A brave fighter for Ukraine
Bohdan grew up in a Christian family. He was surrounded by the love of his mother and grandparents, who raised him as best as they could, despite not having a father. His dad left the family before Bohdan was born.
As this young man grew up, so did his inner sense of patriotism toward his country. Bohdan could have avoided military service when he was called up to the army, but he could not even understand how anyone would choose not to serve in the military.
So, Bohdan joined the army in January 2014, and a few months later, in March, the Russian invasion began. He was immediately sent to the front lines, where at the age of nineteen, he learned quickly and dramatically that war was hell. As corpses lay on the battlefield, he was covered in layers of dirt in a nearby trench.
Bohdan had to pull his best friend to safety only to watch him die. His friend’s phone was ringing in his pocket, but he couldn’t answer the call, as he knew it was the boy’s mother. How can anyone come to terms with a situation like that? War takes away sons from their mothers.
Months later, Bohdan was shot three times in one day. The bullets hit his helmet and bulletproof vest. When he got out of the car he was in – it was blown up too.
Bohdan fell to his knees, overcome with shock and fear, but suddenly understood that it was God’s mercy to him through the prayers of his mother and grandparents, who constantly cried out to God in tears.
Next, Bohdan decided to study at the military academy. His family felt relieved because they thought the war would end soon, but it didn’t. Bohdan graduated from the Academy of Land Forces and received the rank of Senior Lieutenant. Since then, being at the front lines has been his profession.
One year ago, Bohdan married Maria, whom he met on the battlefield, where she was providing first aid to wounded soldiers.
Maria grew up as an orphan. She graduated from medical college and decided to go to the front lines at nineteen, wanting to be helpful to the war effort. She is 22 now, and Bohdan is 27.
During a recent Russian shelling attack, Bohdan was wounded. He was unconscious and was carried off the battlefield by a nineteenyear-old soldier who was wounded himself.
Bohdan was given first aid and sent to a hospital in Dnipro, and the soldier who saved him was transported to a hospital as well.
Unfortunately, Bohdan received poor medical treatment at this hospital, so his mother paid a driver to bring Bohdan to a military hospital in Lviv. Bohdan was shell-shocked. Several shell fragments were removed from his eye, although he still had two remaining. He doesn’t hear out of one ear because of a damaged nerve.
However, his mother is more worried about Maria, who also survived enemy shelling but was left with shrapnel fragments in her body. Unfortunately, she also had burns from hot aluminum that landed on her. She is in the same hospital in Lviv. They both need help now. Bohdan’s mother’s tears have not dried in eight years. But God heard the cry of her heart and saved the lives of Bohdan and Maria. However, the war is not over, and many mothers are still weeping, and the pain in their hearts is unspeakable. May God have mercy on Ukraine and send peace!
–by Oksana, a HART caseworker in Drohobych, Lviv Province, Ukraine
Please pray for Bohdan and Maria. Funds given to ‘Medical Care’ will be used to support Bohdan & Maria and other soldiers being looked after by our partner churches throughout Ukraine.
Greeting from a Pastor in Dnipro, Ukraine, to HART’s community in Canada & USA
Greetings! My dear and faithful co-workers in God’s work! In this difficult time for our country, we feel God’s presence in a special way through His help and support! Every day we see the Lord working powerfully in our lives and in our ministry! It is God’s presence that makes our life happy and filled with deep meaning!
And this is at a time when many people around us feel miserable and their lives are devoid of any meaning! Yes, shells are exploding around!
Yes, trouble, suffering, and death are all around!
But the Lord never leaves us! And in this terrible time for our people, He opens up amazing opportunities for us to minister to people and, through this, show them His love. And I will tell you with great joy about those amazing deeds of God that we witness every day. And, of course, you, dear friends, are also a part of these great works of God! We are grateful to you for your prayers and for your big hearts for the Lord and for Ukraine! May the Lord bless you and fill your life to the brim with His blessings (both spiritual and earthly)! – Pastor Vladimir
With your support, HART will continue to respond to those devastated by the war. During this time of violence, pain, and suffering, our network of partnerships (with people like Pastor Vladimir) throughout Ukraine is bringing help and hope to Ukrainians who have lost everything. The incredible power of partnerships — will continue to shine the light of the Gospel amidst this season of darkness.
TOGETHER we ARE changing hearts, restoring hope, and saving lives during this war in Ukraine. Thank you!
