Editor’s Note: The image and story below were provided by an SGA-supported church in Poland.
Here is a powerful testimony from a Christian family who escaped Ukraine and is now sheltering in Poland . . .
Andrey (51 years old), Tatiana (50 years old), and their daughter Margarita (13 years old)
Living on the Eve of the War
Tatiana recalls, “February 23, 2022, the beautiful Ukrainian city [where we lived]. I’m sitting in a beauty salon, getting a manicure, and I’m thinking about what decision I have to make. At the time, I had only one “problem”: which café I need to choose to eat sushi with my family and have some coffee and cake at on February 25. I’m sitting here planning how to celebrate my 50th birthday. I am waiting for the holiday to come! And despite the disturbing talks of the people around me, I absolutely cannot bear the thought and do not believe that [the enemy] will come with a war to my home, to my city, to my peaceful country Ukraine.” And at that point, I did not know how many other really terrible problems I would have to resolve the next day, February 24th.
The day that divided our lives into Before and After . . .
“At 7 a.m. on February 24th, our daughter Margarita was preparing for school as usual. My husband and I were still asleep.” Even now, I sometimes cry, reminding myself how she woke me up, patted my shoulder, and said, “Mom, get up, don’t worry, but it has started . . . The war has started. [Our city] is shelled, they told us not to go to school.”
My soul, my mind, which was still not awake at that time, could not understand the word “war” at once. My husband and I were unable to even pray or do anything at that time. We were just shocked. “It wasn’t really a dream or a movie, it was our new ‘war’ reality,” Tatiana says.
Tatiana, along with her husband and daughter, realized the seriousness of the situation when they heard heavy explosions in different parts of [their city]. Then, looking out the window of the apartment building where they had rented an apartment since 2016 after fleeing Donbas, they saw their neighbors hurriedly loading their belongings into cars and leaving. Andrey and Tatiana had no car and could not leave the city at the time.
Tatiana says, “We knelt down and prayed to God, asking Him to continue to be with us during the war and to give us His strength to overcome these trials. After the prayer, we all went together to the stores, stood in long lines, and managed to buy some groceries. There was already panic in the city, and all the rest of the food was just ‘swept’ away from store shelves.”
According to Tatiana, the shelling was intensifying and approaching, so the family quickly took what they needed and ran to the basement of a nearby apartment building. There, along with 12 other residents of the apartment building, they spent their first “war” night from February 24 to 25. Tatiana says, “That’s how I ‘celebrated’ my 50th anniversary in the basement with my husband, my daughter, friends who were our neighbors, and complete strangers. Instead of sushi and a cake, we had instant noodles, cookies, and tea.”
Our faith being tested under shellfire
“My family and I spent nine days in the basement,” Tatiana recalls. Beside us were our unbelieving friends. We ate with them food that we had left over. My husband and I always prayed out loud before we ate. We thanked God for His mercy by which we had food, and we also prayed for God’s protection in our lives. Our friends were okay with that. They stood beside us while we prayed and always said “Amen.” On the 3rd day, we were all completely out of bread and drinking water. We could not go to the nearest large supermarket, which was still open until 2 p.m., because of the massive shelling. Shells already began to fall on neighboring blocks. And all the stores that were nearby had been closed since the first day of the war. We prayed for the Lord to send us bread and water. I used Viber to ask for help in the chat room of our [church]. I had no idea that our friends who were also ministers would help us so quickly. An hour later our church deacon Oleg and his wife Anna brought some fresh, hot bread from the bakery straight to our apartment building, lots of drinking water, food, and even candy.
We cried and thanked God and them as well. We learned from them that since the beginning of the war and often even under shelling they had been distributing food to needy members of our church, as well as helping as volunteers to other [city] residents. That had truly been a good fight of faith! They continue to fulfill this ministry even today, on the 64th day of the war. We pray for God to protect their family and support them in their work,” Tatiana notes.
She also says that God miraculously kept her family and people in the basement during the terrible night and evening air raids. In a quivering voice, Tatiana recalls, “Little by little we got used to the shelling.” “But when, on the fifth day, fighters began flying over our apartment building, we were just terrified. The whole building trembled a lot and even reeled a little. Every night after 10 p.m., these air raids began. And then we heard that air bombs were being dropped on other residential blocks somewhere nearby. After a while, we could already see on the Internet the incredible consequences of the air raids: videos of destroyed houses, dead and wounded people. One of the bombs fell on an outpatient clinic located not far from us. Looking through the little window in the basement, we could see the blazing fire and smoke. During the air raids and shelling, we prayed out loud to God, supporting and comforting everyone around us. The Lord alone gave us strength, faith, and patience to get through all this.
“Andrei brought a New Testament with him to the basement, and read it out loud to everybody. He also attempted to preach about God to our friends and others in the basement. But most of them were very frightened by the situation and the shelling and were not disposed to receive the Word of God.” “But we believe that it was planted in their hearts, and we pray that God will bring them to Him,” Tatiana says.
Evacuating from Ukraine
On March 5th, the 10th day of the war and their “basement” life in [their Ukrainian city], Tatiana’s family decided to leave the city. But it was impossible to find a car to drive away. Even taxi drivers refused to pick up people in the city under fire and bring them to the train station. The family prayed to the Lord about the situation, and He gave them His miraculous response. A minister from their church, Aleksey, helped them evacuate. On the morning of March 5, during the shelling in the city, he picked them up in his car and took them to the train station. Thank God for having kept them on the road. While at the station, with great difficulty, since there were so many people there, Andrey, Tatiana, and Margarita boarded an evacuation train with decommissioned train cars without light, heat, or toilets. They travelled by train for nearly 24 hours. In [another Ukrainian city], they boarded a bus belonging to a Christian mission and drove closer to the border with Poland.
Only on March 7, with the help of some Christian brothers from the church in [another Ukrainian city] they managed to reach Poland. It took them another two days, with stops along the way, to reach [a city in Poland]. They lived there for three days in the apartment of a hospitable young Polish family. They provided them with a children’s room, and the children were given their own bedroom. Then for several days Andrey and Tatiana’s family were in [another district in Poland], where they were welcomed in the apartment belonging to Senian and Nelly, a Polish Christian family. They prayed together, sang Christian songs and had a good fellowship. The friendship which began then continues today.
On March 17, Pastor Krzysztof and his wife Gosha welcomed the family of Andrey and Tatiana into their house in [a Polish village]. They gave them part of their house to live. Pastor Krzysztof and his wife take care of everything Andrey and Tatiana’s family needs, and they also drive together to church to attend church services.
Tatiana ended her testimony with the following words, “We are deeply grateful to the Lord for His faithfulness, love and His amazing constant care for us from the very first day of the war until now. Here in Poland, we also see His caring hand through the help of Christians, volunteers, governmental organizations, and ordinary Poles. We believe and know that the Lord will continue to be with us.”
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