Ukrainian Refugee Report 4-16-22

Ukrainian Refugee Report 4-16-22

The man Moses gifted us with the poetic scripture of  Psalm 90. The introduction to this piece introduces him as the man, perhaps because he saw, felt, and experienced suffering that few prior to him had been able to express in poetic language.  

Who can miss the deep emotion in Ps 90:9? “For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told…” 

Words lack the ability to describe deep pain. They are not able to express the depth of sorrow in those who see their lives shattered, familiar things be gone forever, and loved ones senselessly killed. This is heartbreak. 

In speaking with those from Ukraine who are suffering heartbreak, many similar stories are repeated. It doesn’t matter the name or place, war deprives people of their basic needs, their homes, and the normalcy of life. There can never be war without severe heartbreak. 

A few weeks ago, we shared stories of some who chose to stay in Ukraine and use the suffering around them as an opportunity for ministry. Most of the funds received are going to these people and more like them. Some funds have been used to purchase vehicles to allow those ministering to deliver the aid and transport those fleeing the war. 

But obviously, many have fled. They too face difficulties. Escaping from immediate physical danger does not remove all heartbreak. We have been created both with the ability to choose and an innate sense of  justice. Choosing to leave our home and relocate is not the  same as being forced to flee for safety’s sake because evil is prevailing. 

In the midst of heartbreak, there is a lifeline. This, perhaps, is where the similar stories typically diverge. The lifeline is hope. A few have lost it. A few do not see it. Some have the kind that says somehow, sometime, somewhere, someone will make things better. And some have the hope that comes from knowing the One who will make all things new. Their heart echoes the words of Moses, “So teach us to number our days, that we may  apply our hearts unto wisdom.” (Ps 90:12). 

Men and women with hope in God don’t know the future. They face many questions concerning the right choice for  them and their families. They seek for His wisdom, knowing that God knows the outcome of each possible choice they make. 

Another aspect we at AURA are involved is helping families desiring to relocate. We hear the agony of the  desire to make the right choice, but not being able to see the results of those choices. We hear the trepidation of moving forward, but not knowing what the forward is going to be like. It is unfamiliar, new, uncharted territory. 

We do not have the answers to tell each family what the right decision is. Our mission is to support them, to encourage them to cling to the solidness of hope in God and move in faith as the Lord gives them wisdom. We pray with them that their experience will reflect the prayer of Moses, “Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen  evil.” (Ps 90:15) 

Currently some families are finding they can come to the US, at least on a temporary basis, by crossing the southern border. AURA is developing a program to help connect families to Anabaptist churches willing to sponsor them.  We have no idea how long the opportunity to enter the US will remain open, but we desire to help those requesting assistance while it is possible. 

This week we would like to share a few stories from those who have left or relocated to safer areas of the country. 

  1. The first story is from Vyacheslav, who fled  eastern Ukraine to Slovakia with his family. AURA was able to send funds earlier to help this  family escape. Vyacheslav writes; 

“It’s been a little over a month since we have  been in Slovakia. We are in Bratislava, living in a three-room apartment, provided by hospitable  Christian Slavic people. (Slavic is referring to  Russian, Ukrainian, and similar culture people)  Four of our children go to a Slavic school. I was  hired at this school as a janitor. Sasha, my oldest  son, has had temporary part time jobs. Next  Wednesday he will start a permanent job at a  furniture plant, which is owned by Slavic  believers. Our oldest daughter Anna left with her  husband and son for the US via Mexico. 

We attend the Ukrainian Baptist Church in  Bratislava. Before the war, there were between  30 to 50 people here, including the children. Now  there are about 130 to 150 people here.  

Today we have something to eat and a place to  live. There is not a threat of war here. But my  heart hurts for Ukraine. As to what will be in the  future for us, only God knows. But we will  continue to trust Him. With a warm heart and  gratitude to God and to you, I remember your  open heart to help us. I wish for you health,  peace, faith, hope, love, and blessings from God. 

  1. The second story is told by Timofey, a deacon from Mariupol.  

“We were part of a large church with around 200 members. When the war started, we all had to  make choices of whether to stay or leave. My  family and eight more families are currently  living in western Ukraine. We live in apartments  and try to help each other. We do not have money  to pay rent and do not know if we will have to.  Our president says they will help reimburse  owners who let out their apartments to refugees,  but it hasn’t happened yet. 

We would like to go back to Mariupol when this  war ends if we can. We are just waiting and  praying until God opens the way. We thank you  for your concern for us and your ministry. 

  1. This testimony is from a different Vyacheslav,  whose family decided to travel to the USA. 

“We don’t know what the best option is. We  remember our home, our church, and everything  that was in Ukraine and wish we could go back.  But nothing will ever be the same. We just don’t have the heart to go back to all that destruction  and danger and try to start over. We have decided  to try going to the USA. We don’t really care  where God wants us to be, but we want to be  somewhere where we can be part of God’s  church.  

Yet we are concerned about is ahead, because we are going to a strange world and don’t know how it will meet us. We pray to God for His help and that He would walk beside us. 

As reflected in the above testimonies, the decisions these families, and many others like them are making are not easy. It is the privilege of God’s children to join them in prayer and collectively ask for God to give them wisdom. 

We desire to pass on the many thanks we receive from all over Ukraine for assistance provided. There is an outpouring of expressions of gratefulness for the  generosity of God’s family in North America to the war victims. At AURA and Deed and Truth Ministries, we are only serving as channels to get the funds donated to the  places of need, and the thanks deserves to be passed on to  the many of you who have shared. 

We have one additional report to share. This past week Maksym, a young married man whose family is dedicating all their time and personal vehicle to minister to the needs around them was delivering aid. Another vehicle accidently plowed into his from the side. Maksym’s vehicle is still drivable, but damaged. His  family is not personally receiving any aid, they are living off savings from the job he left to be able to minister to war victims. He is not asking for any help. Because we receive funds for aiding the refugees directly, we prefer  not using them for this repair. However, if anyone would like to contribute specifically to this $3,500.00 repair, you are welcome to do so by marking your donation ‘Maksym Vehicle’. 

-Josh Eicher