Chernobyl, Ukraine made headlines worldwide when nuclear reactors melted down there 26 years ago. Now there’s good news spreading across that region through the Story of Jesus.
The Chernobyl explosion was the worst nuclear power plant accident in history. That incident and the recent disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan are the only two Level 7 events ever recorded on the International Nuclear Event Scale. The explosion and fire at Chernobyl released a huge plume of radioactive contamination that spread over much of Europe and the western part of the Soviet Union. A UN report estimates that 4,000 people will eventually die of cancer-related illnesses resulting from the accident. A quarter-million people were forced to abandon their homes. An area extending 19 miles in all directions is now an “Exclusion Zone” where people are forbidden to live.
Now there’s another, better story for this area in northern Ukraine: David C Cook’s The Story of Jesus is spreading across the area. A church worker named Andrei told us about a 10-year-old girl who became an orphan when both of her drug-addicted parents died. She is HIV-positive, but her blue eyes brightened when she received a copy of the Story of Jesus.
Two languages are commonly spoken in Ukraine. One half million copies of the Story of Jesus have been distributed during the past six months in the Russian language. Another 200,000 copies in Ukrainian, currently in production, will be given out before the end of this year. Similar outreaches are underway in neighboring Moldova, Belarus and Russia. In all, more than 17 million copies in 47 countries have been distributed over the past 12 months. The number is even higher counting from the program’s beginning in early 2011. At Cook, we thought it would be well-received, but it is exceeding our expectations. The pace is three times the forecast of one year ago.
What makes this outreach so powerful is the combination of a compelling full-color booklet with the personal touch of local Christians who deliver it. The Story of Jesus is always provided by someone from a local church who is available for conversations later. And it is working.
Alyona is 13 years old and in the 6th grade. She lives in the village of Korolevka not far from Kiev, the capital. She told one of the local believers,
I have been to Christian meetings three times already. I like singing Christian songs. My friend Bogdana and I were given booklets called The Story of Jesus Christ. It is very interesting, easy to read, and colorful. I was able to learn a lot through it and now I want to learn more about God.
Alyona’s friend Bogdana said,
The booklet The Story of Jesus Christ helped me understand why Jesus came to earth and now I understand the resurrection of Jesus better. I hope to read the Bible in the future.
Roman is an enthusiastic believer who, along with friends, spends time visiting orphans and other children who have never heard about Jesus. He considers the Story of Jesus an essential part of their ministry,
These booklets are invaluable as they serve as a reminder in between our visits of the truths we share with the children about Jesus. The pictures and bright colors make the children actually want to read them!
How is all this possible? Christians in Ukraine and other international ministries pay about one-third of the cost. Cook and donors like you pay all the rest. Put another way, it cost less than a dime to get a copy of the Story of Jesus into the hands of Alyona, Bogdana or each of the boys pictured at the top. Did spending a dime ever accomplish more? This deserves strong support. Without your support, we cannot fill all the requests we are getting from other countries. Give all you can so the Gospel can spread through the Story of Jesus.