As churches across Ukraine continue to provide temporary shelter to families traveling to safer lands, our ministry partners in Ukraine remain steadfast in their mission to provide families who are at their most vulnerable state with basic comfort as well as the lasting hope of the gospel.
For the refugee families that pass through these churches, life has irrevocably changed in ways far beyond the act of leaving their homes. Stories of violence and death will remain with them. But so, too, will stories of God’s faithfulness.
Pastor Vladimir shared a story of a family of five who survived ten days in their basement while Russian soldiers occupied their home above them. Occasionally, they ventured out into the house when the soldiers were away but always went back to the basement when they returned.
The family’s youngest daughter began journaling her experience during this time. On one occasion, she forgot her journal in the house when they fled to the basement for the evening. The next morning, she found her journal where she had left it, but all the pages she had written on had been torn out. Instead, she found a letter from a Russian solder telling her not to worry. He went on to explain that he did not want to be there, and he would not hurt her. The family joined a caravan of cars fleeing the area a few days later and made it to safety.
The father of another family shared the story of his mother and sister who were visited twice by Russian soldiers. The first time, they simply rummaged through their belongings and left. The second time, a gun was held to his mother’s head while threats were made against his unmarried sister. Despite her fear, the young woman felt the Lord’s presence. He gave her the words to dissuade the soldier from his evil intentions, and the soldiers left them alone.
Pastor Oleg from another church shared Lyena’s story of God’s faithfulness.
The road near the home where Lyena lived with her parents became a convenient road for invading forces to reach Kyiv. Within just a few days of the start of the invasion, most of the houses along the road had been captured, and invading soldiers were living in the houses there.
Russian soldiers came to Lyena’s home, checking for weapons and generators. Though many civilians in the district had been killed, the soldiers didn’t harm Lyena or her parents. Instead, they warned them that their house might be destroyed and took them to an abandoned home in another part of the town that was further from the road.
When a shell hit the house next to the one they were brought to the following day, Lyena and her parents were sent back to their home.
“We had never prayed so much before,” Lyena shared. “I had never read the Psalms so thoughtfully before. It was the encouragement that brought tears of gratitude and joy. I realized that only when you walk through the valley of mortal darkness, you learn to completely trust God, and then you are not afraid, because the Lord is with you.”
Different soldiers came two days later, and, once again, the Lord protected Lyena and her parents. The Russian soldiers didn’t take food or try to harm them. The soldiers didn’t support the war at all, since they each had family in Ukraine, but they had no choice but to fight.
Just over two weeks after the start of the invasion, after a sleepless night of near-constant explosions, Lyena and her parents left their home. It wasn’t until the next day that they learned that more than half of their town had been destroyed. There was no one left in town for them to stay with, so they kept moving on.
As they joined others on a bus with a broken windshield and cabinet doors covering the rest of the windows, Lyena reflected on God’s mercy toward them.
Please continue to join us in prayer for the people of Ukraine. As they bear witness to the atrocities of war, may they also experience God’s unending faithfulness.