231229 Sga Ukraine War Stories 12 3 Social Post 1 Wordpress Preview 460x460 V1
Editor’s Note: The images below were provided by an SGA-supported church in Ukraine.

I was blessed to read this report compiled by Sergei and Lydia as they wrote firsthand of the impact of aid in the region of Vinnitsia.  This report is filled with gratefulness for the aid provided through SGA, evidence of the power of God at work through your faithful efforts and the churches we serve.

Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:15-16).

And be encouraged by the quote from a Jewish man who was served by this church…

“Jews were fed in our church. The chief rabbi from the Netherlands visited us at that time. He also shared the story of his parents. When his parents fled from the Nazis, no one helped them at the time. And then he turned to his fellow Jews and said: “. . . and now, when the Russian evil has invaded Ukraine, Christian believers are helping you when you flee the country to your own land. Such a wonderful Baptist church in Vinnytsia has taken you in!””

May God encourage and bless your hearts.

Greetings to you in Christ, dear friends!

Our country continues to suffer terrible evil from Russian aggression, with thousands of adults and children being killed. We are all tired of it. From the war itself. From its endlessness. From deaths and shelling. From life’s problems and burdens. From people who do not know God and who hate each other.

People are tired of constant bad news. From everything that has become the content of our everyday life during these years of war. 

But we, the children of God, have to go on and help those who are in much more difficult conditions and who are experiencing a much more terrible real life in times of war. Vinnytsia is in the center of Ukraine and at the beginning of the war, it was a hub for many refugees, those who were going to other places, to other countries, everyone was moving through Vinnytsia. The churches in Vinnytsia welcomed and gave shelter to thousands of refugees. 

Over time, the large flow of refugees subsided and today there are about 300,000 IDPs in the Vinnytsia region. Evangelical churches play a major role in helping these people. 

Volodymyr, senior pastor in the Vinnitsa region, shares:

First of all, I would like to express my gratitude from myself and all the churches of our association for SGA and all the sponsors who are involved in helping our people, all those displaced people in the region who suffered from the war and were forced to flee their homes.There are 124 Evangelical Christian-Baptist churches across the region. We also have 20 groups.  

At the beginning of the war, we all, both believers and non-believers, were scared and frightened. We didn’t know what to do, where to go, or how to deal with it. Fear binds absolutely everyone, so in the beginning it was a terrible mess everywhere. It was hard to concentrate in the early days, to give any advice to church members, because I realized that the pastors of the churches had a huge responsibility. 

Thanks be to God, we felt the constant prayers of believers, friends around the world who knew about the tragedy of the country. God did not leave us. He heard and hears the prayers of His children. He has been and continues to lead us in the way He sees best. And all for the good of each of His children! 

After the first week of war we managed to get back to our senses and, with God’s help, started a new ministry. We operated like a hotline. We were receiving phone calls from all over the region, from those who asked for help. All the large evangelical churches in Vinnytsia took over this ministry. Therefore, a real ministry began, a real manifestation of love and compassion for those who were fleeing from suffering, from the fear of war. We were the center of receiving such suffering souls.

All our churches opened their doors and let refugees in. Each church organized hot meals for people. People were all fleeing to the west. If it used to take 10-12 hours to get to the border, at the beginning of the war people stood in line for 3 weeks to cross the border.  That’s why all these convoys of cars passed through Vinnytsia, and we had a lot of work to do with these exhausted and tired fugitives. There were many families with little children. 

Everyone was exhausted after a while, but only God could give us the strength not to fall, not to lose heart, not to give up.  During the first three months of the war we worked and served without taking days off. Everyday people were coming, many people, a lot of people!  

Now the central church in Vinnytsia serves the IDPs by bringing their dirty clothes during the week, and we wash them, dry them, and give clean clothes or linens back to the IDPs. And while their clothes are being washed, we spend time with them, reading to them the Word of God and praying with them. People ask us to pray for them and their families. After the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant was blown up, there was another wave of refugees that came to Vinnytsia. 

During the war, the Vinnytsia region sheltered more than 300,000 IDPs. In Vinnytsia itself, there were over 100,000 refugees.  Many times we saw God’s protection. Less than a mile away from the central church, two rockets hit a TV tower. But the Lord saved both people’s lives and the church from destruction. There was only minor damage to the building. And this is a miracle for us! Therefore, a great desire for me, as a senior pastor, and for all of us who serve the displaced, is to continue to show people Christ, to show His love! They are destitute, they don’t know who to rely on… And we are here, we hear them and together with you, dear friends, we continue to serve them!

Therefore, again and again I want to thank SGA and sponsors who have extended a helping hand in this terrible war with food and continue to support us! May God abundantly reward everyone who feels our pain and supports us!

One more episode Volodymyr shares:

Some time before the war started, a representative of the Israeli government came to our church and explored the area, how well protected our church was around. He saw that the whole area was well protected and asked us to provide shelter for Jewish people when they would need it. And that time came…

This official told us that his grandmother, who was born in the Vinnitsa region, during the Nazi invasion in World War II, all Jews were murdered. And she was a little girl, and she fell down with the dead and survived in this way. Then, after a while, she crawled out from under the dead bodies and escaped. She was taken in by a Ukrainian family. Later, they all moved to Israel and became citizens of that country.

This representative and I met again shortly after the events in Israel, and I told him that our churches are constantly praying for Israel to the Living God! 

But when the war broke out, many Jews started fleeing the war zone. Many wanted to move to Israel. How did they leave? Vinnitsa is right at the crossroads. If one was traveling from Kyiv, Bucha, Irpin, he went through Vinnitsa. If they were traveling from Mariupol or Kharkiv, they also went through Uman and through Vinnitsa.  From Vinnitsa, they went to Moldova, which is 62 miles from Vinnitsa. From Moldova to Romania and from there they flew to Israel by airplane. And our local Jews went from here to Khmelnytsky and from there to Chernivtsi, Lviv, and then to Poland. Two main streams went to Vinnitsa from the north of the country and from the east. And likewise, two streams were heading from Vinnitsa to Moldova, Romania, and Poland via Lviv.

Jews were fed in our church. The chief rabbi from the Netherlands visited us at that time. He also shared the story of his parents. When his parents fled from the Nazis, no one helped them at the time. And then he turned to his fellow Jews and said: “…and now, when the Russian evil has invaded Ukraine, Christian believers are helping you when you flee the country to your own land. Such a wonderful Baptist church in Vinnytsia has taken you in!”

This year, in May, we had the opportunity to visit Israel and there we were awarded a small pin as a sign of gratitude for helping Jews last year when they fled Ukraine. About 5,000 Jews passed through our ministry during the war. Therefore, we also fed them and provided them with shelter for as long as they needed. And also, many of them did not have transportation, so we had a big bus in our church and we transported them all to the borders with this bus.

In a time of great uncertainty, God is bringing help, healing, and hope to the people of Ukraine through SGA-supported pastors, churches, a seminary, and SGA-supported Compassion Ministry. Be a part of God’s incredible work with your generosity and prayer support.  

Your gift of compassion helps struggling people with emergency aid that generally includes Scripture materials, food, medicine, warm clothing, and shoes.

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