Greetings! The impact of the ongoing war on Ukrainian children will be long-lasting and significant. Many have had to endure the loss of parents or siblings, the destruction of their homes due to shelling, or the trauma of fleeing in the middle of the night to unfamiliar places. These harrowing experiences, along with the constant uncertainty about the safety of loved ones and what the future may hold, have led to severe mental health issues for both refugees and their children, in particular.
The impact of the war is felt by children living even in the relatively safe regions of central and western Ukraine. Air raid sirens can be heard throughout the entire country, causing fear and anxiety for all. With
numerous fathers, sons, and brothers fighting for freedom and democracy, the children left behind are not immune to the trauma, pain, and anxiety that this conflict has caused.
The emotional video below captures the moment a father reunites with his daughter and son after 13 months of fighting in the war with Russia.
The video serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by Ukrainian families and the impact on their children. Please continue to pray for Ukraine’s children, and for the end of this terrible conflict.
THE NEED FOR SUMMER CAMPS
One of the ways HART’s community can alleviate some of the suffering of Ukraine’s children is by giving them opportunities to attend summer camp programs.
During the same period last year, we were pleasantly surprised by the level of support from partner churches who were determined to proceed with summer camps despite the ongoing war. However, instead of organizing stationary camps lasting 7-10 days, which were considered too risky, they opted for local ‘Day’ camps. This year, we are witnessing even greater enthusiasm for camp programs.
WHY? The reason lies in the unique and powerful nature of Christian camps, offering children who have suffered trauma an opportunity to learn about God’s love and experience healing.
By providing a safe and supportive environment, offering spiritual guidance, fostering community and connection with other kids, physical activities, opportunities for creativity and self-expression, teaching biblical principles, and encouraging prayer and meditation, summer camps can help children deepen their faith and find hope and healing in God.
We sincerely thank all of you in HART’s community (Canada & USA) who supported camps last year. Below are some comments by campers and camp leaders expressing gratitude for your support in 2022.
Testimonies from camps last year – 2022
FROM A CAMPER: (Lilliia)
I am sincerely grateful to all the sponsors for giving me this opportunity to go to camp. When the war started, I was scared and stopped trusting adults. I was afraid of everyone and didn’t want to go out, but here in camp, I met the most sincere and kind teachers and counselors I have ever met in my life.
It was in this camp that I was able to distract myself from the terrible events happening in our country. It was the best rehabilitation for me, and I also realized that God is Almighty and loves people and me very much.
FROM A CAMPER: (Svitlana)
My name is Svitlana, and I am from southern Ukraine. The war forced me to come to Lviv (west Ukraine). Thank you very much for making it possible for me to go to a camp. I really liked it there and made a lot of new friends. My friends and I cried all the way home because we didn’t want to leave the camp.
FROM A CAMP COUNSELOR:
We, the workers of the ‘Little Pilgrim’ camp, want to thank you for the financial support for our camp. Without these funds, we would not have been able to do this camp. Thank you for your generous hearts.
The preparation for the camp was complicated this year. We had constant air raid sirens and worried for kids’ lives. The whole team was praying because we knew how risky it is to take responsibility for other people’s children in such times. But God made a miracle. During the entire camp, there was not a single air raid siren!
The kids were so happy to be in the camp. For a little while, they could forget about all the horror that is happening around them. The grain was sown; now we have to pray for the grain to bring fruit. May God’s grace be with you, and may He bless you.
FROM A CAMP DIRECTOR:
We are so grateful to HART and its sponsors in the USA and Canada for making Ukrainian kids happy by giving them the opportunity to take their minds off this challenging time for Ukraine.
A Christian camp in summer always leaves a special mark on children’s hearts, so it was last year. The question of life and death has now become clear and important even for children, as they see the news and hear from adults what is happening, so more than ever; they need hope and the Good News, as well as support from adult counselors who can console and comfort them.
It is also essential for children just to have fun, meet new friends and continue to enjoy their childhood, and they had this opportunity last summer. And whenever air-raid sirens went off, everyone went to the basement, where they sang songs and had tea.