War Journal – Ukraine 2022
PEOPLE IN THE MIDDLE OF A WAR – by Brother Sasha
The following diary entries are from brother Sasha, a HART ministry partner originally from the Donetsk region of Ukraine, where the war is now at its fiercest. As Sasha and his team minister to those in the conflict areas, we have a unique opportunity, through this diary, to be introduced to people who, through no fault of their own, are caught up in a war and are just trying to survive. The pain and suffering are real, but so is the incredible courage and compassion Ukrainian Christians display daily.
Dear Friends, Footage of the devastation and consequences of missile attacks circulates around the world, but there is another aspect of this war – the stories of ordinary people who suddenly find themselves in the middle of a war. Their experiences of these events and their path to God also deserve attention. Let’s meet some of these people…
(Sasha is reporting from the city of Zaporizhzhia.) We are in a suburb that consists of private houses. It is 300 meters from the local Baptist church. We brought food parcels to hand out.
In the courtyard of one of the houses, we meet Nikolay. Windows and doors are broken in his house. His voice trembles as he haltingly talks about how he and his family miraculously survived when a missile landed near his house the previous morning. They survived, although their home was only 30 meters from the epicenter of the explosion, which killed many of his neighbors and friends.
We leave the gate of his yard and find ourselves in an open area where there were houses five days ago. The missile landed early in the morning when the ordinary civilians of Zaporizhzhia were in their beds. Eight houses on this patch of land were completely destroyed – to their foundations. Some of the dead could not be identified. The surviving people are still in a state of shock, trying to find at least something left undamaged in the ashes.
A woman in a pink jacket, who lost everything herself, both property and relatives, gives thanks for the food parcel and asks very much to help other people – she says: “right there, around the corner, the house was damaged not too bad there, but the people who live there are so poor, could you please help them too, or do you only help those whose houses have been destroyed?”
Of course, we will help them too. Such touching care for the neighbors from a person who has lost everything herself.
A peaceful dentist, his wife, and their child lived in this house. Date of death October 9, 2022 and the inscription on the cross: “We endlessly remember and love …”
The next meeting is with Valentina and her husband, Alexander. They are about 60 years old. Valentina meets us on the street; she looks very professional. It is important for Ukrainian women to look good even in the most difficult circumstances of life. They are also non-church people, and their first contact with the church happened because of the war and forced fleeing.
Now they temporarily live in a building that we call a hostel. A dark, damp, cold building. They rented two small rooms with space only for two beds. The rest of the rooms are occupied by the things of the owner of this building. After the recent shelling of the area, windows were smashed in their rooms, which are now boarded up with plywood.
They came to Zaporizhzhia from the Donetsk region, from the small village of Pavlovka. Valentina is a primary school teacher with 38 years of experience and has two master’s degrees. She wants to speak out and begins to talk about her experience of the war haltingly, jumping from topic to topic.
One of the most vivid memories for her was the bellowing of the cows at a farm near their house. At the beginning of March 2022, due to constant shelling, it became impossible for the farm employees to get to their place of work. The cows remained tied up – unfed and not milked for several days. Their bellowing, says Valentina, even drowned out the sounds of shelling.
It became clear that it was necessary to leave the village, but the evacuation vehicle could only come to a relatively safe place. Valentina and others had to crawl through the mud to get to the car. She says – “I’m crawling through the mud and was thinking – how is this possible? I am an accomplished and respected person, and now I am lying in mud…”
Thanks to the help of church volunteers, she safely got to Zaporizhzhia. Alexander remained in Pavlovka in the basement of their house. When the situation allowed, he gathered some things in their family car and came to his wife. Shortly after he left, an explosion destroyed their home. Arriving in Zaporizhzhia, Alexander ended up in the hospital. He required surgery. Since they didn’t have a permanent home, they left the car with all their belongings in the parking lot. To their disappointment, anger, and pain, when leaving the hospital, they found their car was broken into, and they were robbed of everything of value they took out of their home.
There is a saying that bad things come in threes…
But the good thing in this situation is that they met Pastor Vadim through these circumstances. They began to attend Bible study meetings. They value the fellowship and say – “we have no one else here except the church.” What will happen to them next is unknown. Whether they stay in Zaporizhzhia or will be forced to go somewhere further, they do not know. So these not-quite-young people sit together and contemplate what to do next …
The next stop is in the city of Nikopol. The city is located on the bank of the Dnieper River. The opposite bank is occupied by the enemy. The city is under constant, daily shelling by the enemy. Usually, shelling starts in the evening and ends early in the morning. On the day of my arrival, shelling lasted from 11 pm to 8 am.
