FCA Wrestling – Ukraine
In 2013, Ivan Chernenko and his wife felt called to open a wrestling club in southeast Ukraine to provide opportunities to train kids and teach them about the good news of Jesus Christ. Lacking both funding and staff, Ivan remained confident that if he created the opportunity, that God would provide—and He did. Although the original club could only accommodate twelve wrestlers at a time, Ivan faithfully shared his faith with his wrestlers and their parents, and would open and close training sessions in prayer. Those prayers began to be answered later that same year when Ivan’s wife Yulia attended a conference where she met Andriy Kravtsov, the FCA Director in Ukraine, and learned about FCA. That unexpected meeting led to more conversations between Ivan and Andriy, and in 2016, Ivan joined the FCA Ukraine staff. Knowing Ivan’s heart for the sport of wrestling, Andriy connected with Carl Perry (Director for FCA Wrestling in the U.S.) which started the process of additional support that allowed Ivan to become the first staff person to represent the sport-specific ministry of FCA Wrestling internationally.
Since 2016, God has done some amazing work through Ivan and FCA Wrestling in Ukraine. Ivan has created a huge network of connections with wrestling coaches and clubs throughout Ukraine primarily through the ministry of FCAW camps and clinics. An FCA Wrestling U.S. team—consisting of wrestling coaches, top U.S. wrestlers and FCAW staff—has made annual trips to Ukraine which have not only built a strong partnership with Ivan, but have helped facilitate a wrestling tournament between the two countries that has become an exciting annual event. Ivan also hired his first FCAW-Ukraine staff member in 2020. And what happened to his original club? Not only did it require an expanded facility to accommodate the increase in wrestlers attending, Ivan has put his club in the hands of new leadership which allowed Ivan and his family to move to Odessa, Ukraine to find new opportunities for outreach. See more about Ivan below.
“In building a partnership with Ivan and seeing the great work being done in Ukraine, I believe God has given me a vision for what FCA Wrestling could look like for the rest of the world.”
Carl Perry, FCA Wrestling Director