by Abe Samuel & Roger Brind
Abe and Roger serve with The Philadelphia Trust in partnership with believers in Eastern Europe.
In November 2017, Abe Samuel and Roger Brind made an exploratory medical visit to Ternopil, Ukraine at the invitation of Dr Orest Kulenych, to consider the possibility of a Christian medical camp for doctors and medical students. Little did we realise then that this was God opening a door to a new ministry for The Philadelphia Trust.
Abe was invited to lecture at the Ternopil Medical University and was able to develop links with the medical and research faculty of the university including an invitation to deliver a plenary lecture at the National Pulmonology Conference and an offer by the university to use their retreat centre for our planned Christian Medical and Education Conference in April 2020. Roger and Tamás Madarász, a church leader from Hungary, taught in the university in Terebovlya.
In God’s sovereign plan, the medical and education conference did not take place due to the Covid pandemic. However, advances in virtual learning allowed Abe to hold a number of virtual medical seminars during the pandemic. These were organised by the Christian Medical Association Ukraine (CMAU) and Drs Vadym Vus and Orest Kulenych, office bearers of the Academy of Family Practice Ukraine, for medical teams in Ukraine, ably supported by Christian medical colleagues in the UK. In addition to sharing medical protocols used during the pandemic, Abe and his colleagues were also asked to lecture on coping with stress and working with ethical principles in challenging circumstances.
Soon after the third wave of the Covid pandemic, Abe and Roger were invited to lecture at the Academy of Family Practice national conference in Berdyansk in September 2021. In addition to lecturing on a number of medical topics (Abe) and ethics (Roger), they were able share the reason for their service and faith – Jesus Christ the Great Physician and Great Rabbi. They connected with and mentored a number of secular general practitioners. The eagerly anticipated post-pandemic Medical and Education Conference planned for April 2022, was once again not to be – due to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Looking back, God had clearly planned for us to visit Ukraine on a number of occasions, forge links and relationships with secular organisations and Christian medical and educational brothers and sisters for such a time as this – the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Since the start of the war, the Philadelphia Trust (PT) working in partnership with Echoes International (EI), Gospel Literature Outreach (GLO), Medical Missionary News (MMN) and Bible Educational Services (BES) were involved in supporting and praying for the medical work in Ukraine. After carefully considering the significant medical needs in Ukraine reported by our medical brothers, we were able to support Christian medical organisations, secular organisations and individuals to deliver vital medical supplies and emergency medical training across Ukraine. To date, just under £200,000 has been given for medical aid. An overview of the various groups and individuals supported follows.
Christian Medical Association Ukraine (CMAU) – This organisation is associated with the International Christian Medical and Dental Association (ICMDA). The combined mission group has been working with Rudolf Myhovych (Rudi) who is the President of CMAU. Abe has known Rudi personally for a number of years and has been impressed with his commitment to the Lord and his passion for education and training. Rudi has been instrumental in setting up medical warehouses across Ukraine, working from his base in Lviv but travelling across the country with his team of medical and non-medical volunteers. Coordinating and distributing medical aid is a mammoth task and there is no doubt the CMAU under the inspirational leadership of Rudi has the Lord’s blessing, protection and encouragement.
The CMAU are currently in the process of trying to procure medical equipment purchased by the NHS for use in the Nightingale hospitals during the pandemic, which is not currently in use and is stored in warehouses in the UK. PT individually and partnering with the mission group have, in particular, helped with transportation, warehouse costs and some staff salary costs incurred by the CMAU. The remarkable work of the CMAU has been recognised by the Ministry of Health, as a provider of medical supplies and training across the country, particularly to the war-torn eastern region and commended for their work. A great example of being salt and light in a fallen world.
Academy of Family Medicine Ukraine (AFMU) – Abe and Roger have been associated with this organisation since 2021, following an invitation to speak at their conference in Berdyansk, Azov region, currently under Russian control. The combined mission group have supported Professor Iryna Voloshyna, chair of the academy and Drs Vadym Vus and Orest Kulenych with aid for medication, procuring a drone and a modern ambulance with intensive care facilities for use in primary care and in particular in the eastern Donbas region.
Christian Training Centre – The Life Saving Centre in Rivne is an NGO, founded and led by Andriy Stakhniuk. It is a volunteer movement of emergency physicians and medical assistants working in partnership with the regional centre of emergency and disaster medicine in rivne. They train volunteers in basic life support and prehospital medicine in addition to, in their own words, ‘saving souls’ by proclaiming the good news of Jesus. Andriy begins each training session with a clear declaration of his faith that motivates what he is doing. The combined mission group supported this work with help in buying a couple of ambulances, training equipment and supplying funds for training. Not only is this organisation involved in training volunteers, paramedics, military and health professionals, Andriy and his team unashamedly proclaim the gospel in every camp they run.
The Mobile Christian Medical Unit – This team goes out to the frontline to run clinics to serve soldiers and civilians affected by the conflict. The group has contributed funds towards the work of the mobile Christian medical unit.
The Work of Individual Christian Medical Doctors – Dr Vadym Vus, a fine Christian brother, supported by his wife, Olena, a nurse, is a well-known trainer of family practitioners and mentor to a number of Ukrainian junior doctors. The group has been able to support him in buying ultrasound machines, including a cardiac probe to help with the medical care of wounded soldiers and civilians, medical equipment and funds to train doctors and volunteers.
Dr Orest Kulenych, a Christian general practitioner and board member of the AFMU, serves in the Mukachevo region. In addition to his medical work, he ministers to the Roma population medically and spiritually. We have been able to support him in procuring two vehicles, one for use as an ambulance and one for ministry, along with funds for the work among refugees and the Roma population. He has a deep burden for the Roma people and is working with the headteacher of volunteer schools among the Roma to establish an effective curriculum. Dr Kate Bliashyk, a young general practitioner from the Volyn region, is a member of the Mobile Christian Medical Unit team going out to the war-torn Kharkiv area. She was recognised as Ukraine’s young doctor of the year in 2019 and as a result is influential in training programmes. She also supports Vadym Vus and Rudi Myhovych in their training ministries. She is a vibrant Christian who has a wonderful effect on her patients, not only because of her natural exuberance but due to her love for her Lord.
Ministering to Personal Needs – We recognise that our brothers and sisters have personal needs as they do not have a regular income from their medical work since the start of the war. The Philadelphia Trust periodically supports some of those in Christ who have personal needs.
Our Almighty God deserves our deepest gratitude for His bountiful provision, which to date has been much more than any of us could have asked or imagined. We continue to trust in this God of miracles and are confident He will supply the needs of His people. We earnestly pray that our Sovereign Lord will bring peace and comfort to this region and its people.
It has been an absolute privilege and humbling experience for all of us in PT, EI, MMN, GLO and BES to be in the Lord’s service by providing medical aid for our Christian medical partners and strive to follow our Saviour, who came ‘not to be ministered to but to minister’ (Mt. 20:28).