WHY UKRAINE?  As with all former Soviet ruled territories, Christianity was outlawed and punishable by imprisonment or death.

Due to a high concentration of German settlements in Southern Ukraine, the Lutheran church has a long history in this once thriving country. As with all former Soviet ruled territories, Christianity was outlawed and punishable by imprisonment or death. In addition to these atrocities, Ukraine suffered terribly under the artificial famine (Holodomor) inflicted by Stalin, killing millions of Ukrainians by starvation. This tragic history has left Ukraine a target of ongoing subjugation from outside forces and Ukraine continues to struggle to gain its true independence and cultural identity. Unfortunately, this has had far reaching effect and has resulted in lack of resources by which the Lutheran church can rebuild and provide much needed outreach.

Since 2009, SON has hosted English Bible Camps (often in public schools) with as many as 120 students attending. Additionally, Ukraine has become a center where SON hosts conferences for pastors and church leaders who gather to learn many of the things that were lost under communism; namely outreach, mission and discipleship.

Following the initial global shutdown by Covid, in 2021, a small SON mission team co-hosted English Bible Camps in Bila Tserkva and Novogardovka, with our missionaries and mission partners in Ukraine. Of course, the February 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine has made traveling to and hosting camps in Ukraine virtually impossible for a team of Americans. Please pray fervently for an end to this war and please continue to support the SON Ukraine Relief Fund.

View Opportunities

Country Snapshot

Area: (almost four times the size of Georgia; slightly smaller than Texas), total: 603,550 sq km (233,032 sq miles), land: 579,330 sq km (233,681 sq miles), water: 24,220 sq km (9,351 sq miles)

Population: 43,745,640 (July 2021 est.)

Population growth rate: -0.49% (2021 est.)

Capital City: Kiev

Independence Day: 24 August 1991 (from the Soviet Union); note – 22 January 1918, the day Ukraine first declared its independence from Soviet Russia, and the date the short-lived Western and Greater (Eastern) Ukrainian republics united (1919), is now celebrated as Unity Day

Ethnic Groups: Ukrainian 77.8%, Russian 17.3%, Belarusian 0.6%, Moldovan 0.5%, Crimean Tatar 0.5%, Bulgarian 0.4%, Hungarian 0.3%, Romanian 0.3%, Polish 0.3%, Jewish 0.2%, other 1.8% (2001 est.)

Languages Spoken: Ukrainian (official) 67.5%, Russian (regional language) 29.6%, other (includes small Crimean Tatar-, Moldovan/Romanian-, and Hungarian-speaking minorities) 2.9% (2001 est.);
note – in February 2018, the Constitutional Court ruled that 2012 language legislation entitling a language spoken by at least 10% of an oblast’s population to be given the status of “regional language” – allowing for its use in courts, schools, and other government institutions – was unconstitutional, thus making the law invalid; Ukrainian remains the country’s only official nationwide language

Life Expectancy at Birth: total population: 73.18 years / male: 68.51 years / female: 78.15 years (2021 est.)

Religious Groups:
Eastern Orthodox 48.3%
Catholic 7.1%%
other 3.5%
non-believers 41.1% (2011 est.)

SON’s Work in Ukraine

Language Camps and Ministry Partners

SON Teams often come back to North America with a renewed sense of vision and understanding of what it means to do missions in their own context of ministry. Historically, English Bible Camps in Ukraine draw over 120 students at a time and are often held in local public schools!

SON Partners: SON Ministry Partner, Pastor Aleksandr Gross, and SON Full-Time Residential Missionaries, Pastor Scott & Lena Yount (Joy 4 Ukraine)

Where we work: Odesa, Kiev, and L’viv regions

What we do: English Bible Camps & Life Camps for teens (view opportunities above) Discipleship Education Conferences for pastors and church leaders

Regional Learning Center

In Early March 2019, SON Executive Director, Pastor David Breidenbach; NALC Bishop Emeritus, John Bradosky; and NALC Assistant to the Bishop for Missions, Rev. Dr. Gemechis Buba hosted the first Regional Learning Center conference, focused on discipleship, for pastors from all three Ukrainian Lutheran Denominations (DELKU, SELKU, and ULC). In March 2020 the second annual conference was hosted in the L’viv region. SON hosted a virtual 2022 Ukraine ministry conference in the Odesa region, featuring Pr. Greg & Susan Finke, authors of “Joining Jesus On His Mission” book series. (In 2021, SON collaborated with Pr. Finke to have his first book translated and published into the Russian language!)

Pastor Scott & Lena Yount

Pastor Scott Yount has served as a missionary in Ukraine since 2014. Together with his wife Lena, who has a Master’s Degree in Special Education, they teach the Bible at the local orphanage for children with disabilities and organize and lead Bible camps for children with special needs. Other ministries include visits to the school for the hearing impaired and the Cerebral Palsy center. Additionally, they organize Night to Shine, a prom for special needs teens (in partnership with the Tim Tebow Foundation), Bible studies, youth groups and much more. They currently live in Bila Tserkva (near Kiev) and are proud “parents” to their dog, Jack and cat, Black.

Pastor Scott is an ordained TAALC Lutheran Pastor. Growing up in Elk Grove, California, Scott first went to Ukraine to help run a camp for children with disabilities in 2007 with God’s Hidden Treasures.  He began full time ministry in Ukraine as a chaplain with God’s Hidden Treasures, in June of 2014, and then founded Joy 4 Ukraine in 2020.

Read Pastor Scott’s Blog latest blog post here:   Pastor Scott's Blog

You can support Pr. Scott & Lena directly through the SON Give page: