After visiting the Ukraine in 1991 whilst it was still a part of the Soviet Union, I decided to go to David Hathaway’s East West Conference in Karlsrhue Germany in 1992. By now people from the Eastern European countries, previously the Communist Block, could visit the west.
On the plane I met Katey, who was to become David Hathaway’s PA and also his video cameraman, who lived in Bath. I was living in Trowbridge at the time and the cameraman later invited me to meet at his house every week to pray for the upcoming 1993 outreach to Kiev Ukraine.
The Ukraine was a country of 50 million approximately, with 3 million in the capital Kiev. Its history from World War II was violent, with about 100,000 killed by the Nazis, many of them Jews. It attained religious freedom in 1991 just after I last visited with a team of friends (see previous articles in The House).
Of about 8,000 attendees approximately 3,500 delegates came from the west and about 1000 from Eastern Europe, the rest were Ukrainians. It’s reckoned that thousands accepted Christ. It was quite a task from the outset as the Ukrainians were not used to arranging anything, since everything had been done for them by the Communist State so they were not used to freedom. The Sports Hall, Stadium, hotels and all necessary for a weeks’ conference had to be arranged in the west and the budget kept rising because of the 20-30% inflation in the Ukraine.
Many from the German and British Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International (FGMFI) came to teach their skills to the new businesses springing up. One difficulty we did not face in the west was the protection money demanded by the MAFIA. In addition Ukrainean businesses needed to know how to circumvent the black market. As the KGB (Communist Secret Police) was now redundant many joined the MAFIA and took money from the new businesses springing up. We found that even the young boys trying to sell us the Russian dolls at the hotel entrance also had to pay the MAFIA. When we got to the hotel we had to pay more to keep up with inflation. Also we all had to double up in bedrooms as the cost of our visit went up and up.
Churches were springing up and they needed to support their pastors. When an offering was taken the people put in coupons, which had previously been used in shops, and also bank notes by the fistful because of rampant inflation. This took ages to count as there was a mountain of notes in the middle of the table! One of their churches has now become the largest in Europe.
Just the day before the conference started the Minister of Sport (we were staying at a sports complex with hotels and a Sports Hall) sent a letter to David Hathaway saying that we did not have permission to use the Sports Hall. David knew that people in the west did not know how to engage in spiritual warfare on the front line of the battle – we soon learnt to battle every step of the way as we prayed in tongues whilst walking around the Sports Hall seven times, knowing that many delegates were now arriving. David knew that revival only happens by prayer and that Christians in the Ukraine knew how to battle but we in the west less so. We had been meeting to intercede all year and the Lord met us.
Unfortunately the Kiev church had not applied for permission and this then became impossible due to holidays. On negotiation with the government the Minister of Religious Affairs said we needed a letter from the British Government.
David had sent a fax to the Government and had the Lord’s assurance that, “the battle was the Lords” from 2 Chronicles 20. Miracles are not just healing but moving mountains he said. God answered and a fax was received from the British Government 2 hours before the conference started.
The worship was so passionate and the Sports Hall was packed. We saw miracles. A memorable one of a lady on crutches jumping up and down after prayer from Benson Idahosa, the Nigerian Pastor (now deceased). We went among the people gathered on the floor – we learned later it was an ice rink. Many tried to tell us their ailments but we didn’t have enough interpreters, nevertheless they were blessed, such was the hunger for God. The FGBFI held daily seminars on how to conduct a business. We realised how blessed we are in the west.
We went onto the streets with flyers for the rally in the Dynamo Kiev Stadium. Many cults as well as Christians had flooded in on the border being opened and the JWS tried to stop us. We went into the open air market where once again the stall holders had to pay protection money. Because of the inflation some people were so desperate to sell any household item and one had a kitten and another, what looked like an electric meter. As I raised my camera to take a picture I was immediately approached by a man and it turned out he thought I wanted to sell it so was demanding protection money as I was on his patch. A bit scary.
A lady I had become friends with wanted to go into the city centre to get some presents but we didn’t know the way so I asked 2 men for directions hoping they spoke English. They turned us around and we seemed to walk for ages. We were a bit suspicious especially when some bystanders asked if we were ok. They had heard the men talking and thought they might want to rob us. The 2 men got very angry when we said we were going back to the hotel. We felt very shaken and knew the Lord had saved us. After that we went out in a gang.
Sunday came and we all went on the underground to the Stadium waving our banners. On arrival the police met us. They had guns in their holsters and obviously were not letting us into the stadium, although it was reserved and paid for months in advance, but we did not have a stamped official letter. The stage had already been erected and the sound system was in. We were singing praises and waving banners and I remember a one legged man walking on his hands – that lightened the mood a bit.
David had been told however that they would arrest all the Ukrainian pastors. He borrowed a megaphone from the police, prayed for the police and told us all to turn around and walk through the city back to the Sports Hall. Just then the Deputy Minister for Religious Affairs arrived and told David he didn’t know why he had turned up but it transpired that our permission for the Sports Hall did not apply to the Stadium. He was so agitated that we might march through the city that he let us in. Apparently he was also concerned because of the evangelism that had caused the churches to grow so quickly. I think we were supposed to have a permit to pray for the sick but he let us in anyway. Shouts of praise went up as we flooded in and those already on the road turned back to join us. It’s all on video.
Berthold Bekker, a businessman, was heading up Intercessors for Germany and got onto the stage asking the German delegates to join him. He felt the Germans had blood on their hands from World War 2. The Ukrainian football team had been forced to play against the Germans, but the captain was told that if they won they would be hanged from the goal posts. The Ukrainian National team was weakened by starvation but they won the match. They were taken to prison and died there. Bekker led a prayer asking forgiveness.
The gospel was preached and miracles happened when David Hathaway prayed for the sick. I remember one man came up onto the stage on crutches and then ran down the steps onto the athletics track and jumped over a couple of hurdles. Such a cheer went up.
There was great opportunity to get the Crusade televised. The man who now pastors the largest church in Europe was a newscaster then, and managed to interview David. It was like the Iron Curtain had been smashed as the BBC aired some footage on Breakfast TV. The Ukrainian TV, which reached the whole nation, gave David a 50 minute slot where he explained it wasn’t a revolution like their previous history but God was awakening the Ukraine to the message of Jesus. He explained that this was the answer to the crime, drugs and MAFIA, not increasing the Police Force.
This is all on videotape, including me being interviewed as one of the intercessors by my friend the video cameraman. He sprang it on me and I didn’t have a chance to say no. Just a few years back someone said they’d seen it again on Christian TV. I have a copy if anyone is interested but you’ll have to have a video player. David Hathaway is still going out there in his 80’s and is often on Revelation TV. Please pray for the Ukraine as they are going through a terrible time at the moment.
Latest News April 2016