Praying for Ukraine

As everyone knows by now, war broke out in Ukraine two weeks ago when Russian forces directed by Vladimir Putin brutally invaded this peaceful country.

Fires burn in a residential building in the heavily-bombed city of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine, where hundreds of civilians have been reported killed

Gloria Yoder writes about the situation in her latest Amish Cook column:

My heart is crushed for all the thousands suffering this very moment. Besides all the natural disasters, there’s the horror and sadness of many innocent people’s lives at stake and even ending as a result of others’ negative intentions.

Our children were stunned as we explained the dilemma many children are facing with war in Ukraine. Hosanna’s bright hazel eyes grew wide with horror. Her dream is to go care for poor children (as she calls them), and give them a home.

Jesse said he wants to go to them and bring them home and make many, many wooden buildings for them to live in. Seeing their ambition and pity makes me feel so helpless. I especially ache for the children and elderly in times like these when war breaks out.

Though I’ve never been to Ukraine or Russia, we’ve had various occasions when our youth went to Ukraine to help package and distribute seeds to those in need.

Gloria wonders what she can do to help:

So what can a lone housewife do? I wonder what it would be like if it were happening to me? Then I imagine the comfort of having people pray for me.

OK, so why not pray? We have the absolute assurance that every single time we believe and pray the will of God to be done, it does make a difference! So in reality, our hands are not tied.

Let’s pray for all affected by the war and the thousands of little ones across the globe, crying with no one to really care for them.

Gloria also includes a recipe for Ukrainian staple soup borscht. This is a good soup that I’ve eaten many times. A bit different from the clear liquid broth borscht, this version has veggies and other ingredients and is heartier. My 95-year-old Polish grandmother has often made this for me.

Ukrainian refugees escape through Moldova

So I happen to be in Europe right now. My family has roots in Poland and in the territory of present-day Ukraine. My father’s family comes from a village near the Ukrainian city of Lviv, and my mother is from Warsaw in Poland, where my grandmother and other relatives still live. I have people close to me in and from Ukraine, and have been there many times.

As I write this, I am on my way back from Moldova helping bring back some Ukrainian escapees, along with a couple of cats from the capital city Kyiv (thus posting has been scarce here lately). On the border of Moldova and Romania on Monday, you could see vehicles with this sign painted on them:

That means “CHILDREN” written in both Russian and Ukrainian. Despicably, the Russian soldiers have been brutalizing civilians, both with intense bombings of residential areas and attacks on people just trying to escape the violence. Many innocents, including children, have been killed. Russians have bombed hospitals, schools, and regular apartment buildings with no military or infrastructure value whatsoever. I have no words for this evil.

But parents and drivers of vans filled with orphans are painting this one word on their vehicles, in the hopes that it will prevent some Russian soldier with a flicker of conscience from firing upon them. Here are other examples from cars waiting to cross from Moldova into Romania.

This vehicle has the word scrawled into the dust on the back of the van. I suppose they did not have the materials at hand to paint it or put up a sign, so this is the best they could do. Russian Cyrillic lettering.

The welcoming sign of the European Union.

Instructions in Ukrainian and English on how refugees can seek help in the country.

The wait at this border crossing was about five hours – relatively short, especially compared to some of those crossings leaving directly from Ukraine into EU countries like Poland, where waits in some cases have exceeded 24 hours and lines of cars many miles long.

Here you see people receiving free food, clothing, and other donated items from volunteers on the Romanian side of the border. Something similar has been provided on the Moldova border as well.

This is 17-year-old Tony, who is currently riding on the floorboard in our packed vehicle. As I write, the Ukrainians we are with have traveled about 800 miles since setting off from Kyiv, with another 400 or so for us to go to Poland.

Approximately two million people have already fled from Ukraine to other countries. In many cases in frigid winter conditions. So Gloria Yoder is right to ask for prayers for Ukraine and its people in this terrible time.

Refugees from eastern Ukraine stop for a meal in Romania

But the people of Ukraine have an immensely strong spirit and I believe they and their nation will survive and even thrive after this is over. If you’d like to contribute to help them get through this, there are a number of places you can do that.

