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Christmas in War-torn Ukraine

June Johnson has been in Germany for the last year, caring for Ukrainian refugees displaced due to the war, but generous partners are allowing her to continue to support the churches still serving the hurting in Ukraine. June says that the local church in Ukraine is showing those in grief and anger, lonely and without, in fear and fatigue, God’s love in tangible ways.

The churches in Ukraine showed God’s love over the Christmas season and here are just a few snapshots of the many ways they touched lives there:

South Central Ukraine – There were a lot of different events during the Christmas period, including a big Christmas holiday event for children from refugee families, large families, and children whose parents are in the armed forces of Ukraine. A program was prepared which included a mix of games and biblical performances. This event included 170 children and 50 parents.

Brovary/Kiev area – Due to the generosity of partners, church leaders were able to purchase 200 liters of diesel fuel. The fuel was used for youth volunteer outreach trips, conducting church services in the villages of Kulazhentsi and the village of Rudnya, and transporting the elderly to Sunday services in Brovary.

Central Ukraine – A holiday outreach was done in an orphanage for children with disabilities, and donated funds were used to make care packages for graduates from this orphanage, who now live in a nursing home. They held six Christmas children's programs, four of which included adopted children and children in foster care. Leaders there shared that, “We thank God for the opportunity to be useful to people. Right now, there is such a lack of positive emotions and simple human communication.”

Lutsk, western Ukraine – People continue to live at a local church, as many of them have no home to return to. Most of them are elderly so they cannot work to afford to rent an apartment. Recently two of the refugees accepted Christ at a Sunday worship service! Over 20 refugees live in separate housing on the church grounds, so donated funds were used for repairs, maintenance, utilities and a new water cooler and water boiler – all related to their work with the refugees.

North central Ukraine – Local church leaders report that they “have a long list of people we pray for in our daily morning prayer services. Those who are at the front, in the hospital, prisoners, and those who are missing. We prepared small Christmas parcels for people on our prayer list who are at the front or in hospitals. We had more than 120 such people.” Boxes included nuts, dried apricots, raisins, knitted socks, thermal socks, chocolate cookies, and hygiene items. Children in Sunday school drew pictures and wrote letters. Almost 80% of those serving in the military who received the gifts wrote a letter of thanks or called. Many say that if they return home, they will come to the service and thank God and the church.

This church also held a special evening for widows. They prepared food packages for them, arranged an opportunity for fellowship, as well as a spiritual program. They wanted to serve the 60 widows in the church first, but when they announced it, more than 90 widows registered who were not even from the church! So, the program had to be adjusted to meet the great need and the church threw a celebration for 150 widows.

June is so thankful for generous partners who are making this kind of outreach still possible in Ukraine. She says, “Through your brothers and sisters in Christ, God's love was shown in Ukraine over the Christmas holidays. Living in a world of sirens and shelters, drones and missiles, and overwhelming need - God, through you, equipped them.”

Germany, June Johnson, relief, Ukraine

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