Voices from Talbot’s Kyiv campus

The Ukraine campus shares its story of invasion, war and God’s faithfulness.

Hannah Dilanchyan, Opinions Editor

After the fall of the Soviet Union, three men identified a need for more seminaries in Ukraine to minister to the nation as well as the rest of Eastern Europe. Working alongside Biola University, they began a program with Talbot Seminary: a Master of Arts degree in Biblical and Theological Studies/Diversified in Kyiv. The seminary doors opened to students in the spring of 2007 and there are 28 students enrolled today, according to the Talbot School of Theology.

This week, as Russia launched an invasion into Ukraine, causing much anxiety and fear surrounding the future of the nation and safety of the people. The Chimes reached out to our Kyiv campus and asked some questions about the state of the nation—and what Biola students can do to help. The faith and trust in God they show is remarkable. 

Eduard Borysov, on-site director of Talbot School of Theology’s Kyiv Extension, shared his thoughts on the invasion. 

How have you been affected while working and learning in Kyiv during the current tensions with Russia?

“The invasion of the Russian army into a peaceful Ukraine was simultaneously predictable and unthinkable. Prior to Feb. 24, 2022, Kyiv Theological Seminary transitioned to an online delivery format. Most of our Christian colleagues from the U.S. were called to leave the country. My fiancé and I returned to Kyiv a week before that date from a short-term mission trip to Uganda. The rest of the team stayed in Uganda and is still there. Little did we know that within a week we would wake up to a completely new reality–constant air strikes, sirens, warnings to hide in bunkers, threats of new attacks through various channels of communication. Our students and staff have chosen different ways to respond in this crisis. Some chose to protect their families by attempting to leave the country. Others stayed put, ready to protect their families and country by taking up weapons. Of course, all are in prayer to the King of Peace for the protection of life.”

What does the future look like for you in Kyiv? What are your fears, worries or joys?

“This is a third day of fearless defense by the Ukrainian army against a deadly and superior-in-quantity enemy. Kyiv is under severe attacks from the air, land and on the internet. People are in constant fear of air strikes and military jets, and are constantly bombarded by fake information produced by the enemy to spread panic. As I write this, a small group of believers and their relatives are huddled at our church building, trying to keep calm and continue in prayer. Since the beginning of the aggression, our church opened her doors to those who need shelter and support. Every hour we read a Psalm (we’ve completed 75 so far) and two people pray. I have never experienced the Psalms that speak of deadly threats from enemies, God’s sovereignty, his protection of the innocent, and judgment on the unrighteous as I do now. It is encouraging to hear how our young people share the gospel with their scared classmates via text messages during the night, and report about their unbelieving friends coming to faith in Christ. We do not know whether we will survive in this war, or what the damage will be to our country and ecology (the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was occupied by Russian troops). But we hope the world will learn and see how God is on the side of the weak and faithful against the demonic powers behind our aggressors. Even though Ukraine cannot rely on the political leaders of the world who express concern and are appalled by invasion, but who are not ready to stand side-by-side with our Ukrainian forces, I hope the world will see the reliability of our awesome God.”

What is your opinion on the recent conflict? And how does that affect Biola and Talbot’s program?

“Ukraine will not be the same as before if we are able to survive through this tragedy. Our churches in the post-war context will face the financial need, as well as the psychological trauma of people who will seek our help. I imagine some people will question the existence and goodness of the God who allowed this tragedy to happen. Others will seek God and turn in faith to Jesus. The Talbot Kyiv Extension will continue to provide sound biblical training to Christians, and they will respond to challenges of the new reality, granting that there will be freedom to do so.”

What are some ways Biola students can come alongside you all during this time?

“Biola students can pray to the God of the heavenly armies to protect the people of Ukraine. You can support Christians financially who are forced to leave their homes and are dislocated from their communities. Funds will be needed for evangelical schools to resume studies on campus when that time will come. Your church can become a partner with a church in western Ukraine that accepts refugees from the east. As the president of Ukraine said in one of his recent briefings, ‘the night will be difficult, very difficult… but the dawn is coming.’”

A special update from Ruslan Khmyz, president of Kyiv Theological Seminary and graduate of Talbot’s Kyiv Extension:

“As the whole world knows, Russia has made an unprecedented military invasion of Ukraine. This is a real war in the full meaning of the word. Rockets are bombing the cities and villages of Ukraine. Russian tanks and soldiers kill people on the streets. Russian planes and helicopters are firing on Kyiv. Houses and neighborhoods are destroyed. In preparation for such a time as this, Kyiv Theological Seminary moved to an online delivery format a month ago so that education can continue in spite of war, and so that our students can serve their families and communities. Some people are staying in their hometowns, others are moving to the west. But this is not a time to panic. It is a time to remember how many times God in his Word says ‘don’t be afraid.’ Fear paralyzes, but prayer, trust in God and caring for your neighbor gives strength. So we are collecting necessities and preparing to go to the shelter at the right time. We are helping our frantic neighbors pack and prepare their necessities. We read and trust news only from reliable sources. And we are not allowing fear to control us. Let us all trust in the Lord, not panic and pray for the protection of our beloved Ukraine.”

 

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