News from Ukraine
David James, our Operations Director, recently visited with Linda James and Rosaliene Donaldson the team in Ukraine, to encourage and support them as they minister to many people in need. Signs of growth and hope shined amid the ruins of the war. God is working in Ukraine!
A trip to Ukraine, first stop: Lviv
On the surface, life in Lviv is slowly returning to normal. However, the city is still adjusting to the massive influx of displaced people fleeing from the war. While power cuts are rare now, air raid sirens still sound almost every day.
David preached in Lviv and then ran three days of team building and vision casting with the ECM Lviv team, which was very timely. Due to Covid and the war, the original ministries of most of the 6 team members had been entirely disrupted. David's visit encouraged them in their common vision and help them gain team coherence as they keep serving God and serving others.
Travelling to Irpin
The situation in Irpin was far less desperate compared to when David was there in December. The warmer weather, home grown fruit and vegetables, and a gradual rebuilding of the economy all contributing. The scars of war are still visible. The apartment they stayed in was in the part of the city the Russian army had occupied. Almost all the buildings were damaged in some way – with bullet holes in walls and fences, smashed windows, twisted balconies etc. Along the 2km route they walked each day to the church, they passed 5-10 houses that will have to be demolished. Many others have already been partially rebuilt. The road surface is marked where grenades and rockets exploded, roads and footpaths clearly damaged by tank tracks.
The Irpin Bible Church and their volunteer centres ended the distribution of bread in June, having given people 6 weeks’ notice. The overwhelming reaction from the recipients was one of gratitude that they had continued for so long. People who continue to be in real need could be identified and helped as appropriate. The focus of each volunteer centre now is to provide spiritual food, as each has developed into a church – with a vibrant programme of Sunday services, midweek Bible studies, women’s meetings, youth groups, kids’ clubs etc. ECM crisis funds are supporting three volunteer centres (paying the leaders’ salaries and rent for the premises). It was a joy to meet these leaders. As well as listening to their stories, David and the ECM team could encourage and pray with them. There were again heartfelt thanks for the support we have been able to channel to them.
There they also ran two days of team building for the volunteer centre teams and other groups that are part of the Irpin Bible Church – training around 55 people in 7 teams.
David preached in one of the Irpin daughter churches, which had been planted just before the Russian invasion. He had seen the outside of this building in December, when the upper story had been destroyed by a missile. The building has now been repaired and services are held there again. That morning there were 6 baptisms – all those baptised were in their 70s and 80s and came from the Orthodox church (where they had felt abandoned) or were from a communist/atheist background and had found faith following the Russian invasion. It was an amazing blessing to witness this.
Later that day they attended the church service that has grown out of the ministry of the Hostomel volunteer centre, where David could bring a briefer message of encouragement. There was immense gratitude towards ECM from everyone they met.
Please pray for:
- The ECM team in Lviv as they continue to work on a new vision.
- Sustained strong teams in the volunteer centres as they develop into thriving churches.
- Opportunities for the ECMers and volunteers to take time off for rest and refreshment.
- Healing as people tend to get tired more quickly and emotions come to the surface more easily.
Thanks for praying for us, thank you for standing with Ukraine!