Kevin on behalf of Edik and Liana – Ukraine
If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother. (Dt 15:7)
God has always cared for the poor and the marginalised. Throughout the testaments – old and new alike – you will find the steady throb of God’s heart, beating for the oppressed, the widow, the sojourner. He instructs us to be soft-hearted and generous toward the poor, because He is; and so as we continue past this twelve month anniversary, it is good to be reminded that soft-heartedness and generosity have been as present, as bullets and bombs. Our ministry together, with Edik and Liana has included:
- prayer without ceasing – our weekly prayer meetings have continued since day 1 of the war
- outpourings of finance – over €200K to date
- the poor and the displaced, fed, housed and cared for in their 100s – see one family’s story below
- church growth, salvation and baptisms in Uzhgorod – ten last year
- the consistent preaching of the gospel and the ministry of the Spirit, with healings
- a weekly discipleship group in the hotel for refugees and even a conference in Uzhgorod (22-24/02/2023)
Below is the story of a single family – Edik sent me this story yesterday (27/02/2023) – and it encapsulates some of the brutality of this war and its impact upon a single, multi-generational family.
The family recounts their journey from Kharkov to Uzhgorod – Lydia, Victoria, Alina & Adesodzhi have become refugees within their own country – ordinary people whose lives have been decimated by powerful war-mongers. Emma, myself and the team had the privilege of meeting Lydia and the family in their hotel room when we visited in December 2022 and sometimes, a single story is enough to give you all the insight and perspective that you need.
Lydia, Victoria, Alina & Adesodzh’s story is a success, in that they survived. They escaped. They found help. We would need to multiply this single, devastating story by millions to even begin to appreciate the enormity of what this war has done to generations of Ukrainians and Russians.
In marking the anniversary of the start of the war, news items, video summaries and statistical charts have sought to make bite-size one year of invasion. But sometimes less is more. One Family. One story. Multiplied by millions… and as you read, keep your heart soft and your hands wide open as we continue to care for people like Lydia, Victoria, Alina & Adesodzhi in the towns within the land that the Lord our God is giving us.
Lydia, Victoria, Alina & Adesodzhi write: The morning of February 24, 2022 completely turned and changed our lives. At 05:06 in the morning, hell began in the city of Kharkov. Russia started a war on the territory of Ukraine. Grads, rockets and air bombs fell in an endless stream. Our family was living in the Saltovka micro-district of the city of Kharkov; together we are four people (mother 70 years old, grandmother 96 years old, daughter 50 years old and Nigerian son-in-law 51 years old) and six cats!
Our 96-year-old, bed-bound and sick grandmother could not easily be dragged to the basement of our multi-storey building and so she sometimes sat through the roar and explosions, and was horrified. During two weeks without food and often without light and communication we sat in the basement, along with our six cats! Russian rockets and bombs hit nearby houses – civilians, women, children, and the elderly were killed.
When we were able to go out and look for food, we saw enemy fighters flying over our houses – over our heads – dropping their air bombs. For us it seemed that there was not a minute, not an hour of silence, day or night. Bombs fell and the shock waves blew doors open and shattered windows. We were in a state of shock but with trembling legs, we decided to leave our basement.
People were leaving the city en masse, back then. Some died along the way. Shops and pharmacies were empty and closed. We stood in kilometre-long queues just for bread, under the shelling of Russian bombs. Gasoline disappeared because the Russians bombed gas stations and fuel storage bases. Getting out was extremely difficult. The incessant shelling! It was like the brain and body was in a state of shock.
Along with our sick grandmother and six cats, we were helped by ordinary people to carry our belongings and get them (and our grandmother) into a car. We put our six cats into two cat carriers – there was not enough space – and we didn’t take excess belongings with us, only documents and a small supply of money. For three days, under shelling, we waited in a huge queue for gasoline. Curfew was from 18.00 pm to 08.00. The city of Kharkov was empty – burnt cars lined the roads and destroyed, high-rise buildings made Kharkov look worse than a horror film.
We finally left fearfully and very cautiously, as we saw that many cars had been shot at by the Russian military and then simply abandoned. People were just leaving for anywhere. They were fleeing from death! We were heading to the home of an acquaintance in Transcarpathia where we were given the chance to house-sit the apartment whilst the owner was away.
We drove very hard for three days with lines of endless cars taking people from the war. We stayed overnight at volunteer shelters for refugees in Kropyvnytsky and Letychiv but then, eventually, we settled in Uzhgorod, where we lived for six months, house-sitting the apartment. But then the the owner back and we were back on the street.
But thanks to the Hotel Transcarpathia (Liana’s hotel) we have been given the opportunity to settle here, with our bedridden grandmother and six cats. Because of all the horrors of the war – the cold, the lack of food, the shock – each of us was in very bad health; even our cats were in a state of terrible stress! It was – and is – very difficult for us to pay for housing in Uzhgorod as we lacked material resources, having left home and having lost our jobs in Kharkov. We dream of returning home one day, but the war is not over yet and Kharkov is still being shot to pieces by the Russian aggressor.
Your help in paying for our hotel accommodation has helped us a lot and has literally brought us back to life!
Depression and health problems had led us to despair and hopelessness. Our inability to pay for our housing was leading us to consider returning home to Kharkov and to the shelling – we were on the verge of giving up – and with regard to our lives…come what may! But thanks to you, to Pastor Edik and to his wife Liana we have received the financial support that is so necessary for us to live here in Uzhgorod.
Sincerely: grandmother Lydia, daughter Victoria, granddaughter Alina and her husband Adesodzhi (and six cats:).