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EXCLUSIVE: Besieged Church in Kherson Rises from 100 to 500+ Attendees as God Moves in War Zone

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EXCLUSIVE: Besieged ******* in Kherson Rises from 100 to 500+ Attendees as **** Moves in War Zone

KHERSON, Ukraine – In more than two years of fighting, the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson has been captured and liberated. Now, Kherson is a city under siege as the Russians are trying to seize it once again, and its people are under constant bombardment. In the midst of it all, Ukrainian Christians are risking their lives to serve those trapped by war. 

Pastor Andrii Skantsev of the ******* of ****** ******* in Kherson told us, “They are shelling 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

Many buildings here are destroyed.

“Sadly, I’ve gotten accustomed to the explosions and destruction,” Kherson resident Myra Butorova said.

CBN News traveled to this frontline in the south and found a virtual ghost town. Streets are practically empty. Homes have been left vacant. Most everything is boarded up. That’s because 85 percent of Kherson residents fled more than two years ago.

For Andrii Breniov, a dentist who decided to stay back, it’s been a constant struggle.

“I have constant tension – when you go to work, when you go home from work, when you are at home. It’s never-ending and made worse when the explosions are nearby,” he said. 

Yet, it’s this extremely dangerous and volatile environment where Pastor Oleh Derkanchenko feels called to minister. He pastors Antonivka Kherson *******.

“My ******* to the Dniper River is about 700 meters. The width of the river is about 700 meters. So the Russians are about one-point-five kilometers from us and from there they are ******** us very often.”

The Dnieper River divides Kherson with the left bank controlled by Russian forces and the right by Ukrainians. Derkanchenko’s ******* sits on the Ukrainian side. “There are times when Russian shells fall 25 meters left of the ******* and sometimes 30 meters right of the ******* but nothing touches us. **** protects us,” he said.

Before Russia’s 2022 invasion, Pastor Derkanchenko says about 100 people would regularly attend his Sunday services. Today, in the middle of a raging war and less than a mile from Russian forces, his ******* is overflowing.

“Since Christmas of 2022 around 500 people sometimes as many as 700 people attend the *******. We have a full yard of people on Sundays,” Derkanchenko said.

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Kherson has seen it all. Invasion. Occupation. And liberation. 

And now, despite the danger of Russian forces possibly crossing the Dnieper River to retake Kherson, the ******* doors remain open.

Two years after the war started here in Ukraine, the ******* is thriving. CBN News visited one site that used to be the home of an evangelical *******. It was destroyed after a ***** fell on the roof – signs of bullet holes and shrapnel holes are everywhere. The ******* is no longer meeting here – instead, they meet every Sunday in a tent. 

“People understand that the ******* today is a center of hope and inner peace,” Derkanchenko said.

On a recent Sunday, several people professed ****** in ****** ******* and were baptized in a tub.

“And just imagine we even have people who come to the war zone just to visit our ******* from other districts. People often tell me that they feel calmer here in the ******* than at home and it’s only ****’s kindness,” Derkanchenko said.

Serving here is obviously not without risk.

Pastor Andrii Skantsev said, “The Russians know exactly where our ******* is. During the occupation of Kherson, literally 50 meters from here there was a vehicle with Russian agents inside that were monitoring what we were doing in the *******.”
Now Skantsev spends his days with a small band of brothers delivering aid. 

“When the Russians were retreating, they began to shell the entire city and one of the shells landed right here next to the *******, you can see the damaged walls,” Skantsev said.

Pastor Skantsev says his ******* has also seen explosive growth.  “Before the war about 150 people attended the ******* but after the start of the war two or three times more people started attending the *******. Some got baptized, converted to Christianity. We had twice or thrice the amount of people who got baptized during the war.”

Most here know the Russians will have a tough time getting across the Dnieper River. That’s because as they retreated in 2022, they blew up the Antonivsky Bridge, which Pastor Derkanchenko can see from his ******* office.

“We are also praying that **** can help our forces liberate the Russian-occupied territories on the left bank because we have relatives and friends who live there,” Derkanchenko said. 

For now, though, the daily bombardment continues and the ******* stands in the gap for its people and nation.
“Those people who decided to stay in this conflict zone are asking for help, and being here is extremely important,” Skantsev said. “And to remain here is probably what it means to be a **********, to show ****** *******.” 


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