FBCG member Harry Gaston’s first trip to Ukraine was in 1993 with International Crusades, Dallas, TX. He and Rev. Lynn Mackey were assigned to the village of Malinovka. They were the first Americans ever in that village. A ministry to Ukraine was begun!
It began with the renovation of the Baptist church in Malinovka in 1994 which was dedicated in 1996. The search began for villages with no church building. When a village was identified as being in need, a building suitable for renovation into a church building was purchased and remodeled. The first of these was in Glybuka. The purchase of the building and financial support of the ministers was the foundation of the ministry. Six sponsored churches have been established.
In 2000, the president of Global Outreach, Randy VonKanel, was visiting the Home of Grace, a Christian drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Vancleave, MS. He and Harry struck up a conversation about the ministry in Ukraine which had been set up through Global Outreach to plant the churches. Randy wondered if a center similar to the Home of Grace could be set up in Ukraine. Harry remembered a 12,000 sq ft cooperative farm administration building overlooking several thousand hectors of lush farm land that might be available. It had been 90% empty since the collapse of the Soviet Union just a few years earlier. The post office occupied 10% of the building. On his next trip to Ukraine, Harry visited the building with the president of the Cooperative Farm Program in that region. Oil prices had doubled in Ikraine and the C.F.P. was not going to have the money for fuel to bring in the crops. They then went to the authorities in Chernovsky and Harry was able to purchase the building for the cost of the fuel to harvest the crops, $8,700.00. Harry explained that the building was going to be used to establish the first alcohol rehabilitation center in Ukraine.
The Place of Hope is a non-profit Ukrainian Cooperation funded primarily by Kwik Kar Wash of Gautier. It also receives support from individual members of First Baptist Church, Gautier, and other friends of the ministry.