The Impact of Mentoring

When a student changes, the young people he serves change as well.

Every time I invite people to study at our seminary, I tell them that we offer not only theoretical knowledge and practical tools for ministry, but we also offer mentoring for at least four years.

For me, as a mentor and teacher, it is important to see the fruit of our team’s service in the destinies of the young people our students serve. If our students experience changes in character during their studies, gain new knowledge, and acquire practical tools for ministry, it will definitely be reflected in their ministry. To put it simply: when a student changes the young people he serves change as well.

In this article, I tell the story of Ilya Sovenko, a fourth-year student of the Youth Program at Kyiv Theological Seminary, along with a first-year student, Viktor Kurasov. Interestingly, both students are from the same church. Ilya is engaged in ministry to college-age students and Victor in teen ministry. I interviewed both students.

(Vasyl) Ilya, please tell us about your church and how the youth ministry began.

(Ilya) Our church “Good News” was founded in 1996 in Sumy. For a long time, the church numbered about 50 people. In 2015 we were joined by a pastor whose heart burns for youth ministry. He began organizing teen clubs and camps. In the winter of 2017, we held our first youth event, which was attended by 40 young people. That same year I began my studies at Kyiv Seminary in the Youth Ministry program, facilitated by Youth Ministry International. Immediately after the first class  I approached the pastor and said that I wanted to be a youth leader. Thank God the pastor supported me in this.

(Vasyl) So, your pastor was a good example in youth ministry. That’s great. Tell me, what prompted you to go to seminary, and how did studying at seminary affect the youth ministry in your church?

(Ilya) Studying at seminary helps me understand and practice biblical principles in ministry. Also, our teachers give practical tasks, such as developing a strategy for reaching young people who don’t attend church. For me, relationships with teachers are especially valuable, some of them have even become my friends. They helped me learn from their experience in ministry and apply their teaching in practice. Interestingly, between 2014 and 2021, the number of people in our church doubled. The vast majority of new visitors are young people. Today 70 people come to our youth meetings!

(Vasyl) – Thank you, Ilya, for sharing your inspiring story about your ministry.

At the beginning of the school year (September 2021), I (Vasyl) looked at the documents of applicants who decided to enter the Youth Ministry program. My gaze settled on Viktor Kurasov’s documents. As it turned out, Viktor attends the same church that Ilya attends. I wanted to talk to Viktor before the official interview, and I wanted to ask him a few questions.

(Vasyl) Viktor, tell me your story, how did you come to church?

(Viktor) Oh, that’s a great story. A few years ago, I was going through a very difficult time. I lost meaning in life and woke up thinking, “Why did I even wake up?”. It seemed to me that I was left alone with my problems, I was in despair. At that time, I was studying with a guy who was a believer. We were not friends, but he walked with me through my problems and supported me when I thought I was alone. I saw this love that believers talk about and felt the power of prayer. After that, I told myself that I wanted to go where he constantly invited me to, so I went to a small group sponsored by the youth ministry of the church.

 (Vasyl) Thank God that He sent the guy on your path who brought you to church. I understand that you met Ilya in church, correct?

(Viktor) Yes, I came to a small group that Ilya was leading. It was my first time meeting believers who were sincere and very kind. Ilya paid attention to me and helped me in everything. I had a lot of questions. He said that if I needed to, I could message him even in the middle of the night and ask different questions. Sometimes I did. So, at night, we studied the Bible together. I think that studying in seminary influenced Ilya’s ministry and dedication to me as one of the youths.

 (Vasyl) Thank you for such great feedback about our student youth worker! Viktor, why did you apply to seminary for the youth ministry degree program?

(Viktor) In addition to deciding to live for God, I also decided to serve people in ministry. The greatest value for me is people because Jesus gave His life for them. I want to use my life to build His Kingdom. I am sure that studying in seminary is a good opportunity for me to grow in the knowledge of God, and it is a good opportunity for me to develop and grow in ministry to youth.

The stories of Ilya and Viktor are the implementation of this biblical principle in practice: “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).

A young person who has experienced a spiritual birth and dedicates his life to serving God – what could be better?

I thank God for the staff of Kyiv Theological Seminary, for the teachers of the Youth Ministry program, and I also thank Youth Ministry International, one the partners of the seminary. Through our joint efforts, new ministers and preachers of the gospel are emerging.

Vasyl Ostryi
YMI Ukraine Training Director

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