We work with a missionary family in Ukraine whose church has a Touch A Life Ministry. Here’s a glimpse of what your support has done for children and families in a war-torn country that resists the gospel.
Oleg and Lori Enskyy and their teenage children, Abigail and Simon, are a missionary family based in Mukachevo, Ukraine.
Lori is an American whose parents live now in Greenville, South Carolina. When her family lived in Raleigh, North Carolina, she attended Friendship Christian School, where the Lord called her to the mission field through her love of history, particularly Russian history, when she was 16 years old. After college, she went for two years for a short-term mission trip to Russia, where the Lord cemented her call.
When Lori returned to the States, she studied to be a Christian counselor at Bob Jones University. While there, she met the daughter of a pastor of a church in Ukraine. After graduating, Lori, who is also a big sports fan, went to that church and worked in their drug rehab ministry and sports outreach. This is where she met her soon-to-be husband, Oleg, a native Ukrainian, in 2003.
Oleg got saved when he was 28 years old. He grew up in Mukachevo, an area where churches were very religious and strict. He felt that many of the churches in the region were not very approachable to nonbelievers, and the Lord put on his heart to start a church where people could come as they are (but not stay that way).
Lori’s sending church was and still is Friendship Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, the place where she was saved, baptized, and called to the mission field. When she came to Ukraine in 2003, it was with the support of a small Baptist mission board.
When Oleg and Lori became engaged, it was against the bylaws of the mission board to support a national pastor.One of Lori’s supporting pastors, Gene Carpenter, of Palmetto Land Baptist in Summerville, S.C., told her about Final Frontiers. The couple met with Jon, and everyone felt like they were a perfect fit. Final Frontiers took the Enskyys on as missionaries after they were married and has been managing their support from American churches and individuals since 2004.
The couple settled in Oleg’s hometown, and where he planted the church the Lord put on his heart, Holy Trinity Baptist Church. Mukachevo is a small town 15 miles from the Hungarian border in the far west corner of the country. The Enskyy family grew along with the congregation. They welcomed a daughter, Abigail, into their home in 2007 and a son, Simon, three years later.
The rest of this story is in the words of Lori, taken from email updates and an interview in June.
Ukraine Touch A Life
In 2014, when the war first started with Russia, it was localized in the eastern part of Ukraine. It really affected our economy, though, and we had a lot of refugees from that part of the country come to Mukachevo. One of our church members was a teacher, and in a prayer meeting in 2014, she started praying about the church being able to reach out to hungry kids. As an elementary school teacher, she saw many kids who couldn’t concentrate because they were hungry. Their parents didn’t have money to feed them.
So, we all started praying that the Lord would help us figure out how to organize and fund something like that with their small congregation.
About a week later, Michael Horne (secretary and treasurer of Final Frontiers) sent an email asking me if we had ever thought about starting a feeding ministry. He said that Touch a Life would like to help us if we were so inclined. That was an answer to our prayer.
In 2014, our church started a feeding ministry for at-risk, troubled children in the community. It has been a tremendous bridge from outreach to church attendance, sincere repentance, and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Children and parents ministered to by Ukraine Trinity Church, the Enskyys, and Holy Trinity Church
Table tennis is very popular in Europe. Before the war expanded, we had a competitive table tennis ministry, and the kids we ministered to would play. The city financed all of our travel because we were taking at-risk kids and helping them to turn their lives around. We had a professional coach, and it was exciting.
Simon Enskyy (middle) with Hungarian table tennis players in Budapest.
Whatever’s happening outside these walls, the Touch a Life ministry in Mukachevo offers a few hours of fun and normalcy to kids at the feeding center.
Our church also had a huge kids ministry as well as a veterans’ ministry where we held camps.
