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Stories of Hope & Rescue

War in Ukraine: Refugees in Poland

Valla's Story
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On my recent trip to Poland, I was visiting Elim Christian Center, a Christian ministry 50 km from the German border. The amazing team at Elim has spent many years hosting Christian conferences and camps on their grounds as well as helping people in poverty in their community. They have painstakingly renovated the 19th Century castle building to house and serve visiting groups who need respite and care.

 

Now, Elim is hosting at least 70 refugees freely giving them housing, food, and love. It was at Elim that I met Valla. 

Valla was waiting for me on the balcony. One of the ministry team, Aneta, had arranged for me to talk to her. She spoke very broken English. I can’t really speak much Russian or Ukrainian. We had no translator. It was a struggle, but we were committed to talking with each other. We used a combination of the few words we each knew and phone translation apps as she told me her story.

 

She was from the city of Kyiv. She had arrived at Elim a couple of weeks earlier. Valla was a newlywed. She and her new husband Sasha were married last November. He had to stay behind because Valla had only one child, a 14-year-old son. Sasha is not his father, so he was not allowed to leave with them. Still, Sasha made them leave while they still could. Valla told me it was "scary" in Ukraine. She didn't want to leave but there seemed like no other choice. I could see that she missed home terribly and that she was lonely.

 

While she was on her journey to Poland she was traveling with friends on the train. The train was bombed and someone was killed in front of her and her son. Can you imagine? She told me that they were not hurt, but I think that the emotional and mental harm was probably significant. Then Valla went on to explain that she had to wait three days at the border to get into Poland with minimal food and water.

 

When I asked he how she was doing now that she was in Poland, she explained that she was scared and confused. She didn't really know what to do next. She doesn't really want to go anywhere else but Poland. That would feel farther from home, from Sasha.

 

I felt her pain so deeply. I went back to my room and cried for everyone just like Valla who have lost everything. I left resources with the team at Elim that will help them to continue housing and feeding these frightened people. How could I do any less? They need all the help we can provide them.

A Warm Blanket Gives Hope

Vika and Anya Receive a Blanket
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This is Vika (left) and Anya (right). They have a brother, Denis. Vika lives in a highly dysfunctional family. The children's mother, Alla, often drinks with her husband. Because she abused alcohol during her pregnancy with Anya and had poor nutrition, Anya was born with six fingers on one hand.

 

With financial help from our church, in 2020, this little girl had surgery. Now Anya, thank God, has five fingers on her hand. We pray for this family continually, especially for the children.

The blanket we gave them from the Mission  Partners is a great blessing. Vika always comes to children's meetings with great joy. On behalf of all the children and families who received blankets, we want to say, "May the Lord abundantly bless Mission Partners, meet all your needs, and support you in all your plans.

Vasily, Irina & Olga

Blankets Winter 2021

A Life Given New Hope

Svetlana from Eastern Ukraine

This is a story of a woman named Svetlana, a widow with six kids. She once lived in Eastern Ukraine. But after the eastern provinces became a war zone, her husband signed up to protect his home. Unfortunately and tragically he was killed. Svetlana and her six kids packed up and left the east for the capital city. Today, she lives in Kiev in a one room apartment with her six kids, and she struggles to feed her children. Her children were able to get a low-cost meal at school, but as schools shut down during the pandemic, the kids no longer received that meal.

 

Svetlana and 35,000 other families were left without food. Those families struggled very hard. When our partners knocked on Svetlana’s door she was in tears. She had no food in her apartment and the kids were begging for food. We asked her, “Svetlana, why didn't you tell other people that you have a need?”

 You know what she answered? She said that every time I ask for help, my neighbors, or even friends, they tell me that my kids are my problem.” Svetlana had no one to turn to. Her question to us was, “Why are you here?”

That gave an opportunity for our volunteers to share the gospel. Today, Svetlana is getting food, her kids are doing well, and faith was planted in her heart through a simple, kind gift, a food bag. That opened an opportunity for the gospel to reach her heart.

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Other families we've
impacted during Covid

That day, the first time we met her, Svetlana told us this: “Today I have faith in God because you came and told me that you are willing to help. No one else was willing to do that, not even the government. We were left to ourselves. But you came here today filled my heart with hope. I thank you for that.”

A Family Rescued

Leonid, Oksana, Dima, Ruslana & Artem
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Hello, my name is Oksana and these are my three children Dima, Ruslana, and Artem. We live in the village of Stepove, Ukraine. 

My husband, Leonid only has seasonal construction work so we have a hard time making ends meet. My mother (who lives nearby) and I have a dairy cow to give us milk. We usually have a little extra produce to sell. We mostly only eat what we grow ourselves, like potatoes and vegetables. We cannot afford meat.

In winter, we cannot afford consistent heat. We heat only with wood. We can afford to buy some, but we have to scavenge for some in the nearby forest to have enough to stay warm.

We live in a village house that has been passed down through generations of my family. We have no means to keep our home in good repair without sacrificing food or heat.

For a few years, the children and I have been attending the children's church events in our village. At first, I went because it was something fun for the kids to do while they got free snacks. But slowly I began to notice that the leaders seemed to really care about my kids and even me. 

I still sometimes struggle with wanting to drink, but because of the love shown by the leaders from God's Gift Church, I have accepted Christ and started to pray for my family. I recently contracted Covid. I have recoverd, but I was worried about my kids. I prayed that God would protect them and He did.

I thank God for the kindness of our pastors and am grateful for MPI in Canada who has helped our family personally and supports God's Gift Church in continuing their work in our village.

A Child's Life Impacted

Natalia Ko ... and Family
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My name is Natalia and I am Dima's foster Mom. Two years ago, we adopted Dima from an orphanage where he had spent two years. He grew up with a mother who was an alcoholic. He was terribly was neglected. He spent his days wandering around dumpsters looking for scraps. Many days he couldn’t find any food and was left hungry. By the age of 10, he had only spent 3 weeks in school and couldn’t read or write.

Another one of our foster children, Yaroslav, who has been with us for seven years, has been a great help to Dima. They are the same age and are best friends!

 

Last year, Dima enrolled in Karate. No one expected him to do well, but he has already won several tournaments. We are happy and proud of Dima. He has changed so much!

In two years, Dima has learned to read, write and confidently pursues goals in life. He dreams of having a military or sports career. As his parents, we love him and we want to help him to reach his goals.

I am thankful that donors in Canada help us every winter to provide the extra food for our large foster family!

A Disabled Man Shown Love

Ivan, Ill and Bedridden

My name is Ivan. I was so happy that Pastor Sergei came to my home to pray for my healing and that I would accept Christ as my Saviour. Here is part of his prayer for me, but you can watch the video to hear the entire prayer.

"Heavenly Father, God Almighty, I praise your holy name. We trust in you.  Your Name is above any other name. You gave your son Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for our sins and transgressions. He took all our sickness and pain upon Himself. I pray for Ivan."

I want to thank Mission Partners for helping Pastor Sergei to be able to come and visit me, bring me food, and meet my spiritual needs. Because of Pastor Sergei's visit, I accepted Christ as my Saviour and I am so happy!