The former mayor of the city of Kiev told the “Today” newspaper in an exclusive interview of his connection with Pastor Adelaja and shared about his charity work.
Leonid Chernovetsky stated that he personally allocates $ 1 million for charity. “Today” asked the former Kiev mayor what made him decide to help the homeless in the first place.
“When my family and I were dealing with a very difficult time, I went to pastor Sunday’s church. There I saw hundreds of people with huge financial problems, former alcoholics, drug addicts, and homeless people. I was immediately distracted from my own troubles and saw the world with completely different eyes, feeling not only my own pain but also the pain of others. The idea to help homeless people was given to me by Sunday Adeladja. The homeless are those whom no one likes, who evoke contempt, whom absolutely nobody wants to help (in the time of communism homeless people were generally regarded as criminals, and now many people still view them as worthless individuals who deserve to be shot). I saw donations donations being collected for them in the church: clothes, food. That is when I thought that I could raise this work to a completely different level. I was always interested in doing things on a large scale! So I organized a soup kitchen for the homeless, then hired a team of doctors and lawyers who helped restore lost documents. The soup kitchen cooked and distributed 1,500 meals per day. I began to meet with the people who came to eat there: to this I devoted one hour each day, and two hours on the weekends. Once I ran into a former colleague of mine in the soup kitchen – the chief of the investigation department of one of the police district departments in Kyiv region, and even former executives of various enterprises, completely different people. Why did they become homeless, I never got an answer, and may never will. In this life no one knows what can make a person withdraw from the normal social life, and take on the homeless philosophy.
But I do know that they are PEOPLE! They have their own code of honor, rules of behavior, and relationships with each other. Just like in the “regular society” there are good and bad people among the homeless. They may never be grateful to me. They may be never be grateful to anyone. 90 percent of them might never get back to the normal society.
They voluntarily choose their own way to be free from the conventions. Ten percent of them are those who became homeless due to external circumstances (lost their home, job, etc.). They are the ones we restore to society. Why did I take up this?.. At first it was because I wanted to get God’s attention by serving Him, so that He may hear my prayers and solve my problems. That was the original selfish motivation in my relationship with God.
Today I have a different idea. I am involving more businessmen and people with good hearts to help the homeless. And they help: once they get involved, they do not leave. If I spend almost $ 1 million a year, they help with food, services and other things which amount to another million if not more. At least five hundred of these benefactors are people of the legal profession. It means that, through me, God called them to help others and they will certainly get help from Him. Therefore, my mission is to involve more people into serving a good idea through charity work.
We now have three additional new “Walkswagen” mini-vans that transport meals to 20 various locations in Kiev. Good food! Senior citizens also come to eat to our soup kitchens, but I am now thinking of how to organize new kitchens that will serve seniors.
I rarely talk about this. Maybe even now I should not talk about it … but … I’m very proud of this work. I think it is the most important thing I could do in my life!
I have plans to open similar soup kitchens throughout Ukraine. If any of your readers want to do it themselves, I will be happy to help. I do not wait for gratitude. My experience in this area is huge. I take a bow to the people who are involved in charity in whatever city they live in or whatever project they are involved in. They’re real people! It does not matter why they do it, “- told us Leonid Chernovetsky.
“Today” Journalists asked the former mayor of Kyiv City about his relationship with Sunday Adelaja and what led him to the church and faith in God.
“As I said I came to God, like all other people, because of personal problems! When nothing seemed to help in solving the terrible problem, there was no hope except God. I came to God through Sunday Adeladja, to whom I will always be grateful! He is a great pastor and a very kind, decent man! It is a pity that the pastor is going through this difficult time, and I can do little to help him!
By the way, God did help me out of my personal difficulties. My troubles vanished without a trace! Religion itself, without the Word of God, is worth very little. Intelligent people will never be satisfied with religion alone. I look at religion as an exploitation of the divine idea. It frequently has to do with big money! I am not fond of pompous ceremonies and all that.
I visit any denomination with great pleasure. I like the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. But in my heart I always remain Orthodox (baptized), and I often go to the Orthodox Church. I can talk about this at length, but my philosophy of faith is a separate topic “- concluded Leonid.
Translated by Anna Krets
Edited by Natasha Ioffe