July 31, 2023

Loving a People in Crisis

God’s mighty hand is at work in Ukraine

by Emmy Duddles

A Ukrainian woman feared for the lives of her two children while they stayed in their hometown due to the fighting. At the beginning of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, many were fleeing from her city to the next town over. She wanted to escape but soon found that “The Bridge of Death” was their only way out. Many had been shot to death on this bridge as they attempted to evacuate the city, but this woman could not let her children stay in such a dangerous place. They crossed the bridge. 

People on the other side rejoiced and marveled as this mother and her two children stepped off the bridge unharmed. 

“But where’s the man?” they asked. “Where’s the fourth?” 

“There are only three of us,” the woman replied. 

“No, we saw you running across the bridge, and there was a man with you.” 

“The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:18). 

God deeply desires to deliver oppressed people, walking closely beside them as He protects them from harm. This is exactly what He is doing among Ukrainian citizens caught in the crossfires of this conflict. At the time of this writing, over 8,830 civilian lives have been lost and more than 14,980 people have been injured. In addition to these tragedies, 5.9 million people have been internally displaced, and nearly 8 million have escaped to other parts of Europe. 

Though many have been evacuated, there are still tens of millions of Ukrainians living in country. The lives of many who remain are difficult. According to a report from the United Nations in April 2023, about 12 million people have limited to no access to electricity, and water supplies have been disrupted for some. Cooking, accessing clean water, and heating their homes through the winter became monumental tasks. 

“People are hungry for God.”

Despite these overwhelming circumstances, God is dwelling among these desperate people, often shielding them from the worst outcomes. During the height of the bombings, a group of people were gathered in an Alliance-affiliated church to pray for peace and protection. Bombs were falling all around the church as they prayed. When they came out of their prayer meeting, there were unexploded bombs lying in the yard of the church. God is answering their prayers. 

“We have the opportunity to see how God, in miraculous ways, saves lives,” says Maxim,* a Ukrainian pastor who partners closely with The Alliance. “In one case, we saw a rocket slam into a house full of people. One of them was killed, but how did it happen that the whole house gets destroyed and people walked away unharmed?” 

Hungry for God

While God has been directly answering the prayers of His children with life-saving miracles, He has also been mightily using Alliance workers, partners, and Alliance-affiliated churches to share His love with a people in crisis. 

Because of the overwhelming generosity of Alliance people through CAMA Services, Alliance workers and partner churches in Ukraine have been able to turn church buildings into refugee centers, pass out two tons of food every month, rebuild homes and churches, and build a center for distributing water, medicine, winter coats, sleeping bags, generators, and food to hundreds of people. 

When one city was completely without water, a church retrofitted their van to become a water wagon with a huge tank. They drove out of the city, filled up the tank, drove back into the city, and people came with buckets to get water. The pastor told everyone about Jesus, the Living Water, as they waited in line. The outreach activities of these churches and workers have touched the lives of roughly 500–1,000 people every month. Many now know that God is the One who is providing for their every need. 

“These are days in which people’s hearts are softened to God,” says Maxim. “It happens over and over again. People come to receive food, we pray with them, and they invite God into their lives. People are hungry for God.” In the eastern region of Ukraine, many people have evacuated due to the conflict. Suddenly the churches were losing their members, but in their place were nonbelievers hungry for comfort and peace from God. Now, on any given Sunday, 90 percent of the congregation in these churches are unbelievers and new Christ followers. 

Many now know that God is the One who is providing for their every need.

People have been so hungry for God’s love and hope that in the last half of 2022, Alliance workers were able to assist partner churches in Ukraine in planting five new Alliance-affiliated churches. One of these church plants started in November 2022, and by February 2023, they had already run out of room in their building. 

A church that CAMA Services helped rebuild was integral in planting one of these five churches. The pastor of this church wrote to Maxim, saying, “I’m driving around the villages just giving things out and preaching, and people are turning to the Lord in droves. I feel like John the Baptist. People are coming to Jesus like never before.” 

These are the moments we hope for when we enter hard places like Ukraine. We expect that when we partner with what God is doing in difficult regions, He will open doors to those who have never experienced His loving embrace. We serve a God who is dedicated to transforming dry and barren lands into gardens overflowing with the fruit of His hope. 

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