Pastor Valentina Grigorievna Chabannaya is a very extraordinary person. Considering her age she is full of energy, fruitfulness, and rather active. She has a certain charisma that attracts public attention and inspires people to achieve their greater goals without having to rest half way and enjoy only small victories. The fame of this woman travels far ahead of her – positive fame of a powerful spiritual warrior, whose fruits and success have great results. She has played an important role in knowing of the Living God in Belonozhko family, foretold bishopric of Anatolii Belonozhko. Also pastor Valentina has brought up the strongest leaders and activists of the Ukrainian Protestant churches.
I met her at the celebration of the 18th anniversary of the Embassy of God church. I wanted involuntarily to talk to her, connect to the spirit of her power and to know the credo of her life. As you know, our church is visited by many elderly people. But due to certain circumstances, they do not dare to open their home group, worrying about their health and lack of confidence. discussing this issue with pastor Valentina, I asked her about a few key issues, the answers to which show her position as a public figure, strong leader and powerful spiritual warrior.
– What inspired you to become a pastor?
First of all, my love for God. In a personal conversation with him I asked that he would bring me to the right place. I came to a church, which was just beginning its activity. To be exact – it was a place for studying the Gospel. And when I saw how God works through people, when I was touched by God’s Word, then I began my own movement. I was so lit up with this that I could no longer imagine my life without Him. I am very happy. Mine is a fruitful and interesting life. Now I’m on a mission in Yalta opening a church.
– You’ve attended leadership school before, haven’t you?
Yes, certainly. I went to the central church. My pastor was Pastor Sunday. I studied in his school from the first day of its existence. I looked at him, a young man who came from another country to save our people and decided to serve him, help him and support him. That’s how I became a leader of the prayer at first, then a pastor in the prayer department, then a pastor of Central Church. Eventually our ministry opened several churches and now I’m opening another church in the Crimean city on my own.
– Certainly, there were difficulties. How did you overcome them? What helps you to emerge victorious from adverse situations?
Of course, there were plenty of difficulties. Before my leaving for the mission a family broke up. I experienced the devil’s attack in the spiritual realm but my dear, it does not compare with the happiness which is now on the inside of me. Because if God you are really focused on God’s affairsand you know that He really exists and will not leave you, then it’s a kind of moving forward without stopping. This movement provokes a thirst to know God more.”Blessed are the poor in spirit” – God says, – “for their’s is the kingdom of heaven.” Why? Because it is never enough and you need to learn more and more. Firstly, it is important for me, and secondly, I would like to share it with others, because my passion does not stop, and probably will not stop while I am alive. It’s the main point that a person should have in his life. I appeal to all those who attend church, if you step up to God’s call and become a leader, your life will be rich, and you’ll become an important person full of knowledge and experience. I’m not afraid of my persecutors. I take it as part of the package. So I’m on the right path, I am the one in the right. The devil uses those people to oppose and persecute me, but it does not bother me. I grow by overcoming the difficulties. The difficulties propel me to find new ways, new relationships and to study the Word of God much deeper, so I do not feel tired, despite my age. This year I will celebrate my 75th birthday.
– Are you focused only on the pastoral work or do you have other interests?
A year ago I graduated from State Pedagogical University named after Dragomanov (Faculty of Social Work, a practical psychologist) and I came to understand that my life has just begun. I do not feel like an old person. In fact, I’m 17 years old (laughs)! And every year I become younger.
– Pastor Valentina, you did not suddenly become a pastor, did you? Remember how you opened your home group, how you first attracted people and worked with them?
When I decided to open my home group, first of all I invited my friends (and I had a lot of them). I remember when I lived in Troyeschina district in Kiev, and I invited everyone I could. I prepared carefully for the first home group but no one came. But I still held the session! And conducted it as if I had a room full of people too! I prayed for each invited person and in the near future, my group consisted of up to fifty! I am so lit up with God. I wish that other people would be stirred, and all ran to me. My one room apartment was too small for such a number of people.
There were thirty adults in one room, twenty children in the kitchen and the boy artist worked with them. So we gradually grew. Later I had six home groups, then more … I was a social pastor and we had a great prayer ministry. It was amazingly interesting! Not only for the people but also for our personal states of mind and soul. It’s hard to describe in words.
– And yet, being such a busy person, you don’t feel your age?
How can you think of this? I know that God is always young, so I am always young too.
– What can you say as a missionary, about the inhabitants of Yaltaas?
Yalta needs a particular approach for the planting of Christian culture because there are so many tourists. Subsequently, there are many religions abd a very concentrated atmosphere of different views, attitudes and interests. Therefore it will be not easy, but I never look for the easy ways.
Dear brothers and sisters, novice leaders, ministers, an example of this wonderful woman should inspire us to great things and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and service to the Lord in all His manifestations. Having such examples we have no right to be afraid of difficulties, give in to obstacles or give up in hard times. We are the followers, the disciples of Christ who bear the holy gospel throughout the world, thus fulfilling the will of our heavenly Father and of his vocation.
Interviewed by Natalie Golovchenko
Translated by Yevheniya Pustova
Edited by Kizito Leacock