Greetings! Following the Crimean Bridge bombing on the weekend, Vladimir Putin is now unleashing his revenge upon civilian populations in a variety of Ukrainian cities – and adding more war crimes to his resume. The targets included residential neighborhoods but also civilian infrastructure sites that provide heat, electricity, and waterworks. With winter ahead, it is no secret why Russia is targeting these structures.
As a result, one of our biggest concerns right now is providing our Church partners with the resources they will need to help their own people as well as refugees with heat and electricity throughout the winter. Wood and coal heaters are needed as well as generators.
LVIV IS HIT BY MISSILES
Lviv, just 50 miles from the Polish border, has at times felt somewhat removed from Vladimir Putin’s war. Direct attacks have been few and far between. The attacks of Monday and Tuesday changed all that. Fifteen missiles rained down on electricity substations in the Lviv region as part of a country-wide assault on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure that killed twenty people.
“We have to brace ourselves for hard times,” said Andriy Sadovyi, the mayor of Lviv. “Winter was coming, and with it, perhaps the worst ever period for our country,” the mayor said. “For all the missiles that could continue to rain down, it is the cold that the Russians believed would break the Ukrainian spirit. Stock up on firewood, buy heaters, and insulate where you can,” Sadovyi counseled. “We are in for hard weeks and months ahead.”
IDP (INTERNALLY DISPLACED PEOPLE) RETURNING HOME
Another concern for HART is to provide relief assistance through local churches for IDPs who have returned to their towns and cities, some still very close to the war zones. These communities are without water and gas for heat and also face power outages and the threat of Russian shelling.
Why do they return home? Many are afraid of their apartments/homes being looted. Living in West Ukraine on Government assistance is never enough to survive on, and it’s impossible to find jobs there. And as one pastor put it: “Home is home. Dry bread at home is better than roast meat abroad.”
Please consider helping our church partners in Ukraine prepare to serve people in their communities in the upcoming winter. We need your help to purchase:
- coal and wood-burning heaters
Ukraine’s Battlefield Gains ‘Extraordinary’
October 12, 2022
Ukraine’s recent military victories against the Russian invaders have been “extraordinary” and influenced the course of the war despite the “malice and cruelty” of Moscow’s latest missile strikes, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has told a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
Austin said Russia’s actions had further united the international community to support Ukraine’s military efforts to defend itself.
“The whole world has just seen yet again the malice and cruelty of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s war of choice — rooted in aggression and waged with deep contempt for the rules of war,” he said.
A Pastor’s Journal
EPISODES FROM THE WAR (Continued from last update)
The following journal entries are from Pastor Andriy, a HART ministry partner who has had a front-row seat near this theatre of war and shares some extraordinary insights into the pain and suffering this conflict has inflicted on Ukrainians. It also demonstrates the incredible ourage and compassion Ukrainian Christians display daily – to help refugees and those living in or near the war zones.
Dear Friends, let me share with you a few episodes from the war. Why? Because we must not forget what is happening in this war and become complacent about it. These ‘episodes’ are just small puzzle pieces of a larger picture of the tragedy that the “liberators” created in my country of Ukraine. – Pastor Andriy
August 6, 2022
Town of Seversk. As usual, we brought bread and water. Seemed like a typical day. We hear explosions in the distance in the usual way. We unwind the hoses, the people come, and we begin to fill up water containers.
Suddenly – a whistle directly overhead, a deafening explosion. A column of smoke rises from somewhere nearby. Burning flakes are flying at us; it stinks of burning roofing material.
Those from the nearest homes – sprint to their yards and into the basements. Those who live farther away – dive into the weeds under a fence for cover. Empty water bottles lie on the road.
A man, swearing, runs in the direction of the smoke. It looks like a missile hit his house. His grandfather was there. Within two-three minutes, two more missiles hit approximately the same place.
We have nowhere to go. Many others are in the same predicament. My driver is praying out loud. It looks like the prayer has been answered. There are no more missiles. People climb out of their shelters. A woman’s hand is bleeding – not from the shelling, but a piece of metal on the ground she fell on trying to hide from the missile strike.
The swearing man returns. He is no longer swearing but is now thanking God – his family is intact. We continue to distribute water. The village was like a sheet from the school notes from my childhood when we played Battleship. Houses are like ships. Hit, hit, sunk.
