Odessa Church Members on Mission Trip in Ukraine Amid Violence

Odessa Church Members on Mission Trip in Ukraine Amid Violence

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - The concerns over the deadly clashes in the Ukraine are being felt right here in the Basin. Members of First Baptist Church of Odessa are on a mission there, not very far from all the violence.

26 were killed and hundreds more were injured this week.

NewsWest 9 is told the mission group is ok and despite what's going on, they have no plans to leave.

Eight members of the church are currently in Kiev.

"They're about two miles from ground zero where all the activity is taking place so they've heard it," Pastor, Byron McWilliams, said.

Citizens had been peacefully protesting the Ukrainian government since November. The two sides are locked in battle over the future of the country because loyalties are divided between Russia and Europe. But those protests turned deadly this week as radicals clashed with police.

McWilliams said his church members have been there since Friday.

"They're there to do an English as a Second Language class and the whole purpose ultimately though is to share the gospel and evangelize that area as well," he said.

"They had about 800 students registered and the government sent the students home the first night of the class so that kind of put a halt to things," McWilliams said.

But things are looking up. Ukraine's president and protest leaders decided to come to a truce and talk, although there's no word just yet on details behind the agreement.

"We were wondering, were the students gonna come back and today about half of the students came back and so the classes have been able to keep going on," McWilliams said.

McWilliams says so far their mission has been very effective.

"The residents over there have looked at them and said 'you didn't leave, you stayed and so you obviously care' and so it's opened up great opportunities for them to be able to continue to share," he said.

We're told the group has everything they need inside the church they're staying and teaching at so there's no reason to leave the building.

"They say that everything's great, they're happy," McWilliams said. "They're doing all the work they can do and looking forward to continuing to be able to meet the students needs when they come in."

The group is expected to be in the Ukraine until the end of the month.