Once again a long period of time has lapsed since I last posted a blog. So here goes on catching up from January...
In January and February, groups of Agape employees and their families were blessed to have the opportunity to travel to Germany for a week of rest and refreshment. The German Evangelical Alliance met all of our needs and also filled our buses with humanitarian aid to bring back to Ukraine. It was fun to spend a week with coworkers, many of whom had never been outside of Ukraine in their lives. I traveled with the January group and we were thrilled to have snow as we did not see much of it this winter in Ukraine.
As you are all aware, the war in Ukraine rages on. It is never far from our minds and constantly in our prayers. At Agape, we continue to rehabilitate wounded soldiers. Their stories, injuries, roads to recovery, and futures are each unique and often heart-breaking:
- I recall one soldier who admitted that his marriage was not solid before the war. After he received his spinal cord injury, his wife left him, taking their young son with her.
- Vasyl, a current patient, relayed how he was sent to Poland for medical treatment and rehabilitation following his injury. He expressed that he fully believed he would buy a car there at some point and drive it back to Ukraine after completing rehab. Instead, after 6 months in Poland, he returned to Ukraine still in a horizontal position with a long road ahead of him due to his spinal cord injury, pressure sores, and other complications. He told me "I never expected I wouldn't drive myself back." Unfortunately, it is unlikely he will ever walk again.
- Bohdan (pictured below) was in working in a European country at the time of the full-scale invasion. He made the decision to not only give up the safety of that country by returning to Ukraine, but also to volunteer to fight upon his return. He took a bullet to the head and spent several months in the hospital before coming to Agape for rehabilitation. His sister is his only family member and she told us that after spending several months in the hospital with him, she could not imagine what we could do to help him. His progress was indeed slow, but with much perseverance on his part and that of his therapists, he was walking short distances with a cane and completing basic self-care tasks independently at the completion of his rehab. He attended services at Fimiam Church every Sunday and never seemed to get down, despite the drastically life-altering nature of his injury.
|Smoke covers the ruined city of Bakhmut where intense fighting continues|
|A civilian passenger train was hit in one Russia attack|
But we also feel, hear and experience the resilience and resolve that Ukrainians continue to hold in the face of this ongoing war. God sustains and continues to use His people. From delivering humanitarian aid to the de-occupied territories to housing and assisting internally displaced people to faithfully continuing the ministries of the church - God's people are active.
Volodymyr Andriyovych (below) was a patient at Agape in January following a stroke. He is 85 years old and has been living at Fimiam's Retreat Center in the village with about 100 other internally displaced people since the full-scale invasion began. He was evacuated from eastern Ukraine with only the clothes on his back. Pastor Pavlo has faithfully been caring for and ministering to those living at the Retreat Center and a small church has now begun. Volodymyr Andriyovych heard the Word of God before his stroke, during his rehabilitation and after he left Agape. Not long after returning to the Retreat Center, he repented and was baptized. Since travel is difficult for him due to his age and the effects of his stroke, he had a modified baptism there at the Retreat Center. We rejoice that not only was his physical life saved, but now his soul is eternally saved as well!
|"O Lord my God, I cried to you for help."|