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Another week has passed where the chaotic life living through the war disrupts normality. Every day drones and missiles are being intercepted with loud explosions nearby. Wednesday night was exceptionally bad, with many explosions and sirens going all night. Children are attending school often only for an hour, to spend 2 hours in a cold, unheated bunker then sent home. It is all very distressing for parents and many are planning to leave and emigrate to other safe havens. Lebedyn and Sumy is safer than down in the south, but is becoming a very transient town. People are arriving and leaving at the same time.
Through this past week many came along to all the clubs for the teenagers and children, as well as for the many other meetings. The Centre has been a hive of activity. As shown in the pictures above and below, the team have been out once again delivering food to those in nearby villages, and who live locally but are vulnerable or have no means to support themselves. Many family members are coming back from the frontline without limbs and with serious injury which is creating new issues.
When speaking with Bohdan, he told me that many families are struggling to make ends meet now and food in some areas is scarce. He also told me a story of how the war is affecting his family and his boys. Ratmir (Bohdan’s middle son) has a close friend in his class at school. This boy’s father has been fighting in the war, but has been sent home with very bad injuries and has had to have his leg amputated. He is still not well and now they are saying that he might have to have his other leg amputated. His mother is struggling financially, because if the father is not fighting he is not getting paid, and there is little or no social care. So, Bohdan and team have delivered, aid, food and clothes to the family and in the picture below you can see Ratmir’s friend reading the books and bible that was put in. Let’s pray for him.
Valentine looks after the older teenagers and youth. He has been invaluable over this past year and still continues his studies part time at the Ukraine Theological Seminary during the war. He is just 22. Yesterday he received news that his mother had died. Valentine, like so many children before the war, was abandoned by his parents after his parents divorced at just the age of 3. His Grandmother and Aunt Ola took him in and cared for him. Not long after, his Grandmother passed away leaving all the care to his aunt. It was a happy place, but he would very rarely see his mother. His aunt in looking for things to do, came to the Centre and sent Valentine to the children’s and then youth work. They both came became Christians through the work of the church and this made so much difference in their lives.
Valentine said he does not know how to grieve as he doesn’t have any memories of his mother or father. He has immersed himself into the work and when everything is back to “normal” wants to work in colleges and senior schools to show young people there is another way to life.
There is another lovely twist to this, as sometimes he was sent to another Aunt, Alla (yes another Alla!!) in town for some respite for his main caring aunt. He has been encouraging her to come to the Centre during the war so as to be prayed for, and a month or so ago she too became a Christian and now wants to be baptised. It is an amazing story of God’s grace on a young man who had nothing but gave everything to Jesus! Please pray for Valentine at this time as his Mother moved to and lived in Russia when she let left him, and so he cannot even attend his mother’s funeral.
The team continue to plan for the Easter/Spring camps for the children. The puppet show plays a major part in all the camp work. Thankfully, “Musical” Sergey, after a period of sickness, is now back to work, but because so many families are leaving, many of the children that performed in the puppet show have gone, leaving him to find yet another new team.
Thank you for your continuing support and prayers.
Founding Director of Hope Lebedyn