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A Christmas Miracle

A Mother’s Journey to Save her Son

by Pastor Serhiy, Light of the Gospel Church

Every child desires their mother’s comforting presence to soothe their hurts, to praise them for good grades at school or acts of kindness, and to bid them goodnight with a song and a prayer. Similarly, every mother yearns for mornings to start with her child’s warm embrace and cheerful smile.

Unfortunately, the idyllic transition from one day to the next was abruptly shattered for eight-year-old Ihor and his mother, Vlada, resulting in nearly two years of separation. Regrettably, this separation was caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the actions of a selfish grandmother.

Just days before the war began, Vlada’s mother took Ihor with her to visit her other daughter in Kreminna (Luhansk region). While there, the war suddenly broke out, and almost immediately, Kreminna was occupied by Russian soldiers. Sadly, the grandmother was not interested in reuniting Ihor with his family. She immediately applied for child benefits and began receiving money from the Russian occupiers. Fortunately for Ihor, he was not sent to Russia and put up for adoption.

In the meantime, Vlada couldn’t sleep and had no peace in her soul. Each day, her head and heart were consumed by concerns about Ihor. “How is he doing? Is he safe? Is he unwell? Is he hungry?” Given the peril of venturing into the occupied territory, she contacted numerous organizations, pleading for assistance in reuniting with her son.

Unfortunately, the issue persisted unresolved, and their separation would drag on for a year and ten months.

It’s easy to understand how young Ihor missed his family, as no grandmother’s care and affection can substitute for a mother’s. He missed his parents, friends, and familiar toys and felt trapped in Kreminna. Frequently, he found himself dreaming of home and was reluctant to wake up, knowing his dream would soon fade away.

We became aware of this family’s situation when Vlada, her husband Serhey, and their five-month-old daughter Alina visited our church in Dobropillia to get water, which we distribute to those in need.

Overwhelmed by the anguish in her heart, Vlada broke down in tears and confided in us about her plight. Upon hearing her story, we assured her we would pray for her, her son, and their eventual reunion, believing that God would intervene.

The first sign that our prayers were answered arrived in the form of an invitation from Kyiv authorities. Vlada was called to participate in a special event designed to aid the repatriation of children from the occupied regions.

Since Vlada and her husband had no money for the journey, HART stepped in to assist, providing the necessary financial support. Her initial excitement about this trip, soon dissolved into disappointment, as Vlada returned from the capital disheartened. The authorities had declined to help facilitate the return of her son.

Nevertheless, we persevered in our faith and continued to ask God for His mercy on this family. Then, two weeks later, Vlada received another communication indicating that a special delegation was organizing a mission to retrieve the children from the occupied Luhansk region. This delegation was comprised of volunteers, officials, and representatives from four different countries. We thanked God for this news, and HART helped Vlada with money and food for the journey.

The journey proved to be long and dangerous. Consider this: the distance separating Ihor from his family (Dobropillia to Kreminna) was just 126 kilometers, yet the members of the delegation, Vlada included, had to traverse a staggering 5,526 kilometers. Their route took them through Kyiv, Minsk, Simferopol, Moscow, Luhansk, and ended in Kreminna.

When Vlada finally arrived to get her son, she was shocked that her mother stubbornly refused to let Ihor go, cynically leveraging him as a means to extract money from the occupying authorities. However, despite the obstacles, God had mercy upon this grieving mother, and justice prevailed: Ihor rushed into his mother’s loving embrace, and they have remained inseparable ever since.

Incidentally, this mission to Russian occupied territory happened shortly before Christmas 2023. The delegation successfully repatriated eight children in total: four girls and four boys.

Ihor and his family are now all together. They regularly attend our church and continuously express their gratitude to God and HART for their unwavering support. Ihor is also an active participant in our Sunday school.

His heartfelt words spoken in the church in front of the congregation were deeply moving: “Returning home is the greatest Christmas and New Year’s gift!”

Truly, the reunion of this family after nearly two years of heartbreaking separation is an absolute miracle of God and proves two things: he hears and answers sincere prayers and blesses HART in its efforts to help people in Ukraine. All of you who support HART are a part of this beautiful story!!
Thank you. Pastor Serhey

Vlada’s journey to reunite with her son Ihor