A group of 20 American Christian ministry and business representatives met with Ukrainian political leaders in November at the invitation of President Leonid Kuchma.

The trip was organized by Mikhail Morgulis, a Ukrainian native who is now president of Christian Bridge International in Carol Stream, Illinois.

While government authorities in the financially strapped nation sought mostly economic-development advice, the Americans used the visit as an opportunity to evangelize.

Alex Leonovich, executive director of Slavic Missionary Service in South River, New Jersey, arranged for the distribution of 10,000 Ukrainian-language Bibles, including to all members of Parliament. "I never in my ministry saw such a display of hunger for the Word of God," said Leonovich, a Russian native now in his fifty-first year of ministry. "We couldn't get the boxes opened quickly enough."

Although religious freedom resulted after Ukraine declared independence in 1991 from the Communist Soviet Union, Christians recently have been subject to restrictions because of the influx of aberrant religious groups.

"The government sees Moonies, Mormons, Baptists, and Pentecostals as the same," Morgulis told CT. "The goal of the trip was to explain true Christianity and to plead with them not to close the doors to evangelical Christians from the West."

During the visit, Morgulis, representing Christian Bridge International, signed a document pledging cooperation with three Ukrainian Christian groups.

More than half of Ukraine's 53 million people claim allegiance to the Orthodox church. Evangelicals make up only around 3 percent, but the numbers are growing.

February 3, 1997 Vol. 41, No. 2, Page 78

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