Serving Ukrainians in Germany
Written on March 11, 2022, by June Johnson, CMF missionary to Ukraine
Photo Above: A grandpa saying goodbye to his granddaughter. I have known little Arisha since she was born. She is the granddaughter to some of my best friends - Gresha and Era. Arisha and her mother were a part of the group that Joni & Friends and AGAPE evacuated.
Tuesday, 1:10 p.m. - United States
I saw a text come in from my friend in Ukraine, Era. “I really need to talk with you.”
Besides being a close friend, she is also the person I’ve most poured my skills into. Era does wound and ostomy care as well as I do. Era & her husband are still in Lutsk working at AGAPE as they help refugees. The AGAPE center (a Christian rehab center for neck & spinal injuries) has become a place where the masses who are fleeing Ukraine can stop, sleep, eat, and then be helped onward towards the Polish border.
Knowing it was after 11 p.m. for her, I texted back, “Do you want me to call now?”
The next 15 minutes tipped my world.
The director, current patients, and former patients from AGAPE were in the first evacuation group. A second group followed soon afterwards. With the help of Joni & Friends, about 10 days ago the group left Ukraine via Poland and was sent onward to Germany. Almost all of them are now staying at a Christian retreat center about three hours southeast of Frankfurt. Era knows the details because her daughter-in-law and granddaughter were a part of the first group evacuated.
As it turns out, no doctors or nurses went with them. That makes sense to me because they stayed behind to serve in Ukraine. However, one quadriplegic left Ukraine with a deep pressure wound and three other paralyzed people arrived in Germany with new pressure wounds. Era said that a German nurse stops in every few days to evaluate them, but of course there is a language barrier. The Ukrainian person who has been pressed into caring for these four patients has no training. In short, Era was asking: Would I consider going to Germany to care for these pressure ulcers?
24 hours later
I knew I was to go.
The past two and a half days have been a blur, but things have fallen into place smoothly. Today – Friday – Mom and I will travel to Eugene where I have humanitarian aid that is waiting to be shipped. On Saturday morning, we will pull wound care supplies from these boxes and repack them into two suitcases. Saturday afternoon we will drive to Portland so that I can get up at 2 a.m. to be at the airport for a 3 a.m. check-in. My flight leaves at 6:20 a.m. on Sunday and I am scheduled to arrive at my destination at 10 a.m. on Monday morning. I have a return ticket for six weeks from now, but we’ll see how this all plays out.
On Wednesday morning a video call came in over my laptop. It was Sergi, the director of AGAPE, calling me from the center where they are staying in Germany. After a quick introduction to the German director of the center, Sergi dropped his eyes and his voice cracked as he spoke.
“Thank you, Kristina [June]. Thank you for being obedient to God. Because you were, we were able to purchase the van with the wheelchair lift and we already had it before the war started. We traveled in this van, with our people who use wheelchairs, from Ukraine to Germany. We have it here with us now.”
I screeched with happiness! Oh, thank you, Lord, for how You work all things for Your glory! I had no idea that they had used the van to travel so far.
That is what this week has felt like. As I watch the news and follow my friends on Facebook it feels like we/Ukraine is in 3 o’clock – the darkest part of the night. Yesterday is long gone and tomorrow still feels so far away. So dark. So lonely. Cold. Scary. When will there be light again?
While all of this is true, I also remind myself of the Truth. If it is 3 a.m., then we are closer to dawn than before! The sun and Son are coming, and the light will conquer the darkness. God is fighting for us. While there are thousands of heroes among our soldiers & citizens, God will win this war in such a way that glory will go to Him.
I understand that I know only in part what I am walking into. While I know for sure this is what God wants, much unknown is going to happen. My prayer is for obedience – especially in the unknown. Please continue praying that God’s perfect will be done!
As of the posting of this blog, June has reached Germany and is now caring for Ukrainian refugee patients, many of whom she knew while in Ukraine.
To support June as she serves Ukrainian refugees in Germany: https://give.cmfi.org/donate/june-johnson
To give toward a general Ukraine relief fund providing resources to partners serving Ukrainians amidst the conflict: https://give.cmfi.org/donate/ukraine-relief