Editor’s Note: The story below was provided by an SGA-supported church in Poland.
It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but for this testimony, we have many words and no picture. Our friends in Ukraine continue to be grateful to God for all the efforts of SGA supporters like you. Below is a testimony provided by faithful servants at a Ukrainian church who continue to minister in Jesus’ name.
On February 24 at 6:30 am, Alina received a call from her sister that lived in [a Ukrainian town]. She said that they saw a column of GRAD rocket systems, armored personnel carriers and tanks moving towards [their region]. . . .“The war broke out!” were the words of Alina’s sister. At 7 a.m. TV and the radio reported on the invasion.
On the very first day of the war [in their region], young men of 18 years old did not hesitate and joined territorial defense groups, taking up arms in order to defend their country—independent Ukraine. Even older men over 60 years of age went to fight.
Alina shared that in the first two weeks of the war, all her neighbors who were hiding in the basement experienced constant fear, because [not far away the enemy] entered into [a Ukrainian village], put their “Grads” up and positioned to fight. The people were afraid that they would destroy [districts in the city center]. . . .
Alina recalled that during the first 3 weeks of shelling, she would run to the basement more than 300 feet away from her house in an unfinished church, as it was dangerous to stay in the apartment on the 8th floor. The basement was very cold and damp; it was simply impossible to stay there for a long time because of the ankle-deep water on the floor. The small basement room served as a shelter for more than 50 people, mainly the families with little ones and the elderly. On the 5th day, the men began to scoop water out of the basement and brought some firewood to make fire in a potbelly stove stored in the basement. It warmed up slowly, and we stretched a plastic film to separate the part for women with children to keep it warm. Others simply stood outside this part in the aisle without heat from the stove for 4 hours without a movement and sitting. Heavy shelling, says Alina, would start at 4 pm and continued throughout the night.
Alina remembered that once she was standing right at the exit from the basement during one of the shellings with GRADs and saw a flying rocket about a mile away from where she lived. That day more than 20 people were killed, including children, and many were wounded. Many private houses were destroyed. Alina, with a tremor in her voice, says, “There was a feeling that the earth was shaking”, and “inside her body everything turned over”. During the next attacks, no one went out into the street, even when they took place far away, and stayed in the basement, praying that God would save them.
After some time, they heard a column of heavy equipment passing nearby at a distance. The troops were driving through, and when they got outside the city, the fighters from the territorial defense that kept the checkpoint and did a great job protecting [the city], destroyed the column.
In the 3rd week of the war, the [opposition] bombed [a factory]. Alina said that people in the city were very afraid that they would also bomb the local chemical plant . . . many prayed for God’s protection.
Shops in the city worked only in the first 2 weeks for 2 to 3 hours, selling out what was left in stock. After that, in 5 days the city would bring some bread under shelling during air raids. At the pharmacies, people stood in line for 3 hours, taking medicines for all the neighbors, among whom there were many elderly. Those people did not run into the basements, standing in the line for not to miss their turn. “Only mercy, mutual assistance and faith in God helped people survive in those terrible days,” says Alina.
After some while, evacuation operations started in Sumy. Alina failed to leave during either the first green corridor, or the second one. The residents would get the information about buses and private cars, going from [their city to another Ukrainian destination]only 2 hours before their departure due to security measures. Alina would miss the bus or was not taken on board, as she was a young woman with no children, and would not fit the category of people 60+. However, it was pointless for her to stay in the city. Although Alina’s house was not destroyed, there was no water, light, or heat. Therefore, she continued to wait for an opportunity to evacuate.
With great anxiety, Alina recalls the time when she was in danger: “In the basement, during shelling, I was shaking with fear. First, I felt fear, then anger at people. After three weeks, confidence that our defenders would protect us has risen in my soul and I became calmer. The feelings dulled, and I was already used to shelling. During the curfew, the windows had to be blinded and people would sit in their apartments or basements, maintaining silence, as street fighting was already going on in the city.
Only a month later, Alina managed to leave [her city] with the help of a long chain of her acquaintances. “It was a long journey,” Alina recalls. Alina had Ukrainian acquaintances in Poland with whom she had previously worked, who promised to help her with housing. However, they did nothing to help her when she came to them. The Lord sent aid to Alina through a Christian family from western Ukraine. It was through them that she got to [the church in Poland]. Here she is in complete safety and is surrounded by the care of the local believers.
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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God is taking what you give — your gifts and your prayer support — and opening hurting hearts to the hope of the Gospel. Through your generosity, He is
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