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We wanted to share with you some of stories of both hope and sadness. We are very thankful that the team is able to hold services and support the community, the needy, the disabled, families and refugees in so many different ways during this time. Thank you for all your support over the weeks with the war effort. It has been humbling with the amount of donations and prayer support. It is so appreciated.
On the 16th April, the team were able to gather together families and children at the centre for some fun and games!
They had around 15 families in all (around 35-40 people in total with all the parents too) and they had a great time as you can see from the photos below. These families have lost jobs and have witnessed the destruction of their homes. They were also given aid and food as well.
Due to the landmines and uncertainty of the war, many families understandably made the decision to keep people indoors. Earlier in the day the air raid sirens were sounding out warning of Russian aircraft and missiles above. These were mainly heading to Kharkiv but the very sound of these alarms brings anxiety and fear. The same as a door banging and other small things, which we may not notice but to them triggers fear.
We are thankful for the opportunity for children and families to gather together during this time. Please continue to pray for seeds to be planted in each child's and parents' heart as they receive the hope of God's Word and desperately needed peace in their hearts and minds during this time.
The team also held workshops with the elderly (Bohdan’s description of that is the 50+ group – not sure I like this description!) Our Musical Director was also helping them in how to use the internet to access more help and information.
The ill, disabled and the vulnerable are most unlikely to be able to flee and the war has only served to alleviate their difficult seasons even more. So, the question we are left to answer is who will look after them? With the cities now about to face the battering of missiles like Sumy has experienced (and still does!) there will be no easy escape route but instead an increased vulnerability.
One example of someone who myself and the team have known for quite some time is Natasha. Very sadly as a child she was involved in a motor accident which severely damaged her spinal cord. Some while back she could sit and she was an incredible painter.
One of the members of our support group managed to organise and raised funds to purchase a wheelchair amongst other things and also purchased a painting from her to give her support. Unfortunately, now a few years later she is now bedridden and having to constantly lie down. There is no help other than her mother. There is little, if any, government aid and life is bleak. The Ukraine government has not treated people like this well in the past. Then comes a war. This has been a terrible time for people like Natasha. They could not get supplies and medical needs including the very basic things like incontinence pads.
Thanks to the team they have been able to get supplies and are now helping the family with their needs. Through Natasha’s disability, her mother and brother have become Christians and are part of the church. This might seem quite a small thing but Natasha’s story is replicated in many places throughout Ukraine. Please continue to pray for hope, strength and provision for all those caring for the vulnerable and for God to be ever so close to each and every person in need during this time.
2. Please pray for the team and people who are experiencing the devastating effects of war and hopelessness
My wife and I had a video call with our Mission Director and his wife on the 16th April. It was such a special time to see them prepare for the baby but naturally also mixed with with feelings of sadness as to what world they are bringing this little one into.
There were tears shed as we discussed the future. Our Mission Director has recently been able to visit some of the villages around and he explained it was “very bad”. In Trostyanets, for example, the town is like the images we are seeing of the suburbs of Kiev. There is no town centre left – it has been flattened. Homes and belongings have been destroyed and all the tractors and farm equipment bombed so no farming of feeding can be done. Stories of abuse and torture are there as well.
The people are living in shock, dazed by what they have witnessed and broken with everything that has gone. They have nothing left. Bohdan and the team are committed this next week to trying to get as much aid and food to them as possible but in the knowledge that they cannot change the situation only bring a little help and show some love.
Please continue to pray that the team will bring light to this dark world and for their hearts to be strengthened as they find comfort in the truth of John 1:5 which says, 'The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.' May these keep shining God's love to every person and family they encounter.
I am so grateful for all your support. As always, our Mission and Music Director, alongside the rest of the team, send their thanks and greetings on behalf of the team and the church there.
Founding Director of Hope Lebedyn