COVID Outreach in Ukrainian Village
I want to share a story with you today. The setting of my story is a little village outside of the Ukrainian capital city of Kiev, named Krushinka. Over the last few years we have noticed that the smaller communities outside the major cities are not only places of great poverty, but also seem to have been forgotten by the rest of the world. Many are so far unreached by the evangelical churches because they simply haven’t had enough resources to get to everywhere in the country. To this day, 80% of these places still do not have an evangelical church.
Krushinka is very special place because the message of Christ goes out in a very unique way. High levels of unemployment and depression in Ukraine lead to a lot of substance abuse. So rehabilitation centres are common across the country. Krushinka has one of those centres. I met Max, leader of the centre, a couple years ago when I first visited the centre. Max shared his ministry vision with me and I was just blown away.
Max was sent to Krushinka to lead the rehabilitation ministry there. But he made a conscious decison that leading the rehabilitation centre was not enough. He decided he wanted to reach out to the entire community. He did that just because he felt that he should, that there were things he could do to bring hope and share Christ with the people around him. Max enlists the centre’s residents who are ready to interact with the world again to help run soccer clubs, make renovations to homes in disrepair, and deliver aid to those in poverty. This made an impact on me.
I was in Krushinka last December and we were visiting some homes in the town. I remember one home so clearly because it was the first time in a long while that something actually shocked me that deeply. We drove up to what I thought was a partially built home. I was sure that Max was showing us this home that had never been finished and how it had been vandalized. It had been spray painted with writing that I couldn’t interpret (since I can’t read the language). But that’s not why we were there. Max and our interpreter started walking up to what I thought was a storage container in the yard beside this house. It was funny looking. It was covered in long pieces of sheet metal. It looked for all the world like a makeshift construction trailer. So, I was totally confused as we started up to the door of this trailer. We walked inside and living inside this “trailer” was a young woman with two beautiful twin baby girls. They were about 6 months old. She lived there alone with the twins. The girl’s father had abandoned them. This was a tiny one room home. There was only really room enough for a bed and a crib and a small table for a an ancient kettle and hotplate. That’s all. There was no bathroom and no kitchen. For the honour of living in this home she had to pay rent. Unfortunately she had lost her job after she had the twins.
There are not really words to express my emotions in that moment. Shock, disbelief, unbelievable sorrow. We gave her some food and some diapers for the girls. I also left enough money to buy her a stroller so she could get outside with the twins. It was winter and she didn’t have a stroller big enough to keep the girls warm when she walked outside.
Recently we were able to once again help this young woman during the COVID-19 outbreak. Pastor Max and the leader of Barnabas Fund which operates the rehabilitation centres, Pastor Dima, went to the store to purchase enough food to distribute in Krushinka to those in need.
Below is our recent YouTube video which shows this incredible outreach in Krushinka at a time where people are in great suffering and the aid is vital.