Finnish Bus4life traveled through Ukraine
For over two weeks the Finnish Christian mission Operation Mobilization traveled through Ukrainian towns and villages on the Bus4life, a mobile bookstore.
The task of the bookstore on wheels was to travel through remote settlements in the Chernivtsi and Zakarpattia Oblasts, to bring Christian books to where churches don’t have their own bookstores. As previously reported by RISU, this project was jointly carried out by Operation Mobilization and the Association of Christian Publishers in Ukraine (ACPU). Books for the mobile store were provided by 12 Christian publishers of Ukraine, which belong to the association.
An unpleasant incident occurred at the Ukrainian-Romanian border, where
the bus was not allowed to enter Ukraine for four days.
“The Ukrainian border guards did not understand why the big bus was not equipped like a standard bus, neither as a cargo bus nor a passenger bus, but with only five passenger seats. And instead of carefully checking the documents, they sent a request to the Ukrainian Ministry of infrastructure, and the latter decided to simply deny the bus admission into Ukraine. At the border we were told to deal with the ministry. However, no one responded to our letters, calls, documents, faxes,” say the Ukrainian organizers of the visit. They say this was the first time such an incident occurred. In Europe there are many similar mobile bookstore buses. And nowhere in the EU or Moldova, where the Bus4life traveled, did a similar issue arise. But in Ukraine that was not the case.
The situation was resolved only after the intervention of the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, only once Ukrainians reacted to the situation and gave permission for the Bus4life to enter the country.
Despite the several days’ delay, the journey on wheels was liked by all: the organizers, host churches, and representatives of the Operation Mobilization. The executive director of the ACPU, Olena Tsertii, the program coordinator, told RISU that the trip was worth it.
“We saw a very keen interest and a genuine thirst for reading among the inhabitants of Zakarpattia. Each day the bus traveled to a new town according to the schedule, stopping near a church or the city center, where people could come for some interesting literature.
“Here they could purchase various titles and translations of the Bible, spiritual and educational literature, and children's books. The readers were also interested in art work and literature about family relationships and parenting.
“But what made us most happy was that in the towns and villages people have a love for books, that people ask important and sometimes very serious questions about the authors, about the meaning of the books. They are familiar with the publishers and are waiting for new titles,” says Olena.
Overall, the organizers positively evaluated the first experience of such
a journey. Ukrainian publishers are already planning a second Bus4life tour for November 2011.