Posted on

Ukraine’s Springtime Provides Hope Amid Relentless War

—By a CAM staff member in Ukraine

Greetings from Ukraine where spring has arrived! Villagers can be seen outside visiting together in the afternoons again. They have their little tables with eggs, leftover canned goods, cabbage, potatoes, and other goods from the cellars out by the road to sell to any passersby. Tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths are growing, and it’s looking like we will see flowers soon! Folks are out in the gardens starting some early seeds and working the ground in some fields, as well as trimming and whitewashing trees. It is a hopeful time of year!

Refugees get emotional from the singing at a church after receiving a meal.

But there is still a heavy atmosphere of sadness here that, unfortunately, doesn’t leave with the gray of winter. There has been an uptick of missile and drone strikes here in the last several days. Russia is targeting power plants again, which leaves many without power, water, and heating. Please pray for peace in this country and for the millions who are suffering from the direct results of the horrors of war! Pray also for us as we relate to all the challenges that go with living in a country at war.


To help support the Ukraine War Crisis program, please click the button below to give a gift.

Posted on

Rebuilding a Ukrainian Widow’s War-Damaged House

As Russian forces approached her village, Ludmila, a Ukrainian widow, fled with her 30-year-old handicapped son. They took refuge in western Europe until the Russians were driven out of the area. When Ludmila returned, she found her house bearing the harsh marks of artillery fire: bullet-riddled walls, blown-out windows, and a splintered roof. How could she rebuild with her meager $55 monthly pension?

With funds from CAM supporters, our staff coordinated with local contractors to repair Ludmila’s house. She says, “Thank you very much for this aid. I wish God’s blessings to the people who donated funds!”

Ludmila’s repaired house is shown below.

The average cost to repair/rebuild one house is $8,500. Funding is needed for this ongoing effort. To help support the Ukraine War Rebuilding program, please click the button below to give a gift.


Donate

 

Posted on

War-weary Ukraine Braces for Winter

As Russian and Ukrainian armed forces continue an onslaught of violence in eastern Ukraine, civilians are bracing for another difficult winter. Even before the war, Ukrainian winters were a struggle for people with low incomes. The war has only compounded these people’s needs.

Since the war, some Ukrainians are taking care of friends and family members who fled their homes. Others are unable to find work. Inflation has made food, firewood, and medicine less affordable. In some areas, landmines prevent people from cultivating gardens and harvesting firewood. Damaged homes increase the dread of winter.

Some Ukrainians have bitter memories of last winter. One couple wintered in a single room since a missile damaged most of their home. Without enough firewood, they burned rubber and other trash in their stove. The smell was awful, but at least it kept them warm.

CAM funds are used to purchase and distribute food, firewood, comforters, literature, and other aid to churches and Christian organizations that use the aid to assist believers and minister to unbelievers on both sides of the conflict. Across the country, churches are reporting that many of their members fled west due to the war, but the pews are filling up again—with unbelievers! “This war has made people a lot more open to the Gospel,” shared one staff member. “It’s happening everywhere—churches are building connections with unbelievers.”

Funds are also being used to facilitate rebuilding projects for those whose homes have been damaged by missiles and artillery fire. As much as possible, CAM hires Christian men who can be a godly influence to homeowners. One contractor told a staff member, “I would like to thank you on behalf of the 40 men who have been able to provide for their families because of CAM rebuilding projects in this area. Praise the Lord, they can provide for their families, because it is very hard to find work right now in Ukraine.”

When Russian forces approached the village of Bila Krynitsya in southern Ukraine, most of the 5,000 residents fled west. The 100 mostly elderly villagers who stayed behind were caught between enemy lines for the next six months, with the constant threat of missile attacks. Some slept with their clothes and shoes on at night so they could escape to their cellars at the familiar whine of an incoming missile. When a house burst into flames, the villagers gathered to extinguish the blaze, often as missiles streaked above them.

