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Saved by the Sabbath

“That event made me realize that I could have died there, or could have been severely injured.”

Andre grew up in the western Ukrainian city of Lutsk. While at school, he became acquainted with Pavel, a student who attended a Seventh-day Adventist church on Saturdays. Being a nonbeliever, Andre didn’t think much about when or where people went to church, nor did he care.

After finishing their high school education, both Andre and Pavel planned to study at the Lviv National Academy of Arts, so they went to Lviv to take the academy’s entrance exam. After finishing the exam, the two decided to walk around the campus.

Life-impacting Decision

Suddenly a large notice on an announcement board caught their eye—there was going to be an air show commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the Ukrainian Air Force’s 14th Air Corps. The event would be held at Sknyliv Airfield, just six kilometers (3.7 miles) from central Lviv.

Excitedly Andre and Pavel scanned the notice for further details. Then Pavel noticed the date of the air show: July 27, 2002. Realizing that day was a Saturday, he decided that he would not be going to the air show after all. 

“Andre, I’m going to church on July 27—would you like to come with me?” Pavel asked.

Now it was Andre’s turn to consider the situation carefully. He really wanted to go to the air show, but there was something so sincere about Pavel’s invitation that Andre decided to accept. He wondered what could be so special about this church that would make Pavel choose to go there rather than to the air show.

Reflecting on that first visit to a Seventh-day Adventist church, Andre later recalled, “We spent the whole day there, and I really liked the church.”

Terrible Disaster

What Pavel and Andre didn’t know was that while they were at church, the worst air show disaster in history was taking place at Skynliv Airfield. With more than 10,000 spectators watching, at 12:52 p.m. a Su-27 aircraft, flown by two experienced pilots, crashed and exploded into the crowd of spectators. Seventy-seven spectators were killed, including 19 children. Another 100 spectators were hospitalized with head injuries, burns, and bone fractures, and 443 others were injured but not hospitalized.

When Andre heard the news the next day, he was stunned. “That event made me realize that I could have died there, or could have been severely injured. I became friends with the many young people at the Adventist church, and after attending regularly for one year, I decided to be baptized.”

Later Andre also decided to change his career plans. He is now a student at the Ukrainian Adventist Center of Higher Education in Bucha, where is studying to become a pastor. 

In 2004 part of your Thirteenth Sabbath Offering went to build a dormitory at the Adventist Center in Bucha. Thank you for your continued support of this important offering.