This week, please intercede with us for Denys Kondyuk from Ukraine.
Lying north of the Black Sea, Ukraine gained sovereignty in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union. Today, the country is home to nearly 44 million people, 82% of whom are Christians (65% Eastern Orthodox). In 2014, Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula, leading to ongoing warfare in Eastern Ukraine.
Denys is pursuing a PhD in Theology at Charles University in Prague. His dissertation – titled “Developing Cultural Analysis through a Methodology of Theological Aesthetics” – brings together theology, Ukrainian culture, and the cinematic arts. While working on his doctorate, Denys also teaches and serves as Academic Dean at Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary (UETS), a client school of the Vital SustainAbility Initiative. Denys and his wife Olga have a son, Yan, who will turn nine soon.
Denys shares the following message:
This past year was one of many changes for Ukraine: President Volodymyr Zelensky was elected to office, a telephone talk with US President Donald Trump was used to start an impeachment process, and many other (not always positive) international events affected Ukraine. Not to mention, a Ukrainian civil plane was shot down in Iran this past January, and conflict persists against Russia-supported separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine.
The global COVID-19 crisis has also influenced the Ukrainian situation. The crisis in our medical system has now brought to light all the years of ignoring development and reforms. Ukraine is also in danger of credit default, as we are in a hard political and economic situation, and some recent laws have halted international state credits.
Conflict with Russia and the Crimea question persist, but are disappearing from the news, as many new problems arrive. Ukraine faces many new challenges, and we do not expect the problems to go away soon.
My study process was more challenging last year, but God is faithful. Several of our faculty and staff at UETS were finishing their PhDs, so I needed to be more involved in my work there. I was also struggling with ideas – developing rough sketches and a bunch of ideas is the hardest part of thesis writing. I did extend my chapters on contemporary theological film analysis and a fitting methodology. At the moment, I am editing three chapters and slowly moving to my application chapter on Andrey Zviagintsev.
Last year, I also had the chance to participate in three international conferences, presenting my papers at two of them. I published two papers on film and theology in European journals. I also published two reviews in a Ukrainian theological journal.
Church and Ministry
We are currently part of the Vineyard Church in Ukraine. We are starting a new church here in Kyiv and hope to be open for public services by the end of the year. Currently, we have meetings and some worship together. For now, there are 7-8 people participating in these meetings. The quarantine is affecting our ability to communicate and gather, but Zoom helps to keep the fellowship going.
I am working as Academic Dean at Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary (UETS). This year, I taught Ecclesiology, Theology, and Apologetics. I am a general editor of the seminary’s journal and we plan to publish two volumes soon. Currently, we teach most of our courses on Zoom, but my classes concluded before the COVID-19 situation.
Our son Yan continues his studies in second grade. In December 2019, he started to have stomach pains and some other problems. We are still trying to figure out the cause. After taking some pills for a while, he seems to have gotten better. Distance learning, due to the quarantine, is a bit of a challenge for him, but he enjoys studying math and English on his phone.
My wife Olga continues to work at Innovista, a ministry that specializes in leadership and team development. She is still finishing her masters program on leadership here at UETS. Since February, she has also worked as a public relations department leader at UETS.
In October 2019, Olga’s father passed away from a heart attack. It was a hard period on many levels. We are still taking care of the property he used to live in. In April, I was charged a fine of 3,500 USD for not properly connecting the house registered in my name to the gas system. The house had been overseen by my late father-in-law, and he had hired someone to prepare all the needed papers and to register the house for gas usage. However, that person disappeared with the papers and money. We borrowed money to pay the fine and have returned most of it now. So, the year was a challenge financially too. The thought of another crisis, possibly caused by the state quarantine, does not really encourage.
Overall, the three of us seem to be quite busy trying to catch up with our studies, ministries, and work. We are trying to find balance in our family time together.
(1) Please pray for my thesis progress, as I plan to present a rough draft by the end of August, and hope to defend it by the end of this year. It did not happen last year, but I really hope that this can be my final year.
(2) Pray for the situation in Ukraine, for war to end, and for all the political processes to bring peace to our country, enable some financial stability, and preserve freedom of faith and ministry for our churches.
(3) Pray for wisdom in balancing all areas of my life and ministry, while prioritizing my family and pursuing my degree as expected.
(4) Keep our family in prayer concerning health issues, and as we figure out how to overcome all that last year has brought into our life. We are getting tired on many levels.
Thank you. May God bless you in your life and ministry.