While I was in Ukraine, I was often asked, “When you go home, what will you tell people about Ukraine?”
That’s easy. I traveled from the Polish border in the west to a few kms from the Russian border in the east and south to north (24,000 km in total from Canada and drank almost as many coffees). People in Ukraine and Canada are the same. They want to earn a fair wage and provide for their family, have a roof over their head and food on their table, and have peace. And good coffee.
Ukrainian people are paying for every minute of resistance with blood, lives, limbs, health, opportunities, and dreams. I saw that Ukrainians are resilient, and skilled workers and optimistic. Even with air raid sirens, drone and rocket attacks they go about their work. They have rebuilt many of the factories, gas stations, apartments and buildings that the Russian army destroyed near Kyiv and in many other cities. That’s their act of defiance against evil.
Evil will not win.
Darkness will lose.
Evil will be defeated.
Don’t believe what you hear or read about President Zelensky. Russian propaganda is one of their best exports. Every person I spoke with and everywhere I traveled, Ukrainians support Zelensky. They want peace but support the war. Even though most speak Russian, they do not want to be Russian They want a free Ukraine as a part of the EU and NATO. In 2023 Ukraine broke with centuries of Russian tradition and celebrated Christmas on December 25th. The Ukrainian Orthodox church publicly supported the shift away from the traditional date of January 7th. Ukrainians want everything in their country to align with the West.
The leader of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Ukraine summarized the Russia-Ukrainian relationship as an abusive marriage where Russia is the abusive husband and Ukraine is the wife who files for divorce. Russia says, “If you divorce me, I will kill you.” I met a missionary from Oklahoma in Warsaw. He happened to be in the church where I spoke on December 17th. I shared what I wrote above. He made a point of encouraging me to repeat my message about Ukraine loudly enough in Canada that America would hear. Voices like Tucker Carlson and the Republican right are misrepresenting Ukraine (lying) to the American public.
God is at Work
You won’t believe what God is doing in the middle of a terrible war. You won’t hear on Fox News, CNN or the BBC that two million Ukrainians made decisions to follow Jesus since the war started. Churches are growing. New churches are being planted. Missionaries are being sent out. There is a revival in Ukraine. The world can see that. Everywhere in Europe that Ukrainians are dispersed they plant churches. God is glorified.
Ed Dickson, President of Loads of Love and my travelling companion, told me, “Bob you will see that it wasn’t the war that brought revival. The war created the situation. But love brought the revival. The sacrificial love of Ukrainian Christians is making the difference.”
Where is God in the middle of a devastating war? What is God doing? I’ve seen the hands of Jesus at work in Ukraine. He is feeding the hungry. Caring for orphans. Comforting the widows.
I’ve seen the face of Jesus in the faces of Ukrainian Christians. I met people of extraordinary bravery, Christian compassion, and forgiveness. They live in Krivvy Rog, Dniepro, Poltava, Zaparoshia, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Lviv and many more places across Ukraine.
Small Things, Great Love
Christians are doing small things with great love.
Roma is a 36-year-old husband and father of a six-year-old and one-year-old. Before the war, Roma was a drummer with a popular Ukrainian band. Now he goes to the frontlines as a dental assistant as well as delivering humanitarian aid. He also serves as a military chaplain. He goes into the trenches with the soldiers. And he brings along his coffee machine. He makes cappuccinos, Americanos and lattes for the soldiers. Small things with great love.
Ed Dickson, me, Bishop Vadim and Pastor Sergei from Poltava drove to Kivsharivka, a once prosperous city of 30,000 people and a few km from the Eastern frontlines. We distributed non-perishables, fresh bread and clothing to some of the less than 3,000 remaining residents. Artillery and small arms fire echoed from a short distance as we emptied the van of the supplies (Loads of Love provides the clothing and ERDO provides the food). There are no stores, electricity, or medical support in the community. They would die without food support and cannot or will not leave.
Russia invaded on February 24, 2022. Starting February 25, Pastor Sergei made trip after trip after trip, sometimes 2x day to evacuate people from the warzone east of Kharkiv. Over the course of a few weeks be brought out 5000 evacuees, sometimes stuffing 32 people in a Dodge Caravan. He has driven, sometimes with Vadim, to the frontlines every week taking parcels of food, fresh bread, and clothing and he shares the gospel and prays with people. Small things with great love.
Canadian in A War Zone
Carolyn Garton is from Aliston, Ontario. In 2019 she went on a short-term mission trip to Ukraine. Ukraine got in her heart and shortly after the mission ended, she packed up her belongings and moved to Ukraine. For three years she volunteered teaching conversational English in public schools and worked with Loads of Love in rehab centres in Krivvy Rog. At the beginning of 2023 her team felt led to go to villages that had been liberated from Russian occupation. She moved to a village an hour south of Krivvy Rog. A single woman in a village without running water, a few kms north of Kherson, a city Russia shells every day.
There she purchased an abandoned house for $1000 Canadian and renovated it into a home for senior women left homeless by the Russians. She purchased a second house and is renovating it as a rehab centre for soldiers struggling with trauma and addiction. This summer she held a Day Camp for children whose families are moving back home. Small things with great love.
God is using small things done with great love to bring revival to Ukraine.
What is your impression of Ukraine? Please join the conversation below. And share this post on your social media platforms. Thank you.
More stories to follow.
Going to Ukraine
Loads of Love: Ed Dickson – McJoyful parties for kids
All The Precious Children Of The World
A Miracle For Natasha
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