Mark & Donna McDonnel

Mark and Donna McDonnel have been serving at the Kyiv Theological Seminary (KTS) in Kyiv, Ukraine, one of the most strategic training centers for Christian leaders in the former Soviet Union. Mark trains evangelists, church planters and pastors for a wide variety of ministries all over Ukraine and the former Soviet Union countries such as Russia and Belarus. Donna is involved in a ministry of discipleship and evangelism among women at their church and among seminary wives. Mark and Donna also serve their local church in the church's ministry for those with special needs.

Mark and Donna are both from Houston, Texas. Mark's father is a retired pastor who ministered in the same church for 36 years. Donna became a Christian in college through the ministry of the Baptist Student Union. It was there at the University of Houston that Mark and Donna met and were married after graduation. Their strong desire to serve the Lord brought them together and led them into a variety of ministry opportunities from mission trips to church work, ministry in prisons to ministry in homeless shelters, and just serving the local church in whatever way possible.

Through their time at Dallas Theological Seminary they felt God leading them to serve in the former Soviet republic of Ukraine in discipleship and leadership development. They joined WorldVenture in 1996 and arrived in Kiev in the summer of 1998. They now live there with their daughter Abigail.

Kyiv, Ukraine

Kyiv is the capital and largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population in July 2013 was 2,847,200 (though higher estimated numbers have been cited in the press), making Kiev the 8th largest city in Europe.

Kiev is an important industrial, scientific, educational, and cultural center of Eastern Europe. It is home to many high-tech industries, higher education institutions and world-famous historical landmarks. The city has an extensive infrastructure and highly developed system of public transport, including the Kiev Metro.

The city's name is said to derive from the name of Kyi, one of its four legendary founders (see Name, below). During its history, Kiev, one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe, passed through several stages of great prominence and relative obscurity. The city probably existed as a commercial centre as early as the 5th century. A Slavic settlement on the great trade route between Scandinavia and Constantinople, Kiev was a tributary of the Khazars, until seized by the Varangians (Vikings) in the mid-9th century. Under Varangian rule, the city became a capital of the Kievan Rus', the first East Slavic state. Completely destroyed during the Mongol invasion in 1240, the city lost most of its influence for the centuries to come. It was a provincial capital of marginal importance in the outskirts of the territories controlled by its powerful neighbors; first the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, followed by Poland and Russia.

Ministry Focus

Training Christian leaders at Kyiv Theological Seminary and Ministering to those with special needs. 

Prayer Needs: Pray that God would raise up Christian leaders in the former Soviet Union to spread the gospel to this wounded society. 

Major Challenges: Adapting to the difficult language and culture, living at an epicenter of the conflict between Russia and the West, as well as balancing the demands of family and ministry.