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     Union McMinn Baptist Church

A Brief History of the Bennie Creel Medical Clinic, Polonne Ukraine (as written by Jodie Moser, Union McMinn Baptist Church)

It has been 24 years since the clinic was founded.  At that time, the city of Polonne had a population of around 23,000 people.  That number has decreased since their main manufacturing factories (famous for their Porcelain and Ceramic products) have closed.

In 1993 our Pastor, Doug Alexander, with his wife Verna and the Director of Missions of the Sweetwater Baptist Association, Bennie Creel and several others saw a need for missions in Ukraine.  It was during this time that the Ukraine, along with many other Slavic countries gained their independence from the Soviet Union.  The mission team first went to Crimea, the city where the war is being fought today.  In 1994, they returned and were asked to come to Kamenets- Podoisky.  Kamenets- Posoisky is one of the oldest cities in Ukraine and the home of Nickola Kasprovo, who eventually became the head over a large district of the Baptist Union, which includes the city of Polonne.   Bennie visited this city and preached at the Baptist church in Polonne, where he met Dr. Slavic .

Bennie, along with Pastor Doug Alexander and other people from the Sweetwater Associate, returned the following year in 1995.  Bennie met with Dr. Slavic, who worked at a state-run hospital.  Dr. Slavic, who was one of the few born-again Christian doctors, shared with Bennie his vision of a Christian Medical Clinic.  And history was made.  Bennie, led by the Holy Spirit, decided to take this idea back to the Sweetwater Association and shared with them what Dr. Slavic had in mind.  The Association decided to invest in putting together a free medical clinic, which was to be housed in the basement of the Polonne Baptist Church…where it continues to operate to this day. 

At first, there was only Dr. Slavic.  Then around 1997, Dr. Voya came on board, along with Luba, an administrative assistant.  Before Dr. Voya began working at the Polonne clinic, she was working at a state-run hospital, where she usually did several abortions a day.  She was invited to hear a missionary speak at a nearby church and accepted Jesus as her savior that night.  On Monday morning when she went back to the hospital, she told them she could not perform abortions anymore and asked that she be allowed to do something else.  They would not listen to her and told her if she could not do her job then she would be dismissed.  (Now at this time, a truck driver made more money than a doctor, but regardless she decided to leave.)  Upon hearing of this, Dr. Slavic immediately contacted her and brought on board along with Luba.   She certainly was led by her faith and the Lord put all this together.  A military doctor named Dr. Evon joined the other two doctors for a few years, but sadly, in 1999, he died of cancer.

In 2003, Doug, along with a team from Union McMinn Baptist Church were returning from Ukraine, staying in a hotel in Amsterdam Holland. The news came that Bennie Creel had lost his battle with cancer and gone on to glory.  He had wanted to go one more time, back to Ukraine, but was too sick to travel.  It was a very hard time, especially for our Doug.  

In 2005, Union McMinn Baptist Church decided to take over funding the Bennie Creel Medical Clinic, so named in his honor.  I have been blessed to be able to go and witness the wonderful work that takes place at the clinic throughout the year.  For $6,000.00 per year, we pay these doctors, and the administrator, enough for them to operate.  This includes their salary and buys much needed medicine.  When you walk into the clinic, through the basement door, there upon a wall is a picture of Bennie Creel smiling and proclaiming The Bennie Creel Medical Clinic.

Inflation has taken its toll on Ukraine.  A U.S. dollar is worth 26 Hryvnia, so money is tight, but every year we are shown where each and every penny has been spent.   It is a great honor to be part of such a worthy cause, and I, along with our Pastor and Deacons, commend the congregation of Union McMinn Baptist Church for their unselfish giving each year.  Most will never get to visit this clinic but be assured that the people in Ukraine are very appreciative.

Whenever a person comes to be treated at this clinic, before they leave and sometimes during treatment, the gospel is shared with them.  I have heard hundreds of people who have said they visited the clinic because they cannot afford to get treatment anywhere else.  Many of them have shared with us how God was introduced to them and they received the Lord Jesus Christ into their lives, bringing hope and light into a place that for so long was only darkness.  Today I am thankful we have been able to continue spreading the Gospel wherever we can.  Those of us who have been blessed to be able to go visit the clinic and preach in the area churches in Ukraine are always told how much they appreciate Union McMinn Baptist Church and all those who had a part in establishing this clinic.  Rev. Bennie Creel left a legacy that continues today, and we thank God for the vision He gave brother Bennie.    

Jodie Moser