An update from our partner, Mark Agarkov, in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Today is the 719th day of the war. Yesterday in Kharkiv was the mourning day. Several days ago, we had a drone attack on the gas station. Due to this attack, fuel ignited and burned private houses around like hot lava. Two families were burned alive. Parents and three small kids (7 and 4 years old, and a baby 10 months old) tried to hide in the bathroom, but it did not help. Everyone died immediately. The baby's body was so burned that only ashes remained. Please pray for the comfort of families and the closure of the sky over Kharkiv. Please pray for just peace in Ukraine.
Despite the daily threat to life, we continue to gather to worship God every week and help people who are in need. According to authorities, about half a million internally displaced people live in Kharkiv. These refugees from villages on the front line lost everything. Often, they live in dormitories without even their bed linen, so we continue to think and pray about how we can serve them. In addition, we regularly send humanitarian missions to the front line. Please pray for the safety of our volunteers. Last week they were in Avdeevka, and today they are in Kupyansk.
Since our last message, some events have occurred that I would like to share with you. We have finally started a Theological School in our church. Every Saturday, we gather to study Scripture and theology more deeply. We recruited 10 students offline and 10 students online. For many, this is a great joy because many cannot afford to leave their jobs and study at the seminary, so this is an excellent opportunity to deepen their knowledge of the Word of God. We are so grateful to our partners who supported us in this project and allowed us to recruit many students. We hope some of these people want to serve in the church someday. Because of the war, we are faced with a leadership crisis in the church. Many men have left the city; therefore, we need new ministers. Pray that this Theological School will bear much fruit for these students' hearts and God's Kingdom.
We are also pleased to share that our small publishing house, Reformed Press, published the first book, Bible Doctrines Simply Explained by Ramsbottom. This is a great joy for us since this book can be used for evangelism and teenage ministry. We are currently working on two other projects and hope to publish them this year as well. We want to publish solid Reformed literature for the glory of the kingdom of God. Please support us in prayer in this endeavour.
In addition, in my last letter, I wrote about our preparations for the work of the Social Centre this spring. Some of you responded by God's grace and mercy, and we raised $10,000 monthly. We have to find $5,000 for six months to launch the social center this spring. We hope to have deeper conversations with those who come to get help from us. In addition, we wish to involve several counsellors to help people. Many people are mentally wounded after the events they had to endure because of the war. Please pray for their spiritual healing and that our ministry will be a conduit of God's grace and love for these people. Pray that their hearts will be open to the Gospel.
We are grateful to so many of you for the prayers and encouragement you have sent us. These last weeks have been tough because my wife and I got sick. We spent almost a week with a high fever. But God gave healing. I especially ask for prayer for the health of my wife, Christina. Since this is her first pregnancy and also it is twins. Please pray for the health of the babies and our safety. We love you! Thank you for having us! We appreciate your prayers.