Nick Leonovich, 84, a senior missionary with the Slavic Gospel Association (SGA), who was seriously injured earlier this week when he fell down a flight of stairs during a visit to Ukraine, has passed away.
Dr Robert W Provost, President of the SGA said in a message to supporters, "It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that SGA senior missionary Nick Leonovich has unexpectedly gone home to be with the Lord.
"He was stricken near Kiev, Ukraine, while climbing stairs after the long trip from his home in California, and had been hospitalised in a coma for the past two days.
"He was in Ukraine to participate in the graduation ceremonies at the SGA-sponsored Irpen Biblical Seminary.
"Our hearts mourn with Nick's wife Rose, their children, Jim and Tina, and their grandchildren. Yet at the same time, we are rejoice exceedingly because Nick is now in the presence of his glorious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, whom Nick served so faithfully for 62 years with SGA. We know that to ... be absent from the body [is to] be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8)."
Dr Provost went on to say, "I trust you will join the SGA family in continuing to pray for Nick's beloved Rose, and the Leonovich family. Nick's passing took place while his son, Jim, is still enroute to Kiev. Nick and Rose Leonovich have served Christ at SGA with faithfulness and distinction - in Rose's case since the late 1940s and then Nick since 1951.
"So many Russian-speakers around the world will remember their shortwave radio ministry from Monte Carlo, in more recent years their ministry in Russia, Ukraine and neighbouring countries, and here in North America encouraging churches and individual believers with news of what God is doing in the lives of their beloved Ukrainian and Russian people ... and so much more."
The SGA leader also asked people to remember the faculty and students of Irpen Seminary, whom he said "were so looking forward to Nick's participation in the joy of their graduation tomorrow".
Dr Provost added, "Especially please remember Irpen's Benjamin Brinza, son of Irpen's late founder Dr Alexei Brinza. The Brinzas were very close to Nick and Rose, and were by his side through this entire ordeal, as were many of SGA's Kiev Regional Ministry Center staff."
A memorial service is being planned for 5pm Sunday at Irpen Biblical Seminary.
"We have lost a true hero of the faith, but we do not sorrow as those without hope," concluded Dr Provost. "We rejoice in Nick's promotion to glory from his beloved Ukraine, and look forward to fellowshipping with him there again in due time. When memorial service arrangements have been made here in the USA, we will get in touch again to provide the details.
"Nick's home going truly is an enormous loss to us, the SGA family, and to Christian missions, but we know that Nick is rejoicing today in the Savior's loving presence. Thank you again for praying for Rose, Jim, Tina, and their grandchildren as they face these difficult days."