Eastern European Territory celebrates 20 years of ministry Officer recalls time spent in the Ukraine.

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By Wesley Sundin, Major

Western Territory officers Majors Wesley and Ruth Sundin served four years, 1993-1997, in the former Soviet Union, opening The Salvation Army’s work there. Recently, they returned to Kiev, Ukraine, for the 20th Anniversary Congress of the Eastern European Territory.


The Chief of the Staff and Commissioner Sue Swanson are welcomed with a traditional eastern European bread and salt greeting. Photo courtesy of International Headquarters

As I looked out the plane porthole to the tarmac upon arriving in Kiev, Ukraine, in 1993, I could see soldiers brandishing submachine guns. Darkness and an oppressive heaviness greeted me as I entered the Kiev terminal building.

“So this is Kiev, where I am to spend the next four years of my life? I think I want to go home.” These were my thoughts as my wife, Ruth, and I initially took up our new overseas appointment.

Fast forward to late May 2011. We arrived at a very modern Kiev airport for the 20th Anniversary Congress of the Eastern European Territory (EET). We spent the next five days reacquainting ourselves with our former soldiers in Kiev and the country of Moldova. This visit with them felt like heaven.

While the news that the corps we opened in Kiev had closed years earlier broke our hearts, we learned that many of our corps people had transferred to another in the city and were still faithful to the Lord and The Salvation Army.

I ran into one of our young soldiers from the Levobresnev Corps located on the Left Bank of the Dnieper River in Kiev. He met me with a huge smile and a hug and shared that his young son would be installed as a junior soldier that very Sunday of the Congress. We were both proud of God’s continued work in the former Soviet Union countries.

Two of the first soldiers we enrolled in Chisinau, Moldova, were Lydia and Mark Prisazhnaya. Years ago, before meeting us, Lydia had seen a vision of The Salvation Army. We were encouraged to see Lydia—now widowed—still carrying on strong for the Lord. Mark had helped open the second corps by way of his own unique style of evangelism. He would hop on a bus going through his area of town, preaching the gospel and inviting people to meetings from one bus stop to another. Then he would get on a bus going the other direction and do the very same thing. Because of his boldness, he had a flourishing corps. In fact, wherever Mark and Lydia were corps officers, their corps grew from the many souls saved through their witness.

Captain Victor Stasiuk was one of the young men we discipled in the (then) newly opened work in Moldova. Now married, he stood on the stage during the celebration, receiving a flag for the opening of his own corps in Ukraine.

The Oslo Temple brass ensemble played for the meetings and the Chief of the Staff gave the message. Meeting after meeting, the altars filled up with soldiers seeking a deeper walk with God and new people receiving salvation.

Watching the commissioning of six new cadets was just as exciting as witnessing the new converts. Many Salvationists here are still waiting to enter the training college but space, time and money are not available for them.

Make an online donation to support the work in the Eastern European Territory at salvationarmy.org.

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