Don’t Forget Us

March 2022 – For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Eph 6:12 

From Jeff on an airplane: First off, thank you for your outpouring of support for our Ukraine Relief Fund.  We are humbled and grateful for each person who responded so quickly over social media and email.  Please know we will do our best to use your financial help to assist hurting people.  Our goal is to support those who stay in Ukraine and assist people to evacuate to safety. For the sake of security, many details cannot be publicized.  So please pray for God’s supernatural power to go before us each and every day.

Just 60 days ago we celebrated New Year and then the Orthodox Christmas holiday with our friends and staff in Ukraine.  We watched fireworks light up the sky and sipped sparkling cider at midnight.  Our director Yulia baked fresh bread.   

It seems like most Ukrainians did not expect this to happen.  We thought, hoped, and prayed that Putin was simply threatening Ukraine, not actually interested in destroying it.  Obviously, we were very wrong.  However, we did evacuate our office and secure important items a week before the invasion.  One staff member made it out successfully to Poland.  After a grueling and freezing 4 day trip without food and little sleep, she and her daughters and grandchild arrived safely.

This is a difficult newsletter.  The Russians announced they are going to bomb downtown Kyiv.  By the time this newsletter is in your hands, this may be old news. 

I am on my way to Hungary and Poland to assist refugees and help coordinate our multi-pronged effort on behalf of innocent women and children.  I am thankful for the many organizations that are doing similar things. 

As air raids sounded in Kyiv, we learned that the Antonov airport at Hostomel was destroyed.  The shelling was felt for miles around.  After two sleepless nights below ground, Yulia decided to bake banana bread for her neighbors stuck in the cramped basement. 

“Yulia, are you baking bread for the family?”  I asked.

“No Jeff,” she said.  “I am not hungry.  I cannot eat.  Andrii is on patrol with other men.  I am baking for the women and kids, our neighbors.”

Paula and I looked at each other, amazed, that in their time of suffering, she, like so many other Ukrainian believers, she is serving others.

Andrii reports that his mother and brother in Kharkiv are alive and okay, but a missile destroyed their apartment.  The basement shelter saved their lives.  He cannot get there to help them.  Instead of despair, however, a grim determination with hope in Christ has set in.  At best, life is uncertain today for Ukrainians.  The future of their country and their desire for freedom is fragile at best.

Lena at the Hearts of Love Center stands strong in faith today, despite the presence of dead bodies, destroyed buildings and Russian soldiers.  She worries about the handicapped children and their families.  The town is out of food.

Yana & Igor, their 3 kids and Grandma Nina.  (our first caseworker from 1995) They are trapped on the left bank (north side) of the Dnieper River.  Yana leads our child discipleship ministries.

March 1 – 03:00 Update

Last night at 3 am as I finished packing, I monitored the progress of the Russian convoy.  Then my phone buzzed.  It was Valerii from Kyiv.  He supplies us with our Russian and Ukrainian matryoshka dolls. 

“Jeff, I need help!” he wrote.

I called him immediately.  “Valerii, are you okay?”

His voice cracked.  “Jeff, no, it is very serious. I cannot leave the country, and that is okay, but my wife and boys …. I don’t know what to do.  This is crazy.  We live on the left bank.  (the north side, where the convoy is headed)  We can’t cross the Dnieper.  Please, I don’t know what to do.”

“Valerii,” I said, tears welling up in my own eyes, I will do everything I can.  I know people who are extracting women and children from the hot zones.  Maybe I can arrange this.  I am praying for you.  I will help.  Just give me more time.”

“Thank you Jeff, he said.  I am sorry, … his voice trailed off, … please don’t forget us.”

I am on my way.  Please pray for our staff, sponsored families, and for the country.  Everyone needs a miracle.