Update 26th January 2023

Young people meeting after school
Despite the sirens the young people meet after school

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Dear Friends,

As 11 months of the war have passed, tensions are rising once again. What you will be reading in the news is happening in Sumy.

The situation feels like its escalating...

Today, I spent some time chatting with the team whilst sirens were going off as they have been for the past 48 hours, almost non-stop. Shops are closed and there are long queues for banks, sometimes taking over 4 hours to withdraw cash. People are starting to sell things to get money to be ready to flee, if necessary.

New conscription laws are coming into place to try and get those that have fled the country back to fight. They are only giving permission for males to be out of the country for 3 months maximum. If they do not return, they have threatened to imprison them if they go back after the war. Everything seems to be going up another gear now.

Young people continue to meet...

Power, and therefore heat and light, are becoming more sporadic which is dampening people's resolve. This has affected some of the work the team have been doing as numbers have been lower than normal. Parents will not let their teenagers come to the clubs (understandably) with no streetlights and sirens going off. That being said, around 30 will still come out and after school Alla has many that just come and meet, all arranged by the young people, and show in the picture above. Less people were also out at the teenagers homegroup, but again, those that came had a great time.

Food supplies are running short...

Food is now becoming more difficult to find, and this week we have been trying to work with the team to source aid and food supplies. We had the offer of 5 tons of aid from Romania, but we had to pick it up, and sadly we could not make this happen. We still have some supplies, but with shops closed things will get very tight soon. They still have supplies to help mothers with young children’s food, but aid is now going to be the next challenge given Lebedyn’s position in the country.

A funeral this week...

For Bohdan, and some of the team, they had the funeral of one of his close friends, Vyacheslav . He had been a lieutenant in the police until his call up to the army to fight, and was a massive help to Bohdan and the camps we have run over the years. He was actively involved in his church when not away with the army, and over 500 attended. He leaves behind a wife and children, and was only 47.

God is faithful...

On the faith side of things, many are still coming to the church for help and prayer. New Christians are asking to be baptised and numbers are growing weekly with new believers. Bohdan said it is strange to be planning a baptismal service when sirens are going off! The team want to do a special Easter camp for the children. This year they only get one week off school. Musical Sergey is preparing a new theatre production of the Easter story which will be shown daily for everyone.

We have also had delivered thousands of packets of seeds. Each year these are given out to the needy families in the area (plus some for the Centre’s allotment patch!) to grow vegetables and fruit. For some this is an absolute lifeline, and the only way they will find food. A service is held where they are distributed, and then people come back in September for a harvest service to give thanks for their produce.

The team’s appetite for the work they do is just so impressive. They all look tired, but they are resolute and undefeated in their goals and mission.

Once again the team send their thanks for all the love and support they are getting. It is keeping them going - that is for sure!

Every blessing,

Peter Martin

Founding Director of Hope Lebedyn

All the youth posing for a photo in the Centre
The youth gathered at the Centre this week

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Dear Friends,

This week I was able to have a long chat with Bohdan about the situation out there.

Locally, the situation is much about the same, with power being slightly more regular in its supply and sticking to their 4 hours on and 2 hours off with residential buildings. The children are struggling as each area of town has different times for their power outage, and this doesn’t connect with the school’s online programme. Education is fast becoming untenable with this situation.

At the Centre we still have power and the authorities have connected us to the main power site directly, so unless they get bombed, the Centre will have power all the time. Plus, we have been able to acquire 2 large generators which have the capacity to run both buildings – they have been donated through another charity working out of Greece. This has been a real answer to prayer. Bohdan is now going to talk with the local schools to see whether the Centre could be used for an after-school club, and run refreshments and help for parents at the same time. We could be fast overcome by demand and then have the same issues as the school, so we need wisdom on how to do this in the best way.

An increase in military activity...

In Lebedyn, troops numbers have been building again and many more are seen patrolling the area. This is in response to a build up of troops along the Russian border once again. Currently, there are over 2,000 troops based in the city which raises the risk to more military activity. They use Lebedyn as a hub for resting soldiers before sending them back out to the front line. One soldier known to the Centre had served on the frontline for 8 months without a break. He was told originally he could have 2 months off and then go back, but with the current situation they recalled him after just one week. Bohdan said he was exhausted.

