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Ukraine at War – Update 18, 2023

Dear Office, thank you for being a part of our HART community as we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the churches and people of Ukraine who are fighting for their freedom and democracy.

Nineteen months after the full-scale invasion began, Vladimir Putin’s war strategy has become distressingly clear. It is simply to bomb Ukraine into submission, killing as many civilians as possible. Just last week, Russia aunched two potent missiles that were directed at and struck a cafe in a village situated in the Kharkiv province. In this cafe, families and friends had gathered to bid farewell to a soldier who had lost his life in combat. The father of two had died in the first months of the war and was hastily buried as the Russian invasion was ongoing. A year later, his children (teenagers) and their mother decided to repatriate his remains to their village and were having an official burial service for him as Russian missiles struck.

These mourners became the war’s latest grisly victims: 52 people were killed. Whole families were wiped out in seconds. Tragic. Barbaric. In the below interview with a long-time friend of mine, Pastor Ivan Rusyn shared insights about Ukrainian Christians – who despite the carnage – are people who have hope, “knowing that the Lord has the final word, and we believe in His justice.”

Putin’s cynical calculus is that Ukrainians and the West will eventually tire of a war with no end in sight. And yet amid this terrible carnage, there are a few positive signs. Ukraine’s counter-offensive on land – designed to liberate the south of the country and to bisect occupying Russian forces – has been progressing slowly but steadily.

In the Black Sea, however, Ukraine has made remarkable progress. Drones and missiles have destroyed targets in Crimea and forced Russia’s mighty Black Sea Fleet to find safer harbours in Russian ports in the East. Meanwhile, merchant ships are sailing again, carrying cargoes of grain to feed countries in Africa and the Middle East.

For the past twenty months, it has been a privilege for us to serve as a channel of your generosity amidst this ongoing war. On behalf of all your partner Churches and their pastors in Ukraine, our sincere thanks for your prayers and generosity. Thank you for choosing to co-labour with HART – as we serve and support our fellow Christians during this dark period of Ukraine’s history.

Lloyd Cenaiko

A Conversation with Ivan


Ivan Rusyn

Pastor and President, Theological Seminary in Kiev.

Remarkable interview, honest, raw, insighful – answering questions about the war, its impact on the church, President Zelensky`s leadership, and more

Ivan Rusyn was in the USA to address the First Presbyterian Church in Columbus, Georgia. He talks about the horrors of war, but he also speaks of his people’s willingness to fight. On the danger Ukrainians live with each day, he says, “Frankly speaking, to be in Ukraine now is like you are playing the lottery.
You never know what location will be hit next.”

Children of the War

Summer Camp Video

See children enjoying summer camp activities near the city of Kherson, which suffered flooding this summer.
Thanks to all of you who supported our camp programs, offering kids an opportunity to forget about war and, hopefully, embark on a path of healing.

Children at Their Father`s Grave

Visiting their father`s grave, the children ask their mother, “Is Our Daddy a hero?” She answers, “Yes, of course he is a hero.”

Pastor Roman Kornichuk

[Roman was a husband, father, and youth pastor in Rivne, Ukraine. A few months prior to his death he recorded a video from the front lines for his church’s volunteers who work at summer camps for children. This is a transcript of that video address.]

Hello friends, I’ve been asked to record a short video and share a few thoughts with you, and let me tell you, war really helps you think, especially about God. My understanding of God is more profound than before. Why?….

HART Volunteer Eva Vriens (Edmonton, Alberta)

by Eva Vriens

My soft cheek rests against your shoulder, feeling the rough and scratchy fabric of your uniform. I don’t mind. I like the smell of you.

You are leaving again to fight in a war you do not want, for you are a peaceful man. A tall, strong man who lifts me up and dances me around a field of golden buttercups. Who makes me believe I can fly if only I flap my arms fast enough, like the huge white storks that nest on our rooftop.

I kiss your stubbly chin and put my small hands to your face and look deep into your dark blue eyes. “Don’t go, Papa. Don’t go,” I whisper. And, sadly, you shake your head. Your shiny black boots that reach up to your knees make hollow sounds as you walk across the cobbled courtyard to the waiting army truck.

I will remember you as I sit on the step and watch the swallows build their nest under the eaves around your idle fishing poles. As I try to coax some music from your polished violin. As I watch the storks fly back and forth, bringing food to their hungry young. As I watch raindrops running down the windowpane. As I dance my lonely dance across the meadow of long-dead buttercups.

As my granddaughter puts her tiny hands on my face, looks into my eyes, and kisses my wrinkled cheek – I will remember you.

Here are specific prayer points that can help guide our prayers for the situation in Ukraine. Please share these with your friends and family:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Pray for God’s protection for soldiers and civilians caught up in this conflict.
  5. Pray for the residents of cities and towns who are under heavy shelling, and have lost their heat, lights, and water.
  6. Pray for the civilian and military prisoners of war who are subject to torture and death at the hands of their captors.
  7. 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.
  8. Pray for the frustration of all evil plans of the enemy.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.