From humble beginnings growing up in Rivne, Ukraine, Viktor Prokhor now is superintendent of the Assemblies of God National Slavic District (NSD), one of the 66 districts/networks in the U.S. Fellowship.
AG American missionaries began arriving in the 1920s in Odessa and the western part of Ukraine to preach the gospel.
“Throughout the entire Soviet history, the Assemblies of God helped our people,” says Prokhor, 62.
His father, Simon, had been pastoring for 15 years when police came to the Prokhor home at 4 one morning and arrested him. Victor, the eighth child of his parents and only 9 months old at the time, had to scramble to survive as authorities confiscated the property and humiliated the family. Simon spent two years in prison because of religious persecution.
In 1999 — soon after immigrating to the United States with his wife and six children — Victor Prokhor pioneered a church in Tacoma, Washington, with only seven families. Today, he pastors Life Christian Church with 1,100 regular attendees.
In 2008, Prokhor became superintendent of the AG National Slavic District. Viktor Limonchenko is assistant superintendent. At the time, NSD had only eight churches. Today, 74 congregations are a part of the district.
“Every church is a huge miracle and an answered prayer from the Lord,” says Prokhor, whose father had been arrested by police and endured persecution in the Soviet Union. “We are immigrants and come from low-income families.”
Financial limitations notwithstanding, Life Christian Center built a new $3.7 million church with a 900-seat sanctuary in 2016.
“I can’t imagine ministry without the Holy Spirit,” Prokhor says.
That message rings true among NSD youth. Around 350 gathered in June in Seattle to evangelize the lost, worship Jesus, and pray for revival in America at the March for Jesus hosted by United Revival.
Andrey Arkhipchuk leads 180 young people as Life Christian Church’s youth leader.
“God has taught me over the years to be faithful to Him and He will guide my steps,” says Andrey, 27.
Prokhor knows the importance of evangelizing and discipling youth.
“When I ask young people when they received Jesus into their heart, the majority of the time it’s from teens camp,” Prokhor says. “To know Jesus and to not lose Jesus is what’s most valuable.”
NSD has more than 15 youth conferences organized for this year. The district also conducts annual conferences for pastors, church leaders, and ministers under age 40.
AIDING UKRAINIAN REFUGEES
Millions of people in Ukraine have experienced unthinkable injustice and devastation this year because of the war with Russia.
“What’s happening in our home countries has a very huge impact on the Slavic Community here in the U.S. because we are experiencing the same pain people are going through,” Prokhor says. “The pain the Ukrainian people are going through is inconceivable.”
More than $200,000 has been sent to Ukrainian refugees through Life Christian Church. Teams from NSD first arrived in Poland and Romania, providing medical assistance and counseling. Partnering with Ukrainian churches, they provided dozens of containers filled with food, medicine, and clothing.
The American Slavics are supporting pastors financially to help rebuild shattered windows, roofs, and buildings, destroyed by the bombings. They are working with AG world missionaries Gerald and Jane Dollar as well as surrounding Ukrainian churches.
“Members of our churches transported people from the Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kherson, Donetsk, and Zaporizhzhia regions driving them to Western Ukraine to save them from the bombs,” Prokhor says.
Ukrainian churches are packed with people running to God because they don’t know if a rocket will fly over their homes and if they will wake up alive tomorrow, Prokhor says.
Many who are desperate to find hope have fled Ukraine. Life Christian Church’s teams helped refugees in Tijuana and Mexico City, with documents and obtaining sponsors. They received food and shelter, as well as counseling. Dozens of people gave their life to Jesus because of the love and compassion they experienced, acccording to Prokhor.
Multiple AG Slavic churches have sponsored Ukrainian refugees, including Bread of Life Church in Kent, Washington (Roman Melnik, pastor) and Life of Victory Church in Tenton, Washington (Roman Gorbachevskiy, pastor).
Alla Prokhor, Viktor’s daughter, helped organize English as second language classes for more than 200 Ukrainian refugees at Life Christian Church. The church is also providing food and all other essential needs.
Although many refugees who have fled to the U.S. are far away from the sounds of rockets, they still have to deal with trauma. Prokhor says NSD congregations are providing spiritual, emotional, and psychological support to help people heal.
“We want to help mobilize people here in the U.S. and those suffering in Ukraine,” Prokhor says. “It’s a very hard time in our homeland.”