Digging deeper in Ukraine
by Colin Macpherson, Langham Literature
|Colloquium Publishing Team
from left to right: Alexander, Vitali (sales) and Sasha (editorial)
Alexander Bukovietski is a man on a mission. Born and raised in Kazakhstan, he is now a missionary to Ukraine. With the help of his two colleagues, they make up Colloquium Publishing House, seeking to draw Christians into deeper study of the Bible. Alexander studied at Westminster Theological Seminary in the USA before returning to Ukraine as a pastor-church planter, and now publisher. He says:
We want people to fall in love with the Bible! Our history and our traditions have left scars and even within the church people need to rediscover the joy of meeting God in the Bible. Ukraine was the part of the old Soviet empire with the greatest concentration of evangelical believers. The church survived decades of persecution, but it also became strangely shaped and defined by that context.
Evangelical Biblical studies in the Russian-speaking world have always been weak, partly because evangelicals never enjoyed much freedom. The effect of this on the church is huge. Evangelical pastors have become experts in theology based on tradition rather than the Word of God. The tradition passed unquestioningly from one generation to the next, more by rote learning than by engaging with the Bible. And even after many years of religious freedom (at least in Ukraine) people are largely suspicious or uninterested in the serious study of Scripture.
Being a lover of books, it pained me to see the miserable collection that occupied the shelves of Christian bookstores. The titles were very few, mostly of the health-and-wealth bent, the quality of translation unspeakably bad, to say nothing of their aesthetics. And all this in the country that had boasted for generations to be one of the most well-read nations in the world! It was a rare occasion when I could find a good text to use for the classes I taught at our church. In many cases I would have to translate portions of books myself for my students to use as study materials. So it was then that I began exploring the possibilities for starting a publishing house.
After more than 20 years of religious freedom, there is a deep need – not always realized by those who need it most – for people to grapple with God’s Word and come to personal convictions, new ways of life, new ways of preaching, new ways of pastoring – and maybe even new ways of governing a country. It cannot be done without books in the area of Biblical studies. So my prayer is that Colloquium might play a part in this beautiful process. We cannot have a theological community without first having a Biblical community, and we can’t have that unless leaders dig into the World of God afresh.
Colloquium is a good example of why each country needs its own Christian publishers who can identify and understand their unique contexts. In countries where the church is largely first generation, the needs are often obvious, basic and urgent. Ukraine has a longstanding, sizeable and relatively mature church, but there are real and complex needs, needs of Biblical rediscovery and reorientation, in order to bring blessing and growth to a needy society.
[Funds are being sought to help Colloquium with publishing a range of titles, including locally authored material. Please contact us for more information]