GORLUVKA, Ukraine (BNc) — A Bible training building doubling as a worship location was taken over by armed insurgents this morning (US time) during worship, Howell Ferguson, Stateside Coordinator of the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver, said on Facebook.

Howell quotes eyewitness Olga Paziura, who described what happened.

“During the morning worship service in Gorlovka (the church I attend), armed men (they called themselves the troops of the Russian Federation) came in and demanded we leave as they were seizing control of the building for their own purposes. After much negotiation, we were given two hours to remove the contents from the building that we wanted and the rest would be destroyed. And they also told us that this building now belongs to Russian Federation. While we were taking out stuff they watched us standing there with the guns. We were not able to take out the everything. The TV, washing machines, fridges were left there. We all together started to take everything out. It took about three hours to carry most of the stuff out. Then it took another three hours to load two trucks. So it was just very shocking and stressful. Some girls lost counsciousness and started crying. It is good that they didn’t take us hostage because it could be possible in fact. Anyway now it passed and I’m at home but I still cannot believe in what happened.”

Howell preaches with the North Jackson church of Christ in Jackson, Tenn., and works with the extension program of BVBID.

The building is used for the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Ukraine and for Christian worship and activities of the Central church of Christ in Gorluvka.


BVBIU and Central church of Christ facility

They were given only hours hours to remove personal property.

“I have had no contact with anyone this weekend as graduation was Saturday. Please keep our brethren including staff and students in your prayers,” he wrote.

In his April report published online May 5, Howell mentioned that he did not travel this year to Ukraine for the graduation ceremonies because of the unrest in the country.

Seven students were to have been graduated yesterday, Howell said.