In mid-February I was in Ukraine. All was peaceful and quiet. That quickly changed four days after I left. On February 24, Russia attacked Ukraine in the early morning hours. Everyday life for Ukrainians was dramatically altered, as were all of our ministry endeavors. A proper response required assessing what the situation might look like for the future. Our focus quickly became two-fold: 1. Making sure that the 49 children residing at House of Joy remained safe. Delivering aid to people inside Ukraine.
House of Joy
In the first week Russian forces occupied Kahovka, hometown of House of Joy. An organization in Austria
that specializes in high level extractions twice assessed the feasibility of moving the children to a safer place. Both times, the company strongly warned us against moving the children because of a very high risk of danger. They advised the safest move was to leave them there. In late April the occupying forces began flying Soviet Union flags in the city. At that point a decision was made that something should be done. Through the tireless efforts of the staff, with some opening their own homes, all 49 children were safely hidden in private homes. To this day, they remain safe, for which we are very thankful.
Helping Displaced Ukrainians
We were in a position to focus on the people still inside Ukraine by working closely with a broad network of churches we’ve developed relationships with through the years of ministry in Ukraine. There have been an estimated 6 million Ukrainians who had to flee their homes. Many were women and children who
had to leave their husbands, as well as most of their belongings, behind. The churches opened their doors to those fleeing for their lives. As an example, here is how Bishop Rostislav Murakh’s church uses the support we send.
• Providing short-term and long-term shelter for internally displaced people, up to almost 150 people per
night. In addition to that, church families opened their own homes to people. We have purchased furniture to assist with this.
• Delivering humanitarian supplies. Bishop Murakh presides over a network of 58 other churches.
Through their network of churches, they created a delivery chain – churches located along the border in
Zakarpattya, Lviv, Volyn, Chernivtsy region are the first ones to receive humanitarian supplies from abroad, mostly through Poland. Then they either send the trucks/ vans directly to the locations across the country or, more commonly, they do it like a relay – Uzhgorod delivers to Khmelnytskyi, Khmelnytskyi delivers to Cherkasy, Cherkasy passes the aid on to Poltava/Kharkiv/Dnipro regions. It is vitally important for the shipment in the combat zones or areas close to them to be conducted by local pastors/ churches/ people, as they know the road maps by heart, especially the routes not popular with navigation systems. Khmelnytskyi is like a crossroad for all other bordering states – Chernivtsi, Uzhgorod/ Zakarpattya, Lviv, Lutsk/Volyn. They’ve delivered supplies to several spots in combat zones.
• The church supports its members who serve in the army either as chaplains or servicemen, equipping
them with everything they can.
This has been a great display of teamwork, leaving us amazed at the resiliency of the people. Through the various points of distribution in Ukraine where our relationships are strong, we have been able to send finances enabling the churches to get what they need to put it in the hands of those in greatest need. These pictures are a small sampling of what your generosity has enabled to help them with. We have been blessed to be able to provide finances to help some churches buy vans for distribution purposes, purchase clothing, food, furniture, as well providing the greatest resource, God’s Word. A
huge thank you to all who have partnered with us in this!
below are some of the notes we’ve received expressing thanks to you for your generosity.
“We are sincerely grateful to this ministry for providing us financial assistance. May the Lord’s abundant blessings and favor rest upon them!” Bishop Rostislav Murakh
“Please send Jim & Pam our biggest ‘thank you’! With this help we’ll be able to keep reaching out to our IDPs. We pray to God to open their hearts to the Good News. May Jesus beglorified!” Pastor Misha Ostanin
“We just received your help. Very timely. Huge ‘THANK YOU’! You are incredible angels of God for us! United we will win!” Pastor Sergey Tsalko
“We just received the monetary support from the ministry! All of my people are very grateful. In fact, it made one of our deaconesses cry. Several days ago, she gave 1,000 UAH ($25) out of the least she had to buy groceries for one church family, believing that God will multiply her seed. And then, several
days later, she’s received 6,000 UAH ($150) from you!” Pastor Aleksey Malyshev
This year we have received generous donations to help Ukrainians from people we have never met. We are extremely grateful to each person who felt to share in this. There are millions affected by this. Although we cannot assist all we are determined to help as many as possible through our network of Ukrainian relationships.
If you desire to brighten the life of a Ukrainian child or family this Christmas season, please designate your gift as “Ukraine Relief”. We have a way to get finances to families behind the front line as well as other families who are displaced from their homes. Please continue to pray for the people of both nations who are caught in the crosshairs of a war they do not want.