Darris McNeely sits down with Victor Kubik to discuss the locations and purposes of his upcoming trip to Europe.
[Darris McNeely] Welcome to Inside United. I’m Darris McNeely, Associate Media Producer here at the United Church of God, and with me today on the other side of the microphone is Victor Kubik, President of the United Church of God. And you are about to take off on a trip to Europe. Maybe you could tell us a stop-by-stop as to where you’re going to be going and the purpose of the trip.
[Victor Kubik] Well, my wife Bev and I are going to Italy first, where we will visit the Italian work in Bergamo, which is a suburb of Milan. And the director is Carmelo Anastasi, and he has an interesting operation there that we really want to see. He has some very innovative methods of contacting people through an email ministry, so we really want to see how that’s all working.
[Darris] This’ll be your first trip there as President, won’t it?
[Victor] Yes, so we’re looking forward to stopping there to see how they’re doing as far as editorial, as far as the church and financial, just see what their needs are, and to be able to catch up on that.
[Darris] And you’ll be there on the Sabbath with the members of the church there from northern Italy.
[Victor] Right. We’re in Bergamo, we’re meeting there with the congregation in Bergamo, and having a chance to really fellowship with them and be with them. We’re really looking forward to it.
[Darris] And then what will be your next stop on this trip?
[Victor] Well, actually on that trip, we’re going to actually take a couple days with Carmelo. We’re going to Venice.
[Darris] Oh, are you?
[Victor] Which is a only two-hour drive. We were surprised as to how close it was. He kind of gave me a few choices of a couple things we could do, and we chose Venice. I’ve been there a couple of times, but I really wanted to show it to my wife. It’s just a most unusual and interesting city.
[Darris] Well, good. And then you’re on to Russia.
[Victor] Right. Then we’re actually on to Ukraine.
[Victor] And there is a flight directly from Milan on Ukraine Airlines – that’s the only kind of one that we’re holding our breath on – but it’s a 737, you know, it looks good and everything, so we’re flying from Milan to Kiev, and from there we will go on up to Chemihev, which is 30 miles due east of Chernobyl.
[Darris] And you have been involved in Chernobyl for about 20 years with the – since the accident that took place there with the nuclear reactor that has a very interesting connection to what you’re doing with LifeNets, as well.
[Victor] Yes, actually that has led to the formation of LifeNets. I started working there in April of 1996. That was a month after I moved here to Indianapolis from California, and through a series of events and doctors in the United Kingdom who were part of the church, we were able to establish contact with some most interesting people in Chernobyl – notable one being Dr. Vasyl Pasichnyk, who was the first pediatrician to treat children victims from the nuclear accident on April 26, 1986, because he was the head pediatrician in the largest city next to Chernobyl. And on April 26, the next day, he was noticing helicopters and all kinds of activity around the nuclear power plant. He knew something was really bad, and nobody notified him about anything. And so he took a Geiger counter and headed towards the direction of the plant, and the Geiger counter went off the scale. And he went to the city officials and to the government officials and said, “What’s going on?” He said, “Do you realize that we have population and children?” and so forth. And they just told him that his Geiger counter needed recalibration.
[Darris] What is the condition of Chernobyl – the facilities meeting still probably ongoing needs there from that disaster? But what exactly is the state of things now?
[Victor] Well, one thing is that, it’s not only the physical state, but it’s a political state that’s troublesome. Chernobyl itself is nestled between Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. I mean, It’s just a few miles from the Russian border. And part of the problem is that politically, when the accident happened, it was still the USSR. And then when the countries all became independent in 1991, Russia said, Hey, it’s your problem. They just completely wiped their hands of it. And it was a terrible accident that not only affected people in that area at that time, but also made the land dirty – it still is, you know, for some of the elements. The first isotope is iodide, which is only 5 days, but then strontium and cesium that are 26 years half-life. And that’s over with now. But the land will still be contaminated for a long time. And it’s really a study in what happens when nuclear things go wrong, and this was an accident. And it’s just unthinkable what would happen if there was a actual nuclear war exchange.
[Darris] And this same doctor still, operating the clinic there that –
[Victor] Yes. Actually, he lost his role as the head pediatrician, because of his making so much noise about wanting to do something for the kids. And so he just became a regular doctor at the hospital. But then in 1996, he and other doctors wanted to set up a special clinic, which they called “Revival”. And we were part of the start of that clinic. LifeNets has donated over a half a million dollars in the last twenty year period, and so he’s built a beautiful, beautiful place that’s not only medically sound, but just for children it’s just absolutely wonderful.
[Darris] Well, they’ll be glad to see you.
[Victor] Well, we’ll be glad to see them. I haven’t been back there in seven years.
[Darris] From Ukraine, where do you go next?
[Victor] Then from Kiev we fly directly to the Netherlands, to Holland, and we’ll visit with our churches there – actually meeting in the middle of the country in Utrecht, and then the far western church in Germany, Dormagen – some of the people from there will come over, and we plan to have a big day with a church service, a dinner, and just fellowship there.
[Darris] And again, this’ll be your first time as president to visit with the members in the Netherlands.
[Victor] Yes, it’s a very interesting church. It’s a church of I understand about 60 people or so, and there are many, many young people with children, so we’re looking forward to a dynamic church. And we plan also to visit one of the members that has been very, very sick with cancer, Jamie de Moei. She lives outside of Amsterdam, so we plan to see her. I’ll be there Saturday night when we’re there, or Sunday.
[Darris] Yes, and we know Jamie and her son Derrik was here at the Ambassador Bible College a few years ago, so certainly they’re in our prayers. And she is – for her recovery and certainly her – just comfort and dealing with this long ordeal that she has had. So you will, as you know, the members in the Netherlands are vibrant, active, dynamic group of people. A number of young people, but it is an interesting group. They kind of meet in different locations to accommodate the needs of the brethren throughout the Netherlands. Always a good opportunity to go over there. So you will – I’ve made a couple of trips myself, as you have. You’ll be welcomed and they’ll be glad to see you.
[Victor] Well, we’re sure looking forward to it and we always enjoy it when we travel. The most important part of travel for us is the contact with people and bringing the United Church of God all together with our mission and so forth, and I’ll be talking about our mission, what we’re doing with public appearance campaigns and many other things.
[Darris] Well, we will look forward to doing another podcast when you get back, to get an update on what took place and what you saw and what you did, and probably at that time, even preview the next trip that you have coming up, which will be to Australia.
[Victor] Yeah, that will be a week later!
[Darris] All right, well, Vic, it’s been good having you. We wish you safe travels and safe journeys.
[Victor] Thank you very much, Darris.
[Darris] And for all of you, thanks for joining us here on Inside United. Come back soon for more.