The following tearful email comes from Kateryna, an interpreter for a Christian college in Ukraine. PLEASE read it to gain personal insight into the situation there. Next PRAY. Then SHARE. Apathy and wrong information are additional enemies:
I don’t know what day of the week it is, I don’t know what date, and if I ask someone, I immediately forget. The countdown of life is now tallied according to the days of war. Consciousness is hazy.
On the first of March, I was packing my sister’s bags to help her leave with her child when the phone rang. I heard the tear-filled voice of my pastor: “You and the other young girls of our church must urgently leave the country.” I started to become hysterical. Earlier, I had firmly decided not to do this to myself. But my mother began to beg and cry for me to leave the country. I do not remember what was around, I only remember that I was suffocating. Mom held her heart and cried. An hour later we were on the road. Tears flowed non-stop…
Now I am a refugee.
It seemed to me that the world had turned into a big Titanic: some had to stay on a sinking ship, and some had to get into boats and sail into the unknown. During my final days in my city there was less and less food – empty store shelves and closed pharmacies. During the day there were a lot of people in the streets – people began to move from big cities to small ones such as ours where they don’t shoot – or at least shoot less.
In the daytime, they searched for food and prepared shelters for the night. Everywhere you could see people laden down with mattresses, folding beds, big bags. Men prepare defense- spikes, anti-tank structures, to be placed near the checkpoints at the entrance to the city. Women work to take food, clothes, thermoses, and other supplies to the soldiers who guard these checkpoints.
At night, almost no one sleeps. This is due to the sirens which constantly call us down into the basements and bomb shelters. Many people get sick from the night cold in these cellars. After sunset, it is forbidden to turn on the light. The city lights are off as well. With each new day, people become like unconscious bodies.
I was worried that there might not be food, so I tried to eat less. The truth is, I didn’t want to eat. When we fled our city, we left as many supplies as possible for our parents, taking only a small share of food for ourselves. Two days on the road with almost no sleep. The first hours we did not see a single gas station that sold fuel. Almost all of them were closed – fuel, as well as medicines, have been transferred to the fighters and the victims.
After only six days of war, the sound of the air raid sirens has been hammered into our consciousness so strongly that all three of us women in the car have moments when we imagine we hear its wail once again.
There was a buzz in my head. Our faces were covered with sores from tears. We sat silent and took turns crying. From time to time, tears turned into sobs.
Our bodies are now in another country, but our souls and hearts remain in Ukraine. The reality is this: a lot of people have evacuated. Even those who initially make a firm decision not to leave, after a day or two decide to leave the country. Men are not allowed out, women are drowning in tears, torn between the desire to save their children and stay near their husbands, whom they may not see tomorrow.
THE COUNTRY. More and more cities are being bombed every day. Just a couple of days ago, civilians rarely suffered, but now they bomb houses every day, they shoot at cars with families, they attack buses, schools, hospitals, even cars evacuating animals … in a word, everyone.
Today the entire world heard about the shelled nuclear power plant… Many are being dug out of the rubble, trapped in their basements.
There has been no shooting in my city yet, but a young mother with a two-year-old son was evacuated with me. They had spent every night in the basement until a bomb exploded nearby. Windows were broken in their apartment building. Airplanes, helicopters, rockets were flying above… Their town was 18 km from us.
MEDIA. Yesterday I suddenly realized that the truth about the war is being distorted not only in the Russian Federation. It is clear that each country serves it in its own “sauce”, including the USA and in Europe.
The same can be said about Ukraine itself. The attack of fake news is so bloodthirsty that sometimes the information war seems stronger than the physical one. The struggle is not for the body or the earth, but for the mind and consciousness — for the heart.
OPINIONS. I’m tired of trying to convince someone. Every day I receive letters in which I hear reproaches and accusations, distrust and cynicism on the part of Russians. And every day I see aggression, hysteria and graveyard fear on the part of Ukrainians. Anger is so thick in the air that people cease to be people.
CHURCH. I am constantly in touch with those who remain back home. People are no longer in control of their emotions. Lack of sleep and other necessities, each announcement that someone else is leaving the country – this all tears people and their inner world apart. It threatens their fellowship with God and their faith. Satan takes advantage of such opportunities to divide people, even those in the same church. Some who remain behind consider those who left traitors.
GOD. I have experienced one particular aspect of the Lord’s character many times in my life. He often likes to exaggerate, bring to the edge of the abyss, allow us to fall into a fiery furnace or be thrown into a lion’s den, so that He might later save and shine in the dark, open his wings, enter into that fiery furnace, and extract from the lion’s den!
And He does all this in order that He may become famous!
I believe that God will be glorified!
“Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)
Christ could have healed Lazarus and that would have been a real miracle! But Christ did something more – He deliberately delayed and allowed a friend to die.
“How is that love?” we say. “Why not rush to the aid of your beloved friend? Why did He let his body cool in the grave?”
Because the resurrection would be much more significant than healing. Because going through tragedy is more important than getting rid of tragedy.
Jesus was preparing to do a much more powerful miracle! The same is true of us. We just have to wait. We must wait for these long, difficult, deadly, mournful “two days” of Christ’s silence:
“When he heard that he was ill, he stayed for two days at the place where he was.” (John 11:6)
To see again how God’s life grows from the bottom of the abyss. How His glory triumphs. How people repent. How faith grows: “because for his sake [the resurrected Lazarus] many of the Jews came and believed in Jesus.” (John 12:11)
The story of the raising of Lazarus teaches me that:
1) Even those whom God loves suffer tragedy,
2) God hears our prayer, but sometimes He has a reason for delaying to answer it.
3) “Resurrection” will bring Him more glory than “healing”
4) It is necessary to have faith to the end, even if it seems that the time for faith is already too late.
For God, there is no tragedy that He can not turn into His triumph. Our tragedies our often the germ of His great miracle.
Keep praying for Ukraine. You yourself know that… our Savior has not abandoned us, although it seems to many that He is not around.
“And I rejoice for you that I was not there, that you might believe…” (John 11:15)