Editor’s Note: The images below was provided by an SGA storyteller team member in Ukraine.
This following testimony is from one of SGA Storyteller team members, Alexandra, who shares about what her life has been like since the war began in Ukraine.
Alexandra is young and newly married, and she should be excited about what the future holds. And yet, she is in the middle of unexpected and horrendous war. However, she is not afraid, and she is fully trusting in her God. What maturity in such a young life!
As this month marks the one-year anniversary of the conflict, please continue to pray for Alexandra and her husband Stas as they continue to serve in Ukraine — and all of SGA’s team members and sponsored pastors and churches. She picks up her story during the first week of the war . . .
More of Alexandra’s Testimony
Even though we talked about the possibility of war, we didn’t expect a full-scale invasion to come into our lives. The morning of February 24th has been one of the most terrifying memories in my life. Imagine you’re dreaming and suddenly you are woken up by the loud sound of explosions. “It’s begun,” my husband Stas said coming up to the window. “I’m going to the gas station. We’ll need a full tank”. He disappeared in a minute, and I tried to figure out what was happening. It was 5 am. I grabbed my phone and the first news I read made me speechless. “I have decided to conduct a special military operation,” announced Putin. I took a deep breath. God, what should we do?
When Stas returned, he said that there was a massive evacuation from the city. He had never seen so many cars on the road. If we want to flee, we must leave now before we get stuck in traffic congestion not for hours but for days. I asked myself whether we should leave the city. I didn’t panic. Neither my husband nor I felt scared. Perhaps it was because we didn’t realize the scale of the terror that was ahead and we all thought it would end soon. Maybe because we didn’t have children of our own, whom we needed to protect and take out of the country. But we had something instead. We had faith that God would lead us through, we had a car to help others with evacuation, we had family who needed us, and we had no fear. Stas said, “Remember your parents told us about their basement that could be used as a shelter? We have to bring the whole family there.” We had to pick up my grandma and my sister-in-law with her two kids (her husband was working away and was already on his way home). The sound of air-raid sirens accompanied us while we were driving to my parents’ place. The traffic was so heavy that if we’d wanted to leave the city that would have been impossible.
When we went down to the basement, we doubted whether that place was safe enough with all the glass jars on the shelves. Nobody expected to hide there from the bombs. That very night war planes attacked our district with rockets. We spent that night hiding. There were four families, more than 10 adults and four kids. The next day we took away all the jars as we realized it was our first, but not last night there. The first images of death and destruction started appearing on social media and news.
It was then that I wrote my first post to my Spanish friends. They are all non-believers. They waited for my reaction. I couldn’t miss the chance to tell them about my hope. I’ll translate that post so you can see what I felt and thought right at that moment.
The following couple of days was the most challenging period of war for us. Troops came really close to our city. The western suburbs were already occupied. I know those places well as I worked [in one city] and many friends of mine lived in [a nearby city]. I remember how my close friend Veronika told me about the soldiers coming into their town. Tanks passed along her street. She wrote a poster and stood with it on the road. She was neither afraid nor angry. She was volunteering since the very beginning of the war, trying to help old people and those with disabilities by bringing them food. She also wanted the invading soldiers to realize their mistakes. Veronika didn’t consider them enemies until the moment they shelled a civilian car with three kids. That family was trying to get out of the occupied town. She told me, “If I had a gun, I would kill a trooper myself.” In that moment I realized two things: the war is way more terrifying, and the enemy is more dangerous than we could even imagine. And the second thing: the biggest enemy we are facing is anger, which can start controlling our lives. I lost communication with Veronika that day. [These cities] were under enemy’s control.
Several bridges connected [these cities] with Kyiv. The main bridge was blown up by Ukrainian forces to block—or at least slow the invading troops in reaching Kyiv. But that created a trap not only for troops but for the people who lived there. They were cut out of water, heating, and food supply. No mobile or internet connection. Many civilians were tortured, raped, and killed. I prayed day and night for my friends there, for their safety and soul healing. I also prayed for myself oh Lord, not wrath or revenge, reign in my heart.
One of the fiercest battles was at Irpen, northwest of Kyiv. Russian artillery shelling and airstrikes continued in the region. We heard that. It would be quieter in the morning, but the fighting would intensify at night. We decided to sleep in the house that night as we were tired and cold. We laid down on the floor, all dressed up, with our shoes near us, when at 4 a.m. my mum suddenly came shouting: Air-raid siren, the threat of bombing! We ran out to the basement. Kids crying. We spent the next couple of nights in the cold and wet basement. All exhausted, sick, kids crying day and night. A 5-year-old boy named Daniel got panic attacks. All we dreamt of was putting on warm pajamas and going to sleep in a bed.
We didn’t think much about food. We spent all our cash on food in the first days of the war. In a week there was no food in the supermarkets. My sister-in-law Nastia said it couldn’t go on like this when her 3-year-old son Jason got very ill and there was no opportunity to go to the pharmacy. She wanted to take her kids to a safer place until it got too late. Later we knew that there were no medications left in pharmacies. It was time to make a tough decision. No young man could leave the country. Nastia can’t drive, she doesn’t speak English, and she wouldn’t be able to take care of her children without their father. How can she go abroad without her husband? They prayed and asked God to show them the right moment to escape, not getting hit by shelling on their way and crossing the border legally not being separated.
Here I could write another testimony of how God led them through in a miraculous way. When their younger son Jason was born, he was diagnosed with heart disease. He underwent several surgeries or he would not survive. Nastia didn’t ask God why he let that happen. She always believed God knows better, and He can turn every situation into good. That happened years later. When Nastia’s family came to the Ukraine/Poland border, her husband was allowed to go out of the country without being called up to the military service due to his son’s heart disease. Now they remain together in a safe place in one of the German cities. The day they evacuated I wrote another post.
To be continued….”
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-sponsored Compassion Ministry. Be a part of God’s incredible work with your generosity and prayer support.
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The simple stoves that generous friends like you have helped to provide through our Ukraine Heat & Hope Campaign are more than what they appear. Watch the video:
One of our ministry team members in Ukraine recently recorded a video thank-you message for friends like you who have supported our Ukraine Heat & Hope Campaign. “Thank you
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