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Our Ukrainian brothers and sisters

In the country where before the invasion by the Russians lived about 50 million people, we can find people who have been exposed to a variety of religious beliefs.

The Orthodox Church –  10th-21st Century

In the tenth century, the Eastern Orthodox religion was introduced to become in 2018 the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

Митрополит Київський і всієї України Епіфаній.jpg

Metropolitan Epiphanius of Kyiv and All Ukraine, Serhii Petrovych Dumenko, Epiphanius I of Ukraine, primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), holding the title of Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine.

The church was united at the unification council in Kyiv on 15 December 2018 as a condition for recognition of it by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and was granted the tomos of autocephaly (decree of ecclesial independence) by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in Istanbul on 5 January 2019. The unification council voted to unite all the existing Ukrainian Orthodox major jurisdictions: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP) and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) as well as a part of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (a branch of the Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church, which claims jurisdiction over Ukraine). The Unification Council elected Epiphanius Dumenko – previously the Metropolitan of Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi and Bila Tserkva (UOC-KP) – as its primate, the Metropolitan of Kyiv and all Ukraine.

Catholicism, Islam and atheism

Later the Ottoman Empire brought Islam to southern Ukraine. Also, Polish noblemen were spreading Catholicism during the Middle Ages.

In the 20th century, many became atheists under the rule of Communism, though also a lot of religious people practised their religion in secret.

For the Bible students in the country, such religious practice in secret was nothing new, as they always had to keep themselves safe from repercussions from Trinitarian Christians, who regarded non-trinitarians as the devil.

Cross-border seeds of faith – 9th – 13th Century

Devoted Bible readers living in the Principality or, from 1253, Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia, one of the three most important powers to emerge from the collapse of Kievan Rus’ (loose federation in Eastern Europe and Northern Europe from the late 9th to the mid-13th century) By the Mongol invasion the Byzantine teaching of a three-headed god was replaced in the regions by the singular God by the Muslims, which made it somehow more comfortable for the Bible students to show others how the Singular God had provided His begotten son to rescue the world.

16th Century

In the 16th century, several people interested in the Word of the Only One True God by seeking refuge from their persecution by state churches in the Holy Roman Empire (mostly Germany today) and other European states, found their way into regions which became later ruled by Poland, Romania, and Czechoslovakia.

Because everything had to be done in secret, like in many other countries throughout Europe, it was not so easy to enlarge the community. Certainly, because they did not consider people who had a child baptism and who believed that Jesus is God, to be real Christians. This provided for a lot of controversy throughout the ages.

Jews opposing Charles Taze Russell his teaching

Charles Taze Russell, a leading Bible Student, at the end of the 19th century visited many countries in Europe and the Middle East. On his way to what was then Constantinople, Turkey, he visited Odessa in southern Ukraine in 1891. Later, in 1911, he gave a series of Bible lectures in major cities of Europe, including the city of Lvov or Lviv in western Ukraine. Lviv has historically been the chief centre of Galicia, a region now divided between Ukraine and Poland. Its position controlling east-west routes and passes across the Carpathians has given it a stormy history, but made it also a region of moving Biblestudents going from one place to another, spreading the faith, bringing a continuation of true New Testament Christianity over Eastern Europe.

Strangely enough, it was a Jewish rabbi from the United States who fiercely opposed Russell’s work who cabled a message to his associates in Lvov, denouncing the Bible Students. This incited some to try and stop Russell from speaking. About that night, Russell said

“God alone knows what his providences may be in connection with these experiences. . . . [The Jews’] excitement on the subject may lead some to a deeper investigation than if they had heard us in a decent and orderly manner.”

Though there was no immediate response to the message, seeds of truth had been sown, and many groups of Bible Students were formed later, not only in Lvov but also in other areas of Ukraine.

After World War I

Following World War I, Ukraine was divided among four neighbouring countries. The territories of central and eastern Ukraine were seized by Communist Russia and incorporated into the Soviet Union. Western Ukraine was divided among three other countries. The areas of Halychyna and Volyn’ were annexed to Poland, Bukovina to Romania, and Transcarpathia to Czechoslovakia. These three countries provided a measure of religious freedom and permitted the Bible Students to carry on their preaching. Thus, many seeds of truth that were to bear fruit later were first sown in western Ukraine.

In the early 1920’s, seeds of truth were sown in Halychyna and Volyn’ by Bible Students from Poland. Meanwhile, brothers from Romania and Moldavia (now Moldova) brought the truth into the Bukovina region.