Just before the war began in January 2022, we went to Hungary so that Oleg could go to a hospital that specialized in a treatment he needed. After his treatment, when he saw that war was imminent, he left us in Hungary and went back to our church in Mukachevo. When the war broke out, he stayed and turned the church and feeding ministry into a refugee center where people who were fleeing could come and live and receive help, food, and transportation to the border during the first six months of the war.
More than 2,000 refugees came through the church from March to October. The church also purchased older model 4×4 trucks and large SUVs to help evacuate wounded soldiers, civilians, and children and get them to safety.
Through seminary partners, we were able to take wood burning stoves to internally displaced people who recently escaped Russian occupation in the Kherson region. They have lost everything and are living in very rudamentary, abandoned houses near a water source where they hand-draw water daily. These families are very open to the Gospel and have many questions about what a personal relationship with Jesus really looks like. There is no church near them.
Last October, men of fighting age from 16 to 60 were not allowed to leave the country. Oleg has dual citizenship, but every time he would come back and forth to visit us, he would have problems on the border. Our sending pastor helped us make the decision for him to come out of the country to be with us and keep our family intact. Everything we did would be, not virtual, but long distance. And then, when anything needed to be done, I went back because I had no problem crossing the border.
Now, all but two of the 35 people in our church have left the country. The two people who have stayed behind continue to feed needy children, help refugees, and distribute aid in demolished villages through partnering ministries in Southern and Eastern Ukraine.
Oleg delivers Bibles for service men.
One is a young lady who is a Christian psychologist. She’s able to help the refugees who are coming through with lots of trauma. Another is a young man who grew up in our Touch a Life ministry. He got saved and has become a beautiful testimony. He does the Bible lessons each day.
We have probably 40 to 50 kids that come every week, Monday through Friday. During the school year, they come after school for a hot meal, a Bible lesson, and playtime, including table tennis, board games, coloring, and other activities depending on the kids that come that day. In the summer, they come at lunchtime for three hours.
Our ministry has completely changed from having the same kids from kindergarten until they finished technical school. Now, Many of them are in the army, and we support those boys.
One little boy, Victor, grew up in our ministry. He is from a really bad home, and he came to church every day to eat. He never got saved, but when the war started and he was drafted. Oleg was the first person he called.
“Will you please pray for me? I need your help,” he said.
He and Oleg have been talking regularly and the Lord has allowed Oleg to really minister to this young man. His ears were never open to the gospel, but they are now when he is under enemy fire every day.
Another boy, Maxim, started attending the feeding ministry after our church helped his mother get back on her feet and remove Maxim from foster care in 2015. He came to know Jesus as his Savior in 2018, was baptized, and has attended church regularly since that time. He has been a great help to the church’s refugee ministry.
Russian missiles continue to indiscriminately destroy civilian homes and infrastructure.
We work closely with city officials, who maintain a refugee register and know that they can send families who fit the prerequisites for their children to come and eat at church. They don’t usually stay very long.
On a trip back to Mukachevo, I had the opportunity to minister to a refugee who came through our dormitory. Her family evacuated from a city that was being bombed by the Russians, who were targeting civilian evacuation convoys. Her car was hit by Russian fire. She got out with her ten-year-old daughter, but her five-year-old daughter was killed. Ministering to her and her daughter at that time and having the opportunity to show compassion and the love of Jesus to her when she was at her very lowest was a tremendous blessing to our church and to our family. She went on to Europe with her surviving daughter.
Our church continues to feed needy children, help refugees, and distribute aid in demolished villages through our partners in Southern and Eastern Ukraine. Oleg continues to counsel active servicemen and is sort of a “tele-chaplain” at present.
Sounds of War
Though war has not come to our region of the Ukraine, we still hear warnings three or four times a day when long-range ballistic missiles launch. The screech of the air raid warning is especially eerie at night when it wakes you up from a sound sleep.
We have worked with partner churches from Lutsk and Odesa to take aid, spiritual literature, and encouragement into the Kharkiv, Kherson, and Odesa regions.