New statistics have been released and it is being reported that:

  • Over 114,130 Russian soldiers have been killed. Many being left in fields where they have died in battle.
  • 500,000 new conscripts will be sought by spring for the Russian army.
  • It is strongly rumoured that is a spring offensive is being planned by Russia using 700,000 soldiers.
  • It is estimated that over 100,000 of these soldiers will be killed in the first 3 months of the offensive.
  • Today it was announced that Russia has bought 21 mobile crematoriums from China to cope with the loss of life from this new planned offensive.
  • In one prison in Russia, 270 prisoners were conscripted and only 30 are still alive due to their inexperience and lack of equipment.
  • Ukraine has had reported 7,031 civilian deaths of which 433 were children. This will not include things like the mass graves, and some places in the deep south where it is hard to quantify the level of loss.
  • Until January 10th 2023, over 17.4 million people have fled and officially registered at a border crossing. Many have returned back home but still there are many based in Europe.

All of this has been weighing heavy with the team. Conscription looks more and more likely for some of them, including “Farmer” Sergey as those studying are currently not conscripted. This is likely to change. Bohdan still has his military release papers so he will be safe from going to fight.

Bohdan has asked that we particularly pray for them as a family and the team and their families. Pray for peace and safety and that the work they do in the mission centre as it continues.

Activities at the Centre this week...

This week the team have been focussing on helping families that are struggling. Nappies have been given out daily to those parents needing them as there are so few in the shops locally. The children’s and youth work continue. At the top of the page and below are pictures taken this week of the young people, and those around the table have asked Bohdan for a weekly bible study group so they can understand more in their faith journey. Many of them have become Christians recently.

Youth gathered around a table during a Bible study session they have requested.

Aid continues to be needed...

The team have also helped many other people as word continues to spread about that we are doing. The family pictured below were given aid and support. They live in a village just outside Lebedyn and they simply have nothing. Other strangers came to the Centre to share about their situation, so they set out to see them to give food and supplies to help. They were overwhelmed and amazed that they could be helped in such a way.

Family who live just outside Lebedyn city receiving aid.

Lastly, I had a text from Bohdan in earlier in the week to say that one of his closest friends was killed down in Zaporizhzhia. He was called up to fight a while back and together they had run summer camps together as well as done other ministry work together in the Sumy region. It has been a tough week for them in so many ways and they constantly need our prayers.

Thank you for your kind gifts, prayers and messages of encouragement. They have been so appreciated and have been passed on.

Peter Martin

Founding Director of Hope Lebedyn

Couple who have feld Bakhmut with aid given to them by the Centre
Tanya and Oleg from Bakhmut

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Dear Friends,

The same viruses as we have been suffering with in the UK have hit the team in Lebedyn. Several of them have been suffering with high temperatures and this flu-type virus. However, the work has continued. Every day aid is being given out and Friday and tomorrow (Monday) the team are handing out nappies to parents with young children for free. This follows a delivery of some new stock donated by another charity. The children’s and youth work continues through this weekend as normal.

Refugees from Bakhmut...

Since the scares of a missile being downed in the city a week or so ago, things have been a little calmer, but sirens go off all the time especially at night. Nearer to the border it is a different picture, with towns and villages still being hit regularly.

Most of the intense fighting is down near Bakhmut which has featured in our news this past week. Above is a picture of Tanya and Oleg who arrived in Lebedyn this week from Bakhmut along with their 2 children.

They say that their town is unrecognisable and more than half the city has been – quote - “wiped off the face of the earth!” They did not want to leave and were involved in the local church. A rocket crashed into their house, but thank God they were sitting down in their basement and were kept alive. They were recovered from the building but lost everything. They arrived in Lebedyn standing in their slippers!!

They were given an apartment to rent in the centre and the team have helped them get the clothes and aid they need to exist including food packages. They were so grateful we could help, and we have created an additional fund and sent it out to the team in order to help other people Like Tanya and Oleg who similarly have arrived with nothing until we can get some more supplies of clothes in.

Services this week...

Tuesday was a tough day. Although Bohdan was suffering with this virus, he had a call from Pastor Sergey for his help. At the weekend Sergey’s cousin and brother-in-law died suddenly. This was due to illness but with the lack of doctors around there is not much help if you get seriously ill.

In their culture they have the funeral within 3 days of death, so Sergey had to go and take the funerals. At the centre services were being held and aid was due to be given out so Bohdan stepped in and took the prayer service and then a service for those that are not Christians. Both had over 80 people in attendance and many received aid and help where it was possible to do so.

Special request...

