Document Type

Finding Aid

Publication Date

10-12-2022

Inclusive Dates--Span

1974-1991

Inclusive Dates--Bulk

1990

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of magnetic tape reels and small cassette tapes of Bilak’s radio program "Messenger of Truth." The programs contain teaching of biblical texts in multiple languages, as noted in the inventory below. All of the recordings are under the name of Stephan Bilak. The tapes range from 1974 to 1991. The 116 tapes in this collection do not represent a complete run of the program.

Biographical Note

The following biographical note is excerpted from Find A Grave website and was read at Bilak’s Switzerland funeral:

“Epi Stephan Bilak, 78, died on October 27, 2004, after a long battle with cancer. An evangelist, his radio program, "The Messenger of Truth," was heard throughout Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union for more than 30 years. Within three months of the fall of the Iron Curtain [Dec. 1989], Stephan and his wife, Reba, returned to Ukraine to investigate possibilities of planting a congregation in his beloved homeland. It wasn't long before a group of believers began meeting for worship. This group is now the Old Park Church of Christ in Ternopil, Ukraine, and is actively involved in evangelistic and benevolent outreach in western Ukraine. A number of individuals and congregations have helped support Brother Bilak and this mission work. Since 1974, this ministry has been under the oversight of the Elders of the Minter Lane Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas. Stephan was born May 13, 1926, in Kosmeryn, Ukraine, and was the first child of Dimitri and Anna Derkach Bilak. At the age of 15, he was taken by the Nazis to forced labor camps in Germany. Following World War II, he studied at the Bible Institute in Nogent, near Paris, France. While there, he corresponded with and later met Martha Reba Denny. Stephan and Reba were married on March 26, 1954, in Nashville, Tennessee. They graduated from David Lipscomb University (then College) in 1957, did mission work in Canada and Plattsburg, New York; and in 1959, they began teaching at Michigan Christian College (now Rochester College). They were the parents of four children: Rebecca, Stephanie, Paul and James. In 1969 the Bilak family moved from Rochester, Michigan, to Lausanne, Switzerland. A neutral country during the Cold War, Switzerland allowed for easier access to correspondence with radio listeners. In addition to his mission work with the Slavic nations, Stephan served as the preacher for the L'Eglise du Christ in Lausanne from 1972 to 1985. His wife, Reba, died February 13, 1999. On May 24, 2001, Stephan married Carolyn Halbert Pletz in San Antonio, Texas. Carolyn also traveled to Ukraine with Stephan, and encouraged the Christians in Ternopil.”

Epifanius “Epi” Stephan Bilak page, Find a Grave website, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/55062862/epifanius-stephan-bilak

Donor Note

Donated by Jack Boyd, ACU faculty emeritus and member at Minter Lane Church of Christ, supporting congregation for Bilak's ministry beginning in 1974.

Arrangement

Tapes are numbered. This collection does not contain, though, a complete run as there are missing items.

Content List

See pdf finding aid for folder inventory.

Subjects

Ukraine

Language

Ukranian

Extent of Collection

3 linear feet (2 boxes)

Manuscript Number

Center for Restoration Studies Manuscripts #302

Physical Location

Center for Restoration Studies

Use Restrictions

Open to researchers. Contact Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives to make an appointment.

Processing Status

Processed

Finding Aid created by

McGarvey Ice, Darren Hagood, Amanda Dietz, Ashlen Planes

Subjects--Personal Names

Bilak, Epifanius Stephan

Comments

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