August 7, 2022
Seversk is getting smaller. It is almost gone. Only a few houses remain. There was one yard untouched. Like an island – on the right and on the left, everything was destroyed. We always stayed there on our trips to Seversk. It was kind of soulful there. The people lived like one big family – quarreled and reconciled, cooked food, and ate together. Because of the war, they moved to the basement; they all helped to renovate it and adapt to this new life. Because there were many children in this home, we pleaded with them to leave for safer regions. However, all of our logical reasons to go were shattered by a categorical refusal.
Last Friday, I discovered that only charred ruins remained of the house. The locals said that the family left after a missile strike. In a hurry, they left for different places. One man died. I remember him; he was somewhere around my age. Every time we visited them, he would ask for a flashlight. The end. He no longer needs a flashlight. His wife is a widow; his sons no longer have a father. Sadly, we remove this address from our visit schedule.
August 8, 2022
Lyudmila, a refugee; she was one of the people we helped to evacuate. For a couple of days, she and her elderly mother were sheltered by a church in Druzhkovka; then, they were going to be transported to Zaporizhia, where they had a place to stay.
Lyudmila was not around much on the first day – she was catching up after many sleepless nights during the bombings. When she did appear, she looked refreshed, had washed up, and was wearing clean clothes.
All of our discussions were about home, about the people who remained behind. She tried to give me money and begged me to buy ice cream for a neighbor boy whose family was still in the war zone. I politely refused – how could I drive 80 km in the summer heat todeliver ice cream?
She was crying for her little dog, Beam: “He ran after the car, trying to follow us!” On my next trip to her hometown, she asked me to take some food for her dog. She’d already found a pet shop here. I answered that I didn’t know when I would go to Seversk next time or whether I would go there at all. Lyudmila bought some dog food, just in case. “It’s just a small package,” – she told me.
Lyudmila and the refugees left for Zaporizhzhia on Thursday, and I decided to go to Seversk the next day. I went to pick up the dog food she had bought. It turned out that Lyudmila purchased a massive bag of dog food, 10 – 15 kg. I was hooked into caring for the dog. Hooked by this woman’s kindness and generosity to her neighbor boy and her pet.
For the neighbor boy, I brought a bag full of candies. I know him. He once brought me an empty bottle and asked: “Andriy, do you know how Coca-Cola smells?” And gave me this empty Coca-Cola bottle to smell.
So, I also brought him Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite, and a lot of treats. Of course, it’s far from healthy. But this will be a small taste of a peaceful life for the boy.
August 9, 2022
The cities of Donbas are dying gradually. About a month ago, in Bakhmut, urban beautification workers were busy in the flowerbeds – weeding, cutting roses. Of course, it was kind of surrealistic – there were a lot of ruined houses and apartments around, and beauty was induced in the flower beds. And just recently, trolleybuses still coursed through Bakhmut. They avoided shell craters but continued to operate. I told myself that while roses were being cared for and trolleybuses were running, Bakhmut was still alive.
Things change. The last couple of times I came here, I did not see either orange-vested urban beautification workers on the flower beds or trolleybuses. Trolley wires are cut off, supports are destroyed. More and more shell craters and destroyed houses. Bakhmut is dying. More precisely, the “liberators” are killing the city. This is painful to watch.
Konstantinovka and Druzhkovka are still holding out. But it’s still summer. There is no gas and water supply in the cities. How people will survive in winter – no one knows. By the way, this dominates our thinking now – how can we help people given the imminent cold weather ahead?
We are considering creating hostels with heat and water for local residents in relatively safe cities, such as Druzhkovka. The authorities have already announced that there will be neither heat nor water in the winter. To prepare these hostels, firewood supplies, re-equipment of boiler rooms, potbelly stoves, and installation of additional water tanks, beds, etc. are needed.
The night before we left, we were woken up by explosions. Very strong explosions. And flashes. A Russian missile hit somewhere close. In the morning, it was reported that a missile strike destroyed a five-story residential building. There were also missile strikes along Druzhkovka, thankfully with nothing terrible to report.[As I wrote in one of my June’ Episodes,’ the answer to the question of why we keep coming here – is because people need bread. And they need water. And much more is needed. So, we make our way here to help. People – to people. To our Ukrainians. It seems to be the right thing to do. And to God be all the glory.]
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.