This laid a good foundation for further growth. The Watch Tower of December 15, 1921, reported:

“Recently some of our brethren visited [Bukovina] . . . The result of their visit there for a few weeks is seven classes organized and now studying the volumes and ‘Tabernacle Shadows’. One of these classes has about 70 members.”

In 1922 in the village of Kolinkivtsi, in Bukovina, Stepan Koltsa accepted the truth, was baptised, and began preaching. Later ten families joined him. Similar growth occurred in the Transcarpathian area. By 1925 there were approximately 100 Bible Students in the village of Velyki Luchky and neighbouring villages. Following that, the first full-time servants began preaching in Transcarpathia, conducting meetings in the homes of the Bible Students. Many people asked the office in Brooklyn to send more books and pamphlets so that more people could be reached and baptised.

Such keen interest resulted in the establishing of an office of the Bible Students on Pekarska Street in Lvov. The office received many requests for literature from Halychyna and Volyn’ and regularly forwarded them to Brooklyn to be filled.

Like in many countries,several of the Biblestudents working on their own, and not having a connection with central organisations, made that we do not have exact figures of baptised Biblestudents. Though we now of ecclesiae having 50 to 100 baptised people.

In the 1920s there were were 15 publishers who had to exert themselves in order to work through the many villages with literature twice a year. Every Sunday at four o’clock in the morning, they met together at one of the village to start their house-to-house ministry at 8:00 a.m. to work until 2:00 p.m..

Since Roman Catholics and Greek Catholics have their Christmas celebrations during different weeks the brethren made use of it to bring singing sessions, but soon they stopped with those liked activities because they saw how wrong it was to be connected with that pagan festival of Christmas.

Willing to come more into the open there was decided to have a first convention of Bible Students in the Transcarpathian area. It was held in the village Velyki LuchkyIn, in the Mukachevo Raion in the Zakarpattia Oblast (province) in southwestern Ukraine, May 1926. There were 150 in attendance, and 20 were baptised. The following year 200 persons attended a convention in the outdoor central park of Uzhgorod, a city in the same region, which had passed to Czechoslovakia in 1919, to Hungary in 1938, and to the Soviet Union during World War II.  Soon other conventions were organised in various towns of Transcarpathia. In 1928, Lvov had its first convention. Later, other conventions took place in Halychyna and Volyn’ that after World War II became part of the Ukrainian S.S.R..

Despite the fact that some halls Biblestudents had built, were destroyed during the war and some were confiscated, the brothers maintained the desire to have their own Kingdom Halls and got meeting places all over the country. (Presently, there are 8 Kingdom Halls of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the village of Dibrova and 18 Kingdom Halls in six neighbouring villages).

Before World War II the majority of our brethren and sisters could be found in the West of Ukraine. Today they may be found all over Ukraine.

That Biblestudents are not spared the grim consequences of war, could already be seen in the Second World War, but now also with this Ukrainian war with Russia.  But also when there was no war, like from 1951 till the middle of the 1960’s, with the majority of the brothers imprisoned or exiled, our community had to be very careful how to preach or come into the open. Many brothers and sisters ended up in one of the 54 prison camps throughout the entire Soviet Union. In many congregations, it became necessary for sisters to take the lead.

Concealed in cellars

Today there are grandparents who feel like they are back in the old days when they had to hide in cellars and forests. Others remember how they gathered several times a week in the late evening or well into the night. They curtained their windows with heavy cloth in order to avoid detection and studied by kerosene lamp. Often the exhortations were only distributed on a written paper. Later, brothers began to receive magazines printed on duplicating machines. In KGB times the secret service was unrelenting in their determination to locate meeting places of Biblestudents so that they could punish the responsible brothers.

In Communist times holding the Memorial was the most challenging. But now with the Russians bombing Ukraine it has also become a very big challenge. Last 14 Nisan (15 of April 2022) several of our brethren and sisters did everything to make the best out of the evening. Though in several villages and cities there was not even drinkable water to prepare a meal. Bottles of alcohol brought salvation to have something extra in this time of distress.

Normally Biblestudents open their meeting to all who want to come to listen to what we have to tell. Last year there was Corona that prevented such a gathering. This year our Ukrainian brethren could not invite many. Some of them were already pleased that they could prepare a meal for 7 people, with the limited foodstuffs they still had available.

After more than 50 years of bans and persecution, today it looked again as if a period of aggression and ordeal had come over them. Some of our younger brethren had sent their youngsters to leave Ukraine, but after the bombing of the Kramatorsk station, they are now in the dark about what happened to their family members.