One time it was Ivan and Zorania’s home that was damaged. Neither of them were hurt when a missile blew off their roof and broke the windows. “The Lord kept us,” recalled Zorania. During these difficult months, Ivan and Zorania were unable to receive their government pension. “But praise the Lord,” they said, “we got food boxes with meat, macaroni, oil, and flour to make bread. With this we were able to survive.”

When the conflict finally moved away from Bila Krynitsya, the villagers’ temperaments had changed, and some were emotionally unstable. Stimulated by adrenaline, they remained in good health during the months of fighting, but since the fighting moved on, many have medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

In preparation for last winter, Ivan and Zorania made their barn livable and put a woodstove inside, but they did not have enough firewood for the winter. “Sometimes it was unpleasant,” Zorania recalled. “We couldn’t buy firewood, and we couldn’t get any from the woods because they were mined.” This year, Ivan and Zorania’s roof and windows were replaced. Some of their neighbors commented on the construction workers’ clear Christian testimony. “With our pension, we would hardly be able to buy a few windows,” Zorania commented. “I never thought people who don’t even know us would help us like this. I’m thankful that people who don’t know me care about me.” Zorania was referring to you, the supporters who made this work possible.

Though CAM is able to meet only a fraction of the needs, your support has made a big difference for many people. Our 2023 budget for Ukraine is $12 million. With funds received to date, we are in need of approximately $2.4 million to meet this goal. We are also needing significant funding to continue work in Ukraine in 2024. To all who have donated, thank you and God bless you! One recipient asked CAM staff to relay the following message: “We wish you peace in your country. We hope you don’t need to worry about guns and missiles in your homeland. Pray that the war would finish fast, and we can have peace in our country.”

To help support the Ukraine War Crisis Crisis program, please click the button below to give a gift.


Donate

Posted on

Mobile Medical Team Brings Healing to Ukraine

A mobile medical team in Ukraine is offering medications for physical healing and pointing the lost to Jesus for spiritual healing. In some parts of Ukraine, critical over-the-counter medicines are unavailable because of the ongoing conflict. People with heart problems, diabetes, and other conditions are unable to purchase the medication prescribed to them. In other areas, medications are available at pharmacies but are unaffordable since prices have skyrocketed. CAM supplies some of the medicines that are being used by this team.

The medical team partners with churches who use the event as an opportunity to connect with unbelievers. Singing, preaching, and interacting with patients open doors for them to minister to their community.

A table with free Christian literature is set up nearby. The war in Ukraine has sparked an interest in God’s Word. Many who would have previously ignored Christian literature now leave with their hands full of tracts, Bibles, Bible story books, and inspirational reading material.


To help support the Ukraine Crisis program, please click the button below to give a gift.


Donate

Posted on

Natasha Shares Heartaches from Ukraine War

Natasha and her three sons took shelter in a private school with sixty other people when the explosions began last year. While there, Natasha’s husband helped rescue a family from a village and was shot and killed. The city was shut down from violence for the following eight days and no one was able to reach him.

Natasha and her unbelieving husband had separated years ago but Natasha kept contact with him. She made phone calls every day to try and find out if her husband was okay, but each day there was silence. Finally, a photo of Natasha’s deceased husband surfaced on the internet. The following day they were able to enter the village and one of Natasha’s sons recovered the body for a funeral.

Only a week later, bombs and shelling were fired across the city where Natasha and her sons had taken refuge. “It was a horror story and buildings collapsed and the shelter was sprinkled with dirt,” Natasha shared. “The children screamed. It was terribly scary.”

Natasha and her sons had no choice but to flee again. This time they took the train to a region where they spent the next six months. Thankfully, believers from a local church reached out to them during their stay. “The Church of Dolyna helped and took care of us,” Natasha said. “Praise God.”

After their hometown was liberated, Natasha’s sons returned but Natasha couldn’t join them because of sickness. She needs ongoing treatment, and no hospital close to home is safe to travel to. Natasha then moved to her sister’s home where she receives care.

