God continues to move throughout Eurasia, most recently in Ukraine through a chance friendship that started on Instagram and led to lasting relationships and deeper faith.
Six years ago, FCA Kiev Area Representative Ira Chorna met Yulia Stoiko, a boxer who accepted Christ at a camp where Chorna was a leader. The two began a mentoring relationship over the next few years and became friends.
When quarantine hit Ukraine, Chorna prayerfully considered starting an online Huddle. Yulia was one of the athletes participating and had a friend she thought might enjoy the discussion time too. So, she invited Anna Petryk, a professional soccer player with Zhytlobud-1 in Kharkiv who she met on Instagram and had accepted Christ a few year ago but didn’t have many opportunities to grow her faith.
“Right away, I noticed Anya liked to dig deep. She had great questions about the Bible and the Gospel,” Chorna noticed. The online Huddle went until late June, when they paused for the summer as restrictions began to lift and people could begin to meet.
Chorna and Petryk continued conversation, Anna’s thirst for God unquenchable. “It filled my empty spot I was missing,” said Petryk, “I just needed it.” But her Kharkiv didn’t have FCA, and even though she had her church, Petryk missed the shared understanding of other athletes and wanted support for how to live in the athletic world as a follower of Christ.
“We met a few times [online] and I prayed about it and saw God was doing something,” said Chorna.
The two keep their weekly meetings, going through the Bible and discussing FCA’s The Core, a way to explain the Gospel in four simple truths. They also send each other Bible verses throughout the week and walk through YouVersion Bible reading plans together.
Petryk recently visited Kiev and attended church with Ira and her family. She met many of FCA Kiev staff and after hearing more of their vision, became hungry for FCA to come to Kharkiv.
“I see a need in my city, and on my team,” said Petryk. “I believe God can do anything, and my dream is that every member of my team knows about Jesus.”
In an area where many know about God but very few know Him personally, Chorna and Petryk’s friendship is a beacon of light. “I hate when people say they can’t grow in their faith,” said Chorna, “I believe if you want to, you can. What I like about Anna is that she WANTS to; she thinks a lot, she prays--I enjoy that.”
Petryk’s faith continues to grow through the nurture and equipping from Chorna. Down the road, Petryk would love to get involved with FCA in some capacity, maybe start or lead a Huddle. But for now, she is praying for an FCA team to come to Kharkiv and makes it her ambition to serve her team with love and respect, showing Christ’s attributes in a sphere where spiritual matters are difficult to understand.
For a season that made in person meeting quite a challenge, Petryk is quite thankful. "Only God could do this [with online Huddles]. I’m very grateful for the quarantine time because the Huddle started. I’m thankful to Yulia for inviting me and I’m very happy I said yes.”
Will you pray for FCA ministry to start in Kharkiv? Will you pray for more people to want to serve coaches and athletes in Ukraine, for God to put it on their hearts?
To learn more about FCA Ukraine ministry and how you can get involved, click here.