When Russia invaded Ukraine, churches all over the country mobilized to help those affected by the war. They evacuate people from war zones and provide food, water, medicine and other supplies, shelter, and spiritual and emotional support. Those who serve others often risk their own lives, but they have also witnessed miracles of God’s provision and protection in the middle of chaos. Following are some stories from one of the 13,000 Evangelical churches in Ukraine, in the town of Vyshneve near Kyiv.
Early in the war, one of the church’s pastors received a call from a woman who said she was hiding from bombings in a basement in Bucha along with 13 other people and that they were running out of food. The pastor immediately collected some food and, together with his wife, drove to deliver it to this group of people, thinking that the whole trip would take half an hour or so. Instead it turned into a 14-day ordeal during which their lives were threatened a number of times.
Shortly after they arrived at the home, Russian troops moved into the town and the pastor and his wife were trapped in the basement with the people they’d come to help. Several days later, when the group tried to escape in several cars, Russian soldiers shot at and damaged the vehicles, making them undrivable. Miraculously, no one was killed. They had to hide in another basement for days until two brave volunteers, risking their own lives, showed up and helped them escape, evading numerous Russian checkpoints. Once again, their survival was a miracle as they were stopped and threatened by various soldiers along the way. The pastor said that on the first day of the ordeal, he received a word from God that just as in the apostle Paul’s shipwreck in Acts 27, none of the lives of those with him would be lost. He praises the Lord for how this promise came true.
About 40 minutes from Bucha, in a village called Motyzhyn, the church opened a rehabilitation program for people struggling with alcohol and drug addiction. They built a special facility for this purpose and have helped many people experience God’s liberating love and start a new chapter in their lives. Unfortunately, when the Russian army occupied this village, soldiers shot at and threw grenades at the building, causing significant damage. They destroyed a cargo van that the center used for its needs and captured one of the people responsible for the program. Most of the residents evacuated in time, but one man couldn’t move on his own. The church’s minister stayed with him. Russian soldiers captured him, kept him in a pit and tortured him for four days, often threatening to kill him. But miraculously, the minister managed to escape, while twenty other hostages were brutally murdered and buried in a mass grave.
Recently, a team from the church was evacuating people from a dangerous area in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine. They filled the church’s bus with twenty people and started driving, but then a landmine exploded under the vehicle. The bus was badly damaged, but nobody inside was injured! They managed to escape, despite very heavy fighting in the area. They praise the Lord for protecting their lives even though they lost their bus.
All these stories come from just one church. There are countless other stories of Ukrainian believers remaining faithful to God and knowing his presence and deliverance despite unimaginable suffering. They have truly been a light to the world in the midst of war.