From Devastation to Blessing! - Ukraine

A visit to the Donetsk war zone region in Ukraine brought home the stark reality of the effects of war.  Deep physical, psychological, and emotional scars have been indelibly left on people. Shelled buildings, ruined properties and devastated landscapes all serve as a sad reminder of the ravaging consequences of war.  We were constantly confronted with the horrendous conditions in which people are trying to survive.    

Damaged Building
We heard reports of churches doubling in number!

During a short stop at Mariinka Baptist church our movements were restricted.  On the previous day shelling had destroyed eight houses in the immediate vicinity.  A broken church window was a reminder of the dangers associated with attending church - one lady having been injured right beside that very window.  The school situated a short distance away had its windows protected by built up sand bags to protect the children from shelling.

Along the roadsides were warning signs indicating the threat from landmines. This frontline area has suffered destruction and devastation but in the midst of this bleak situation God’s people are resilient and are experiencing His blessing.  The church at Mariinka on the war frontline, has seen its membership increase from just twelve to one hundred and twenty during this period of conflict.  One hundred children receive regular meals at the church.    

School & Sandbags

Brother Vasile who coordinates the aid programme in the Donetsk region commented: ‘The war has been a blessing for the church. Missionaries had worked for years but now there are results’.   This statement was borne out when we attended a special meeting for Gospel workers in the Donetsk region.  One pastor shared that on the previous day ten people had repented.  Another told of how a couple who were living immorally had come to the Saturday night meeting to inform the church that they wanted to get married.  That evening they were converted along with ten others.  Two others had come to faith in another church.

There is a great need for workers in that whole area.

Vasile is heavily involved in providing for the essential needs of many suffering people.  Every week he supplies nine hundred loaves of bread to people on the frontline.  In an area where there were no believers, people began to receive bread from Vasile.  They stated, ‘We would not listen to you under different circumstances’.   Now, through this expression of Christian love, they are listening.  People have been converted and have bought a house in which to commence meetings.

Loaves of Peace

The huge need for basic food such as bread has motivated Vasile to open a bakery.  The equipment has been purchased and renovation work continues on a building secured for the purpose.  SGA has provided the funds required to complete this renovation. Some of these ‘Loaves of Peace’ will be delivered to the frontline free of charge.  It is hoped that twelve hundred loaves will be produced each day. Profits from sales to those who can afford to buy, will cover the costs of providing free bread to those in greatest need.   Vasile’s desire is that many people will experience the true ‘Bread of Life’. 

Moving the Heaters
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Spiritual blessings are flowing but material needs are growing!   The winter has set in and displaced people are in great need.  Believers are involved in the planning and distribution of very practical and essential items.  Heating in the home is vital as the cold weather sets in.  The provision of one panelled heater per household, costing £25, will help to relieve some of the hardship.  Families will be able to live and sleep in the heated room during the winter.  The provision of children’s thermal clothing at £10 per set will offer much needed comfort.  Food packages at £25 contain good quality protein food for families.  SGA is continuing to send out funds as God makes them available, to help with this relief effort.