Ukraine has a long history of unrest. Countless men and women have fled west, seeking refuge from brutal abuse and bloodshed.
In 1919, it was young Marichen, who was covered in deep cuts over her whole body. She and 16-year old neighbour Henry Regehr watched anarchists massacre their families. They fled hand in hand through the snow, the only two to escape from Münsterberg, Ukraine.
In 2014, it was Maria. She and her family fled Donetsk, Ukraine, a region under armed Russian and pro-Russian terrorist command, where Malaysia 777 was shot down July 17. Held captive for six days, Maria was tortured, her flesh cut deeply. Her family’s crime? They stood in the city centre with other believers and prayed for peace.
Now, in Kyiv, Maria and her family are receiving care through Music Mission Kiev.
Wes Janzen – grandson of Henry Regehr – thought of Marichen when saw the ghastly wounds on Maria’s neck, back, arms and hands. Janzen is president of Music Mission Kiev and conductor of MMK’s musical arm, the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (KSOC). In Ukraine for most of 2014, he has witnessed a rapidly growing refugee crisis, similar to the one his grandfather experienced 95 years ago.
Held in high regard in Kyiv, having served effectively for 22 years, MMK is positioned to respond rapidly with food, clothing and Bibles. MMK offers English lessons, children’s music lessons and a weekly worship service with 170 refugees from Crimea, Sloviansk and Donetsk.
“We’ve even planted a church in their midst,” says Janzen.
Janzen’s wife Kim teaches Bible lessons to hundreds of widows each week, and many are coming to Christ. “There have been snipers on rooftops,” says Janzen, but “we are seeing the blessing of God in the midst of the storm.”
When the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and Chorus tours Canada, Sept. 7–Oct. 12, 2014, Janzen says, “I am especially looking forward to bringing these 42 Ukrainian musicians to Steinbach MB Church (Oct. 3, 2014), where my grandfather Regehr pastored. Many times in Ukraine, I’ve told the story of how he chose the way of Jesus – the way of forgiveness.”