Pastor Oleksii Makaiov reflects on the intensified invasion of Ukraine:
“It was impossible to imagine that we would ever go through this. The feeling of confusion in the first days of a full-scale invasion was replaced by a clear understanding that action was needed. We started feeding people, smuggling them out, rescuing and accommodating them. Refugees are [like living] stories – thousands of tragic stories of pain and loss. We want to help at least someone, in this huge sea of need…
“We are grateful to all who collect cargo, donate money, transport, receive and distribute. May God be the answer to all your needs and the peace of God shall fill your hearts.”
Oleksii and his team have engaged in the following recent relief efforts:
bringing humanitarian aid to Svetlovodsk and Zolotonosha, where there are refugees who have fled from Myrnograd, Avdeevka and Ocheretino.
delivering food to Novomoskovsk, where the local church sorts and distributes food packages to refugees coming from the Donbass.
delivering food and personal care products to those in Dnipro. One local church has established a refugee shelter on their property, where more than 70 people receive daily food and a place to sleep. These are people from Donbass and Kharkov, many of whom have had their homes destroyed and have been living in a shelter for over two months.
Pastor Maxym Oliferovski shares that since their New Hope Center in Zaporizhzhya was converted to a shelter it has housed over 300 IDP’s (Internally Displaced People / Refugees). Praise the Lord for this initiative and the courageous and generous people behind it!
Chaplain Oleg in Zaporizhzhya writes: “The enemy is shooting heavily with artillery. They have a lot of ammunition and hit from afar…I have been talking to the [soldiers] a lot about our Jesus; they have a distorted view of him. But it’s good to see the faces of people when they hear about our Savior’s feat of love, how the truth sinks into their minds and hearts and how clearly it begins to make little changes in their understanding. After conversations like these, God’s love flows from my heart like a river. I love my work. I hug you!”
Pastor Alexei Yuditsenko in Berdyansk writes: “How many broken hearts, lives, destroyed homes, burned cars, violence and many, many things that cannot be conveyed in words or photos. “When you look at what evil is doing around you, the brain cannot cope with the amount of pain and suffering of my people! Every day I pray for people to come home. I pray that the people of Ukraine kneel only before God! It hurts to see swear words on signs, stickers on cars, on T-shirts … I really want to see God everywhere! His words should be read, not blasphemous words. Pray for my people!”
The Ukrainian half of the website shelterhouse.org.ua has been created for those seeking or offering help in the West and in the East of Ukraine. The shelters and especially the relief goods have many more donors than are mentioned there, with partners that include Multiply, MCC, and the Austrian MFÖ church in Mukachevo.
More and more displaced persons are fleeing west to escape the worst of the war. While Western Ukraine is relatively safe, no one ever feels completely safe. Despite the front lines being a thousand kilometers away, people are always mindful that there is no place that is beyond the reach of cruise missiles.
Pastor Oleksii Makaiov reports on the situation in Avdiivka, outside Donetsk: “We hold meetings in the cellars. People have been living in basements for three months now – without electricity, without ventilation, without water. [When] we get out of the underground and go upstairs, there are no people, a lot of destruction, rockets fly almost non-stop, there might be silence sometime for maybe only twenty minutes. People come out of the cellars only if someone brings food, or if you need to cook food, or if you need to run home to feed your livestock or pet… It is a disaster…”
The MB Conference in Ukraine (AMBCU) expresses concern that, as the war drags on, “photographs of buildings gone down like houses of cards, or videos of grubby children in Mariupol queuing for bread and crying when you try to talk to them [have become] white noise for the world community”. Instead, they want to convey to the world the incredible impact that is being made through the generosity of others. They write:
“During the war, Christians [must] rally to make good news prevail. On the big news portals, they rarely show a photo of a smiling lonely grandmother who was brought groceries. But we do. It is hard to say exactly what happens in a person’s heart when faced kindness, but more than once people have burst into tears when they were given food or medicine… Please know that your unceasing prayers and gifts have a profound impact on relieving the suffering of thousands of Ukrainians.”
