Sunday, June 19, 2022

Approaching 4 months

The war in Ukraine has now exceeded 115 days and will hit the 4-month mark later this week. Thousands of lives have been lost and millions have been altered, to say the least. The number of soldiers wounded or killed rise with each new day. Civilians continue to flee the zones of active fighting in search of safety. The majority of those who fled earlier are still unable to return home as their cities are occupied by the Russian forces and/or their homes are destroyed. The fighting is primarily confined to the east and we are keenly aware that we must be grateful for the current safety we experience here in Lutsk and in western Ukraine in general. Periodic air raid sirens and strikes on locations within a few hours of us remind us that our "safety" is far from guaranteed. Below is a map of Ukraine, posted on social media a few nights ago shows a moment when the air raid sirens were going off in almost every region of Ukraine simultaneously. This is not uncommon. 

So while the fighting is currently in the eastern side of Ukraine, no region of Ukraine gets to live in peace at all times. Please, please continue to remember Ukraine and pray for Ukrainians! The war likely does not get the attention it once did in the news, but it does rage on and people's lives are at stake. Below are a few pictures of lives altered or ended because of the war. The first few stories are of people I do not know personally, but who are representative of so very many Ukrainians. Please let these brief stories serve as a reminder that while the war has negative ripple affects all around the world, on the economy, on prices, on the availability of various products, it is most important to not forget the direct and lasting impact it has had and continues to have on the lives of Ukrainians. 

First is a family, a mom and her twins. They were at the train station in western Ukraine trying to evacuate when it was hit by a missile. Their physical wounds are evident. One can only imagine the emotional and psychological wounds they have as well. They were successfully evacuated to western Ukraine for medical treatment and very likely on to Europe. Lives altered, drastically altered by the war...

Next is a little girl who will now grow up without her father, a soldier killed in the war. On her first birthday, her mother took to visit her father's fresh grave. A life altered, drastically altered by the war...

Next are funerals for men from our local region. So many soldiers' lives lost in the war and so many families now without a son, husband, father, brother...

And now for a few stories of people with whom I am acquainted. 

Ihor is one of three wounded soldiers currently undergoing rehabilitation at Agape. When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Ihor immediately volunteered. He is 59 years old and had served in the army when he was younger, but that was more than 30 years ago. He was injured just one week into the war when a mine exploded, resulting in a spinal cord injury as well as other injuries. When he arrived at Agape, he stated that his goal was to get back on his feet "because I still have business to finish with the enemy." While he is not likely to achieve that goal due to the extent of his injury, he is working hard to be maximally independent in all spheres of life while using a wheelchair. Please follow this link to see an article, pictures, and a video about Ihor published by a local station this past week.

Above is Danik who was a patient at Agape early last fall. He has a spinal cord injury from a gunshot. Since he is only 9 (probably 10 by now) he was accompanied by a parent, in this case his father, during his stay at Agape. Just this past week, his family member called to ask if he could return for more rehab as he has now had a needed surgery. When we asked if his father would be with him, we were deeply saddened to learn that he had been killed in the war after sending his wife and children to safety in Europe before joining the fighting. So many children are now without fathers, but the shock and sadness go to a deeper level when you have become acquainted with child and his now deceased father. More lives devastated by the war...

While leaving church today I ran into Baba Luba in the parking lot. She and her husband, who is in a wheelchair, lived at Agape for a few weeks back in April and we became acquainted at that time. They are probably in their 70s and were evacuated to Agape from eastern Ukraine. She, her husband, and another family not related to them were assisted to find a house in a village not far from Lutsk. One of our friends went to pick them up for church today and I enjoyed visiting with Baba Luba briefly. She expressed her desire to see the war end and to be able to return home. Despite losing everything and living in a completely new place, I realized that she did not complain once during our conversation. Instead, she expressed gratitude to all who have helped her, including Agape, and stated how many kind people were around her even now in their new village home. Her life has been drastically altered as well, but she demonstrated a heart of trust in God even in her difficult circumstances. 

I share the pictures and stories above to demonstrate the personal nature of the war. They are just a drop in the ocean of stories that could be told of lives altered and devastated by the war. But despite all that we see and hear as the war continues, God is still on His throne and is still worthy of our trust. We petition Him for a Ukrainian victory, for protection of our soldiers and civilians, for wisdom for our president and other government leaders, as well as the leaders of the other nations assisting Ukraine, for thwarting of the plans of the enemy, and for provision of daily needs such as food, clothing, and medicine. Please join us in these prayers and more. 

If you desire to financially assist Agape in meeting needs, there are two options for doing so: 
1. Go to and click on the "Donate" button
2. Christian Health Service Corps: Text CHSCUkraine to 41444 or at 

The funds will reach Agape via either method. 

Below is a video with English subtitles about the evacuations of people with disabilities to Europe. The link is:

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