I cannot believe that we are only 6 weeks short of the first anniversary of the start of this war (24th February). To mark this moment, Hope Lebedyn, together with Victoria Baptist Church in Eastbourne, will having a special prayer and thanksgiving service on SATURDAY 25TH FEBRUARY AT 4.00PM at VICTORIA BAPTIST CHURCH, 7 Eldon Rd, Eastbourne BN21 1UE.

War permitting, we will have the team being streamed into the church so we can hear directly from them, and we will have time to pray and worship in support. I am reminded that in one of my very first updates I wrote that after the war broke out, the church and mission centre got together to give thanks to God for their safety. So we will replicate that on the 25th.

We will start with some tea and cake, with the service starting at 4.30pm. The reason for this timing is firstly it enables the team to join us as they are 2 hours ahead and if we did it much later they would be outside of their curfew. Secondly, it means that for those that need to travel it is not too late. Victoria Baptist Church seats 450 people, and we would love it to be as full as possible to show our support for these wonderful people. Please do email me if you have any further questions.

Thank you so much for your continued support and look forward to physically seeing as many of you as possible on the 25th February!

Peter Martin

Founding Director of Hope Lebedyn

Bohdan narrating the Christmas story
Bohdan narrating the Christmas story!

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Dear Friends,

Happy New Year to you all! I spoke with Bohdan yesterday and he sends his greetings and thanks for all your support, especially over this past Christmas season.

As I write, the team are coming to the end of Christmas celebrations as the children’s work continues through to the weekend where the old orthodox Christmas has been traditionally celebrated. Due to the war, Ukrainian people now have transitioned to mainly celebrating Christmas on the 25th December, and pulled away from the orthodox timeline of it being January 7th.

Your support, both financially and prayerfully, has been overwhelming through this past month. Below you will see some pictures taken from the camps and activities. Fuller reports are still to come through so there will be more to share.

What has been evident so far is the hurt and pain children are going through currently. All have family fighting or that have been injured, and all knew of people that have died through this tragic war. It is scarring young lives.

Christmas Day...

On Christmas Day Bohdan text me to say he had gone down with a flu type virus with a high temperature, but he was still at the church and centre as there was much to do.

After the Christmas service they handed out aid to all those that had come along much to everyone’s surprise. Food stocks are not great in local stores and getting ever more expensive to purchase, so to walk away with food and supplies was warmly received.

Update on the camps...

Starting on Boxing Day was the camp for teenagers. They had prayed for 60 young people to come along but instead had 75. Costa, the husband of Lyuba, shared his story of how he overcame drug addiction and many asked lots of questions around this as it challenged them on their lifestyle choices. Yes, that is Bohdan dressed up in the photo at the top of the page narrating the Christmas story!!

They also had a lady turn up in army fatigues, which was interesting. She is a local lady who has been called up to fight and who had been based locally for training. She had no bedding or much equipment, and was told that there would be none given when on the frontline as there was simply nothing available. We were able to give some basics to her like toiletries, and included a sleeping bag to keep warm at night when not fighting.

During the Christmas period you will have seen in our news that Russia launched many missiles upon Ukraine. One rocket was shot down over Lebedyn, which created a loud explosion but little damage thankfully. Many parents were fearful about letting their children go out and so the next day they only had 45 young people. That changed as the week went on and they were back up to full numbers again. There was a lot of uncertainty around this time as you can imagine, but the young people pleaded to come back. Bohdan said that many were crying as they wanted to be there together and be normal again.

Helping in Okhtyrka...

In the past you might recall us praying for Azat who was eventually found after being beaten and tortured by the Russians. He had been pastoring a church in Okhtyrka. This week many of the team went there to give out aid and help. The church is small but we gave as much support as we could give at this time, but they will be returning soon to see what else can be done. This area has been hit hard early on in the war with many missiles and rockets.

Aid given out in a church in Okhtyrka

This week...

This week there is not so much a camp, but something going on each day for children and those with special needs.

The puppet show gives at least one performance a day and presents are given to all the children. We are hoping that every child in the city will attend through this week to hear the Christmas story and receive a present.

Below are some pictures of the children receiving their presents and enjoying the puppet show. Thank you to all of those who gave so generously to make this happen. Good conversations are being had to help the children through these war times. They have many questions which Bohdan asks them to submit, and then he answers them all. Some of them are very deep! The response though has been amazing.

These activities will run up to and through this next weekend.

