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Ukraine at War – Update 19, 2023

Dear Office, One of the most troubling aspects of this war is to try to make some sense of the destruction and death that that has engulfed the nation of Ukraine.

Yet, as we reflect on the 20 months that have passed since the onset of this conflict, and as we survey the landscape and observe all the things God is accomplishing during these dark days, it seems that His message to us may be this: Where there is tragedy, there is also an opportunity for God to show His love and bring comfort and healing to those who are hurting. And He is doing this through His church and His people – both in Ukraine and North America.

Our HART community has been playing an incredibly important supporting role throughout this war. With YOUR help we’ve been resourcing our network of Ukrainian church partners, giving them the ability to respond effectively to the humanitarian crisis caused by the ongoing conflict.

However, we find ourselves at a crucial point in this conflict, and it is our responsibility in the Western world to extend support to our fellow Christians in Ukraine, particularly as we approach the winter season. We know very well what the Russian strategy will be – to destroy Ukraine’s infrastructure and subject its people to hunger and extreme cold.

Through our contacts and ministry partners in the areas directly affected by the conflict, we have compiled a list of essential supplies and equipment needed as we approach winter. It is imperative that we begin purchasing these items without delay:

Thank you for your support. Pray for Ukraine.

Episodes From The War

These unique journal entries are authored by Brother Andrey, a HART ministry partner who serves with his team in the conflict areas.

This is always a miracle. When goodness contrasts against evil. When hope is born out of despair. While some ‘inhumans’ bring destruction, sorrow, and death, other merciful, caring people do not let evil triumph.

The town of Pídriv Kakhovka (which Kherson’s flooded dam destroyed) is somehow forgotten by now. But the victims still haven’t recovered from the effects of the flood. It’s not possible for everyone to renovate their homes. Especially for a family of women without any men.

Sisters Katya, Albina, and their mother lived in one of these damaged houses. Unfortunately, the more vulnerable houses, constructed without a solid foundation and walls made of adobe (saman), suffered the most damage during the flooding. In many homes like theirs, the water reached the height of the ceiling. Faced with walls on the brink of collapse, decaying floors, and ceilings that had tumbled to the ground, one can’t help but wonder: what options remain for these three women?

God has his own angels. I know a lot of them. Jacob from Kherson is one of them. Met him in the summer when the Kakhov dam tragedy just happened. We together pumped water from many houses. Now, he has assembled a small team to help the victims. Jacob decided to renovate these unfortunate women’s home.

His team worked very hard, and by now essentially, the house is almost completely rebuilt. Now it’s time to get the heating system in. Jacob kindly asked us to buy a boiler and radiators. Thank God we are able to contribute to this good cause. And we have this opportunity thanks to you, friends.
Bathroom equipment will be next, and it will also need money. If you have a desire to help, please don’t hesitate.

So today, we visited Katya and Albina again. Jacob was happy to show what had already been done. The girls were also happy that the process was progressing. In general, they were very joyful.

Laughter seemed to mitigate some of the frightening memories of the tragedy. Like the moments on a rickety little boat when they were carried away by a swift current, but somehow they reached out to clutch onto a telephone pole for dear life and then were rescued by a compassionate stranger. With smiles on their faces, the girls also recounted the water level. This is the spirit of the people in Kherson, the essence of Ukrainians.

By the way, Kherson continues to be hit with lots of shelling. Where the girls live is also hit often. And it’s dangerous. God, take care of the Kherson people. Thank you for being with us. Blessings to you dear friends!

Bottom of the Well Theology:

A Christian Perspective from Ukraine

by Roman Soloviy – the Director of the Eastern European Institute of Theology in Lviv, Ukraine.

During this war, I have become increasingly aware of how emotional and geographic proximity relates to the perception of information. For our friends abroad, the news of the Ukrainian tragedy could remain just a piece of information about events in a neighbouring country.

For us, it is the destruction of our world, our families, and our futures. Even the most sympathetic cannot experience what we are experiencing here on an existential level. Peering into a well – and being at the bottom of one are two completely different experiences! (continue reading….)

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.