Thank you so much for the vital contribution HART ministry and its supporters make to children’s camps every year. May the work God is doing in the hearts of countless children through your dedication and sacrifice strengthen your spirit and encourage your heart!
FROM A CAMP DIRECTOR:
It was a great happiness to see the smiling faces of the children, a lot of joy and laughter, and happy parents who rejoiced with their children. They also cried when the camp ended because they didn’t want to leave it. We praise God for the opportunity to hold the camps and give hope for salvation and a new life to children, teenagers, and their families. Many thanks to HART and its sponsors in the United States and Canada for their prayerful and financial support of the camps; for many of the children and even the leaders, these were the happiest days of the last six months, and for some of them the most blessed days of their lives.
UN Security Council debate
Timothy Snyder’s Testimony to the UN Security Council on Russian Hate Speech
On March 14, 2023, the Russian Federation called for a session in the UN to discuss “Russophobia” – to complain about hate speech directed toward Russians. As Russia played the “victim” card, read the below text of a briefing by Professor Snyder to answer this charge. His response was brilliant!
The Fear of God
HART’s field project coordinator, Pastor Yevhen Taran, shares some harrowing experiences and lessons he’s learned while delivering relief aid to civilians and soldiers on the front lines.
Sometimes paradoxical things can happen to your emotional state, especially during war.
Many are saying Ukrainian people are now getting used to the war, and frequent shelling doesn’t illicit the same kind of response as it did at the start.
In the war zone, I have witnessed how people react to shelling and the sounds of explosions nearby. Some calmly go about their shopping in the market, others continue to plant their gardens or glance in the direction of the shelling and then go back to whatever they were doing. Recently, such paradoxes have been happening to Ukrainians quite often, and, unfortunately, I can attest to this sort of behavior.
I have seen parents with small children casually walking on the streets of a city while the air-raid sirens were blaring. Those people seemed to have no fear whatsoever, which is not normal! I am convinced that getting used to all the horror around us is not natural in human nature: this state of mind is instead a kind of psychological trauma caused by the war. Sadly, this is the reality in Ukraine today.
Since 2015, I’ve been delivering aid to the military and civilians in war zones.
Whenever I come under fire, which is a frequent occurrence in these areas, in no way do I feel like I am used to it – in reality, I am absolutely terrified.
I remember the first time I came under mortar fire. My first reaction was fear mixed with panic, and my mind raced in a hundred different directions. I was driving a car at breakneck speed on a road littered with mines, which was no less dangerous. If I hadn’t had an experienced soldier by my side, I would have probably gotten myself into serious harm, if not death. At that moment, all I wanted to do was stop the car and find someplace to hide underground, but I followed the explicit instructions of the soldier sitting next to me, which saved us. Once we got to a safe place, we quickly got out of the car and hid in the
basement of a destroyed house. It was only there that I remembered to pray.
Another time, a pastor friend of mine wanted to go to the war zone with me. It was his first trip. Along one section of the road, Russian snipers started shooting at us. We had to drive on a semi-destroyed pot-holed road at 120 km per hour. At this speed, it is difficult for a sniper to hit a moving target. This dangerous zone was about one km, but it seemed like we went through it in seconds. My friend did not talk at all until the evening, and the next day he was hospitalized for two weeks due to nervous stress.
I would also like to tell you about another fear that I have experienced: it is the presence of God. I was on my way to deliver relief aid to a military unit;
however, as I got closer to the location, I realized the road ahead was blocked, and there was no one at the checkpoint. It was already evening and was getting dark, and it was clearly not advisable to be driving in this area, but it was important I get to my destination. As I surveyed the situation, I noticed another entrance to the territory, which for some reason, had barbed wire across the road. I quickly dragged it to the side and drove my van down the road.
After arriving at the camp, I started unloading the vehicle. Two soldiers came up to me and asked me which road I had taken to get there. Suspecting nothing, I calmly showed them where I had come from. The soldiers were visibly shocked and couldn’t hide it. They explained to me it was a miracle that
I was alive because they had just mined that road with anti-tank mines the day before. According to human logic, I should have hit a mine with 100% probability.
