Yaroslav Pavenko volunteered to minister to Ukrainian soldiers at 14 after militants killed two of his brothers in the War in Donbas. 

A 22-year-old Pentecostal military chaplain was killed in Ukraine after the troops he was ministering to in the Donetsk region were hit by Russian rockets.

Yaroslav Pavenko’s final words were “I’m going to heaven,” according to the Ukrainian Orthodox military chaplain coordinator. Pavenko was ministering alongside two of his brothers, Volodomyr and Artur, who are also chaplains. Artur was holding Pavenko’s head in the back of a car on the way to the hospital and praying with him when he died.

Pavenko volunteered as a chaplain at age 14, after Russian-backed separatist forces, wearing masks and wielding machine guns, broke into his father’s church and kidnapped four men, including two of Pavenko’s other brothers.

The militants had seized control of Luhansk and Donetsk in 2014 and declared the areas independent of Ukraine. As they fought the government and sought to subdue the Russian-speaking population opposed to separation, the rebels, who called themselves the Russian Orthodox Army, seemed to target Protestant churches

“Their logic is: ‘We brought the Orthodox Church, ours is right and there are no others. Your church is linked to America, our enemy, so we will destroy you,’” Peter Dudnik, pastor of the Christian Center of the Good News Church, told The Christian Science Monitor.

Pavenko’s father Alexander Pavenko’s church, Transfiguration of the Lord, traces its history back to Polish Pentecostal missionaries who returned to the region to preach about sanctification and the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the 1920s after having religious experiences in the United States. The militants also attacked a Roman Catholic priest from Poland and a Greek Catholic …

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