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  • Writer's pictureВІКТОРІЯ ВОЙКО

Novomoskovsk. “We stay put and serve the Lord.”

Novomoskovsk is a small town near the Dnieper, located 105 kilometers from the front-line Zaporozhye. In this city there is a church of the Association of Mennonist Fraternal Churches of Ukraine, which, despite the dangers and experiences from the very first days of the war until this time, continues to serve in its city. Pastor Sergei and his wife Valentina, who have five children, say: “We didn’t even think about leaving. This is our church. Our ministries. Who, if not us, will help people and spread the Gospel? Now more than ever, people need help." Following the pastor, all parishioners, except two women, remained in the city. This is one of the few churches in the Association that continues to gather for church services on Sundays.

The situation in the city has changed a lot. Despite the fact that Novomoskovsk is located far from the front line, the war made its own adjustments. Many people left. If earlier the streets and markets were crowded, now they are half empty. Hundreds of people have lost their jobs: businesses, firms and many shops are closed. The city's tourism and restaurant sectors are also on the verge of bankruptcy. Every day more and more displaced people are arriving in need of food and shelter. The situation has worsened in large families whose husbands went to war or lost their jobs. Even those who before the war refused the help offered by Christians are now calling and asking if there is any way to help them. Many are running low and their supplies are running out.

As a result, a help center for those in need was organized at the church. This is one of nine centers that have appeared in Ukraine since the beginning of the war and continue to work hard. (You can find out about other centers on our website).

According to Valentina, the team constantly employs 7 people. Basically, these are young people - the leaders of the School Without Walls - who, after the start of the war, are distributing humanitarian aid to displaced people and large families, preaching to non-believers and preparing food for refugees. Every day 20-25 people come to their center for help. In addition, ministers go to people who do not have the opportunity to go grocery shopping. These are disabled people, residents of nearby villages and people in nursing homes. The team travels to villages such as Peshchanka, Derezovatka, Podpolnoye, Orlovshchina and Spasskoye. They distribute food, diapers and baby food to families with small children, which are no longer available in stores. Ministers have repeatedly said that the situation in the villages is very difficult. People do not live there, but survive.

Also, next to the church, where before the war there was a children’s center for low-income children, there is now a volunteer center - a “shelter”, where displaced people can spend the night, eat and come to their senses. Many people share their stories while there. Refugees come with the understanding that they have lost everything: homes, businesses, jobs and friends. One woman from Popasnaya told how her 17-year-old daughter left Kharkov in slippers and pajamas, taking only a small bag with warm clothes. Another told how an elderly neighbor came to her at night and asked to spend the night. An old woman was kicked out of her own home by Russian soldiers. Sometimes people take help in tears, saying: “We are very uncomfortable. We are used to giving because we had everything, but now we find ourselves in a situation where we ask.”

The team from Novomoskovsk has already helped five hundred families. With the daily work of the center, this figure increases with each subsequent day of the war. “We try to do everything we can,” says Valentina.

Now their team prays every day for peace and an end to the war, like all Christians in Ukraine and beyond. They also pray that God, through their ministry, will touch the souls of people and that many will believe in Christ and accept him as the Savior. The team also asks for prayer for the physical, moral and spiritual well-being of the ministers. Working with people is not easy work. Sometimes you want to give up everything and treat people the way they treat you. But it is the people who suffer most from the war and its consequences. You can't stay away. No matter what, we must continue to bring light to the world.


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