From Devastation to Blessing

It is estimated that the conflict in East Ukraine has resulted in over 10,000 deaths, and 1.5 million people displaced, yet here in the West this tragic situation has generally slipped off the political agenda. This four-year war has become known as ‘Europe’s forgotten war’. For many in this region, however, they cannot forget as they are surrounded by tragic reminders of the ravaging consequences of war. Deep and indelible physical, psychological, and emotional scars have been inflicted on the population. According to information provided by the UN, 3.4 million people require basic food.

The widespread urgent need for basic food like bread, motivated Pastor Vasile Kovalev to take immediate action. During a visit last year SGA learned about his plan to open a bakery. With funds provided, refurbishment commenced on an old building. Today the once dilapidated dwelling in the middle of a field has been transformed into a bustling bakery, running round the clock and producing 1400 loaves daily. The bakery also provides much needed employment – it offers work for fourteen, with the prospect of increasing its staff. The SGA-funded delivery van brings the welcome supply of bread to people on the front line. While Vasile is helping to provide essentials for physical life, he emphasizes,

‘our goal is to offer people salvation. That is the great need’.

Before the conflict, he had two church plants under his supervision. Now God has wonderfully given the increase to six daughter churches.

Vasile Kovalev
Pastor Vasile

On the war front line in the small town of Mariinka, Pastor Michael serves in the evangelical church. He shared wonderful news that he has baptised 267 new converts since the conflict began, adding that the church building is much too small for the many who desire to come for worship.

As the Lord works by His Spirit in Ukraine, there is a growing need for pastors. Within the evangelical denomination with which SGA [UK] partners in ministry, 250 new pastors are required each year to replace those retiring from ministry and head up new church plants.

Last winter, Vasile Kovalev, the ‘Aid Co-ordinator’ in the Donetsk region, supervised the distribution of heaters, thermal clothing, and food parcels from funds provided by SGA’s donors. Horrific accounts of loss and devastation were reported from many who received aid. A visit to Luda and her son Maxim was revealing and distressing. With tear-filled eyes and embracing her psychologically affected young son, she shared that her husband had been killed by shelling while offering help to an injured elderly man. She is now trying to provide for her three young sons in cramped, one-room accommodation. Her appreciation for the heater and thermal clothing was sincere and palpable.

Luda and son Maxim a
Moving Heater 2

‘Thank you for the heater and thermal clothing. Really helpful for my kids. I also want to thank you from the depths of my heart a million times’.

Unfortunately, Luda’s story could be repeated many times.

To help bring more relief this winter, SGA is again providing funds for heaters costing £25, children’s thermal clothing at £10 per set, and £25 for high protein food packages. However, there is another pressing need: Children like Maxim would greatly benefit from a ‘Christian Rehabilitation Camp’ where they would receive Christian counselling – £100 covers all costs incurred for a child attending camp for 8–10 days.

While Ukraine is still struggling politically and economically, the church is visionary and optimistic. Believers are praying and trusting God for their nation.