In the last five months, we have encountered many stories of people who have experienced enormous pain and trauma as they were forced to flee dangerous, war-torn, or even demolished homes. The stories have made us weep because they are horrific. But our response was to take action and step out in faith. Even when we did not know exactly what were would be able to do, we knew we would use whatever resources we had to help these hurting people.
Each of these stories below represents someone who has been forced to flee their homes due to the war. They are also people whose lives, with the help of our partners on the front lines, we have been able to rescue.
In Lviv (Western Ukraine) with Pastor Ruslan
Part of our team works to evacuate people from vulnerable areas of the country. We have opened a refugee care center here in Lviv that can house 50 people. We are caring for displaced people here from Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia, Krasnohoroivka, Donetsk & Mariupol. We give people a place to rest as they wait for replacement identification and travel paperwork and as they decide what to do next.
This is a short testimony from a young lady that we brought here to Lviv to stay at the refugee center.
"My name is Veronica. I came here from Krasnohoroivka. I am an orphan, so I came here alone. The team here, called, "The Ark" rescued me and made sure I got out of town safely.
In Krasnoghoroivka, the war was right on our doorstep. We were right near the fighting. When I left, there was no water or electricity in town. Some areas had no gas either.
I am so glad I could come here to rest. Everyone is so kind. I have food. I can shower and I can wash my clothes. These are simple things that were taken away from me by the war at home. I have made friends here. I feel safe."
In Kremenets (Western Ukraine) with Pastor Alexei
We have many, many displaced people living in Kremenets, in the Ternopil area. They are occupying almost every building in town, including schools. We know that most people are coming from horrific situations in their hometowns. I have heard so many terrible stories.
Here is the short story from one of the families I met.
"My name is Olga. We are from Mykolaiv. We have four children, Solomon, Anya, Matthew, and Sofia. We ran away from Mykolaiv because the Russian army was bombing our city.
We left because we wanted to save our family, our children. We lost everything in Mykolaiv, even our identification. This is a very difficult time for our family.
Thank you for helping provide clothes for our children because we had nothing when we arrived."
From Lwowek Slaski (Poland) with Robert and Aneta
Our ministry center has always been a welcoming place for Christain groups wanting a quiet refuge. We also do a lot of humanitarian work in our community. Poland has many people who struggle with poverty.
Since the war broke out in Ukraine, we felt the Lord prompting us to grow our ministry and begin to care for Ukrainian refugees. We knew the need was great and that we could do much to help. We had many areas of our property that were unused and could be renovated for housing people fleeing the war.
This is the story of one of the families God sent our way to care for. Galina, Colia, their children Vasyl and Oxsana, and Oxsana's son Bogdan.
"We are a family of five. We came from Borodyanka, Ukraine. Our community does not exist anymore. We did not want to leave Ukraine, so we delayed. But then our house was destroyed, so there was nothing more to hold us there. We had no choice anymore.
Now, we are so grateful that we escaped when we did because our friends were forced to stay in their home by soldiers until they starved. Our escape was long and difficult. Our means of transportation was a cold shipping container.
But now we are safe in Poland because of the incredible servant-hearted people at Elim. They have cared for us, and given us a home here in Lwowek Slaski. Not only that, a house long owned by one of the leaders has now been completely renovated and given to us freely to be our forever home."