One of them is an organization I am involved with in Poland called Hearty. They are addressing needs in both the short term – things like medical supplies and  – and longer term, with helping Ukrainian children get schooling in Poland and psychological help even while the war continues, in the hopes of giving them some sort of normalcy at this time. If you’d like to help with that, you can find out more and contribute here.

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    25 Comments

    1. Walter Boomsma

      Thanks for sharing...

      Thanks for sharing, Eric… some first-hand information that hasn’t been slanted by the media is appreciated as is the link to the Hearty organization. Thanks also for what you are doing to help these people. I honestly believe that many of us wish we could be there helping. Stay safe and offer our encouragement and hugs to these fine people.

      1. Thank you Walter. I think people didn’t really believe Putin would go through with a full invasion, even people from Ukraine I’ve been in contact with. Just several days before, one friend said he doubted there would be a full invasion. The warnings from western intelligence really started to get my attention a few weeks ago, but I have to admit that up until it actually happened I didn’t think he would do it, at least not to this degree. I don’t think it has been going as he planned hence the focus on violence against civilians.

    2. Prays for Ukraine!

      Yes! I have been praying for Ukraine every day and prays a whole world needs to knows Jesus Christ as Salvation. Heartbreaking and sad to see people and children at Ukraine. God always be with them. Prays for war stops! In Name of Jesus Christ! Amen!

      1. Your prayers are appreciated!

    3. Carl D Good

      Praying for the people of Ukraine

      I was born during World War 2, so have no memories of that war. Now this war is on our TV screens, 24/7. It is the most horrific thing to witness and one feels so helpless. It breaks my heart to think of all the children robbed of their youth. And I have also thought of all the pets that the children loved and had to leave behind and how heartbreaking that must be for them. It’s nice there was one rescued cat. Ukraine has suffered so much in their history. Millions of people either starved of shot in World War 2. Thanks for posting this Eric, and the link to donate. Please take care while you are in that region!

      1. Thank you Carl, I appreciate your comments and perspective. There are some organizations that are trying to help the pets left behind as well. In some cases they couldn’t be taken and in others, their owners were out of the country when the war began. For example, cats – I have seen several photos where neighbors have made small holes in the exterior of the apartment near the door, so they could get the cat inside some food and water. I even saw one where it looked like they were using the door’s peephole to pour in water/food to the pet inside. Urkainians, like other people, love their pets (I think cats are especially popular there, but dogs as well). There was a story of one girl who carried her elderly dog may miles to the border when the dog refused to walk further. The suffering of people is foremost but the pets are also getting attention by people who care, at least to some degree.

    4. Jacqueline Cinski

      Praying for people of Ukraine and Poland

      What more can we do for these people but pray for them

    5. Jim Johnson

      thanks

      My son’s mother-in-law ran Little Lambs ministry which ran camps for orphans in the Ukraine. She recently retired, but is now coordinating relief efforts and sending supplies to refugees through Little Lambs. Keep prayers coming! (Check them out on Facebook for information.)

    6. Jim Halverson

      Ukraine

      Good for you Erik! Stay safe.

    7. Ellen Sabin

      Praying for Ukraine and You

      Thanks for sharing and updating us on the situation from your experience. Please stay safe.

      1. Thank you Ellen. We just crossed into Poland and should be at our destination pretty soon. Cats are holding up and everyone is in as good a spirits as possible.

        Still have some close people in Ukraine who are essentially cut off behind enemy lines. In some cases they have lost power and of course food is going to be a concern. We are concerned about their safety of course, and finding a way that they can get out.

    8. SRB

      Even Amish are fooled by the Nazis

      And for the last 8 years, the Nazi Government of Ukraine has been shelling and killing the separatists of Donbass and Lugansk. The Nazis even shut off the agricultural/domestic water to Crimea. No one seems to pray for Donbass, Lugansk, or Crimea. They did not want to be ruled by the Ukrainian Nazi Government. 14,000 citizens of Donbass have been killed in those 8 years. There is no info on how many in Crimea suffered and died. Russia did its best to help Crimea.
      Even fool blames Russia.
      I will not support the Ukraine Nazi Government.

      1. Georgianne

        PETA

        First off, to SRB — your response sounds like Russian propaganda. What the Russians are doing now in Ukraine is despicable and totally unjustifiable. And Eric — that’s wonderful that you’re able to help. Stay safe and be careful. And since Carl mentioned loved pets, I also wanted to say that PETA is over there rescuing pets. Today’s update says that they’ve rescued 300 animals so far.

