‘This is an Evil War. Pray That God Intervenes’: Ukrainians Fight for Freedom in Russian War. Here’s How One Nonprofit Helps

By Nancy Flory Published on March 12, 2023

The Stream’s Nancy Flory recently interviewed president of Mission Eurasia Sergey Rakhuba. Sergey recently returned from Ukraine and shares what he discovered during his trip. Mission Eurasia works in 13 countries of Eurasia and Israel to “train, equip and mobilize the next generation of Christian leaders to transform their nations for Christ through strategic, holistic ministry,” according to a press release. The above image is from Sergey’s recent trip to Ukraine in January, during the last round of Russian missile strikes in Dnipro and Kyiv. Here’s what he had to say about his recent trip to Ukraine.

Nancy: You are president of Mission Eurasia. What does Mission Eurasia do?

Sergey: Mission Eurasia’s primary focus in ministry is to train, equip, and mobilize the next generation of leaders in the countries of the former Soviet Union. That is our motto: Train to Lead, Equip to Serve. By doing that, we are helping Evangelical churches in the countries of the former Soviet Union to get engaged through their young leaders in contemporary society.

Ukraine is a ministry hub country. When the war began, we just had no choice but to mobilize all the networks of ministries we built through the years into an army of volunteers supplying resources and engaging them in ministry responding to this horrible crisis. We continue training experienced pastors, young pastors, our next generation professional leaders, and young leaders for more effective engagement in this time of war, helping the church to fulfill its primary responsibility.

We have delivered a lot of humanitarian aid, food, medical supplies, and helped a lot of refugees and internally displaced people with shelter. We have helped thousands of traumatized families, especially children. Through our networks of young leaders, we have formed distribution hubs and delivered 220,000 iCare family food packages, thousands of pounds of food, and 1.5 million copies of Scripture. What do we do now? As the war continues raging, we are making plans for how to help with the restoration of Ukraine, not just economically, but socially and spiritually.

Nancy: You recently traveled to Ukraine. What are the current conditions on the ground there?

Sergey: Surprisingly, this winter was not as cold, and all Ukrainians saw that as an answer to their prayers because Russia had targeted the power grids, which is the source of heat, water, and electricity. But God in His mercy and love gave Ukrainians a break. Despite that, the conditions are horrible. I’ve seen despair and heroism right next to it. It’s hard to comprehend — the destroyed communities, villages, and homes. I’ve been to villages where not a single home is standing. People are coming back to those destroyed places and trying to dig in and rebuild their lives while there are still explosions in the background. People have seen destruction and despair; every house has a story to share.

How do you help with daily survival? The economy is crippled; transportation does not work; there’s no water; the power grids are destroyed. The Ukrainians are relying on the mercy and generosity of others. The need is incomprehensible. If not for the compassion of the global family of Christ, I don’t think Ukrainians would be able to survive. Ukraine is defending its territories, relying on foreign help.

As for humanitarian aid, they rely on the help of the international community. I’ve seen compassion beyond what I can comprehend. I’ve seen acts of heroism everywhere. Ukrainians will not give up; they say, “We will fight till the last drop of blood.” I’ve seen people volunteering to join the armed forces, but also to join the volunteer forces.

Nancy: What is the state of the church in Ukraine?

Sergey: I see the church shining in the midst of the despair. In the ashes of destruction, the church is becoming a beacon of hope. I’ve seen that over and over again. In Kherson, I stayed with a church in their basement, hearing explosions all night long over a couple of kilometers away. I’ve seen neighbors, those who came back, who hear the shelling coming, and they run to the church where they can get safety. They are finding spiritual shelter too. I’ve seen people on their knees, praying with believers there, trusting their lives to the God of the church and the ministry there. People are leaning on God, and the church is doing a great job providing spiritual and emotional and all other help.

Nancy: Do they have hope during this war?

Sergey: There have been rumors of war since Russia first invaded in 2014 and annexed Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine. Ukrainians became used to it, but then when Russia invaded this time, everyone was in shock. There were millions fleeing. One-third of all Ukrainians shifted and became internally displaced.

Despite the magnitude, Ukrainians are grateful and hope we can continue helping them. They also hope in God. President Zelenskyy, who is himself Jewish, is appealing to the Christian community and to the church to take the spiritual leadership of the country. We are on our knees before God so we can stand against our enemy. The people have hope in God, and they also hope the international community will help them, not just to defend and survive, but to win. They hope for victory.

Nancy: Are people coming to Christ?

Sergey: More people are coming to Christ now than in all the years combined before. There were 4,000 baptisms in 2022 in one specific denomination, the Union of Evangelicals and Baptists, and that is going across all others.

A lot of people left Ukraine with waves of refugees. Lots of congregations lost members as families left looking for a safer place. But now churches are packed to overflowing.