“I am grateful to the Lord that He led us with His loving hand through difficult circumstances and preserved us. . . .” Natasha said. “A lot has been experienced, indescribable in words, but God is Great and Glory to Him for everything.”

To help support the Ukraine Crisis program, please click the button below to give a gift.


Donate

Posted on

Weariness Sets in for Many Ukrainians

Many refugees at this Ukrainian church receive food and other essentials from CAM.

Tension and fear were written on the faces of Ukrainians when our staff members visited their church recently. These weary people endured almost a year near the front lines where they live under the constant threat of missiles and artillery shells. A week before our staff visited, two missiles landed near the church and shattered all the windows, cracked the walls, and damaged the roof.

Church members were actively working to repair the damages and make it weatherproof again, which added another level of stress. One of our staff members said, “In addition to the fear and danger these people are living under, these churches are very busy but there are very few people left behind to help.” The small percentage of people remaining are mostly those who were unable to flee because of sickness, lack of funds, or old age. “And they have more work than they ever did,” our staff member shared.

These believers are also weary spiritually. One man from the church said, “We need more interaction with Christians. Come visit us again.” He also asked to see children again since the area is mostly lacking the joy and innocence that come with children. “Bring some children with you,” the man said. “Most of the children have left. . . . We just want to see children and hear children again.”

Ukrainians, Christian Aid Ministries
Landmines hide in many fields of Ukraine.

Pastor shares story of being arrested

A pastor at another church was one of the few people who stayed behind at the beginning of the conflict and was arrested after two months. Soldiers accused him of being a spy and brutally interrogated him. “These interrogations were questions that came along with torture,” our staff member explained. “They beat him from head to toe.”

During the pastor’s second interrogation, the pain was so severe that he lost consciousness, which may have saved his life. Our staff member said, “He is sure that there would have been a third interrogation and he believes there is no way his body could have survived another beating.”

Instead of beating him again, the soldiers took the pastor to a hospital where he stayed for several days until he was strong enough to leave. He then fled the country until recently when he was able to return after his city was liberated. The pastor still struggles with health issues related to his beatings, as well as emotional trauma from all he experienced. In the midst of his struggles, this pastor still bravely serves the people around him.

The danger of landmines

A family of ten left their hometown during the fighting and settled into a safer village of Ukraine near Moldova. The economy of this village is taking a hit since the border is closed between Ukraine and Moldova and businesses are stagnant. “They are basically living hand to mouth. They just have nothing, actually,” our staff member shared.

Everyday life is a struggle for the family of ten. When the staff member asked why they don’t return to their hometown that was recently liberated and has a stronger economy, the mother replied, “We would like to but there are so many mines left behind. These mines are everywhere and there is a very high chance that we would lose some of our small children if we move back.”

To save the lives of their children, this family is choosing to fix up a home in a new village rather than return to their hometown.

To help support the Ukraine Crisis program, please click the button below to give a gift.


Donate

Posted on

Rebuilding villages and lives one step at a time

villages, Christian Aid Ministries

Ukrainians welcome the warmth of summer following the cold of winter and the uncertainly it brought during wartime. Many believers prayed for a mild winter for those without proper shelter or electricity, and their prayers were answered! We praise God that Ukraine’s weather wasn’t as harsh as usual. Neighboring Romania received more snow and colder weather than Ukraine this past winter.

People in certain areas are slowly returning to their destroyed homes to plant gardens among hidden mines and gaping holes from shells and bombs. The lush plants at these homes are a sign of new hope in their desolate neighborhoods. Many people haven’t returned to their homes though, and a worker describes it as a “depressing feeling of driving through village after village where houses are turned to rubble and no one is living there.”

It’s a long process to rebuild and clean up areas that were basically destroyed. While people are slowly repopulating some of these villages, numerous people are returning ahead of the demining crews and are unfortunately losing limbs or becoming severely injured. Others lose their lives. One man returned to his father’s house to clean up the damages and almost picked up an item attached to a mine that likely would have taken his life.

villages, Christian Aid Ministries
People returning to their homes often find them looking similar to this one.

