The late 1990s in Ukraine were marked by deep economic, political, and social crisis. Corruption and crime were prospering. Alcohol and drug addiction got a firm hold of an alarmingly large percentage of society.
In 1999, Roman Lebedev (photo right, with family) was a staff member of an alcohol and drug rehabilitation center in the town of Kazatin. Because of Roman’s activities, he met a Nazarene missionary, Robert Skinner (current missionary to Poland) and Pastor Volodymyr Masyuk (сurrently district superintendent in Ukraine). Roman was impressed by the number of charity programs and aid services the Church of Nazarene had for Ukrainian people and after a long period of praying and searching for God’s will, in 2001, Roman and his wife Oksana accepted Bob Skinner’s offer to move to Vinnitsa and plant a church.
From the very start, the focus of the ministry has been on the people who were labeled as “outcasts” by society, those who were left on the sidelines of life. They were not wanted by the state and even some of their relatives rejected them, having left them alone to die of drug and alcohol addiction and AIDS. At the time, there was no church that provided effective help to these people and the Nazarenes became the pioneers.
For the rest of the story, see Engage magazine.