In the village of Shabo, Ukraine, in early June, Pastor Jeff Copeland met in the shade of trees on the edge of a vineyard with the pastor of the local evangelistic church. After a long heart-to-heart conversation in which the Ukrainian pastor shared with vision for reaching the area with the gospel, Copeland said—“This is what Kingdom Bridges is all about.”
As Jeff continues to travel throughout Moldova and Ukraine, encouraging and supporting Christian leaders, he sees God’s hand in the timing and preparation of Kingdom Bridges “for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14). The ministry was officially launched with a time of dedication and commitment on April 30 in Robertsdale. Supporters have invested 85% of the total needed to keep Jeff and Monica focused full time on this work over the next two years.
“We believe the Lord is bringing Beauty from Ashes. The war is ugly, yes evil. In the darkness the light is shining through local churches throughout Ukraine and Moldova,” Jeff said.
“These churches are standing strong under pressure...The Lord is moving through His church in Eastern Europe. We are praying for churches in America to enter partnerships with these wonderful churches. We build the bridge for your church to walk across into an intentional, relational, partnership that will change your church and bring beauty from the ashes of the war.”
Plans Accelerated by War
The pastor of Robertsdale, Ala., First Baptist Church for 23 years, Copeland had felt a growing call to mission partnerships in Eastern Europe. His transitional plans were in place, but were dramatically accelerated by the outbreak of war in February. Sharing with RFBC on March 13, after his first visit to the region since the outbreak of war, Copeland explained “How Kingdom Bridges was Built.”
“I’ve looked into their eyes as I’ve watched them cross the border. I’ve had their tears on my shoulders. This is a human crisis of our brothers and sisters, who are suffering greatly. And it has everything to do with us,” Copeland shared. “We’ve got massive human suffering taking place, massive.”
There are three principles involved in Kingdom Bridges:
It starts with Matthew 6:10, where Jesus prayed, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Jeff’s work in Moldova and Ukraine led him to “see ministry partners from all over the place coming together and doing things in ways that just weren’t shaping an individual church but were reverberating throughout the world.”
“And a passion really got in my heart that that’s what Jesus has called us to. That we can come together and that we can work together and we should desire to see heaven come to Earth. We should see the rule and reign of Jesus. That’s what His kingdom is. It’s nothing more than the rule and reign of Jesus Christ over my life, your life, and over the world in which we live in,” he said. “I don’t know about you, but I’ve also noticed there’s a lot of places on this earth where His will is not being done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen?
“That’s our mission. That’s what God put us here for.”
The next principle is a kingdom value. In Matthew 13:33, Jesus talked about His kingdom working like yeast.
“I like making homemade pizzas. The first thing is that yeast is very small. You don’t need to use a whole lot of it. But yeast has to have the right conditions. A certain temperature, a certain mixture of things together makes that condition to really make the yeast work. That’s what Jesus said is the value of His kingdom. It’s not the big things that we see. It’s the small, sometimes insignificant things that we think don’t matter. But the Lord says, if it’s done for Him, his name, and his glory, it matters,” he said.
“One small act of light in the kingdom of Jesus can repel darkness and every one of us, every one of us, needs to focus on the small act of Jesus’ work that we can do right where we are.”
In Matthew 16, Jesus said to Peter, “Upon this rock, I’ll build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Jesus is saying the kingdom of God would come from heaven to earth “those small acts that when done in the name of Jesus and applied into this fallen world that we’re in.”
“In the ministry I’m going into, that’s what it’s all about—Bringing that together and building bridges and connections to where that happens, where the people of God network together and come together and apply ourselves to the evil and darkness and brokenness of this world so that we can see heaven come to earth and God’s will come to earth,” he said.
Kingdom Bridge’s first connections were built in 2001 in Chisinau, Moldova, with Pastor Alex Malancea and his congregation and family. After years working in Moldova, Jeff helped start Roads of Hope with Joe Savage. Then, God led them to partner with Emmanuel House, and the Baptist Union through its executive director, Ion Muron, and a network of 50 orphanages all over Eastern Europe. That led to the partnership with the church in Belgorad-Dnistrovsky. Therefore, when the crisis came, Kingdom Bridges partners in the gospel were in place.
“When the war broke out, and when the bombing started, of course immediately we get the urgent, urgent cries of our Ukrainian brothers,” he said. “They said, ‘Our people are heading to this border--Can you help?’ I was like, ‘Oh yeah, we can help. Anatol Malancea, our partner from 2001, owns a factory just 20 minutes away. He’ll be there.’”
Then came the question of how to get people from the border at Palanca, Moldova, to shelters.
“What can we do there? I said, ‘Well, our longest-standing partner, Alex Malancea and Holy Trinity Christian Center is open with a full medical clinic, kitchen, and room to take care of hundreds of refugees,’” Jeff said.
Then when the needs grew even larger, Muron mobilized churches and camps all over the country to care for thousands of refugees. The appeal for donations went out on social media and one post had over 80,000 people view it and $60,000 came in in a few days. That allowed a food supply line to begin run by Josh Lilly of First Baptist Robertsdale and Pavel Malancea, who pastors a church near Chisinau after miraculously surviving a life-threatening stroke just a few years ago.
“We got in and tried to go through the normal channels. We got in to try to get the big stuff through. Gridlock. So, we found a way into the border to back a truck up to one side of the Moldovan border and our partners took their short drive to the other side of the border,” he said in March.
That model of building strong personal gospel partnerships and linking them with each other for mutual support and growth now continues full time with the launch of Kingdom Bridges on April 30.
‘Tell Me About Jesus’
Jeff said a reporter asked him, “how long will you think this will be going on?”
“I said, ‘Well, considering that a madman has just destroyed one of the poorest countries in Europe, whatever he does with it after he leaves it, there’s a mountain of work that will go beyond weeks or months into years,’” he said. “But we’re committed in Kingdom Bridges, to engaging in that work and keep doing it for the glory of Jesus to see heaven come to earth.
“Thousands of people are responding to Jesus... people are like, ‘Tell me about Jesus’ and they’re doing it. It’s incredible what God’s doing and how lives are being changed in the midst of all this.”
To support, partner with, or learn more about Kingdom Bridges visit this link.