Broken-hearted. That is how I feel. My friends have had to leave their homes in the city to go to nearby villages to find a small measure of safety and security. Air raid sirens, mixed in with the sounds of artillery fire, fighter jets flying overhead, the distinct sound of helicopter blades, small arms fire and children crying are the new normal for families all across Ukraine.
I live in Hungary, we border Ukraine and I travel there regularly to serve in my role as a Christian minister with the Free Methodist Church. I love the country, the people, rhe culture, the cuisine. Kiev, Rivne, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk are all beautiful cities I have had the pleasure of travelling to on numerous occasions. Now those cities are facing destruction at the hands of Russian military forces.
Russian forces invaded in 2014, and took control of several areas of Ukraine at that time. Since then the fighting has gone on and about 14000 lives have been lost. In my role as a Mental Health professional in PTSD, I have travelled to Ukraine to work with soldiers who have endured so much because of the horrors of war. Yet, not only do soldiers suffer, but their loved ones who struggle to comprehend the changes that PTSD brings about. Anger, anxiety, depression, hallucinations, panic attacks, irrational fear and so much more are commonplace with PTSD.
Our church leaders in Ukraine have been caring for these soldiers and their families. They also care for alcohol and drug addicts and the elderly. They have been and continue to be the hands and feet of Christ, bringing love and care to the unloved and disenfranchised of Ukraine.
Now as the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces has fully begun, as the bombs rain down, these men and women continue to serve. They are the Church. They respond by caring, they responding by putting others first, they respond by providing help wherever they can. They respond in love. So should we. Get on your knees and send a ‘knee mail’, ask God to protect and bring peace. Pray for those mourning tonight. Pray for those soldiers who must do the unthinkable. Pray for the defenceless.
You can also help practically. Give financially to churches and trustworthy relief agencies. Welcome refugees with love and help them settle into a new home (Jesus was a refugee also!). Give your time and expertise and come to Ukraine when the war is finished. Help on a medical team or with reconstruction or in any one of a number of ways.
Respond in prayer. Respond in love. Respond. Don’t be silent. Your response is incredibly important.