For your prayers...

In other news Bohdan has asked that we continue to pray for Misha. He has been sent to a rehabilitation hospital following the 2 strokes he had. He has lost all his balance so in unable to stand currently. Also Farmer Sergey has been laid up with a very heavy cold/flu type virus, and has had a high temperature for several days now.

Please pray for them both for a good recovery.

And finally...

Over Christmas power was available a lot more, and since then they have had power at all the times they needed it for all the activities and work. Even at home there has been more regularity in receiving power which has helped.

On Christmas Day Bohdan wrote…. “We send our Christmas greetings to all those within Hope Lebedyn and the church. Christmas is an event and time of year that allows us to have hope in the midst of despair, joy in the midst of grief, faith in the midst of human disbelief and apathy, love in the midst of hatred and life in the midst of death”.

With your help the team have been able to bring and give some of that hope to the many they will have engaged with. We hope and pray that this will make a difference in their lives.

We do not know what 2023 will bring, but thank you for continually standing with us as we journey with the team out in the Sumy region, and with the work they are doing. There are lots of things being planned right now for the late winter/springtime, and indeed through all the year. Our next update will hopefully elaborate a little more on that.

So thank you again! May we all experience peace this year, and we all wish you a very Happy New Year!

Peter Martin

Founding Director of Hope Lebedyn

Sorting through tables of Christmas gifts to be given away
Presents and supplies ready for Christmas

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Dear Friends,

It is at Christmas we are being reminded of the phrases “peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind!”. When you then look through the lens of how Ukrainian people are living, they are praying constantly for peace and that there would be some goodwill, but the rhetoric that is being given says that Russia intends to upscale their efforts in the New Year – or perhaps sooner. For many, Christmas will be hard in so many ways, so please can you continue to pray for families that have been bereaved or are missing loved ones due to this war.

This past week in Lebedyn has witnessed days where there has been heavy shelling in the area and other days where it is more peaceful. Today (Thursday) Bohdan told me that yesterday there were many rockets they could see flying around but today there is peace, but still little power. Despite the ideal of having 4 hours of power and 4 without, most of this week has been 16 hours without power, heat or light. This makes it very hard to teach children and have any normality to life. People are getting tired of it and downhearted as you can well imagine.

As it is Christmas time this past weekend the team did some different things with the teenage young people. The young ladies met and had fun doing Christmas crafts and games, along with many other special seasonal things, and Bohdan with Valentine and Farmer Sergey took the young men to the local “bathhouse”. Apparently this is quite a thing to do and they loved it, discussing life and the effects of war. A bathhouse is like a roman steam/sauna room where the temperature got up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit!

Update on the team...

Last weekend we heard that Misha, who is like our janitor/caretaker and looks after the security on site and the boiler room, had two strokes very close together. He is still in a bad way and there is not the medical support around to give him the best care. In the New Year they are hoping to transfer him to a rehabilitation centre. Please pray for him and his family. He has 5 children between 10-20 years of age.

Also last weekend, Bohdan and his family took a day out to visit Pastor Andrew who is in Samatoivka. They are very close to the Russian boarder and this village has received much bombing in recent months. The day they went there was no bombing and Bohdan was able to go and encourage them in the work they are doing, share within the church services and we have also been able to help them with some of the supplies we have been able to get. There was no power or light through the day as this situation is worse in this region. Pastor Andrew was immensely grateful. They work a lot with soldiers and their families and although some photos were taken we are not at liberty to share.

Getting ready for Christmas!

During the week aid continues to be given out, and, as the pictures above show, the team have been busy going out to buy presents and supplies for all the Christmas activities. With the number of sweets they have bought, the local dentist should be kept busy for a while!

A Christmas message...

So, as Christmas is upon us now, the team out in Lebedyn send their greetings by video. Please click on the image above and it will take you to a message on our website from them to you!

And finally...

Can I take this opportunity to thank you for all your support, prayers, donations and love shown throughout what has now been 10 months of war. The messages of encouragement you have sent have been special. We are not sure what 2023 will bring, but we know that together we can make a difference.

When we see the amount of work the team have been able to achieve in this small city, extending out into the whole region, it has only been possible through your generosity and with your love, care and prayers. Early in the New Year we will be making an announcement regarding a special event at which we hope you will be able to join us so, watch this space!

On behalf of both the UK and Lebedyn team, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a peace filled New Year.