For some reason, Nikopol is overlooked by the main humanitarian organizations. Not much attention is paid to it. According to local people, a possible reason is that only 30,000 of their 100,000 pre-war inhabitants remained in the city. Young families and practically everyone who could leave have left. Plants and factories do not work due to constant shelling.
Opposite Nikopol, on the other bank of the river, is the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, which is now occupied by the enemy.
A man whom I have known for more than 20 years has been ministering in this city. Pastor Yuriy. He is now 74 years old. A meek and faithful servant of God in very poor health.
We meet him in his house, which also serves as a church building for a small community of Christians. We drink tea with bread and cookies. We remember mutual friends and share good memories of the past.
Yuriy says that out of about 40 people from his church, now only 15 people remain; the rest have left. There are older people who do not want or cannot go anywhere. The church is very friendly and tries to help not only each other but also the Ukrainian army.
There are very few shops left in the city, but it is still possible to buy food. On the day of my arrival, missiles hit the central city market, and most likely, it will now be closed.
After some time, Brother Anatoliy and Sister Lyudmila, members of this small church, join us. Anatoliy – despite his health difficulties, supports his grandchildren aged three and fifteen. All care for them is on his shoulders. Lyudmila has undergone cancer surgery and needs supportive medications, for which she does not have enough money.
I ask – how do you prepare for winter? Is there a generator in case there is no electricity? No, there is no generator, says Yuriy, and we are too old to figure out how to turn it on and maintain it …
If it is very cold, then we decided with the whole church to gather for the night here in this house; it will be warmer together. Anatoliy and Lyudmila confirm this idea and say: “During the war, we, as a church, became very close to each other. We just run every day to church, looking for opportunities to help each other. We have truly become brothers and sisters.”
At the end of our visit, though a little embarrassed, they voice the need of all the remaining members of the church – warm underwear to sleep in if it’s too cold. I give food parcels to all of them, and we pray and say goodbye to Anatoliy and Lyudmila.
Yuriy asks me to stay a little longer and says – let’s go upstairs. I follow him and go up the narrow stairs to the house’s roof. “I pray here,” says Yuriy. From here, you can see the Dnieper River and the opposite bank, where the enemy is located.
“They’re shooting at us every night, even though there’s no militaryreason to do so. They want to intimidate us, but we are on our land, and from here, from the roof of this house, I pray every morning, facing the enemy, for God to give us victory and destroy all the enemy’s evil plans.”
It may seem to us that evil is triumphant and victorious. Ukraine looks like a little David fighting Goliath. Humanly speaking, we have a very small chance, but if our great God stands behind us, then there will be victory.
There is another aspect – in any case, God is already victorious, and the final victory will be with Him, as we know from Scripture. God has a wonderful ability to turn evil into good.
In all the stories of non-church people that I shared with you, there is one thing in common – if it were not for the war, terrible, bloody, bringing death and destruction – these few described and hundreds of thousandsof other people might never have encountered the church and God Himself.
The great God is reaping His harvest, even through the war. And one more thing – all these people whom I am writing about – have been or will be helped. Thanks to your donations and through this help, God is approaching these people. Thank you so much! -brother Sasha
Here are specific prayer points that can help guide our prayers for the situation in Ukraine. Please share these with your friends and family:
- Pray for and ask to see God’s glory amid this great struggle. God often uses dire situations to draw people to himself. Pray that He would be glorified through the people of Ukraine who are following him.
- Pray for God’s peace to be a source of strength for the thousands of Ukrainian workers/volunteers who will have opportunities to share with others about God’s love.
- Pray for God’s protection over Christian volunteers. Ask God for their physical and spiritual protection — ask Him to help people seek the truth during the conflict.
- Ask God for comfort. Many families lost fathers, sons, and loved ones during this tragic war. Millions have been uprooted from their homes. Their world has been turned upside down.
- Ask God to intervene. Pray for wisdom for world leaders. Pray that God would move in their hearts and guide their steps and plans.
- Pray for President Zelensky and the leaders of Ukraine to know God’s truth and peace and be transformed by his Holy Spirit so that they would seek to lead their country in the way of peace.
- Ask that this conflict would open doors of opportunities for the gospel. Pray that He would make his name known across Ukraine, Russia, and all the European countries that refugees are fleeing to due to this conflict.