When Home is Not Safe
In the early hours of September 22, we received this text from Maxym O., director of New Hope center in Zaporizhzhya: “A rocket just hit the TV tower near our apartment building. The glass in the windows blew out in the entrance and in some apartments. Our daughter Katya was at home, and very scared.
“Thank God, she is alive. Please, continue to pray for us and for Ukraine.”
Throughout that day, nine more missiles landed in this area. Katya had only recently, like many other displaced Ukrainians that sought refuge outside of Ukraine, decided to return to her country, her parents, and her home.
The Ukraine MB conference (AMBCU) blogpost affirms that “despite the war that continues to literally tear apart the country and takes human lives every day, people want to come home… Hundreds of thousands of children had to leave their homes, schools and part with their best friends and close relatives… “One thirteen-year-old boy was from occupied Kherson; he had to leave home for Chernivtsi because of the war. When asked, ‘How are you?’ he answered, ‘Far from home.’”
The New Hope Center teams have started a significant work together with the municipal social services of Zaporizhzhia, meeting for training once a week to give support, share valuable information, and strategize relief efforts. One topic of the training was the Poverty Stoplight Program, with the goal to raise the standard of living for people in every sphere. Social workers are eager to see how they can apply in practice this resource in their work with families in crisis. The partnership is rich and fruitful, and Maxym writes of the joy felt by all as they serve together to bring hope and healing to their part of Ukraine.”
Life in a Cellar
MB pastor Oleksii M. writes of another visit to the front-line city of Avdeevka to deliver humanitarian aid. The war has brought increased pain and destruction to this place, and the dark circumstances had obviously impacted its inhabitants. He writes, “In the absence of goodness, life is inevitably filled with something disgusting and dark. Here there is an absence of light, gas and water; replaced by darkness, cold and thirst. The lack of utilities has plunged the city into chaos and brought debris and mud to the broken streets. Lack of work and money has led to anger and blame. ‘Nobody cares about us. We have been left to die,’ they say. Some turn to lies and theft, cynical that any help will reach them and feeling that they have been abandoned to fend for themselves.”
Lack of adequate housing, the absence of family and friends, an unsustainable rhythm of life and intolerable conditions in the damp and stuffy cellars where they are forced to live has resulted in trauma, poor health and an overwhelming sense of fatigue and irritability. Oleksii’s team delivered flashlights, candles, batteries, food and sanitary items to these people, hoping to make their lives a little more bearable.
“Don’t stop praying for the people who live on the frontline! Pray for their safety and pray for them to come out of the darkness, a darkness which is both spiritual and physical. The war reveals many contrasts. 1 John 1:5 tells us that God is light, and there is no darkness in Him. John 12:46 says that Jesus is the light and came into the world so that none of those who believe in him would be in the darkness. We must bring this light to Ukraine.
Winter is Coming
AMBCU conference minister Roman R. writes of his countrymen preparing for a harsh winter, where fuel for heating will be scarce if not nonexistent. Missile strikes have destroyed many municipal heating networks, and the evacuation of the population has been announced in several regions. Some are preparing by stocking up on firewood. Pray for those who are especially vulnerable in these circumstances, such as the sick, elderly, isolated, and those forced to live in cellars and other inadequate shelters.
Together, We Can
MB pastor Alexei Y. reports that they continue to gather with displaced refugees to share the Gospel, pray, and even – against the natural inclinations one would expect under these circumstances – to sing. He writes, “Volunteers and relief workers do not just share in word, but in deeds, and with huge hearts! We met together in Vinnytsia to distribute care packages from Mission Eurasia, with whom we are partnering. Meeting practical needs, and just listening to their stories, this makes a huge difference.
“Together, we can do a lot!”
Hundreds of thousands of pounds of food have been packed and sent to the east of the country by teams of young adults over the past six months. These volunteers are themselves refugees from the occupied territories of Zaporizhzhia and Donbas, but they work tirelessly to send aid to those in need. One participant remarked, “It will be fine Ukraine that has generations of such sons and daughters, jealous messengers of the Gospel, who are at the forefront of the humanitarian efforts. Pray for them that God will preserve and give them even more strength.”
MB pastor Sergei F. from the Small Arch Church was distributing relief in Kyiv when his wife Nastya gave birth to their first child, a girl, in Bielefeld, Germany. While all praise God for the safe delivery, and the safety of both mother and child in Germany, there is grief at being apart for so long. Pray for pastor Sergei as he continues to serve in Kyiv, where their church plant has relaunched Sunday services and is celebrating a different kind of new birth, through conversions and baptisms. Pray for the reuniting of families like his.
Pray for peace in Ukraine.
New Hope Center in Zaporizhzhya continues to minister to more and more families in crisis, offering temporary shelter and helping the displaced to continue westward. Seeking to broaden their resources for ministry to the traumatized, some of their team spent time learning from a nonprofit organization in Chisinau, Moldova. One team member writes, “It was a really inspiring experience for us. We learned about their programs and had a chance to participate in art therapy classes.” Maxym Oliferovski, New Hope director, continues to plan for the future, recognizing that ministry to the displaced and traumatized will require a long-term strategy that offers months, not days, of shelter, rehabilitation, retraining and pastoral care.
Maxym writes, “It’s been half a year since the full scale invasion in Ukraine began. The needs are still so vast! We continue to run the shelter that you helped us to remodel, but besides meeting physical needs, we want to start meeting people’s emotional and mental needs. These ones are more difficult to meet, and so our team is being trained in post-traumatic stress disorder. We hope to prevent the effects of war trauma in the future by giving support to the families now. We need to start planning for the future of our country, and this will be a long-term goal. Please pray for strength and wisdom, as we envision and begin new ministry projects.”
War is hard on marriages and families. Ukraine MB conference minister Roman Rakhuba tells of recent outreach events which focus on the alarming increase in domestic violence in Ukraine. Together with local police, they visit various communities to distribute both food and informative booklets, praying with individuals, families as well as with police officers. Pray for God’s people to continue to minister in unity as they oppose evil, heal hearts, and persevere in kindness and generosity. Pray for peace.
Thank you for your ongoing donations toward Ukraine ministries. Because of you, Multiply’s Ukraine Team continues to be involved in evangelism, discipleship, leadership training, church planting, and emergency relief – all supported through our Ukraine Ministry project. The New Hope Training Center, under the leadership of Multiply Ukraine leaders Maxym and Anya Oliferovski, continues to care for families in crisis and to plan for future ministry that will help their country to recover from the trauma of war. Our Ukraine MB churches continue to focus on the marginalized, the poor, and those who have been left behind by society and traditional churches, as well as providing immediate emergency relief to the damaged and displaced. Thank you for your generous support and, especially, for your prayers.