Our contacts in Ukraine set up a mobile medical clinic at some of these hard-hit areas to provide medicine, medical supplies, and other things that aren’t available. A man in one village had received medicine from another organization but was scared to take them because he couldn’t read the labels. The workers were able to translate the label and put the man’s mind at ease. A nurse in a different village told the workers that she stayed behind during the fighting. With tears, she shared the horrors of around 5,000 people losing their lives in her area.

This war hasn’t just affected the adults but also the innocence of children who hear sirens and bombings and witness unsettling events. Recently workers drove to an unusual checkpoint. It was guarded by children who set up tires and held fake weapons. To them, this was their play. They were thrilled when the workers shared some candy and gave them literature that spoke of the Prince of Peace. We hope they shared the reading material with their families, and they in turn received the Good News that is so desperately needed in their land.

To help support the Ukraine Crisis program, please click the button below to give a gift.


Donate

Posted on

Light in the Darkness

Light, Christian Aid Ministries

“You came just in time.” The woman’s lip trembled, and she looked away. “I’ve been so discouraged and depressed. You came just in time.”

She held a food parcel, but I knew she was not starving. It was not that the food would save her life, and yet maybe, just maybe, it would. Not the food itself, but the gift of hope it represented.

She was just one of the many who received a food parcel that day. The parcel she held was one of the thousands that are packed every week. We cannot save Ukraine. We cannot stop the war. But, perhaps, for one person we can make a difference.

Gratefulness radiates from the faces of food parcel recipients.

In a world of war, so many people feel forsaken. For over a year now, they have lived under pressure and stress. “I couldn’t sleep for several hours last night,” said one babushka. “The explosions were so loud. I was scared.” A smile softened her face. “But today you came. You brought us hope.”

A babushka hugged Jenny close. “Your faith is shown by your works,” she said. “Thank you so much!”

“Now I know that God cares about me,” another babushka declared as she received her food parcel.

A food parcel provides hope for the elderly and others concerned about what their future holds.

War is no respecter of persons. I thought about this as I saw an older woman who seemed to be a stroke victim. Her right hand hung limp by her side. After the service she asked us if we could help her obtain an electric wheelchair.

Then there was the woman whose face was disfigured by a tumor, and the diabetic who listened to our service through the window of his apartment. He spends his days in a wheelchair since one of his legs was amputated. Another lady could not carry her food parcel because her arm was bandaged. She said it had been hurt from shrapnel. It is people like these who feel especially vulnerable and alone.

The food parcels give so much more than carbohydrates and protein. They symbolize the love and care of Jesus. They offer hope. The literature inside nurtures their souls long after the food is gone. And hopefully heaven will be fuller because God worked through the food parcel project to draw souls to Himself.

One of our theme songs on this past trip to Slavyansk was “God Will Take Care of You.” At one meeting, a man interrupted the service. “You say that God will take care of us. But where was He when the children were starving to death in Mariupol? Does He not see the innocent women and children who are suffering?”

Light, Christian Aid Ministries
At some meetings, Ukrainians wrestle with hard questions that result from the pain and suffering they witnessed or experienced.

He asked a hard question, and his tone rang with bitterness as he challenged us with a question we all wonder about at times.

A woman from the crowd answered, “God hasn’t forgotten us. We’ve forgotten Him.” It is a sobering thought. The war rages, not because God has forgotten us, but because nations have forgotten Him. “We can’t expect peace to reign in our country until God’s peace keeps our hearts,” Brother Genna said.

We pray that God will mend the broken hearts and shattered dreams.

Sin is the cause of suffering, and at times, the innocent must suffer for another’s sin. But even in the midst of suffering and pain, we are not alone. God has not abandoned us.