      2. Yoder in Ohio

        Despicable

        What a despicable and horrible thing to say! I’m appalled. This offensive comment needs to be removed so it doesn’t sway or influence other ignorant people!

        I am so sorry, Erik, that you’ve had to read this!

      3. Thank you Yoder & Georgianne, I received a few other weird comments like this one in my email. I’m tempted to remove it but probably better to leave this one up as an example.

        Russia’s messaging about this conflict is essentially down-is-up and up-is-down.

        “We will not invade.”
        “This is a special operation in order to *prevent* war.”
        “We are not targeting civilians.”
        “We did not bomb Kharkiv, the Ukrainians did it to themselves.”
        “We must ‘de-nazify’ Ukraine.”

        Absurd stuff. There’s piles of it by now.

        Basically, it’s either the completely opposite of reality, or Russian projection about themselves.

        Unfortunately they have a long sad tradition of this dating to Soviet times, and a lot of the Russian population believes it.

        I think it’s mostly meant for a domestic audience, and gullible/pro-Russia outsiders.

        1. Walter Boomsma

          Craziness

          I think it’s important for us to see some of the crazy thinking that exists, no matter how off-base it is. (I happen to be a big believer in free speech.) We may like reading it, but we need to be confronted with the fact that there are people who seriously think some pretty weird stuff. Some of them become the despots and terrorists that we end up needing to deal with.

          1. Walter Boomsma

            oops

            That should have been “may NOT like reading…”

      4. JameSmace

        Amish Ukrainians in 1930

        Ah, we see that we have a Russian here. Tell us what you know of the ransom paid by the Amish international community to get there fellow Amish out of Ukraine in 1930. This is after 9 years of being targeted by the Russians who envied their bountiful farms and orchards. (Mennonite and other fundamentalist Germans who emmigrated generations prior were not so lucky – over a million were murdered starting in 1932(

    9. Yoder in Ohio

      My Prayers for Ukraine

      This breaks my heart. Bless you, Erik, and may God keep you and yours safe. The prayers we offer for the people of the Ukraine are at times accompanied by tears.

      Thank you for sharing this and please update as you can.

    10. Pat Monti

      Thank you

      Erik, blessings and prayers to you and to all of those that are suffering. Thank you for sharing the name of the organization you’re involved with regarding donations. Since you’ve shared it, I know it’s a safe one to utilize as there are an incredible amount of scams regarding this issue as well as similar ones. Stay safe and well!

    11. Pamela Miller

      Ukraine

      Eric, Thank you for your first hand account of
      what you have experienced and what you know
      about what is occurring in Ukraine. It has been
      so sad to see the long lines of people, often
      walking miles, in freezing weather, with infants,
      small children and pet carriers. I was born a
      few weeks before Pearl Harbor and, although I
      have never been directly involved in wars, I truly
      believe that for our planet to survive we will have
      to find a way to live in peace and that is what I
      am praying for. Thank you for the information
      about the Hearty organization, as I know it can
      be trusted to do all they can to help people.

    12. Denise

      Prayers for Ukraine

      Eric,
      Thank you for all you are doing. Prayers for the people of Ukraine, your family and friends. Stay safe!

    13. David Crozier

      Wow

      You are a man who cares and of action. Stay safe !!!

    14. Thank you all

      Just an update and a thank-you to everyone who I didn’t thank already. We got back to Poland on Friday, friends from Kyiv and cats are safe and sound. Still quite concerned about other loved ones still in the country, including outside Kyiv in a city/region where Russians are present and an active threat. Hopefully they will have an opportunity to at least make it to more secure areas of Ukraine if not out of the country. Keep up prayers and any other contributions you can make, it is all much appreciated and makes a difference.

    15. Georgianne

      Thanks for the Update

      I’ve been waiting to hear that you got to Poland safe and sound. Took my mom out to lunch yesterday for her 94th birthday and was showing her your other posts and pictures. My sister was a nun in the Polish order, The Missionary Sisters of St. Benedict, and several of the nuns in her convent were Ukrainian. My mom still sees them often and she said they have not heard from their families and they’re obviously extremely upset and scared. Anyway, very happy to hear the update.