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Courage and sacrifice: stories of humanity from Ukraine

First-hand accounts from people affected by the conflict in Ukraine, and updates from our partners in the region.

Written by Agnes McGrane | 26 Apr 2022

People gather at a train station in Ukraine.

People gather at a train station in Ukraine. Credit: Jana Cavojska.

Andriy could have stayed in safety. But he didn’t. Though he’d escaped the war in Ukraine, he knew he had to go back. Like many refugees who our local partners have been supporting, Andriy volunteered to keep helping people caught up in the conflict.

‘I was in Kyiv when the war started,’ remembers Andriy*. ‘The lines to get tickets on buses that day were incomprehensible.’

Andriy was concerned about getting his niece, Sofia, to safety. They were eventually able to get a lift with a local pastor and crossed the border into Slovakia. The journey was long and stressful, taking more than 40 hours.

As soon as Sofia was safe, Andriy returned to Ukraine to help others. He sent us this update from Lviv, a city in the west of the country: ‘Please pray for us, as we don’t know what to do in the near future and when we will go back to Kyiv. Big thanks to all of you for your generous financial help and for supporting us with your prayers.’

Essential supplies

‘What I saw at the border was disheartening,’ says Adrian, who works with Tearfund’s local partner in the region. ‘Very long lines of people, mostly mothers and children, shivering in the cold weather... lots of crying and despair.’

Tearfund's local partners have been working relentlessly to provide food, safe water, shelter, and trauma counselling to those fleeing conflict – both within Ukraine and in neighbouring countries, such as Poland, Romania and Slovakia. They have also been sending trucks filled with essential supplies to people still living in Ukraine.

‘There are thousands of people who are still coming [across the border] on a daily basis, and we are doing all we can to help – either by sending goods over or hosting them,’ says Adrian.

Canteen for displaced people in Chernivtsi, West Ukraine. The text on the wall reads ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ (Matthew 6:11). Credit: Tearfund partner.

Sacrifice

Adrian shares the story of Vasyl*, a Ukranian who drove his extended family across the border into Romania.

Our local partner helped them to find a host family, who welcomed them into their home. But as soon as his family was settled, Vasyl returned to Ukraine. He has been filling up his van with supplies to distribute to anyone in need.

‘His sacrifice is inspiring,’ says Adrian. ‘It takes a committed heart and deep trust in the Lord to be able to make these kinds of choices which put the needs of the others above your own.’

Vasyl* has been filling his van with supplies and distributing them across Ukraine. Credit: Tearfund partner.

The sounds of Kyiv

Alex*, another refugee from Kyiv, shared some of his drawings and reflections with us.  

‘The noise [of the tram] disturbed some Kyivans in the past… but the metal rhythmic grinding became a desirable sound, because it reminded us about normal peaceful days.

‘That sound of a tram in Kyiv lasted only a couple of days after the morning of February 24. In those days there were a lot of other sounds in Kyiv. There were the sounds of shells rumbling.’

A drawing of a tram in Kyiv by Alex, a Ukrainian refugee. Credit: Tearfund partner.

‘We spent the last nights of February in the underground shelter. Those days and nights were shaken by the terrible sounds of explosions.’

Open hearts

Alex joined a group of Ukrainian Christians who organised an evacuation to the western part of Ukraine. He finally reached safety in Slovakia, and is now staying at a refugee camp run by one of our local partners.  

‘I am thankful to God and to Christians from different European countries who helped me and other people from Ukraine during those strenuous days,’ Alex says.

‘[The camp] is well organised and volunteers helped us with food, clothes, and useful advice. Enough support was given to everyone who needed it… everywhere I go, I meet people with open hearts who are ready to assist.’

What it means to serve

There are countless stories like these: stories of hope, of human kindness and of God’s provision in the midst of pain and loss. But the war rages on and the future is uncertain. Please continue to pray with us for the people of Ukraine. 

One of our church partners sent us this message: ‘We continue to do what we were called to do as a church: serve the people and preach the gospel. What it means to serve people is now very clear – to respond to their needs. And the needs are also clear: to be near, to listen, to encourage, to cry together, to clothe, feed, heal, take into the house and into the heart. But in order to share all this, you must always be strong, filled and ready to give, to sacrifice. Perhaps this is what we ask you to pray for.’

Pray with us

  • Pray for people who have fled the conflict in Ukraine. Ask that they will find safe and welcoming places to stay and that they will receive all the support they need.
  • Lift up the people who remain in Ukraine. Pray that they will know God’s comfort, strength and protection. And continue to pray for lasting peace.
  • Pray for our local partners and everyone involved in reaching out to those affected by the conflict. Pray for renewed energy and strength, opportunities to rest, and wisdom to know how to best allocate resources.
*Names changed to protect identities.

Written by

Written by  Agnes McGrane

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