Just last year, 40 chaplains attended the annual Ukrainian Chaplain Restorative Training via ZOOM led by Valentyn Korenevych, Col (Ret). He led it in the morning and CH (Ret) Dave Williams taught by ZOOM in the afternoon. This year he had to close registration when it hit 140! What a praise! It is being held in person at Kyiv Theological Seminary. Because of the increase in attendees, additional funds are required to conduct the training. Another Christian organization is partnering with us in providing some funds and assisting Valentyn with the curriculum.
As a reminder, I (Bruce) asked Valentyn in 2000 to establish a chaplain training course when he was attending seminary himself. Kyiv Theological Seminary supported Valentyn in this effort which first focused on volunteer chaplains. He, with the assistance of CH (Ret) Dick Stiliha, developed a two-year and four-year curriculum for chaplains. Since this was a new concept for Valentyn, he was grateful for Dick’s insights. As of today, 70 people have graduated from these programs and Valentyn is the Dean of Chaplain Studies at the seminary. Valentyn has been recognized by the Ukrainian Defense Forces for having one of the best programs to prepare chaplains to serve the military. Volunteers still serve as chaplains but in 2023 the Ukrainian Defense Forces made chaplains a recognized paid military position.
Chaplains play a critical role in meeting the emotional and mental needs of military members in and out of war. In 2000, the Ukraine Defense Forces were establishing themselves and faced great stress as the country was learning how to be independent. I had no idea that God’s prompting was to prepare the Christian community for aggression against Ukraine in 2014 and full-scale war beginning in 2022. Ten years of war have taken its toll on the military and the country as a whole.
The chaplains attending this program will have the opportunity to be refreshed and rejuvenated, to relax and recuperate briefly from the war. They need the respite together because they understand what each of them is facing where they serve.
Since we cannot go to Ukraine with current restrictions, praying for and funding the training is what we can do to encourage these messengers of hope, understanding and God’s Word.
DONATE NOW TO SUPPORT CRITICAL TRAINING AND RESPITE CARE FOR UKRANIAN CHAPLAINS SERVING IN WAR TIME.
Bruce G. Kittleson
OBI President Emeritus