Thousands are attending the twice daily evangelism meetings in Kiev, Ukraine to hear Mark Finley, evangelist and director of global evangelism for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Finley, speaker emeritus of “It Is Written” (IIW), an Adventist television outreach, is heading into the final week of IIW’s ACTS 2005 satellite evangelistic series, “Revelation Offers Hope.”
It Is Written has made history as the first ministry to uplink a major satellite evangelistic series live from the former Soviet Union, according to IIW.
Daily attendance at the meetings, which are held in the International Center of Culture and Arts, averages 2,000, while millions more watch from nearly 1,400 sites across 11 time zones. The broadcast is being viewed from Texas in the United States, to Siberia, to Nigeria, Spain and much of Europe. There are no limits to where the messages can be heard. The series has been picked up not only in private homes and churches, but also in prisons and public places.
As part of communist Soviet Union, it was predicted that by now religion would be officially extinguished in all regions of that empire, including the Ukraine. However, today in a predominantly Orthodox country, there are 61,000 Adventist members worshiping in 1,100 churches in the Ukraine.
Outside of the satellite meetings Finley taught an evening baptismal class at one of those churches on March 17. There was an electrical power failure that left the church in total darkness.
“Pastor Finley and his translator didn’t miss a beat and taught the entire class in darkness, going through an eight-point document from memory and quoting from memory the proof texts,” said Royce Williams, part of the IIW team in the Ukraine. The electrical power was restored just as they were driving away from the church to return to their hotel.
Earlier that same day the It Is Written team visited Bucha, a maximum security prison about 20 miles Northwest of Kiev where 1,500 inmates are serving sentences. Nearly 500 men packed an auditorium and heard Finley speak the message on the “Three Steps to Freedom.”
“We could only pray that some among those hard-core criminals responded in their heart to the earnest appeal,” said Williams. “A downlink brings the evangelistic meetings into the prison each night.”
Much has changed since communism fell in that country, said Williams. Two members of the Ukrainian Air Force drove four hours to see the live program. These men, one a colonel in the Ukrainian Air Force and the other an officer who is a ballistics specialist, have been attending one of the downlinks in Vinnitsa.
As they spoke with Finley, the ballistics expert said, “During the cold war, my job was to coordinate the aiming of our Russian missiles on your U.S. cities.” Finley and the man embraced and Finley remarked, “Once the world regarded us as enemies, but now we are brothers in Christ Jesus.”
The IIW team has also started a field school for 40 pastors. Finley’s wife, Ernestine, is also coordinating a team of ministerial students who are operating a Bible school from the auditorium where the meetings are being held. There are more than 500 people taking the lessons and aiming to complete the course by March 26.
The seminar will close on March 26 with a baptism. Finley’s meetings run concurrently with the NET 2005 satellite evangelism event, “The Prophecy Code,” held in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, featuring Pastor Doug Batchelor, speaker-director of the Amazing Facts ministry.