Scholar shapes future leaders in Ukraine

A Langham Scholar, who studied for a PhD at the University of St Andrews, was recently inducted as head of a Bible college in his home country Ukraine.

Several people prayed for Oleksandr at his inauguration service at Odessa Theological Seminary, Ukraine.

This is an answer to many prayers. Oleksandr Geychenko now has the opportunity to shape future church leaders through his role at Odessa Theological Seminary (OTS).

The inauguration service was held on 11 December and many attended to show their support.

‘Very delighted’

These included students, colleagues, pastors of local churches, some members of the Board of Trustees as well as representatives of the Baptist Union.

Oleksandr’s three predecessors were also present and gave him a very warm welcome. His family attended, and Oleksandr was “very delighted” to have them there.

He had the opportunity to outline the basic principles around which he hopes to develop the seminary.

In the midst of war

Oleksandr with his wife Tanya and two daughters Olesia and Taia.

“The situation in Ukraine has changed tremendously and this requires rebooting OTS’ mission and goals.

“We find ourselves in the midst of war in the east of the country with thousands of internally displaced persons, daily casualties and many people suffering from post-traumatic syndrome. Association with the European Union opens a new wave of labour migration and brain drain in Ukraine.

“At the same time churches receive unprecedented opportunities to present the gospel and Christian values in the public space. My vision is to develop OTS around the following key values: mission mindedness, openness to partnerships, academic excellence and transparency and trust.

A foundation of mission

“Participating in mission, we participate in the Father sending his Son, and Christ sending his Church. Mission provides the foundation and allows us to focus the purpose of the Seminary. Mission cannot be done in a solitary way, but it requires wide partnerships that express unity in God and witness to the world.

“Training for mission cannot be done carelessly; it presupposes excellence. Partnership with churches, missionary organisations, and individuals requires a level of transparency that builds the trust, without which partnerships are impossible.

“My PhD studies helped me to understand how mission, partnership and trust relate to each other and substantiate theological grounds for working together.”

Extremely grateful

Oleksandr is extremely grateful for Langham’s financial and prayer support while he was studying at the University of St Andrews:

“I was away from my family for significant periods of time which was rather difficult. Langham provided spiritual directors who helped me to cope emotionally with this and constantly encouraged me.

“Perhaps, one of the best things that happened to me was acquaintance with people from one of the Scottish churches that “adopted” me for the period of my studies. Even now, when my studies are almost over, we maintain close personal relations through correspondence and occasional Skype sessions.”

He returned to St Andrews for his PhD Viva last month. He needs to make some minor corrections before the PhD can be completed. Oleksandr commented:

“The journey is not finished yet but the goal is behind the next turn. To God be the glory!”

Oleksandr Geychenko (pictured centre holding flowers) has been studying for a PhD at the University of St Andrews since 2014.

Please pray

His PhD, which he started in 2014,  is a critical assessment of the church structures of the Ukrainian Baptist Union. Oleksandr began his studies at St Andrews in 2014.

Read the full story about how two churches in Scotland “adopted” Oleksandr.

Please continue to pray for Oleksandr, as he completes his PhD and in his new role in Ukraine with its challenges and responsibilities.


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