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Pastors in Canada face serious challenges at times but few that are life-threatening. How one pastor in Ukraine lost his life, twenty feet from his church.

Pastors in Kupiansk

Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. In northeastern Ukraine, troops advanced quickly and occupied a significant portion of Ukrainian territory. The town of Kupiansk was occupied by the Russians from February until November 2022. As the Russians withdrew, they fired artillery shells back into Kupiansk to terrorize the residents. Volunteers distributed food at a church. A Russian rocket was fired at the church, entering through a second story window, and exiting out the other side, leaving significant damage.

Undeterred, the congregation cleaned up as best they could and continued to hold services.

In February 2024, the pastor of the church and his brother were working on the pastor’s daughter’s car, a few feet away from the church. The pastor’s assistant was standing beside the pastor observing the repairs until he felt prompted to go inside the church and get ready for the evening’s worship and prayer service. He no sooner went through the door when a tremendous explosion rocked the building, blowing out the windows and destroying much of the side of the church. The rocket hit where the assistant had stood just seconds before, killing the pastor instantly, sparing his brother who was under the car in a grease pit, and destroying the neighbouring residences.


In April 2024, our team walked through that bomb site and met the assistant. He told us the horrific story, pointing out where the pastor had stood on his last afternoon on earth. All that remained was a crater. It was easy to see the effects on PTSD in his tone and mannerisms.

There was no military value in the target. A pastor and church that served the humanitarian needs of the community were destroyed.

You can’t imagine the devastation. Boxes of children’s toys told the story of a church that cared about kids. What was once the pastor’s office was filled with debris from the building. The desk where he prepared messages of hope from the Bible was covered in mortar and dust. A platform where praise and worship used to ring out on Sundays, was torn up.

We prayed with the man, gave him some money and 25 bags of non-perishable food for his congregation. I was invited to pray for him. What do you say? I offered a gracious prayer that was translated into Russian, we hugged, and off we went to the next village to see what good we could do.

Humanitarian Aid

Local government officials choose one poerson to be responsible for the distribution of food. Usually, it’s a woman. She has a clipboard with the names of people who are to receive hep. When the Loads of Love vehicle shows up, the people gather. The vehicle has a prominent red cross on the window panel.

With the boom of artillery in the background, we ask the group, almost exclusively women, if the shelling has increased. They nod their heads.  The frontline is inching closer to their village each week. Ed Dickson, pastors Vadim and Sergei, and I talk with the gathering crowd. We told them, “You are not forgotten, you are loved by God, Canadians are praying for you”. Sergei shared a prayer of salvation, and the people repeat it with him. Then we give out bags of non-perishables and fresh loaves of bread.

There is sincere appreciation, laughter, pictures, and then we are off to the next village.


Multiple times that day our phones lit up with warnings of incoming rockets. The first time was a bit alarming, but the explanation that these warnings cover a significant area of land offered a measure of relief.  We trust God for protection, just like that pastor.

Our day started over twelve hours earlier as we arrive back in Poltava.

The feeling of doing something good is remarkable. It’s not like I don’t do anything good in Canada, but this is a different kind of good. If the food doesn’t get delivered the people don’t eat. I noticed that there are very, very few people in the villages who are overweight.


I shared a story at a conference for pastors about US General Thomas Jackson. He was wounded during a battle but stayed on his horse. The fighting was fierce and the enemy overwhelmed his troops. As they ran past him in retreat he stood his ground. He was a Christian who believed in God’s providence. When it was his time to die, he would but until then he would lead with courage. One soldier called out to the retreating soldiers, “Look! Look at Jackson, standing like a stonewall.” The troops rallied and charged towards the enemy and they fled. His men won the day. His troops nicknamed him, General Stonewall Jackson.

Pastors in Ukraine believe in the providence of God. They stand like stonewalls against fear and the terror of war. They offer hope, help, and food to the hungry and desperate.

I feel like the least I can do is stand with them.

That’s why I went to Ukraine and support Loads of Love.

I hope you’ll stand with us.

Please join the conversation and post a prayer or a comment below. Thank you.

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Bob Jones

Happily married to Jocelyn for 44 years. We have two adult sons, Cory and his wife Lynsey and their son Vincent and daughter Jayda; Jean Marc and his wife Angie and their three daughters, Quinn, Lena and Annora. I love inspiring people through communicating, blogging, and coaching. I enjoy writing, running, and reading. I'm a fan of the Double E, Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox and Pats. Follow me on Twitter @bobjones49ers

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