Every blessing,

Peter Martin

Founding Director of Hope Lebedyn

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Dear Friends,

As you will have seen in our news bulletins, the situation with energy, power and heat continues to be a massive and growing problem. It is the same throughout all of Ukraine. In Lebedyn and the Sumy region it has been particularly bad throughout - on Monday where they had no power all day. On Tuesday, I had a message from Bohdan to say that their 2 hours of power for the day came at 3:00am to 5:00am, so Alla got up and did the washing and cooking then, while she could! Bohdan said that this is now their “night life!” Even for study for the children they rig up lights from batteries to help, and what power they do have often is reduced power so it only provides dimmed lights. See photos below.

Accommodation shortage

Lebedyn still remains free from bombs and missiles but the outlying areas are still being targeted. Cities like Kharkiv are still being hit badly, and Lebedyn still receives displaced families who are trying to find somewhere to live. Sadly, it is like the Christmas story as there is “no room at the Inn!” All accommodation has been taken and some has had to be given back to the original owners, meaning people are having to find alternative places to live.

The centre provides as much aid as we can give but this is starting to run low now. This problem seems to be growing and getting worse. Pastor Andrew in Samotoivka told us that on Monday and Tuesday last week it was really bad for them as the Russians tried six times to cross the border into Ukraine but the Ukrainian defence held strong and repelled all attacks.

Activities continue at the centre

Throughout it all the team remain busy. Last Friday, even with sirens going off the teenagers and youth still gathered at the centre under battery lights and candles. They had around 40 come in; lower than normal.

Sadly, the children’s club on the Saturday was not so well attended as there were many air raid sirens sounding throughout the day. Activities have happened through the week, and now they start getting ready for all that will be going on through the weekend.

The team have also been planning for the camps and festivities this week. They have been out buying the presents, the puppet show has been rehearsing its Christmas production, crafts being readied, and food is already being prepared. They want to bring some hope and joy at this Christmas time to the children and families who are suffering during this horrific war. Please continue to pray for the weeks that they are planning to do. It all starts on December 26th.

Power and medical aid

Last week I mentioned that we were desperately trying to find a generator or two to help with the power situation in the centre. I’m not sure why I am surprised given all the miracles we have seen, but a new generator should be arriving on Saturday. It has been donated by people in Greece!!

Medical aid is still needed. Many of the doctors have gone to the frontline, and Bohdan said today that many of them have been killed. We are looking to get some medical aid to them in the region and might have found a partner to make this happen.

Items for prayer

Bohdan has asked for prayer as they still struggle to complete the bakery. They are progressing little by little as and when they have power to do the work and when they can access electricians and supplies. They really need it finished for the Christmas programme.

He also asked for us to pray for the families that are being displaced again. Many families are in the situation where mother and children are trying to live and survive somewhere they would not call home, and they do not know where their husbands or partners are. Many are on the battlefield and many have been injured, captured or killed.

As we start to think about Christmas and all we will enjoy, even with increased heating bills, let’s continue to hope and pray for peace at this time. Thank you to all of those that have made gifts to help over the Christmas period, it has been truly amazing and Bohdan was overwhelmed today when I told him how strong the support was. There is still much work to do and will be for a very long time, but he sends his greetings and thanks for everyone’s love, kindness and support.

Every blessing,

Peter Martin

Founding Director of Hope Lebedyn

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Dear Friends,

The constant lack of power, and therefore heat and light, is continuing to make a hard impact on life. With air raid sirens going off daily there is no “normal” routine within which to operate. Families are struggling to keep warm, but thankfully no missiles have landed on personal homes, just on the infrastructure and industry that keeps the nation going.

The brutality of this war continues to define how people are living. With around 70% of families displaced it is hard to imagine how they cope. Grief is a way of life. We know from statistics released that over 93,000 Russian soldiers have been killed, let alone the additional statistics for the Ukrainian death toll of military and citizens. All we can do is to bring hope and love at this time in the region of Sumy and we thank you for standing with us through this war.

Gathering the community

Both last Friday and today, services and activities have been held for those with a disability or special needs. Many of them take the aid we have available, but they are all very much feeling the cold - for most of this week it has been -10c.

Last weekend we were able to hold all the gatherings for teenagers/youth and for the children on the Saturday . The youth work went really well and they met even without any power, light or heat. Numbers were up to what we would normally expect as well, whereas at the children’s club we struggled with numbers as sirens were going off. The pictures above are of the youth with their iMark books, a new initiative and resource from Biblica who sponsored these copies for which we are grateful.

