Visit with My
Friends, the Ukrainian Sabbatarians
Monday, April 3, 2000
Franz Klassen along with his wife Anya are visiting their family and Church in the United States. Franz is pastor of the Ta1jikistan refugees who have resettled to near Kherson, Ukraine. Invitation letters and sponsorship for this visit were extended by the Portland Christians of the Sabbath Day and LifeNets. While I have known of Franz Klassen while he was still in war-torn Tajikistan, we managed only to meet for the first time on our Mission Ukraine '99 in February 1999. I took some photos at that time which can be found at http://lifenets.org/ukraine99/photo6.htm.
Some of the brethren in Portland are resettling to Southern Missouri near West Plains and Mountain View near the Mark Twain National Forest near the Arkansas border. More than 24 dwellings are established on the 200 acres where they are building a community. Already they have constructed a church building. They drill one well for every three dwellings. They have been warmly welcomed by the Missouri community.
Since this was an opportunity to spend time with Franz Klassen and meet his wife for the first time, I flew to Springfield, Missouri where they picked me up and drove us to the Ukrainian settlement about 90 miles east. Earlier, Franz Klassen and his brother-in-law Nikolai Hantiuk along with his wife Angelica, pastor of one of the Portland Sabbatarian congregations drove a mini-bus from Portland to Missouri. Franz and his wife have eight children and one grandchild.
Economic conditions in Ukraine are very difficult, especially for the refugees who fled for their lives from Tajikistan, but have come upon unemployment and poverty in Ukraine. Franks mentioned that at working on the Sabbath was a problem. Now, the problem is that there is no work on any day! A good wage for those who do work is $2.00 a day. On one job they were cheated and ended up doing a job for 50 cents a day paid for labor.
Back in Tajikistan the factional Islamic civil war continues as sects fight over one should pray to Allah three or five times a day. Franz mentioned that that problem could easily be resolved by compromising at praying four times a day and save the killing.
When we arrived at Sasha and Natasha Sederovich's mobile home a Tajik-style dinner was served of Chubriki and Manti. Some of this food is eaten back in Tajikistan with the fingers only. I understand it's quite an art to eat without utensils and not get any food on you.
We were also pleased that Myron Johnson and Jay Collins, Living Church of God members living nearby stopped by to visit.
We presented Franz Klassen a cash gift of $4,000 from the many brethren who have been concerned about the plight of Sabbatarians in impoverished lands. With this gift food is going to be stockpiled for the winter of 2000-2001. With the cash they can buy staples for about one-fifth of what it costs here. Franz Klassen is going to manage the distribution.
If you wish to continue to help our brethren in Ukraine with food, medicine and other life-sustaining aid, you can donate to LifeNets asking that your donation be restricted "For Ukraine." Contributions are tax-deductible and can be sent to:
It was a wonderful reunion. We talked about our common faith and how God has blessed all of us and how He never forgets His faithful.
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