Two years after Vitaly founded the first Wise Carpenter workshop in Cherkasy, a friend challenged him to express his hopes for the ministry over the next 10 years. This prompted Vitaly to share his dream that there would be branches of Wise Carpenter workshops in every one of Ukraine’s 24 regions, and he has been working tirelessly towards that goal ever since.
At present, there are 18 workshops up and running, spread across 8 different regions of the country. This has mainly been possible thanks to the mobile workshop that Vitaly and his team developed last year. “We have a cargo van filled with tools for conducting a master class in any part of Ukraine,” he explains. “We visit a church, make a presentation of our ministry during the Sunday service, and after that, together with local men, conduct classes with the boys in the church building or grounds. Usually after such a visit, we have a good idea of whether we’ll be able to start a new branch with the church.
”There is no mistaking Vitaly’s joy and excitement when a visit is successful and a new ministry of mentoring and discipleship begins. “Our new branch in the city of Cherkasy held its first class at the Christian Church base,” he wrote in September. “During the summer, the church and the men prepared the premises and finally we can see them get started. This is our 17th branch, working with boys and spreading the vision of the Wise Carpenter - to grow a new generation of men who know how to work with their hands, head and heart. We are glad that our community is growing!”
The ministry has also expanded internationally, as there is now a workshop in America. Back in the spring, Vitaly was contacted by some Ukrainian men living in Nebraska, who wanted to open a Wise Carpenter branch for a group of boys who had arrived in the area as a result of the war. He was able to send them materials and resources to get started, and has been encouraged to hear how the group is getting on.
As well as increasing the network through church connections, Vitaly has also had the opportunity to talk about Wise Carpenter on a local radio station, and has been filmed in the Cherkasy workshop by two TV channels. In August he was invited to showcase the ministry at a youth conference in Kyiv, and was able to display some examples of the beautiful items the produced by boys in their workshop sessions.
As ministry leader, Vitaly is also mindful of the need to keep supporting and equipping his team. Over several months he collaborated with a core group of people to produce a manual for Wise Carpenter workshop leaders, containing not only practical advice and instructions for woodworking activities, but also resources for the teaching and spiritual formation of the boys and young men in the groups. The book was successfully launched at the end of September and is already in use across the country.
And at the start of October, Vitaly convened the third annual Wise Carpenter conference at Camp Maximum, which drew together about 50 men from 18 different locations who are all serving as mentors in workshops in their churches. As well as talking through their experiences in leadership and learning together about how to work effectively with young people, they also had some time to do woodwork, and to have a go at some of the outdoor challenges that Maximum has to offer.
Along with Vitaly, we give glory to God for the continuing growth of the ministry, and look forward to seeing many more workshops opening in the coming months and years.
Ukraine Christian Ministries Registered Charity No 1061221