Kevin Reilly on behalf of Edik and Liana – Ukraine
At point of writing, Ukraine is 67 days into a war that it did not initiate or choose. The continued bombardment of Ukrainian towns and cities and the senseless destruction of human life is before us everyday in the news. Truths, half-truths and downright lies flood the internet and airwaves on a daily basis and the war grinds on. It is impossible to be left unmoved as we witness the wanton destruction, the war crimes and the lies meted out to justify these actions. Yet still the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it (Jn 1:5).
Below you can read extracts from a zoom meeting that the Lighthouse Community had with Edik and with Pastor Natasha – many thanks to Stuart Shields who transcribed the interviews. Natasha is histed by our friend Edgaras who pastors a church in Lithuania, which has been supporting missionary work into the Donbas since 2014.
We were brought up with films of WW2 and thankful we didn’t live in those times. Every family has someone who died in the second world war. But what is happening now is worse than WW2. The occupied towns suffered less in WW2 than they do today. We are lucky that we live in the very western part of Ukraine.
We are praying for victory, we cannot say that we are apolitical. Great darkness has come over our land – it’s a battle of light against darkness. They want to enslave us and make us live as they want. No one can imagine that this is possible in the 21st Century. The most horrible thing is that all of this is done under the guise of “de-nazificantion” yet they are playing by the playbook of Nazi Germany, what we see is genocide against Ukraine.
About 7 million people left their homes and about 3 million are outside Ukraine. Pretty much everyone in our church is housing refugees, believers and non-believers alike. Because of the bombing many of the people have trauma… many of the believers are requesting prayer. They know they must forgive but they can’t forgive the Russians.
In the hotels we have opportunities to rent rooms at a monthly price. We are paying for 15-20 people to stay in hotels and we are buying groceries. Every Sunday we are giving food to people. This is enabled by the fact that we are renting out a storage area. Weekly we are transferring money to people’s bank accounts so they can buy something.
There is also a brother – Alex – who is a refugee and who is a masseur. We pay for a room that he has prepared as a massage therapy room and he is doing it for free. Almost every Sunday we have new people coming to church as a result and people are receiving Christ.
We are also helping another couple of Churches in other parts of Ukraine – small churches that have left the vicinity of Kiev. We are also helping a church that is about 60km away. Recently the pastor asked that they become a branch church for our church and so we are in fellowship with them.
Finally, I also wanted to mention how God is helping our army. As a church we have been fasting for 3 days a week for a total of about 40 days. Last time we did this, a ship was taken down by very simple means. And this was a relief for the SW part of Ukraine, protecting them from amphibious attack. That ship was air cover for all the other ships and because of that all of the other ships have retreated to the other side of the Black Sea. That is a miracle.
With money donated to the Ukraine – Respond and Rebuild offering, the Lighthouse Community (along with Community Church, Bishops Stortford) continues to financially support the following on-going ministries:
- accommodation and living expenses for refugees who have been housed in hotel rooms;
- financial support is being given to church members who are providing accommodation and food for groups of 3-4 refugees;
- additional food and bedding is bought and given to refugees in Uzhgorod;
- additional storage space is being rented to enable food and essentials to be stored and distributed;
- churches relating to Edik receive regular amounts of financial support through him in order to support them and their ministries;
- a larger space is now being rented by Edik and Liana for Sunday meetings, as the church has grown through their care for refugees;
Pastor Natasha says…
We are sharing the experiences of Edik but in a different part of Ukraine. We have been at war for 8 years, what Ukraine experienced on 24 Feb we have been experiencing for the last 8 years because our villages are on the frontline near Donetsk. There are armies stationed around; there is no public transport; there has been a lot of suffering among the population.
At the beginning of the war, people had already been living for a year and a half in their cellars. Electricity, gas was disconnected; we washed in the rivers because that was the only place; we were cooking on open fires. Before the war God had called me to minister to a few villages near Donetsk. I was living in Donetsk and travelling to those villages. When the war started in 2014 I moved to those villages and me and my team continued the ministry. There was a lot of fear and pain. No one could believe this was possible, destroyed houses, schools, children that were stuttering and refused to talk and the humanitarian situation was very difficult and in the midst of it all as the Word says “where sin abounded grace superabounded”.
We saw so many miracles – instant replies to prayers! Pastors that were in Donetsk were forced to flee and went all over the world and we were left alone. We continued to gather and travel by bicycle among the villages. I am so thankful to our team that they didn’t leave but continued to minister. We prayed for multiplication of food and it happened. We prayed for essentials and saw God reply and in these 8 years (from 2014-2022) God has blessed us a lot.
At the beginning of the war these villages were also occupied. There were a lot of Chechen mercenaries. As a church we were praying and agreed this was not an occupied land. We fasted and in three days the Ukrainian army pushed the front line beyond our villages and it became Ukrainian territory. By faith they fought armies, quenched fires, conquered kingdoms. As a church we can do that today. I am convinced we will see victory in our land. I really want to thank you for the finances for heating and recently also for the car – it was a great help. We didn’t know where the help would come from and every time God would surprise us. We don’t have any sponsors/donors and we were never in debt. The church had been growing and God was meeting our needs. In the last 8 years we have been transporting children out of the area and into other towns so they can spend at least 10 days resting in peace. We didn’t have any money for this but by faith we have been doing this. We would go somewhere and be presented with a bill and God would provide and this is how our children’s ministry has started.