At the Love of Christ church, they have seen crowds of people seeking help. This was a church of roughly 300 before the war, and on a Sunday morning, they have 250–300 in church. When the war started, Pastor Tedmond and the church thought they would close. They were down to 40 to 50 in attendance, and they decided to give it two weeks. And now the building is not big enough to hold the 500 people who are coming on a regular basis on a weekend. Most of the congregation left, but new people are coming. And that’s all because they continued to preach the Gospel and fulfill their responsibility.

Nancy: When you were there, did you worry about being in danger? 

Sergey: Did I worry? To a certain degree. When you hear missiles or a shell lands within a few hundred yards, and the structure you’re in is shaken, you feel the danger. To say I was afraid or scared, there was that thought, you never know where the next shell will land. At one station, when we were warned to watch out for snipers, and we were close to the neutral territory between Russia and Ukraine, it concerned me a little. But it was important for me to be with fellow colleagues, people who are there day to day, encouraging them and being with them, not just leadership telling them what to do over the phone. I was with them, in what they experience every day. That was more important than being scared.

Nancy: What are the Ukrainians’ biggest needs? 

Sergey: They need help to win the war. You see how Ukrainians continue fighting, standing for life, for their existence. Everybody thought or predicted when the war began, this will take 48 hours, or three days, or three months. But a year later, you see how Ukraine is heroically continuing to fight, and not just fighting, but enjoying victories. Their biggest need is for help to win the war and be done with it. Without the global community, we won’t be able to do it. They need help, encouragement, humanitarian help — food and medicines.

Nancy: Any prayer requests?

Sergey: Pray for the Ukrainian leadership. They have shown tremendous leadership, beyond my expectations. When the current president was elected, I was quite skeptical and did not think he fit the job at all, but he is showing so much leadership, showing courage, and he has brought the country together. He offers guidance for enormous challenges.

I would encourage prayer for President Zelenskyy and the leadership of Ukraine, the Ukrainian army. Pray they are supplied and pray for soldiers on the front lines. Pray for their families. They did not plan on this, defending their future. Pray for the Ukrainian church, which has been providing tremendous spiritual and humanitarian leadership. Pray for Mission Eurasia. We’re not planning to leave Ukraine. There’s more work to do, 100 times more during the war and when the war is over, in restoration ministries.

Please Support The Stream: Equipping Christians to Think Clearly About the Political, Economic, and Moral Issues of Our Day.

Pray for Mission Eurasia leadership to have courage, for wisdom, for resources. We need a lot of resources to continue helping, supplying resources to young leaders, leading this movement and helping in the midst of the war. Pray for President Putin, against the evil that is driving this all. “In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water.” (Proverbs 21:1) This is an evil war. Pray that God intervenes and stops this.

In Ukraine, everyone is praying for peace, but pray for a just peace. After tens of thousands of lives lost, territories lost, how can we have peace when houses are destroyed, workplaces are destroyed? How do you bring peace with that? The only peace we will accept is when Russia pulls out of the country, gives homes back, and restores the loss that our country experienced. Then we’ll have peace. Otherwise, we will fight for our peace. Pray for peace, for a just peace.

Nancy: What are you doing now? What is Mission Eurasia doing now?

Sergey: We are moving toward preparing volunteers for the summer with training and seminars. We are planning this summer to reach thousands and thousands of families, especially children, displaced in Ukraine or refugees in Poland and Moldova, with Camps of Hope. We will offer trauma counseling to more than 20,000 children who will be reached through our networks. We are preparing a lot more outreach literature, helping refugees and displaced who are coping with trauma. We need more Bibles, children’s Bibles, specially designed counseling materials. We need resources. We will continue delivering food, emergency assistance, and offering counseling.

Nancy: What is your opinion on what we can expect for the remainder of winter?

Sergey: The winter is over now. We are grateful for wood-burning stoves. We manufactured and delivered 2,000 to people and churches in Ukraine and helped them to survive by providing a source of heat, a place to cook food, heat water for taking baths. Russia continues targeting the power grid, trying to demoralize the people and getting more people to leave. Ukrainians understand this, and they are stubborn and staying, even though it is dangerous.

Nancy: Is there anything else I haven’t asked that you need our readers to know?

Sergey: Unfortunately, there are some political controversies in our country here that impact directly on the survival of Ukrainian families there. Ukraine relies on foreign assistance. We are extremely grateful and ask that support for Ukraine would continue because if we stop, Ukraine is done. If we help Ukraine a little more militarily, they will win the war. This is not just a war for Ukraine, but against an unprecedented dictator. This is the global community taking a stand for the principles of democracy. We want the Christian community to consider that.

Interview has been slightly edited for clarity.

 

Nancy Flory, Ph.D., is a senior editor at The Stream. You can follow her @NancyFlory3, and follow The Stream @Streamdotorg.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Like the article? Share it with your friends! And use our social media pages to join or start the conversation! Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, MeWe and Gab.

Inspiration
Alert: Pray for Our Elected Officials
Bunni Pounds
More from The Stream
Connect with Us