“The Lord took care in advance”

  • In NEWS
  • September 15, 2022
“The Lord took care in advance”

Insights into the Ukrainian Diaspora Church in Portugal after six months of war


Please tell us about yourself and how long you have been living in Portugal.


We, Pavlo and Tetiana Synytskyi, are Ukrainian missionaries in Portugal. We have three beautiful children and have been living and serving in Lisbon for almost three years. We were born in Christian families, where we were taught the Word of God from childhood. God gradually prepared us for this ministry by sending various people into our lives who influenced our choice. Attending a large church (over 700 members) in Ukraine for more than 20 years, we could not have thought that everything would be different in our life, but God had His plan. The decisive phrase of the choice made were the words of a simple missionary from a remote village: “If in my lifetime even one person repents, then I have not lived my life in vain.” We realized that the Lord is calling us to reach people for the Kingdom of God. This is how we began our missionary journey in 2015.



What is the history of your church and the Ukrainian diaspora in Portugal?


Active migration of Ukrainians to Portugal began in the early 2000s and this movement was further stimulated by the European Football Championship (EURO-2004), where roads, hotels and stadiums had to be built. Small earnings but a simple system of legalization attracted Ukrainians who were forced to go to the edge of the world to the warm country of Portugal in search for a better life and an income. Before the start of the war in Ukraine, Portugal already had welcomed more than 40.000 Ukrainian emigrants who had successfully integrated into local life. The people who came to Portugal were both those who believed in God and those who needed salvation. Since the beginning of the migration, there was a great need to start churches where God’s Word will be preached in an understandable language.


The history of our Pentecostal church, against the background of this migration history, is quite recent. In 2019, six believers agreed to start praying for a Pentecostal Church to be planted in Portugal. We addressed to Senior Pastor Yaroslav Demko, who leads the Ukrainian Pentecostal Churches in Spain, for help. And on 7 February 2020, we came as a family to serve in a country unknown to us, which was the beginning of the history of the Pentecostal Church “Salvation of God” in Lisbon. Despite the fact that there were already more than 15 different evangelical Ukrainian-Belarusian-Russian-speaking churches in Portugal, the number of people who attended church services was (and still is!) relatively small (no more than 600 parishioners in total) against the background of an official number of 40.000 migrants (only Ukrainians) before the war.


Has your church increased in numbers in the last few months after the start of the war in Ukraine?


After 26 February 2022, more than 8 million Ukrainians were forced to seek refuge in various European countries to save their lives. The Portuguese state reports that about 50.000 Ukrainians have received asylum in Portugal.Christians, choosing a place where they could escape from the horrors of the war in Ukraine, mainly chose countries where there was a strong church that can serve them. Since the beginning of the war, our small church has increased almost two times with about 50 people joining (Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Moldovans) and a youth service that has been started.


How did your church welcome and interact with Ukrainian refugees after the start of the war in Ukraine?


Many Ukrainian believers found a church through the internet. There is a webpage by the Ukrainian Pentecostal Church containing information about the addresses and contact details of associated Evangelical churches in various cities across Europe. Also, our church runs an active page in various social media networks (Facebook, Instagram).


When Ukrainian refugees started coming to Portugal, our church took an active part in responding to the urgent needs of people (clothing, food, toys, finances). During public rallies against the war, we had the opportunity to tell people about God, prayed for peace in Ukraine (on the square in Lisbon) and invited people to church to study God’s word.


What thoughts come to you when you look back on the last six months?


Before 2022, we had often asked ourselves the question: “Lord, why did you bring us to Portugal?”. No one could have imagined that war would come to Ukraine. Only now, we understand that He took care in advance. The churches that were founded from the beginning of the emigration until today became a powerful tool for the work of God among people who were forced to leave their country.


We often have to think of the Bible passage from Matthew 9:36-38: “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were distressed and scattered, as sheep not having a shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, the harvest indeed is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he sends forth laborers into his harvest.”


The interview was conducted by Yuriy Kulakevych, Head of the Foreign Affairs Department of the Ukrainian Pentecostal Church, on behalf of the European Evangelical Alliance.

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