When I was a little girl, my father gave me a little square that lights up at night with a beloved scripture:
“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”
– Psalm 56:3 (KJV)
I have recited this to myself often, especially when I was taking aid into the country by myself. Or when Oleg was there by himself, and we didn’t know what was going to happen or if we’d ever see each other again.
When you don’t know what’s in the future or what the next step is, what’s been very steadying for our family is seeing how the Lord has brought us to where we are. When you look back, especially at in uncertain times like this, it’s amazing to see how we’ve received unexpected blessings and how he has directed us. When we are afraid, it helps us to trust in what he has done in the past, to know that he will continue to do for our family and for our church and all of our church members what he has done in the past.
Seeds of Salvation
What I want people to know about this war is that it’s so unjust. I know there’s suffering everywhere in the world, but the pressure cooker is palpable when you cross the border into Ukraine. People are living in that every day, and they don’t have the Lord.
Because of the Soviet Union and the propaganda from that time, people have been told that evangelical Christians are a cult and they’re to be avoided at all costs.
But the church has really activated and is out in the community ministering to people in Ukraine. We never know the seeds that we plant during this horrible time. The Lord put us there and gave us the wherewithal to trust in Him, even when we were afraid to help people who didn’t have Jesus and that foundation.
If you can help us continue to do that, you are helping us till up the heart soil of people with compassionate aid before we can plant the seeds of the gospel. Helping churches, especially strong evangelical churches that teach the truth and are providing help at a time like this, breaks down the stereotypes and the stumbling blocks for people to really have a true relationship with Jesus Christ.
Oleg and other believers bring aid to areas that have been hard hit by Russian shelling.
How You Can Help
We came home to the United States in June on our first furlough in almost nine years. We were supposed to come back in 2020, but Covid messed up our plans, and then the war started. We are going to be here for the school year, so at least until next summer (2024).
We’ll be visiting our supporting churches and welcome invitations to speak to other congregations as well. If you would like to hear more about what God is doing in Ukraine, email us at email@example.com.
As the war drags on and the news cycle moves on to other International and domestic matters, we understand that people sometimes forget what is happening on the other side the world. We humbly ask that you continue to help us make a difference in Ukraine for Kingdom purposes. We cannot do that we are doing without your prayer and financial gifts!
Thank you for your support, prayers, and encouragement. We are humbled by God’s gracious care of our family and ministry through you!
Please pray for the numerous Ukrainian Fellowships in the European Union that we help to support. This is a particularly difficult time for Ukrainians living abroad as refugees. Many important decisions are being made about the future as most are living on “pause” and that cannot go on indefinitely.
Please pray for the leadership of these Fellowships to have wisdom as they counsel and help families make life-altering decisions.
Please continue to pray for the Lord’s protection over the brave believers who make humanitarian aid trips into bombed-out villages and cities where people are trying to rebuild their lives.
They are always eagerly greeted, and the Gospel message is preached to hearts that once upon a time would have never listened. We have great faith that the seeds that are being planted in sorrow will bring forth a great harvest for God’s glory!
Thank you for being a part of feeding and providing for so many people whose livelihoods have been destroyed by this war.
Please pray that through the giving of compassionate aid, hearts will be more open to hearing the Gospel, and Kingdom relationships will be started. Ukraine is a very religious country. People believe in God, follow traditions, but very few have a personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ. The cultural and historical barriers to people “really hearing and understanding” the Gospel are steep. In times of peace, the average time for someone to actually come to repentance after hearing a Gospel message and much discipleship is 4-9 years. Our deep desire is for the savagery of this war contrasted by the compassionate witness of true believers to be used to bring about real revival. The danger of blaming God and hating Him for allowing this to happen is real. We see this in many.
Partners in Aid
Please pray for our partners who take aid into hard places, who evacuate civilians, treat and evacuate wounded soldiers, who preach the Gospel, and risk their lives to serve Ukraine. Pray for a righteous and just end to this war as soon as possible.