the classroom teaching and music. If needed there are two other members of the church trained to help.
Anya is presently involved in training a woman from a nearby church in the area of Christian Education. In this church there are 15 students hungry to hear the gospel.
Sasha leads a youth group with 10 students. The group meets each Saturday to pray, study and fellowship. In an effort to grow relationships, Sasha visits and regularly telephones his students. He also strives to develop relationships with the parents of his students.
Sasha closely identifies with the problems of the youth. Many of the young people are growing up in non-Christian families and without fathers. God has used his experiences prior to becoming a Christian to better minister to others.
In the future, Sasha wants to develop a camp for the youth. He plans to work with a church in Kherson that has such an outdoor camping program. If he can get the necessary equipment the program will start in the summer of 2009.
In addition to leadership responsibilities including preaching in Chaplynka, Sasha assists Zhenia as needed with the other 6 churches in the region. These duties require him to visit families, help with leadership training and preaching.