Urgent Need for OBI Prison Chaplaincy - By Bruce Kittleson
Updated: Feb 16, 2021
Following a week of chaplain training recently at Kiev Theological Seminary (KTS) I became aware of a sustained sense of urgency regarding the need now for chaplains in the prisons of Ukraine.
Chaplain (LtCol) David J. Williams, USAFR and I first attended two chaplain training seminars hosted by Olive Branch International. Dave was the primary teacher for five days during two sessions. The first session hosted chaplain candidates completing work toward their degree at KTS. The second session, the Baptist Union chaplains joined, for a combined 45 chaplains. Dave is an excellent Bible teacher and was able to combine spiritual concepts with the role of a chaplain. He really connected with the group.
The first praise is that this training was successfully completed despite their own Covid problems in Ukraine. The second praise is the support that comes from these men and women being together to draw encouragement from each other. Many of the experienced chaplains were headed back out in the field after this training. All of them are volunteers, many of them are pastors, and many of them spend two to three weeks at a time in the mud and snow with the troops.
Afterward Valentyn Korenevych and I went on a train journey to four cities in the south and east of Ukraine visiting churches, seminaries, and military hospitals, all interested volunteer chaplaincy. Here we learned of the pressing need for the development of prison ministry now scheduled for late March.
The need is greater than we had realized. Last January (2020) the government official, Ruslan Khmyz (pictured above) called KTS about extreme problems in the prisons and asked if KTS could do anything. Ruslan talked to Valentyn and I about training for prison ministry. In every city we visited people were coming out to talk about prison ministry. The effort was put on hold for a year because of Covid but now, this March 26-27, we are going back to Kiev to sponsor this conference for a hundred men and women involved in prison ministry. I will have COL(Ret) Curt Powell, USMC who in retirement is involved in prison ministry in the USA as a primary speaker.
For our planning purposes, this comes on us suddenly and we need your help. The two-day prison ministry training event will be in the same venue as pictured above. The event will cost us $7,000 to host. Would you prayerfully consider an urgent donation to help us achieve this training? This easiest and fastest way to support this event is through our website at www.olivebranchintl.com and you can mail it to Olive Branch International, P.O. Box 2134, Yorba Linda, CA 92885.
Thank you for considering this urgent need.