A New Hope for Ukraine
"Behind the plundered lands and shops, ruined homes, schools, and hospitals are the lives of people who lost so much. But not hope. We are ready to help with everything we can to keep that hope alive.
I know we are not alone because each of you is praying, supporting, and caring. I know we are not alone because of Emanuel – God is with us."
For us here, time flies so fast. It's been almost ten months since the war began.
After numerous massive missile attacks on the country's electricity system and their partially successful attempts to put the whole country into darkness, our life and ministry got more challenging. Somedays, the power cuts last up to 11 hours, giving us 4 hours of electricity being on. It indeed affects the equipment, appliances, and routine we were used to, but at the same time, we learn to live in a "newer" new reality. There is a joke rotating among people in Ukraine, "Electricity cuts are the best coaches in time managing." I am confident that the nation that can joke about the hardships will become even stronger after the difficulties are over.
I have often traveled to the Kyiv area, Irpin city lately, to deliver humanitarian aid. ECM's Operations Director, David, was my companion on my last trip. Every time I go through the places affected by the Russian troops' occupation, I realize that what I see is only the surface. Behind the plundered lands and shops, ruined homes, schools, and hospitals are the lives of people who lost so much. But not hope. We are ready to help with everything we can to keep that hope alive.
In my previous letters, I shared the tremendous work the local church in Irpin and my friend, coworker, and pastor Stanislav had done in supporting the people during the evacuation period being the pioneers in evacuating local citizens to safer places when the Russian troops came to the area in March. After they were gone, the church was among the first to provide shelter to those who had returned - unfortunately, to find their homes badly affected by the war or ruined completely. Thanks to your donations and with the support of the ECMI, the large project of installing the module houses is on. The families with the greatest needs (disabled children and many small children) will soon again have a place to live.
The prayer "our daily bread, give us today" now has a much deeper meaning for the neediest in the Irpin area thanks to the "Peremoga" (Viсtory) bread project supported by ECM. Up to 900 loaves of bread are distributed daily in the area.
I am sure I don't have to retell the horrible stories of atrocities done to local people during the Russian occupation. Please, know that thanks to your donations, six volunteer centers in places like Irpin, Gostomel, Borodianka, Nemeshaievo, etc., are operating.
People come not only to get bread but also warm drinks, charge their devices, and get some spiritual bread. Today, Gospel is preached daily, Bible study, and children and youth groups get together weekly in each center. Lately, people have started getting together to have Sunday morning service. The six volunteer centers are turning into churches.
The Irpin Bible Church has had three baptismal services since the beginning of the war. Twenty people have joined the church family just recently. Christ's church is growing despite the efforts of Evil. Our local church is growing too. On the last Sunday of November, two people from two internally displaced families were baptized.
Our local church continues serving children, teens, and families. People in our neighborhood happily join our projects to support soldiers during the cold. Things we usually throw away become the "trench candles" - the resources of light and warmth for those who protect us and give their lives for our freedom.
As we enter the Christmas season, we think of the hope that Jesus brings through His incarnation. We realize that He is Emanuel. He is with us even in the darkest hours. To make the dark hours our nation is living in a little brighter, our church team is preparing the celebration at church on Christmas Eve. We invited the unchurched teens and youth who come to weekly meetings in the Second Mile Youth Club to celebrate Jesus with us.
To help the smaller kids to experience more normalcy and a unique Christmas spirit, we are working on organizing the Christmas Day Camp. This time, we want to engage the teens from our church in the camp program to serve others.
We, as a family, stay with our nation in Ukraine, in Lviv, which has been the most significant humanitarian hub and logistic center since the beginning of the war. Our home has become a ''bed and breakfast' for my friends and Christians traveling through Lviv to bring humanitarian aid. We sometimes have up to 8 people staying. Many different languages have been spoken in my home since then – Polish, German, and English. While meeting these people, we see again and again that we are not alone in this war, in this battle.
I know we are not alone because each of you is praying, supporting, and caring. I know we are not alone because of Emanuel – God is with us.
Thank you so much for remaining our faithful friends!
Merry Christmas! God is with us!