Having been able to meet with like-minded friends, for many it was like they belonged to the escaped ones and on that night it was as if they were resurrected from the dead by the Power of God. Even when lots of their assets were gone up in the fire, they still felt rich in the Gory of God that they were able to celebrate that special weekend in these times of war. Normally the Ukrainians eat a lot of potatoes, but this time they were not at the party nor any lamb.

While the sirens were sounding regularly, they quietly read the Bible passages and listened to the elder’s speech. Whilst bombs and weapons did not keep silent, they expressed their hope to live in a world where free nations are assertive and in the ascendant … where freedom and democracy are strengthened through a network of economic and security partnerships, and most importantly they all look forward to the return of Christ, though that would mean there shall be first that Great Tribulation. But for them, it could well be that we are already in that predicted Third World War.

Some saw this special evening also as a night to be liberated from the modern plagues. At the same time some were sad that some of their family members living in Russia do have a totally different picture of what is going on in Ukraine. The modern snake is clearly doing its work and by spreading misinformation gets tornness in otherwise close-knit families. This is one of the most terrible things that these people now have to endure in their families, a part that does not want to believe that they are being slaughtered by Russia’s murderous army.

While others have fled the country, some Ukrainian brothers and sisters have stayed in place — either bound to the land, too old or ill to travel, or simply lacking other options.

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Preceding

Preparing for 14 Nisan

Fellowship over meals

Coming together for a meal to remember a special lamb

Coming together for a meal to remember a special lamb

Jesse Hemery and the The Goshen Fellowship

When Belonging to the escaped ones gathering in Jesus name

Those who Jesus can call friends

Most important weekend of the year 2016

The Most important weekend of the year 2018

2021 Memorial of Christ’s death

Another year of 14 Nisan with restricted access

Celebrating the evening of 15 April 2022 as a festival to Jehovah God

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Additional reading

  1. A useless but very dangerous challenge game
  2. Great tribulation and Armageddon
  3. Armageddon or the Great Tribulation
  4. What makes you following Christ and Facebook Groups
  5. Christadelphian brothers and sisters in Ukraine
  6. The one who claimed he was not planning an invasion in Ukraine
  7. Does the population of Russia know what the Russian soldiers are doing in Ukraine
  8. Russian army wants to make Ukraine the Syria from Europe
  9. Weekly World Watch March 13 – 19, 2022
  10. Stories to read in the week of March/April 2022 in the Independent
  11. The Guardian’s view on Ukraine for the first half of April 2022
  12. Has Ukraine become a Symbol of ‘Freedom’

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Related

  1. The Ten Modern Plagues
  2. A replica of the first Passover
  3. The Pesach Lamb
  4. Pesach 5782
  5. “They think it’s Passover… It is now!”

Another year of 14 Nisan with restricted access

For two years, our services could not continue physically. Fortunately, we had Zoom and Jitsi to reach our members via the internet.

For months, Bible students have been prevented from going to the houses to bring the Good News. Like last year, no leaflets have been put in the mailboxes to invite people to the 14 Nisan celebration. This year too, that highlight of the church year will be a day of silence or modesty. But for the first time in a long time, our baptised members, in limited numbers, will also be able to meet in the Kingdom Hall, this Friday evening at 20:15 (in English). Baptised members will also be able to follow the memorial service on the net via a video stream from the auditorium.

Unfortunately, for security reasons, as we are so often attacked, we have to limit access to the service via the internet to those we know well and to family members present at the baptisms. Those who are not baptised can therefore unfortunately not take part in this highlight of the year.

But we are hopeful that in the coming months the situation around Covid will gradually improve and that in a few months (after the summer) we will be able to meet again in the Ecclesia hall, Bible study room and/or Kingdom Hall.