The shelling continues....

Monday was particularly bad with the shelling in the Sumy region. Hundreds of missiles were sent across the Russian border and this has left the power situation even worse. Now it is impossible to get power at certain times of the day and night at the centre, despite the earlier promises of keeping it on for us. This situation has really hampered the Kitchen renovations for the new bakery. It is now even hard to find the electrical cabling, let alone an electrician qualified to do the work. Please keep praying for this.

We have mentioned before Pastor Andrew, who used to be a local in Lebedyn, but is now based within the Sumy region in a town called Samatoivka. He is so close to the border and in their region they have been heavily hit with missiles. The soldiers have become weary and fatigued and been coming to see him to ask for prayer. He too has asked for prayer and support, as he is finding it tough having to deal with so much.

The week ahead

With the situation being so bad, we need to try and find some generators and perhaps gas camping stoves to help them. They seem in very short supply which is certainly a challenge at the moment.

This next week a lot of preparation is being done for the winter camps, plus all the usual activities. Bohdan said it is getting harder to find volunteers to help with aid and other things. There is more pressure to do online teaching at home, workplaces demand more time, and with air raid sirens sounding it makes everything hard for people to come out to help. The team are doing amazingly well in doing all they are.

Displaced family with some of the aid they have received

This is a family we helped this week who came into the area with nothing. We will keep monitoring their needs to find out if there is anything else we can do.

Bohdan has said that they are noticing more crime and cruelty in the region as people become more desperate. This is giving the team more concern and they continue to monitor the situation. Also, sickness whether from common cold, COVID or other things has risen greatly, largely because everyone is suffering from the cold.

Bohdan and the team are just so grateful to everyone that is donating, praying, and generally supporting in the best way they can. We keep trying to encourage them in the work and ministry they do!

Every blessing,

Peter Martin

Founding Director of Hope Lebedyn

Children standing outside coach
Larissa and the children starting their journey

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Dear Friends,

The situation in the Sumy region is much the same. The end of the week and over the weekend witnessed much military activity with sirens going off more than usual, and then on Monday and Tuesday it was calm. However, on Wednesday afternoon things escalated once again. Last week even the centre struggled for power but normal service has been resumed these past few days. Sadly, the home situation has got worse and they have no power for up to 7 hours at a time which for Bohdan, having to heat a house and feed a family of 4 young children, is a mission in itself. Multiply this around the town and the nation, and it makes for very difficult conditions to have to live in.

Update on Larissa

I am delighted to say that Larisa and the children reached safety outside of Ukraine over the weekend. The picture above shows them setting off at a very early hour on Friday. The rest of the photos below are of some of their journey. There were 26 children at the orphanage. Every one of them had lost their parents due to the war. However, through some great detective work by Larisa and her team, 20 children were repatriated with other members of their families, whether aunts or uncles, or older siblings. This meant that the 6 that were left had no traceable family, and as such Larisa has taken them off to be with the other children in Austria. It breaks your heart to see children have to suffer like this and we all know it will have a huge impact on their life in the future. Thanks to money previously donated by you we were able to fund the trip and buy their bags for what belongings they had. She was so grateful.

Service attended by 180!

On Friday a service was held and aid distributed afterwards. Many of the 180 people that attended were there for the first time and a church service was all very new to them. They were pleased to be able to meet others and to receive aid and support.  The plan isto do this again next week with more people.

Witnessing to the police

The team have also started to support the local police. The police are now supporting local troops who are now forced to patrol around the clock outside the city in the fields and forests. Not only is food given but they have also received some of the Christian booklets and gospels of John we have.

Car with open boot distributing aid

Sasha returns to the team

There is more good news in that Sasha (the Sports coach) who left to start his business at the start of the war has returned and very much wants to be part of the work in the future. He had to make some tough decisions over his lifestyle, but realised that although he had more money he had lost his happiness and needed to get back to what he loved doing, with the people he also loved. With a humble heart and with a warm welcome home, Sasha will be helping with sports programmes going forward and will be part of the winter camp team.

The Bakery

The bakery is making slow progress as we have not been able to access electricians because they have been busy trying to get the town supply back up and running. The doors have been widened and equipment is now in and reparations being made. As soon as we can locate an electrician then this can now be finished and used to great effect.