However, when driving through the city of Lyman, one could wonder where God is. What was once a beautiful city is now a graveyard of broken buildings, broken lives, and broken dreams. Before the war, the population of the city was over 30,000. Now only 3,000 people remain. For quite a few months Lyman was under Russian occupation. Now it is liberated, but the freedom feels fragile as the Russian army is once again nearing. The future looks dim.

A ray of light shines through the darkness in that city. Under one of the damaged apartment buildings is an abandoned bar that has been turned into a “lighthouse.” A group of believers set up a warming station there. Every morning people come for a hot cup of tea or coffee and a sandwich or sweet bread. Babushkas come carrying their dainty teacups. Old men come with their chipped coffee cups. And each one carries a story.

Many of the stories are heartbreaking. Loss and suffering are these people’s close companions. But among the stories of sorrow are stories of hope, stories of God with His people.

“I want to tell you something, but I am afraid you won’t believe me,” one babushka told Alla, the volunteer cook at the warming station. “One night the fighting was really bad. Bombs were falling all around. I was in my cellar alone. I cried and prayed to God for protection. I recited Psalm 23 and Psalm 91 again and again. Suddenly, I saw a light in the darkness. A bright light filled my cellar, and I knew I wasn’t alone.” She looked searchingly at Alla. “Do you believe me? You won’t laugh at me and say I’m losing my mind?”

Alla blinked back the tears that filled her eyes. “Of course, I believe you!” Alla told me this story a few days later when we visited the warming station. “These people are not suffering alone,” she said. “God is here with them. God is here with us. It’s dangerous, yes, but I have peace. I know that even if a missile would come right now and all of us would lose our lives, it would still be worth it all.”

Light, Christian Aid Ministries
Refugees operate a warming station to cook for others in need.

It is a brave group there at the warming station. A number of the core group of volunteers are refugees themselves who lost their homes or had to relocate because of the war. They are the ones whose vision birthed this project and keeps it going. Every week other volunteers come and help them.

Last week our group of volunteers who had been delivering food parcels helped them for a day. We arrived in the evening as things were slowing down. The cooks were cleaning up the kettles and preparing the vegetables for the next day. “We made 140 liters of borsch today,” Alla said, pointing at the enormous pots. “I was afraid it wouldn’t reach. People kept coming and coming. But, thank God, it held out just right.” Cooking in primitive conditions for 400 people a day is not for the faint of heart. Forty kilograms of carrots and twenty kilograms of onions were peeled and chopped in preparation for the following day’s meal.

We ate supper with the rest of the volunteers, and then had evening devotions and prayer time together.

We knelt in prayer on hallowed ground. Safety and protection are gifts we dare not take for granted.

Light, Christian Aid Ministries
A man enjoys a warm meal received at the warming station.

Earlier that day the group that had been taking hot food to a nearby village was shot at. Miraculously, no one was hurt. The windshield was shattered, and everyone was unnerved, but God had kept them from harm.

We do not always see the light in the darkness, but we can rest assured that the same God who was a light to that lonely babushka in the cellar will be our light today. No matter what storm or war we find ourselves caught in, we can take courage. The God of Psalm 23 and Psalm 91 still hears and answers prayer. He is with us in our suffering.

Our hearts are humbled by God’s gracious protection again and again. The danger is real, but so is God’s presence. We feel the prayers of the believers. While you pray, God works. Thank you for joining us in prayer.

Note: This project is not implemented by CAM, but CAM supplies large amounts of food for the food parcels that are bring distributed. 

Written by: Anya Hursh, a CAM contact.

To help support the Ukraine Crisis program, please click the button below to give a gift.


Donate

Posted on

Two days of horror for Ukrainian couple

Sasha stands in the one room of his house that still stands.

