When I attended seminary at Regent College, I made friends with a young man from Ukraine. He was studying theology in hopes of returning to Ukraine and teaching. He did so and we receive an e-mail from him a couple times a year reporting. He is a professor at a seminary in Kyiv and has married and has three young children. I received an e-mail from him today. I have excerpted the names because I want to maintain their privacy. But his letter tells a powerful story. Thank you for reading and praying for peace in Ukraine.

Dear friends!

I am very sorry that I didn’t write anything during this time of war. I know that many of you have written to me and asked about myself and my family. During all this time I just could not find time and strength to sit down and read dozens of emails and respond to them. For many days I was in complete shock regarding what is happening in my country. Finally, now I can sit down and write a bit about what’s going on in our life.

Few words about the beginning of the war (some of you have read this on my FB page). Just before the war, for several days we were indecisive whether our family should leave Kyiv. We were concerned about the safety of three of our kids, but we also had jobs and many responsibilities there. We hoped to the last that the situation will change for the better. We were packing and unpacking our emergency suitcase several times during the week. When we saw Putin’s speech full of hatred toward Ukraine, I was almost sure that war was inevitable and so we decided to take our kids to my parents in Lviv on February 24th. We planned to leave later in the morning that day. A night before, Yana could not fall asleep so she packed the suitcase by 2:30 am and then went to bed. I woke up at 5 am and could not sleep anymore. Suddenly, I heard the sound of a missile flying over our building. I quickly checked the news and the very first line I read was about Putin declaring a “military operation in eastern Ukraine”. I told my wife to get ready to leave earlier than we planned, basically, as soon as possible. Only as we began to drive out of Kyiv did we see roads and gas stations packed with cars and we slowly began to realize what was really going on. A REAL WAR has started! It took us 12 hours to get to my parents’ place in Western Ukraine, while normally it takes about 7 hours. Those who left 1-2 hours later, it took them almost 24 hours.

We stayed in Lviv for about a week. During this time (my wife) was involved in organizing volunteers and help for those who are at the front line of war. I tried to use my contacts inside and outside of Ukraine to find shelter/accommodations for different families who were escaping the war zone. I am glad that many families were able to find a safe place to move to. At the same time our stay in Lviv had many challenges. There was not enough space to sleep for 7 people (i.e. 4 people had to sleep on one bad), there was no bomb shelter to hide while air raid sirens would turn on up to six times a day. Our son got sick and my 82 y.o. father got Coronavirus, so we had to keep him separate from all others. It was also very hard psychologically, especially for my wife. I would sleep for a couple of hours because of stress and some nights I could not sleep at all. We all were quite tired and exhausted. We also noticed that our children began to have fears, especially when they heard sirens. Due to these and many other circumstances we decided to bring our family to Poland.

So, right now we are in Warsaw. I was able to cross the border as a father of 3 minor children. On the third day of our stay here, my wife said: “Finally, I got enough sleep last night!” I could never imagine that we would have to escape from war to another country. We try to do as much as we can wherever we are. Here, I signed up as a driver to pick up Ukrainian refugees from the border and to bring them to temporary accommodations in Warsaw and other places. Polish people showed to our family and a million (literally, this is how many refugees came to Poland up to this point) of other Ukrainians amazing hospitality opening up their homes and hearts.

So, here we are right now. We live one day at a time and pray about God’s leading us further. Our biggest desire is to live in Ukraine and to continue to do what we have been doing before the war. But we realize that this may not be possible in the near future as a lot of buildings and infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc) in our area are destroyed, there are a lot of mines.

Some of you mentioned about possibility of financial assistance to our family. I just want to say that we have a temporary place to stay, food to eat, clothes to wear. This is enough for us for now. There are many people who are in much worse conditions than we are. If you would like to help people in Ukraine, I can recommend you with my whole heart a relief fund organized and operated by the Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary, of which I am part of. Your funds will be used to evacuate people to safe environment, to buy food and medicine and to provide other kinds of help to those in need in this difficult time. (From Coe: my friend included a link to a website at his seminary, but I have not included it because my malware warned about it and I am concerned it could have been a victim of cyberwarfare).

I will try to keep you updated about us!

Thank you for your care, prayers and just kind words of encouragement!

With love,