Not knowing about the anti-tank mines, I was driving with no fear at all, but as soon as I found out about the danger and what could have happened to me, I was overcome with a completely different kind of fear, which is difficult to explain – the fear of God’s presence. At that very moment, I realized that it was
the Lord who had saved me on that road. I experienced a kind of fear because I really felt the presence of God right there beside me.
My latest trip to the war zone was one of the most stressful trips I have ever been on. I got lost on the way because the GPS navigator wasn’t working well due to poor cell phone connections. I was trying to find my way by memory and asking local people for help. When I reached one of the villages, I decided to ask for directions. The streets were empty, except for one girl walking toward my van. However, before I could talk to her, she quickly turned and ran in the opposite direction. At first, I couldn’t understand why she was running away, but suddenly I heard a deafening whistle – a shell was flying in my direction! A moment later, a powerful explosion made my car shake. A few seconds later, I heard the same sound. All I could do was put my head on the steering wheel and clutched it tightly.
My fear was so overwhelming that I could not think about anything at that moment. I did not think about God or pray, nor did my life flash before my eyes. I just tensed my whole body, expecting an explosion and then death.
There was another explosion. I was still alive. Thank God, it was over. I ran out of the car, looking for cover, and immediately saw a Russian fighter jet flying a few meters above my car and firing missiles in the other direction. I realized that I was not the target.
I quickly got into the car and drove away from that place as fast as I could.
After driving for a few minutes, I stopped. I was shaking with fear and couldn’t drive anymore. Then I began to pray, thanking God for saving me and asking Him to forgive me for not thinking of Him at that moment. Only late in the evening did I calm down and could plan my next steps.
From similar stories that happened in my life and the lives of people close to me, I realized that fear exists and is normal. People react to, and experience fear in different ways. It is common for everyone to feel fear, but it’s not natural for us to get used to horrors, suffering, death, and destruction. Therefore, one
should not be ashamed of feeling fear. Moreover, we need fear to survive.
After all, this emotion gives people a basic sense of self-preservation.
There is another kind of fear: the fear of feeling the presence of God. This emotion is different from fear for life. This state is more like awe, a feeling of the incredible greatness of God who is standing next to you and whose eyes you do not have the courage to look into, falling down before Him in reverent
worship. І would like to wish everybody to feel the very same fear – the presence of God. With this feeling, living faith, strength, and victory come into our lives, which Ukraine needs so much now!
Rich blessings to all of HART’s supporters. Pastor Yevhen.
Thank You For Your Support!
Thanks to HART supporters from a partner church and its pastor in the Tarnopil region of West Ukraine.
Thanks from the ‘Viking’ organization who serve civilians and soldiers at the front lines of conflict zones.
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 the physical protection and provision for Ukrainian children in harm’s way. Supernaturally, and otherwise, minimize the suffering and loss of life, Jesus. Keep the bombs away, and food in their stomachs. Pray for children who are seeing things no child’s eye should ever see. Jesus, you are a great King and healer. By whatever means you chose— loving parents, a direct work of the Holy Spirit, fellow believers… protect the hearts, minds, and imagination of children.
- Pray for and ask to see God’s glory amid this great struggle. Pray that He would be glorified through the Christians in Ukraine who are being his hands and feet during this terrible tragedy.
- Pray for God’s peace to be a source of strength for the thousands of Ukrainian workers/volunteers who are serving refugees who need to hear of God’s love for them.
- Pray for God’s protection for soldiers and civilians caught up in this conflict.
- Pray for the residents of cities and towns who are under heavy shelling, and have lost their heat, lights, and water.
- Pray for the civilian and military prisoners of war who are subject to torture and death at the hands of their captors.
- Ask God to comfort the many families that have lost mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters during this Russian invasion. The pain and heartache are overwhelming for most families.
- Pray for the frustration of all evil plans of the enemy.
- Ask God to intervene. Pray for wisdom for world leaders. Pray that God would move in their hearts and guide their steps and plans to end this war.
- Pray for the 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.