Ukrainians Risking Their Lives to Serve Others

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On February 24, a full-scale invasion of Ukraine began. Russian troops began shelling civilians, saying that they were saving Ukrainians from neo-Nazis, whom we could not see anywhere ourselves.

As the pastor of a local church, I had to take our local church out of town to safety.

The city of Volchansk borders the Belgorod region of Russia. On February 24 at 4:40 a.m. they started bombing our country, and the explosions also hit the outskirts of our city. Already in the first hours we began evacuating the church. The occupants quickly entered the city. We barely had time to leave as tanks came in. Our Volchansk district and the neighboring Burluk district were separated from the rest of Ukraine by 3 bridges, and a few hours later they started blowing them up. Because of the damaged bridges, these districts became cut off from Ukraine as early as the morning of February 24.

Then a new phase of ministry began: delivering humanitarian aid from Western Ukraine to regions affected by shelling or occupation, and taking residents to safe places, carrying the gospel to them.  Each such meeting is accompanied by brothers’ and sisters’ prayer and testimony of the living God. In 2.5 months of this ministry: thousands of kilometers, hundreds of meetings, many villages, towns, and 1000 destinies. Many towns and villages have been bombed, local churches and residents are suffering from lack of food, water and medicine. People are grateful for help from a large family of Christians, and I am honored to be an instrument in God’s hands as well.

One story of the evacuation from the village of Stary Saltov on 01.05.2022.

 My friends and I brought humanitarian aid to the de-occupied part of the village. The locals started asking to be taken to Kharkiv. They had no transport, and the settlement was shelled mercilessly. At first, there were 50 people who wished to be evacuated. And transport was found for them on May 2, 2022. At the arrival of the second day, there were not 50, but 200 people, and more began to arrive. The shelling did not stop.

To quickly get people to a relatively safe place, we and our brothers from Kharkiv in three cars from Stary Saltov on a bad dirt road, overloaded cars were taken to a neighboring village and then another bus took them to Kharkiv.  This was done by God’s children. There was no official evacuation, because it was impossible to secure the evacuation buses. And this is true. When I went to pick people up from the five-story building, there was an explosion. It was probably meant for us, as it was on the road where we had just passed. As we drove back, we saw a three-meter “crater” in the road – a trace from a blown up shell that could have hit our car, but God spared us. Meanwhile, many Christians were “praying” diligently for us.

After 3 days of evacuation, we were no longer allowed into the village, it was mercilessly shelled.  The house from which we evacuated 50 residents who were hiding in the basement was bombed the next day, it burned down. Thank God, if we hadn’t, there could have been casualties. This is a living testimony to the work of God! We are grateful to him that in such a difficult time we can see his saving hand.

All our thoughts, our souls are with family, friends and the church in Volchansk, where occupied territory, not enough food, almost no communication, possible only in roaming and that is dangerous and there is no way to top up the phone. It is quiet there, no bombs are exploding, but the occupiers have established their authority and are cutting off any attempts to help from Ukraine-controlled territory. In addition, they removed equipment from the factory and set up a prison and concentration camp there. People who do not please them, men and young men, are taken away, beaten, tortured, and forced to work for themselves. Some managed to leave, but many still can’t.

 My heart goes out to Kharkiv, where bombings, rockets and shelling do not stop, houses and churches close to us are falling apart and people are sitting in their houses without heating and water, and to Mariupol, where the situation is even worse: almost the entire city is destroyed, there is absolutely no water, food, medicine, people are being taken to Russian territory, their documents and phones are taken away by force.

 And the whole country is in danger, deprivation and grief. We want very much to help those who stayed there. We pray and try to find support for this ministry among Christians all over the world.

 The car I have is dedicated to the Lord. It was used to evangelize the Kharkov region for many years before the war. During the war it underwent a great ordeal of lack of roads, heavy overload during evacuations and humanitarian relief supplies, and fell into disrepair. 

Today there is a great need to purchase a minibus for ministry in Ukraine. There are still many needs related to the war in Ukraine and many needs related to transportation. In this difficult time people need a practical gospel, salvation to eternal life, and a living word from Christians. 

Thank you for your prayers, for your support, to everyone who is involved in ministry in Ukraine.

May the Lord bless you.

Nicholas Sukhina