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Reacting to pain. How ministers from Berdiansk meet the needs of their fellow citizens

Russian invaders occupied Berdiansk in the first days of the war. With their arrival, humanitarian problems started to pop up in the city. The situation with provision was and remains difficult: the only place where you can buy food is the Central Market, where the prices have soared two or even three times. Supplies of medicines, including critically needed insulin, are also not available in pharmacies, and pre-war stocks have long since run out. Due to the impossibility of checking and repairing the gas pipeline, electricity and water supply, which services always carry out before autumn, a man-made disaster may begin in the city.

The pastor of the local Mennonite commune Alexei says that the number of church members before the war was 100 people. At the moment, there remains a small group of ministers who help people in the town. The rest, using one of the infrequent "green corridors", went to the territory controlled by Ukraine. Alexei recalls that at the beginning they did not want to let them through. Only when the shelling began did the Russian military let them pass.

Some people have to stand in line to leave for about a day in difficult conditions: some in the back of a truck, some in crowded cars, and some in stuffy, crowded buses. Since the time the war began, the situation has not changed a tad.

In Central Ukraine, the pastor managed to find a warehouse in the city of Vinnitsa and set up a humanitarian aid center nearby. Gathering food, hygiene products, medicines and money, they ship them to Zaporozhye. There, another team is distributing humanitarian aid to front-line settlements such as Zaporozhye, Kanevskoye, Avdiivka, as well as to the occupied territories. The most difficult thing is the delivery of aid to the occupied zones: you have to hire private carriers to take food there. At the entrance to the occupied settlements, Russian soldiers, in exchange for a pass, search trucks, taking some of the aid for themselves.

In addition to sending humanitarian aid to the occupied territories, the team provides assistance to displaced people in central Ukraine. At the moment, there are 50,000 of them in Vinnitsa, many of whom are in a difficult situation. A woman with family from Kherson, who was provided assistance, spoke about her situation. For several days, their family ate almost nothing: all the funds were spent to pay for the hostel, the social payments were not transferred, and people did not react to her crying out for help. When the pastor brought her some food, the woman could not believe her eyes and burst into tears. One of the main missions for the team is to search for such people and provide them with any possible help.

In addition to ministries, the pastor maintains contact with all members of the church. They regularly hold Zoom meetings with church members. In this way, it is possible to continue fellowship even in a dispersed church, learn about needs and pray together.

Pastor Alexey's team asks to pray hard for wisdom and God's guidance for them. No matter how difficult the situation, Christian principles of love and help always remain dominant in the Mennonite communities, and they continue to follow them, despite the pain and suffering that the war brought to Ukraine.

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