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Dutch version / Nederlandstalige versie: Nog een jaartje 14 Nisan met beperkte toegang

Preceding

Preparing for 14 Nisan

14 Nisan a day to remember #1 Inception

14 Nisan a day to remember #2 Time of Jesus

14 Nisan a day to remember #3 Before the Passover-feast

14 Nisan a day to remember #4 A Lamb slain

14 Nisan a day to remember #5 The Day to celebrate

Fellowship over meals

Coming together for a meal to remember a special lamb

When Belonging to the escaped ones gathering in Jesus name

Most important weekend of the year 2016

Preparing for the most important weekend of the year 2018

The Most important weekend of the year 2018

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Additional reading

  1. Coronavirus, Vaccinations and an Old and New World
  2. A Holy week in remembrance of the Blood of life
  3. Catholics facing a totally different Holy Week
  4. Celebrations pointing to events of ultimate meaning
  5. The son of David and the first day of the feast of unleavened bread
  6. High Holidays not only for Israel (Our World) + High Holidays not only for Israel (Some View on the World)
  7. Deliverance and establishement of a theocracy
  8. Days of Nisan, Pesach, Pasach, Pascha and Easter
  9. 14-15 Nisan and Easter
  10. Seven days of Passover
  11. Most important day in Christian year
  12. Vayikra after its opening word וַיִּקְרָא, which means and He called
  13. Observance of the Lord’s Evening Meal
  14. Solution for Willing hearts filled with gifts
  15. Actions to be a reflection of openness of heart (Our World) + Actions to be a reflection of openness of heart (Some view on the World)
  16. Eostre, Easter, White god, chocolate eggs, Easter bunnies and metaphorical resurrection
  17. Preparation for Passover
  18. Shabbat Pesach service reading 1/2
  19. Yom Hey, Eve of Passover and liberation of many people
  20. Observance of the Lord’s Evening Meal
  21. This day shall be unto you for a memorial and you shall keep it a feast to the Most High God
  22. Celebrations pointing to events of ultimate meaning
  23. Lost senses or a clear focus on the one at the stake
  24. Inauguration of the New Covenant
  25. Not dragged unwillingly to death
  26. Spoken in the name of Jehovah God for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience
  27. A particular night to share unleavened bread and red wine
  28. The Memorial Supper
  29. Asking to come under the Wings of God
  30. Memorial Observance 1909
  31. Fraternal week-end at Easter in Paris
  32. A night different from all other nights and days to remember
  33. Worthy partakers of the body of Christ
  34. Making sure we express kedusha for 14-16 Nisan
  35. Wednesday 5 April 2017 – Sunday 9 April 30 CE Pesach or Passover versus Easter
  36. Thinking about fear for the Loving God and an Invitation for 14 Nisan
  37. Only a few days left before 14 Nisan
  38. Able to celebrate the Passover in all of its prophetic fulfilment
  39. The Most special weekend of the year 2018
  40. At the Shabbat HaChodesh: readings about blood, liberation and purification
  41. Purification and perfection
  42. Soon it shall be Erev Pesach and Passover 2019
  43. A great evening and special days to look forward in 2019
  44. Not daring to show a connection (Our World) + Not daring to show a connection (Some View on the World)
  45. Terwijl wij in Isolatie zijn: Beste wensen op dit Feest van Bevrijding – From our isolation best wishes on this Feast of Liberation
  46. Even in Corona time You are called on to have the seder
  47. Hosting a Virtual Seder During a Pandemic
  48. One Passover tradition asking to provide the less fortunate with foods and help
  49. In a time when we must remain in our place

 

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Related

  1. A Simple Easter Passover Lesson for Kids
  2. Learn About Passover With Books, Recipes & More!
  3. Passover: A Sign to Remember
  4. Significance of Passover (repost)
  5. Passover: What Does Freedom Even Mean?
  6. The medieval history of Passover: libel, conspiracy, and hope for freedom
  7. Three Things About Passover
  8. Passover and the Church
  9. Passover, Easter and the Christian
  10. The Lamb of God
  11. He is Our Passover Sacrifice!
  12. BE DeliveredAll In: Remember, We Won, Let’s Eat!
  13. Interested in Exploring a Jewish Passover Seder?
  14. First Two Days of Pesach
  15. The Passover Celebration and Jag Hamatzot
  16. Jesus and the PassoverA Story and A Prayer for Passover
  17. Blood Poured Out
  18. Passover Circa 33 AD; Hallel
  19. It was yet another Passover meal–or was it? (Maundy Thursday, Year C)
  20. Passover vs. Easter [where the writer wrongly insinuate that in Christianity (where he means Christendom), the easter egg became associated with Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection. Real Christians always have kept away from those heaten symbols and the pagan feast Easter].
  21. 4/13/2022 Passover Observation at Even
  22. Do Not Pass-Over Sabbaths

Mark 9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Review Questions on Chapter Nine

Review Questions on Chapter Nine

  • Describe the transfiguration scene.
  • What could the other eight apostles not do?
  • What does Jesus begin to tell the apostles?
  • How does Jesus answer the question of who is superior?
  • What warnings about stumbling does Jesus give?

