Hope and Heat This Christmas

December 2022 – Today approximately 75% of Ukraine is without regular utilities meaning electricity, running water, and central heating.  Cities are dark, there is snow on the ground, and air raid sirens regularly scream their warning.  People are suffering; however, they are ready to endure hardship if it means having a free country.  The unity and resilience of Ukrainians is amazing.

In reality, Russian troops have lost significant territory in the last few months.  However, their missiles and drones rain down terror on civilian targets in every major city including hospitals, schools, and the power grid.  It seems like Ukraine’s resistance has caused Russia’s goal to change from claiming territory to full-scale destruction of the country.

The town of Bakhmut is in the Donetsk region frontline.  Intense fighting continues there.  The couple pictured above lives there and decided to stay since they didn’t have anywhere to go.  They did not want to be refugees, so they remained in their home. 

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,[to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn.  Isaiah 61:1,2

The Scripture reference above from Isaiah 61 made me think of people like this in Bakhmut.  If we lived there, they would be our neighbors, our friends.  Thus, with the arrival of winter in Ukraine, we began the Christmas Project in earnest, taking a step of faith to bring good news to the poor.  We sent two teams in, one to Bakhmut and another to Kharkiv, to deliver stoves, clothes, and foodstuffs.

Ukraine Relief Fund

Stoves Are Being Delivered but We Need Your Help

With your help, we are able to bring comfort to those who mourn and heat to those who are cold.  More missionary teams are on the road right now delivering stoves and supplies to war-torn areas along the frontline.  These MP teams will be in harm’s way and we covet your prayer support as well.  Ukraine is not in the news much, and many do not know about the widespread shelling of innocent citizens.  Travel can be treacherous and random missile strikes are common.

Helping Orphans Who Remained in Ukraine  

Ruslan and Marina Gumenyuk live near Ternopil in western Ukraine.  When the war started, they had nine children in their family, two biological and seven adopted or in foster care.  Our director Yulia recently visited them. 

“I just came back to Ukraine with our son Fyodor, Yulia said.  Ruslan and Marina are a real example for me of serving Jesus and I wanted to visit them to see how we can help.  During the first weeks of the war, Ruslan and Marina housed many families as refugees, including us.  We grew close during that time, but we continued on to Hungary and they stayed behind with the children near Ternopil.  With help from Mercy Projects and lots of donated food they were able to survive.”

They Now Have 11 Children

Yulia continues, “When I came there it was like a reunion of old friends from the war.  The house is cold, but the kids all have warm coats.  The power goes out and the running water stops, but they have an outhouse so the kids can use that.  In the middle of darkness, we spoke of the war, and how God will get us through it.  They told me the story of how God put it on their hearts to take two more kids, a 3-year-old boy named Matvey and his 1 ½-year-old sister Marta.  Later they discovered that Matvey was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, but it is not progressing.

“Marina said that when they visited the children each week they noticed that Marta was always sad.  She was thin, not eating much, and very quiet.  Marina said this was so heavy on her heart and she knew they must get them home as soon as possible.  A few months ago they completed the paperwork and the kids came home.  Still, Marta didn’t eat and couldn’t sleep well.  Marina prayed for her every day, held her, and loved her.

“She Shines Like the Sun”

“After several weeks in their family, things began changing.  Marina pointed at little Marta and beamed, ‘She is my most cheerful child.  To me, she shines like the sun and is always smiling!  And Matvey is starting to speak.  He can say his name and calls us mom and dad,’ Marina said. 

“This really shows how every child should have a family, care, and love of parents.  I want to be back in Ukraine to help families like these.  Yes, winter will be hard, but at least we can help people,” Yulia said.

Christmas Stoves Bring Warmth

The presence of people bringing God’s love to others is a life-changing experience.  Your support this Christmas brings the hope and light of God’s love into a dark world.  Thank you for your prayers, and support, and for sending us to those in need.