“You must leave your home now, the bus is waiting for you! Don’t worry about packing too much because we will bring you back in a month.”
Last summer that’s what many disabled people in Donestk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine were told as they hurriedly grabbed a few things before they were bused out of the war zone and away from their homes.
For over a year now about 140 disabled refugees have been living in an old Soviet sanatorium just a few miles from our church. They haven’t returned to their homes since they left and some of them are starting to lose hope that they will ever return.
One of the refugees told me:
“We just sit here and wait and sometimes we get phone calls from home, we think about home all the time.”
With difficulty I wheeled an older woman across the broken and uneven concrete pavers, trying carefully not to accidentally dump her out of her chair when I hit the large cracks in the sidewalk.
“I have a very nice chair at home with bigger wheels, unfortunately they won’t let me go home now.”
I could hear the pain in her voice as she told me about where she came from and how she had to leave on a moments notice with nothing more than what she could hold in her hands.
Honestly, I don’t think I can fully understand what these people have gone through and are going through but I do know several facts.
1. They long for home more than almost anything.
2. Uncertainty about your living arrangements combined with inability to do anything about it can be agonizing.
3. I can’t bring them home or stop the war but I can give them hope that will overcome all their problems even this despicable war.
This past Sunday I took a group of youth from our church out to minister to these refugees. As usual they were waiting for us. The weather was beautiful so we decided to meet in the yard and enjoy God’s blessing of a blue sky and a nice breeze.
We sang with them songs of hope, then we opened God’s Word.
Nearly everyone who came was new to the Bible so I decided to give them a brief introduction to God’s Word.
I explained to them how the Bible is a collection of 66 books, I talked about how there are different genres, I showed them how God communicates to us through the text of these books and how each book was written by a human author and yet also inspired by God.
We then opened Psalm 19 were we talked about God’s revelation through nature and how the creation tells us that our God is powerful and orderly. Then we talked about the significance of studying the Bible and the impact it can have on our life.
We talked about how the Bible sets a standard for our lives that on our own we can never meet.
We talked about how Jesus offers forgiveness and his righteousness to all who believe.
Then there were questions, lots of questions. One of the main questions was about Jehovah’s Witnesses. They are strong and growing in Ukraine.
I showed them how JW’s teaching on Christ completely denies his divinity and the result is simply salvation by works.
We ended the afternoon with prayer and fellowship around some cookies and drinks that we had brought.