Even as I write, an army base near Zhytomyr has been hit by bombs. When the air raid sirens go off, everyone in the Shelter and Day Center takes cover, and we all pray. We’re thankful none of our staff or youth or friends were hurt this time. But the war feels very close. Sometimes it’s in the skies right over our people.
Even as the circumstances feel immediate and dire, we know that God is with us. Our staff continue to reach out to orphaned students and our families, bringing hope wherever they go.
One of our Stop the Cycle moms had fled from a bombing near Kyiv, and didn’t have time to pack up enough medication, diapers, or baby food for her child. We invited her to the Shelter to pick up supplies.
Staff couple Sasha and Yuliana have been staying at the Shelter to support our moms, in spite of their own exhaustion. The Shelter is open to anyone who’s anxious and needs support, whether to spend the night or just to drop by. Many youth are dropping by the Day Center as well.
Earlier today, Andrey and Oksana drove to a village in the direction of Kyiv, which required going through nine Ukrainian military checkpoints. “Every time it’s a little scary,” shared Oksana. “Severe people with weapons stop us, check documents, check the car.” They explained their mission and were able to pass through, delivering supplies to three Stop the Cycle families and one student who needed epilepsy medication.
At one point in recent days, a couple of our men on staff distributed some water and pillows to Ukrainian soldiers building barricades nearby.
Lena Voznyuk shared, “We always tell our guys that we’ll be there. That Last Bell is their family, and we won’t leave them. Now is the time to prove it, and show them the love God gives!”
Lena is making sure that students receive the hygiene kits and groceries they need, and she welcomes anyone to visit the Day Center for encouragement. She and our other staff members are also calling and video chatting with our youth who’ve fled to the villages and feel vulnerable and alone.
Over the next few days, you may see our communications slow down. Please be assured that if there’s any important news related to our people or our ministry, we will send it out right away. No email means the new, uneasy status quo is holding and we’re focusing our U.S. time and energy on supporting our Ukrainian staff and youth. We always appreciate your prayers for safety for our whole community, for the peace that comes only from God, for miraculous protection of Ukraine’s citizens, and for a miraculous halt to Russia’s plans of domination.
A crisis always binds a community together. We have seen over the past week that we’re so rich in friends. Thank you for your emails, messages, donations, and offers of help. We know you’re praying day and night, and we’re glad to have such wonderful ministry partners.
In the shelter of the Father’s wings,