as told by Harry Gaston
My first trip to Ukraine was in 1993 with the International Crusades out of Dallas Texas. I was assigned to the Village of Malinovka. Rev. Lynn Mackey and I were the first Americans ever in that village. That was the beginning of my ministry there. We started with renovating the church in Malinovka in1994. It was dedicated it in 1996. We then began looking for Villages with no church building. We would find a suitable building that was available, obtain sponsorship from American Brothers and Sisters and renovate the building for the local church. American Brothers and Sisters continue to provide financial support for pastors and the five churches in Glybuka, Malinovka, Klishkivtsi, Tovarnytsia and Putila.
In 2000 Bro. Randy VonKanel, who was at that time the President of Global Outreach, and myself were at the Homes of Grace, a Christian rehab center in Vancleave, Mississippi. As we were leaving, we began to talk about the Ukraine Ministry which we had set up through Global Outreach. Bro. Randy asked me if I thought we could do something like this in Ukraine. I remembered a large Government building that might be available. It was a 12,000 sq. ft. Cooperative Farm administration building overlooking several thousand hectors of farm land. It had been 90% vacant (except for a Post Office) since the collapse of the Soviet Union just a few years earlier.
On my next trip to Ukraine I visited the building with the President of the Cooperative Farm Program (CFP) in that region. He and I had become friends through the years. That was the year oil prices doubled in Ukraine and the C.F.P. was not going the have the money for fuel to bring in the crops. The President and I went to the authorities in Chervovsky and we were able to purchase the building for the cost of the fuel to harvest the crops! We explained that we wanted to use the building to establish the first alcohol rehabilitation center in Ukraine. The price was $8,700.00.
Phase one of the building renovations were completed in and the first clients were admitted to the program soon after. Mircea Lucian oversees the ministry in Ukraine. Local pastors and other church leadership serve as counselors in the program.
The Place of Hope is a Non-Profit Ukrainian Cooperation (Registered May 22,.2001) and is funded primarily by Kwik Kar Wash of Gautier Mississippi . Financial support for the Place of Hope and the churches is also received from individual members of First Baptist Church of Gautier and other friends of the ministry.