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Benjamin Morrison -  Svitlovodsk, ukraine

I was running from God when He found me. I grew up in a quasi-Christian home where I was read Bible stories but also suffered various kinds of abuse. At around 11 years old, during one of my family’s rare visits to a church, I heard a false gospel and since its promises fell flat, I decided that the God of the Bible didn't want me—so I didn't want Him. I delved into all kinds of wickedness and at age 15, sitting in a jail cell facing 20 to 50 years for drug dealing charges, the God I had told to leave me alone faithfully arrested my heart. I was made new.

While in jail, I was soon convinced that I wanted to dedicate my life to making the life-giving Word of God know to those desperate to hear it. Nothing short of a miracle led to me being released from any serious jail time and two and a half years later, I began Bible college in Indianapolis. During the two years of completing my associate's degree in theology, God placed a burden on my heart for global missions. During a trip to Ukraine in 2001, I instantly fell in love with the people of Ukraine and their thirst for the Gospel. After finishing Bible college in 2002, I moved to Ukraine and have not looked back since.

I served as youth pastor in a new church plant in the city of Dnipropetrovsk from 2002-2005. During that time I married my wife, Lena, who is Ukrainian. God began to stir a desire in our hearts to plant a new work and, after visiting a number of cities, we felt led to my wife's hometown of Svitlovodsk. After visiting the existing local congregations there, we were convinced that the city lacked a solidly Gospel-centered, grace-preaching church and were determined to plant one. While in Svitlovodsk, our two children, Abigail and Isaac (10 and 7, respectively) were born.

We moved to Svitlovodsk in May of 2005 and began a Bible study in our apartment a month later. Now, 11 years on, God has raised up a church thoroughly centered on the Gospel. We’ve now sent out one family to be part of a re-plant in another city in Ukraine and have a desire to continue planting churches across Ukraine. In addition to serving as lead pastor of Calvary Chapel of Svitlovodsk, I am currently serving as one of the leaders for the Calvary Chapel movement in Ukraine. I also frequently have opportunity to travel to other cities and churches in Ukraine to lecture on Christocentric preaching. I've recently been given the privilege of being one of the coordinators for the first CTC Ukraine conference (planned for Oct. 2016). Additionally, I'm currently finishing up my bachelor's in theology through Calvary Chapel Bible College Europe and set to graduate in the spring 2017 semester.