As I try to put into words the last 8 months, all I can say is I have witnessed unimaginable kindness and unfathomable evil. I never imagined the kindness we would receive from total strangers, like Pastor Vlado and his wife Monica, the staff at the youth center and the Slovak church who have helped house, feed, cloth, and care for so many Ukrainians. Their kindness has touched us in a way that Lena and I will never forget. A kindness so great it makes saying goodbye unimaginable. But we did say goodbye and headed back to Ukraine because we know so many who have experienced unfathomable evil.
I never imagined in my life I would be ministering to people who have been through so much. I never imagined having conversations where people show me the ruins of their home on their smartphones, people sharing about what it was like to live in an unfinished concrete basement for a month under constant artillery fire, people who lived through Russian occupation for 7 months, living off food from their garden, having their car stolen by Russian soldiers, having to flee through enemy territory to reach shelter in Slovakia. I’m forever grateful God provided a place for them to go.
Hearing their stories makes you ask the question, could humans really do this? And then the heartbreak that comes from knowing that they can, and that they have done even worse. This is one of the hardest videos I’ve every watched. It is a video from 60 Minutes talking about the attrocities committed 60 miles from our home in Ukraine.
The only hope in the face of such evil, is Jesus Christ. We know we have a God who has not abandoned us, who knows the depth of our suffering because he too suffered. Jesus submitted himself to the unfathomable evil of humanity, even unto death on a cross, so that we may live. Jesus showed us there is hope, that death is not the end, evil will not get the last word, it will not win. Yes, evil is still very real and present in our world. Jesus warned us of wars and rumors of wars, and that suffering will get worse. But there is hope, Jesus is coming back, he will restore this world, and rid it of evil once and for all. Jesus calls us to believe, to trust in him and his work on the cross. There are so many in Ukraine dsesperate for some hope in the midst of this evil. So many who do not know the good news, that death will not win. Many who need to know that kindness we experienced here in Slovakia, who need to know of the even greater unimaginable kindness that Jesus showed, when he layed down his life for us.
And for that reason we are heading back to Ukraine, to be with people in this difficult time. We ask your prayers as we travel, we ask your prayers for the refugees staying in Slovakia and elsewhere, we know we are leaving them in good hands with the Slovak Lutheran church. Pray for those displaced people living in Ukraine, still under the threat of rockets and artillery. For those in occupied areas, for those in Russian prisons, for those with no hope.
Thank you for your support, people have given beyond what I ever could have imagined, and it is making a difference in people’s lives. People have recevied medical care, food, clothing, housing, escape from danger, and so much more, all because of you. Please keep praying and supporting the people of Ukraine. I will end the post with some photos from our time in Slovakia.