Fire hits ABWE in Ukraine, please pray

By May 3, 2005

Ukraine (MNN/ABWE) — Fire has hit the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism in Ukriane.

At about 6:00 am Ukraine time on Saturday, April 30, a fire was reported at the Church Ministries Institute building in Odessa, Ukraine, causing severe damage to the 10-year-old structure. CMI President, John Taylor, writes, “Within ten minutes I had arrived at the institute and called the fire department. I tried to enter the building, but the smoke was already too thick. The fire trucks arrived, and three fire fighters entered the building with gas masks and a water hose. They eventually left the building just minutes before a back flash explosion (caused by oxygen fueling the hot smoky air) tore through the entire building. Following the explosion, fire erupted in one corner of the building. Within an hour, the fire fighters had managed to put out the flames, but they had already caused extensive damage.”

The ABWE team of missionaries is grateful that no one was injured. This was Easter weekend in Ukraine, and there were no students sleeping in the building.

Three of the first floor offices were severely damaged. The floor to the first two of those offices collapsed into the basement. Also destroyed was the basement wing which contained the Odessa Christian Academy (the MK school), including the classroom, English library, and storage room.

The computer network server was spared (one year old) although most of the rest of the computer equipment was destroyed (there was a backup of everything on all of the CMI computers). Also spared (although very smoky) was the CMI library, which contains one of the most complete Russian theological collections in Eurasia, and the medical supply room.

Spokesperson for ABWE Donna Messenger says this is a bit of a setback because this was facility was strategic. “It’s really been the basis of operation for the whole theological training program in all of Ukraine and the program itself extends to Russia and now Moldova. They have set up a temporary place for the classes that have yet to happen yet in May, but it’s going to mean a whole change in the way they make their decisions now about how to run the program.

The cause of the fire is still undetermined, although it is clear that it began in the OCA storage room in the basement, which contains teaching supplies and materials to aid children’s ministry in the local churches.

Please pray for national partners who are legally responsible for the CMI building, and who must now give account before the authorities. There are some problems related to the legal documentation of the building. Pray that God would bring about a swift resolution, and that God would give our brothers wisdom in how to handle the inspectors’ questions. Pray also for the CMI staff, many of whom have lost personal belongings.

Pray for wisdom for the ABWE team as they consider what to do next. Pray also for the financial needs arising from this loss of facilities, equipment and supplies. The CMI board is meeting in Slovakia today (May 3rd) to discuss a new fundraising initiative to support the growing impact of the CMI throughout Eurasia.

If you’d like to help ABWE rebuild, you can send your gift to:
PO Box 8585
Harrisburg, PA 17105 USA

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