Shostka, where is it?
Shostka is a small town, just little under 14 sq. miles in size and just under 80,000 people, located in the North part of Sumy region of Ukraine. It was founded in 1739 as a gunpowder manufacturing town, and with the demands that were fueled by wickedness of human heart, the town rapidly grew. In its prime it had over 100,000 in population, but with the fall of the Soviet Union, a complete halt of production, and with the birthrate going down, the population decreased to 80,000 people. Shostka has 15 schools, one musical school, three colleges and one university. Majority of the population of Shostka is undergraduate, mid-income families with children. There is also a large amount of youth that has no education past high school, and with city’s low economic prospects, they get involved in drinking partying and gang activity.
Church in Shostka.
For many years during the Soviet regime, the church was small and was forced to meet in the small house at the edge of town. There were no paved roads or public transportation in that area of town, and that would make churchgoing difficult. Needless to say that, during that time, all outreach programs were highly illegal and the church was forced into survival mode. In the years of 1991-92, the Soviet regime collapsed, and the church finally had a chance to thrive and flourish. Outreach programs were developed and implemented, and people flooded to church. Services were moved from the small church at the edge of town to a rental facility in the downtown area. As a result, a church of under a hundred, had forty baptisms in one year. The church rapidly grew to 200 attendees and experienced a wave of Gog’s blessing.
By God’s mercy, the church purchased a property in downtown for the construction of the church building, and in 1995 broke ground and began
construction of a church complex that would serve not just the city, but the whole region. Later, three more churches were planted in the different parts of the city and many more people come to Christ.
Today, there are 79,700 residents in Shostka that are waiting to hear the gospel. That is 79,700 more souls that Jesus died for and purchased them with his blood. That is 79,700 more souls that should be on their way to heaven and not hell. Churches are struggling, getting off goal and purpose, and becoming less and less fruitful.
At the first glance, there is no logical sense to go to Shostka. Town is not that great, people are not that friendly, churches are stuck in a cul-de-sac of tradition, and from the outside prospective it might look like a dead end deal. But there is more to this story.
Shostka is surrounded by the number of other towns, smaller and grater in size, which have even greater needs.
Yampil, 22 miles away with population 12,000, and church of 10.
Glukhiv, 25 miles away with population 35,000, and church of 80.
Krolevets ,25 miles away with population 25,000, and church of 30.
Konotop, 55 miles away with population 89,000, and church of 110.
We are looking to an urban population of about 250,000 in a 60 mile radius where only 1 of every 470 people is Christian. That is less than 0.2% Christian. This is less than San Francisco, Seattle or Portland. This is what you call unchurched.
Shostka itself has a rate of 1 out of 266, or 0.37%. That is why it is the best launching place for the whole region. By revitalizing the church in Shostka, we can spread out to the whole region in three to four years and reach thousands of people for Christ.