For your prayers

Next week the team have organised a special meeting at the centre to help those with severe learning difficulties along with those who also suffer mental health issues. The local government have asked for their help and so they will hold services, have fun and games, feed them and show them their usual love, care and attention. We are also going to do something special with this group of people over Christmas. Watch this space!

Winter camps

We now have dates for the winter camps over Christmas. I will share more information nearer the time for your prayers as things could change. The first week will be for teenagers and the second week for younger children where presents will be given. Thank you to those that have donated towards the presents as we are already over 50% of the amount needed. If you're able to contribute, please click on one of the buttons at the top of this page.

Warm spaces

Throughout Ukraine new meeting points are being formed. I am not sure whether this is part of a government initiative but nevertheless it is proving to be a huge success. It is very similar to the warm spaces starting here in the UK. Out there they are called “Points of Invincibility”. These are spaces where you can drink coffee or tea and where there is light. The centre in Lebedyn has been appointed such a place so we will be able to meet with many people coming in off the street to help them with whatever needs they have.

And finally...

When I had my video meeting this week with Bohdan there was a reality check that they were all in a war situation. We were drawing our time to a close and the sirens went off. An alert came up on Bohdans phone saying he had to collect one of his children quickly from school (yes, they have just gone back to school this week). The school has no bomb shelter. At that point I saw a change of expression in his face, there was an urgency and attention to the detail only a concerned father could give. Before he ran off he said calmly, please could you pray with us before we go which I did. As we said our “amen’s” his son phoned him from the school to say he was ok but to come and get him ASAP! I have to say it was an emotional finish to see and witness it all. Through donations made early on in the war we were able to purchase a vehicle for Bohdan to use. He got to the school quickly and before many other parents who had no vehicular access and Bohdan being Bohdan filled his car with others as well to hurry them to safety.

This war is lived out day by day with no power, heat or light, shortage of food and the threat of bombs at any time. Across the nation this fear is held by many, so we must continue to pray for peace and an end to this unnecessary suffering.

Thank you for your continued support and help to this amazing team in Lebedyn. It is such an encouragement to them to know of your practical support and prayers.

Every blessing,

Peter Martin

Founding Director of Hope Lebedyn

Some of the team standing in the first snow of the year
Some of the team in the first snow of winter

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Dear Friends,

Greetings are sent from a very snowy and cold Lebedyn as you can see from the picture above!

This week has been very difficult due to the number of missiles coming over from Russia. Sumy itself has been battered and much of the light and power utilities have been greatly hit once again. Despite the local authorities wanting to help the work at the centre, there has still been power outages for long periods. However, the team have been able to do much work within the community.

The Military came and spoke at a meeting for older people about the dangers of war, what to look out for, and specialist advice on explosive devices. Whilst they were there, they were all given bread and had access to the clothes and other aid available.

Pictures below….

Today, there is a meeting with 150 people who have disability or special needs. It is these people that tend to suffer the most at time of war and feel very much alone, so the work being done is very important. As usual, all the youth and children’s clubs and activities will continue, and they will go ahead with or without power now that generators and batteries with floodlights can be used. The English classes are still being held as well.

More help for Larissa

You may have seen an update recently about Larisa needing help to get more children from the Sumy orphanage through where she is currently located in Austria. These funds have been provided and sent. We will be buying travel bags and helping with the costs of getting them to safety. Sumy, where this orphanage is, has been very badly hit in recent days and communication is hard to make happen, but, all being well, they start their journey today as far as we know!

Kitchen update

Unfortunately, the kitchen mentioned in previous updates has still not been completed yet as they have problems getting the equipment into the building. Next week they must make a new wider doorway to make this happen and put in a new phased electric system in. Hopefully, by the end of next week it will be up and running.

Christmas Plans

We are now starting plan our Christmas activities. As well as Christmas camps, the team want to do other activities for as many children as possible. They would also like to make up Christmas presents for the 350 children that are left in the area. We used to do this for around 5,000 with all the orphanages, but as these are closed and many families have fled, Bohdan estimates there will only be around 350 in the town. If the war situation allows, they also want to go into the villages at Christmas to see what they can do to help. The presents this year will cost more due to inflation but we think will cost around $10 per child meaning we need to fund $3,500 (£3,075) to cover all of this.

And finally...

Bohdan sends his greetings on behalf of all the team, and thanks you all for your kindness, prayers and support.

Thanks again for all your continued support and prayers!

Every blessing,

Peter Martin

Founding Director of Hope Lebedyn

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