His name and several details have been withheld for security reasons, the letter comes form a man who has chosen to stay in the war zone and serve in his local church. It’s both heart-breaking and encouraging at the same time.
Eastern Ukraine may be relatively quieter on the news channels recently but don’t let that fool you into thinking the war has gone away. Sadly, despite the Minsk ceasefire agreement, the intensity of fighting has risen to what it was before the agreement ever happened.
Now, here’s the letter.
“Thank you so much for your support of our ministry I wanted to tell you about some of the major things that are going on in the ministry. Each one of us has an inward peace and an outward peace let me start with the inward peace. Inwardly everything is good for me. I have peace with God and with people. I sing to the Lord and I play musical instruments. In our church the woman who was responsible for worship left for the Ukrainian town of _____ so my family and I are responsibility for worship, no one is without something to do here.
Outwardly everything is sad. The information war makes people become cruel, people are suspicious of one another and there is a lot of hate. Evil people seem to be multiplying around us more and more.
According to some sources there are about 40,000 soldiers who came to fight here and 300 tanks as well as other heavy equipment. On the streets we see many soldiers in green uniforms with machine guns.
People cannot find work because there is none here. Businesses have closed. Men who are looking for work are offered a machine gun to go and fight against their brothers for money. Unfortunately many men have done just that.
Every day we can hear the sounds of war not far from us. The level of artillery fire has risen to the same level it was before the peace agreement. History is repeating itself, we are returning to the history of 100 years ago; Dekulakization, famine, and repression.
The separatists have seized cars from many people, businesses from some people, and church buildings. Not long ago an armed separatist came into my bedroom. He demanded the keys from my car and made my son go with him in the car. My car is old and I haven’t really done a lot of repairs to it so after he did what he needed he gave the keys back and said if you leave your car on the street I’m going to come and shoot it.
Our people are going through a famine, or don’t have enough food. Businesses have been destroyed, there’s no work, people don’t have money, and prices here are 2 to 5 times higher than in “free” Ukraine. People cannot allow themselves to buy even the most necessary things. As a result, many drink alcohol in order to forget and leave their problems behind, and stealing is frequent.
Life is very dangerous. There are many well-known situations where military forces have kidnapped young men and held them captive. For example, they kidnapped one man whose wife is a new believer and pregnant. For an entire month he was held captive and tortured by them. The first week they tortured him, that is they beat him, he slept on concrete floor, they fed him grain first once a day and then twice a day, and later they started forcing him work. They finally freed him from captivity only because his pregnant wife searched all the military battalions and found him. The leadership of the group where he was had mercy on her and promised to free him.
Ministry in our church
We continue to preach the gospel and our evangelism is directed towards people’s needs. Each week 100 to 130 people receive help from our church.
- We provide two lunches a week.
- We buy bread for them, two loaves of bread a week and a bit of grain and vegetables so they can live.
- To a few people we give money for travel on the bus so that they can come to church, the people simply don’t have any money.
Every Sunday in our church there’s about 100 new people, not including those who already believed, almost every Sunday somebody comes up to repent.
Here is one example.
Tim (not his real name) came to our church and during the first service he repented. We rejoiced with him, and later he told us how he came to our church. He had a dream about a big room and in the center there was a large cross, by that cross a woman was on her knees with whom he had drunk vodka and she was asking God for forgiveness.
He was really impacted by this. On Easter he decided to go to a neighboring church. Along the road he met his neighbor who was going to our church, and she invited him to come to our church. He agreed. When he came into the church sanctuary he saw a large cross at the front, and at the end of the service there was a call for repentance. He then saw going up to repent that woman with whom he had drunk vodka. He remembered his dream, and he went after her and also repented.
Praise God that he talks with people through dreams and brings them to himself in different ways.”