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Preceding

Mark 9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Mark 9:1-8 – The Transfiguration

Mark 9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Mark 9:9-13 – Elijah Has Come

Matthew 12:22-30 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: the Charge of Demonism

Mark 9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Mark 9:14-24 – Help Me Where I Need Faith

Mark 9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Mark 9:25-29 – Why Could We Not Expel It?

Mark 9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Mark 9:30-32 – Foretells Resurrection

Mark 9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Mark 9:33-37 – Who is Greater?

Mark 9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Mark 9:38-42 – Those Not Against Us Are For Us

Mark 9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Mark 9:43-48 – The Offending Hand, Foot, or Eye

Mark 9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Mark 9:49-50 – Have Salt and Keep Peace

+++

Related

  1. Mark 9 Jesus goes up the Mount of Transfiguration. He heals a boy with severe demonic possession; he again predicts his death and suffering and resurrection, and the disciples don’t understand.
  2. Mark 9 “What do you mean, ‘If I can?’ Jesus asked. ‘Anything is possible if a person believes.’
  3. Aug 6, 2021: Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (B)
  4. Listen to Him!: The call to attention for disciples of Jesus
  5. “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” ~God
  6. Coming Down the Mountain
  7. Here & There
  8. Sanctified Ambition?
  9. belief in the middle of struggle

Mark 9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Mark 9:49-50 – Have Salt and Keep Peace

Mark 9:49-50 – Have Salt and Keep Peace

|| Matthew 5:13;[1] Luke 14:34

MK9:49 “For everyone will be salted with fire.[2] MK9:50 Salt is excellent![3] But if the salt ever lose its saltiness[4] what will it ever season? Continue to have ‘salt’ in yourselves and continue to be peaceable among one another.”[5]

[1] Matthew 5:13: For details see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000 on Matthew.

[2] ‘Everyone will be salted with fire’: The phrase is connected to the previous warning about stumbling. It is likely Jesus alludes to Leviticus 2:13:

“‘And every offering of your grain offering you will season with salt; and you must not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be missing upon your grain offering. Along with every offering of yours you will present salt.” [NWT] [Ezra 6:9]

Any sacrifice a disciple makes must be seasoned with salt otherwise it is not acceptable to God. A “sacrifice of praise” or charity must also be delivered in such a way that it is tasteful to the hearer. [Colossians 4:6; Hebrews 13:15-17; James 3:12] Salt may also have something to do with judgment. [Judges 9:45; Ezekiel 43:24] Though the phrase is considered unsupported by older manuscripts some versions contain, “and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.”]

[3] Salt is excellent: Or, fine, good, good thing. Salt was very valuable and necessary in such hot climates. It was even used as an exchange for labor or things.

[4] If the salt ever lose its saltiness: That is its tastefulness or preservative qualities.

[5] Continue to be peaceable among one another: The salt is associated with peaceful relations with others. The apostles have been arguing about superiority and this did not lead to peaceful relations. This matter of “salt” may go all the way back to that Jewish exorcist who was expelling demons in the name of Jesus. Who knows what the apostles said to him when they forbid him to continue what he was doing. It is not like these self-righteous, self-important individuals said things they should not.

+

Preceding

Mark 9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Mark 9:1-8 – The Transfiguration

Mark 9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Mark 9:9-13 – Elijah Has Come

Matthew 12:22-30 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: the Charge of Demonism

Mark 9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Mark 9:14-24 – Help Me Where I Need Faith

Mark 9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Mark 9:25-29 – Why Could We Not Expel It?

Mark 9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Mark 9:30-32 – Foretells Resurrection

Mark 9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Mark 9:33-37 – Who is Greater?

Mark 9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Mark 9:38-42 – Those Not Against Us Are For Us

Mark 9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Mark 9:43-48 – The Offending Hand, Foot, or Eye

Nazarene Commentary Matthew 5:13-16 Salt and Light shining bright

++

Additional reading

  1. Light and Salt – Parables of Influence
  2. Today’s thought “You shall not join hands with …” (February 13)

+++

Related

  1. Mark 9: 38-50: Blunt Words from Jesus
  2. Salt and Light :: Communion Liturgy
  3. Darkness and Light
  4. Light
  5. Let Your Light So Shine
  6. How to Steal God’s Heart
  7. The Sacrifice of Praise
  8. Sacrifices of Praise
  9. Praise and Worship from the Bible: What is it?
  10. Obedient praise
  11. Dance Before the Lord!

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