Dnepropetrovsk is situated near the middle of the Dneper River in the central part of Ukraine. The population of Dnepropetrovsk is near 1.2 million people, making it one of the biggest centers of Pridneprovie (the Dneper River region). It is also one of the most beautiful cities of Ukraine.
Settlements in this place date back to the middle of the 16th century, and in 1776, according to the order of Catherine I, Grigory Potyomkin founded the city, which was called Ekaterinoslav. After the Revolution of 1917, it was renamed Dnepropetrovsk.
The Jewish population in this city is one of the most consolidated and least assimilated Jewish communities in the former Soviet Union. According to statistics, 45,000 Jews live in Dnepropetrovsk.
The city is a big industrial center. Since the beginning of the 20th century, it has been Ukraine's most important center of metallurgical and machine-building industry, and since the 1950s, a center of the aerospace and rocket-building industry.
In the summer of 1997, Jews for Jesus did a evangelistic campaign in Dnepropetrovsk, and in 1998, a branch of Jews for Jesus opened here. In 1999, Valery Bolotov was appointed branch leader. In 2002, he led the Behold Your God campaign in the city, which attracted attention of both Jews and Gentiles. In 2004, Victoria Negrimovskaya and Tatyana Bolotova joined the branch.
Dnepropetrovsk does not have as many crowded areas as some of our branch cities, but there are enough markets, major streets and railway stations where we can hand out our broadside tracts.
We serve the Jews of this city through one on one visits and a small Shabbat Bible study, usually attended by 10-17 people.
We also have Christian friends from evangelical churches who volunteer on a regular basis to help with monthly evangelism projects. We call this our "Yadidim" (friends) program, and find that it works well throughout our various branches in Ukraine and Russia.
One of the challenges we face in Dnepropetrovsk is that we are short of workers, especially sisters, who can visit female contacts.
We also encounter opposition from some of the Jewish religious leaders who produced a special TV program in which the Jewish community is told that Jews for Jesus ministry is a sect (cult) to be avoided. However, we know that God can use all opposition for good.