Two days in September changed Sasha from a man unalarmed by frightening events to a man terrified when only reminded of tragedy. In the heat of the battle in Sasha’s Ukrainian village, he stepped outside one day just as several shells hit his house. His wife was still inside, and as he ran back to get her, most of the house collapsed. Sasha dug through the rubble and smoke to pull out his almost unconscious wife. Several soldiers came to help him, and Sasha witnessed them shooting an opposing soldier as they worked to rescue his wife.
That night Sasha and his wife stayed in their cellar before escaping the next day. On their route to safety, they encountered a tank with its barrel pointed at them, so they quickly turned around and drove across the fields. All the while 40 to 50 shells were fired at their vehicle and the smell of smoke hung in the air from the explosions. Thankfully Sasha and his wife escaped all the shots.
By the time they reached the first roadblock, Sasha couldn’t even talk. He cried and stumbled for words as the soldiers asked him questions and tried to help him. The soldiers finally just asked questions Sasha could answer by nodding or shaking his head. In the meantime, Sasha’s wife nearly passed out from fright.
The couple endured all this in two days and the trauma leaves them with mental and emotional scars. Even a plane flying overhead or the noise of a tractor sends Sasha into fear that makes him shake and cry.
War is brutal. Perhaps the worst and most easily overlooked effect is the emotional turmoil people endure after experiencing so much cruelty.
But greater than hate is the power of love. Christ’s love and compassion slowly heals the emotional wounds of Ukrainians who suffer immensely. The gift of food, blankets, medicines, or other necessities is a touch of the Father’s love to many people. Thank you for your generous gifts that are spreading love to weary Ukrainians!

To help support the Ukraine Crisis Program program, please click the button below to give a gift.


Donate

Posted on

Ukrainians hoping for peace

hoping for peace, Christian Aid Ministries

“Hope dies last,” a CAM contact shared. “I see it again and again—people who lost so much, but still keep hoping. . . . hoping for peace, for the light of sunrise, and for a new life.”

A gesture of kindness or a small gift often ignites renewed hope in the heart of Ukrainians. The compassion of supporters enables CAM to provide encouragement and hope in the form of aid to people enduring the long conflict. Here are some ways we reach out:

Firewood:

Three years ago this diabetic man needed to amputate his leg. He and his wife are one of many who were blessed with firewood at a difficult time. Firewood is scarce in Ukraine, and CAM was able to give bundles of it to hundreds of families this winter.

hoping for peace, Christian Aid Ministries

Pasta and tea:

A church in Zaporizhia receives pasta, tea, and other food from CAM to distribute to approximately 2,000 people each month. This church, like many others that we help, shares the hope of Christ through a preaching service before every distribution.

hoping for peace, Christian Aid Ministries

Cabbage:

Truck loads of cabbage were delivered to churches in the Eastern part of the country to further distribute to refugees or other people who couldn’t have a garden last summer because of the war.

hoping for peace, Christian Aid Ministries

 Seeds:

After planting spiritual seeds through preaching, this church near the front lines provided garden seeds to local Ukrainians, many of whom were unbelievers. Multiple churches near that front lines are giving out seeds that CAM packaged and delivered.

hoping for peace, Christian Aid Ministries

Bibles/Christian literature:

God’s truth shines the brightest in the darkest of times, providing vast opportunities to share Bibles and Christian literature. The peace of Christ invites many unbelievers to accept a Bible or Christian literature. Some believers also cherish a gifted Bible after losing theirs in a demolished home or leaving it behind when fleeing to a safer area.

hoping for peace, Christian Aid Ministries

Food parcels:

Refugees from several areas came to this church in Odessa oblast where they received food parcels and heard preaching from God’s Word. Many churches in Ukraine regularly hold services and distribute food from CAM.

hoping for peace, Christian Aid Ministries

 Comforters/blankets:

Comforters and blankets are distributed to many refugees who sleep on the floor or in damp, cold conditions. These recipients are believers from Bakhmut who needed to leave their homes. Almost the entire church from their area moved to Dnipro and is living in a church house.

hoping for peace, Christian Aid Ministries

In 2014, the Bakhmut church received refugees following an invasion and provided aid with CAM’s help. Now, eight years later, they are the refugees and receive CAM assistance through the Dnipro church.

To help support the Ukraine Crisis program, please click the button below to give a gift.


Donate