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  • Writer's pictureВІКТОРІЯ ВОЙКО

In hardships, but with great fortitude

Reliable back

Since the beginning of Russia's large-scale war against Ukraine, the Poltava region has become a powerful humanitarian and logistical hub and a reliable rear for neighboring regions. Being close to the Kharkiv and Sumy regions, Poltava received hundreds of refugees who left the war zones. According to the latest data, 186,000 migrants have been registered in the region, about 46,000 are children. During the 100 days of the war, 44 missiles were fired at the region and damage was caused for 242 billion hryvnias.

At the moment, the situation in the city of Poltava is relatively calm. People are gradually returning to their homes and putting things in order. Some have to start with rebuilding the house or repairing it. Many displaced people are in need of work and humanitarian assistance. Prices for fuel and products are rising every day, which indicates an approaching crisis.

Ministry on the run

Before the war, the Poltava Mennonite Brethren Church was engaged in many ministries: it held children's, teenage and youth meetings, held small groups, and Bible studies. Pastor Vladimir led family meetings and evangelized men throughout the region. About 20 ministers were involved, thanks to whom God's word was heard and the church grew. Before the war, about 70 people visited it.

On February 24, the church decided to evacuate to Western Ukraine and, being there, help people in every possible way. In the city of Zdolbuniv, Rivne region, the ministers organized a help center, the main focus of which was the evacuation of people from dangerous territories to the border. Everyone who had transport tagged along. Sometimes complete strangers called the team members asking them to pick up their elderly parents. Sometimes 7 people would squeeze into a car with 5 seats, and people drove like this for 300-400 km. Thanks to the work of the ministers, more than 250 people were taken out in three months.

In addition, the center has been helping the displaced people with food, clothing and hygiene products. Many people left their homes, taking only a small backpack with the first things they’d come across. The team has also delivered food to the churches that hosted the settlers for the night.

Return. Ministry transformation.

In June the church returned to Poltava. This was preceded by a reduction in the number of refugees wishing to leave the country and the vision of new sore points where the team could be more useful.

After returning, the work of the help center continued, but in a new direction. Instead of evacuating, a team of 12 permanent ministers began to help the refugees who were in the villages. According to pastor Vladimir, people living in large settlements have more opportunities. In Poltava itself, there is a lot of humanitarian aid provided by other churches and volunteers. Also, the groceries are always available in stores. In villages, the situation is more complicated: some products are not available, and if they are, they are twice as expensive as in the city. There are troubles concerning workplaces in the villages, and many families of 4 have to make ends meet with a pension that does not exceed $90.

The church opened a warehouse in the Reshetilevsky district in the village of Pokrovsk, where young Christian leaders of the School Without Walls are packing iCare food boxes and distributing them to nearby villages. Sometimes families accept help with tears in their eyes, telling how they just gave their last savings to pay the bills. Thanks to this work, 200 families were relieved.

Ministers do an important job in responding to the need of many people who not everyone can travel to.

Prayer Needs

With the outbreak of hostilities, the church was unable to pay the rent of the premises and was forced to move to another place. Unfortunately, so far it has not been possible to find a room at the price that they can pay. The church holds meetings at home or rents a small room by the hour. Every day they pray that God will send them a haven where, without overcrowding and not worrying about the fact that the lease time is about to end, they can hold services. Also, the team asks to pray that God would send humanitarian aid, which they could distribute throughout the villages. Every day it becomes more and more difficult to find supplies. The imminent food crisis is increasingly felt.

Ministers also ask to pray for physical, moral and spiritual encouragement. We thank the team for the fact that, being in a difficult situation, the church continues to be salt and the light for the world.

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