Pastor and New Hope director Maxym Oliferovski writes: “The economy has been going down, prices are up for food, gas and most items. We distribute humanitarian aid kits in Mukachevo, Zaporozhye, Dnipro, Novomoskovsk, Kiev, Kharkiv, and Donetsk. When we give a food kit to a family in need, we know they need much more than this. And so we do provide more – relationships are being built, with opportunities to share about God’s love and grace. People are open to listen.”
Maxym continues: “Zaporizhzhya and Mukachevo have hosted about 300 refugees in two months. In Zaporizhzhya the dynamics have changed, with more middle age and older people trying to find a temporary place to live not so far from their own homes, hoping to return soon. In Mukachevo shelter, people are staying longer. Many are men who cannot leave Ukraine because of military restrictions.”
As the months of relentless attack stretch on with no respite in sight, Maxym and the New Hope Center staff and volunteers continue to serve tirelessly, seeking to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their ravaged homeland.
shelterhouse.org.ua has been created for those seeking or offering help in the West and in the East of Ukraine, with partners that include Multiply, MCC, and the Austrian MFÖ church in Mukachevo.
In this photo, New Hope workers express their vision to help people move from merely surviving, to having abundant life in Jesus.
In Lithuania, pastors Gediminas Dailyde, Valdas Vaitkeviiusand others continue to be engaged in relief work with refugees as well as delivering supplies to the Ukraine – Poland border. A partnership with Operation Mobilization has proven to be very fruitful. Gediminas was thankful to be able to share a recent excursion to the border with his son Joel, pictured here. Even the youngest generation is being shaped by this war, and believers are encouraging generosity, courage, and hope in Jesus.
Multiply global worker in France, Paul Raugust, also traveled to the western zone of Ukraine and was involved with delivering supplies and engaging with the people there. He reports: “In many ways, life in western Ukraine goes on as usual with work, online school, grocery shopping, restaurants, etc. You could almost forget about the war. Except. Except for the stories of loss. Except for the barricades alongside the roads to block invading forces. Except for the soldiers in fatigues milling about alongside the public. Except for the crowded cities, with 50% more population due to refugees.”
But Paul also saw the Church at work, remodeling and repurposing their buildings to house and feed refugees, giving of their resources, time, love, and energy. “There are stories of miraculous provision, of people coming at the right time, of the exact amount of money arriving to purchase mattresses needed, of safety on the front lines as the Russian army passed by without seeing those hiding behind a wall, and of supernatural peace. But support from outside sources is diminishing, and more of the burden is falling to these local churches. Teams are dwindling as people burn out. Keep praying!”
Pastor Alexei Yuditsenko of the Heart of Christ MB Church in Berdyansk likewise tells of the weariness settling in, as people labor to stay engaged and to have stamina to keep helping. “It is a country under fire, where tension and poverty are extreme. Every day more and more people are permanently without work and funds. At the very beginning, a huge number of people wanted to help and were looking for an opportunity to serve people, but now there are fewer, even though there are many more problems.”
The social media feed of the Ukraine MB conference (AMBCU) reports that Avdiivka has been a front-line city since 2014 due to its close proximity to Donetsk (about 10 km) and is being subjected to massive shelling. The population has decreased from more than 35,000 people to 3,000, with the remaining populace forced to cook outdoors on fires when it is safe to do so, and otherwise live in basements to escape the shelling.
On the night of June 21, phosphorus shells were fired on the city. As a result, a school building which had been housing a humanitarian aid headquarters was burned down. AMBCU quotes Andrii, one of the participants of that humanitarian ministry: “I was shaken, watching the video news feed of fire dancing and crackling on the roof of my school. Nine years of my life passed in this school; here I was taught to count, write and read, and now only memories of this remain.” This is the third school burned to the ground in Avdiivka. A nearby residential area was also hit by incendiary shells, and the city hospital and shopping centers are continuously shelled, resulting in many injuries and deaths.
Pastor Oleksii Makaiov in Dnipro also entreats prayer and aid, and supplies the following photos of the crisis in this city: “Friends, we ask you to pray for the people in Avdeyevka. Your support is vitally important!”