In the city of Rivne, Ukraine, a hub of three humanitarian aid stations was organised by OM, in partnership with the local government and the chaplaincy service of the police force since the start of the war in February 2022. The city is on a main route for those travelling to the Polish border and has hosted more than 60,000 displaced people over the last year, many of whom decided to make Rivne their new home. OM distributed over 10,300 food parcels to families in this city alone since the start of the war.
Last year, as winter was approaching, OM was the first in Rivne to set up a heated tent where people could have a warm drink, charge an electronic device and find a listening ear. Over 21,430 people have visited the tent since it opened on 18 November 2022.
Ira fled the city of Slovyansk within the first months of the war. She lost everything, including her house which was destroyed in the fighting. With no way to feed her family, she became completely dependent on the humanitarian hub. Ira experienced depression. Her tears touched the heart of Aleksander, one of the chaplains OM partners with, and he invited her to church. The congregation greeted Ira with open arms, prayed with her and gave her a Bible. After some time, Ira decided to follow Christ and since then, she shared how the Lord is doing a great work of healing in her life. She has found a place to live and described how much the fellowship with her new church family –– especially the women –– encourages her to keep going.
Another internally displaced person, Vasili, recently evacuated from the town of Skadovsk in the Kherson province. Like Ira, he came to know about OM through the ministry of the humanitarian hub. When the chaplains invited him to church, he simply answered: “I guess I will come and have a listen.” OM team members have seen Vasili at church three weeks in a row and he shared that he cannot wait for the week to end and to attend church again. Though he has yet to make a decision for Christ, he openly shared that he could never have imagined attending a church before the start of the war. “Before, I for sure did not live like this,” Vasili told an OM team member. “God is surely changing my life.”
'I found a family'
Known for its patriotism, Rivne is now one of the cities with the highest number of war widows in the last 12 months. OM recently started to support 91 women who buried their husbands since the fighting began. The ministry to widows was started in partnership with the chaplaincy service.
Valia is one of the ladies that the team supports. After artillery fire destroyed her house, Valia was evacuated from the city of Severa-Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. Once in Rivne, she was diagnosed with cancer. The church prayed over her and when she went back to the doctors, the cancerous growth had disappeared. Valia said: “My husband died, but here, in the church, I found a family.”
OM teams in Ukraine have been blessed to see the hand of God in the lives of many people. Partnerships with churches, other organisations and the chaplaincy service have opened doors to serve people in desperate need. The team is deeply thankful for all those who have sacrificed to support their ministry to –– and through –– the church in Ukraine during these hard times.