Jul 19, 2023 God is Our Refuge and Strength

“Warsaw, Krakow, Berlin, wherever. Just get out of Ukraine. We all got on the train, leaving our home in Kryvoy. We didn’t know exactly where we were going, or what would happen next,” said Olga. “All our hope was built on the kindness of others.”

“I woke up to the sound of explosions at 4 am,” said Iryna, another woman staying at the shelter in Poland. “At first, I thought it was a car backfiring, but then the explosions continued. I sat up in bed. Something was going on. In the morning, everybody was talking, it was all over the news—a war had started. We knew we had to get out of Odesa.”

Olga’s and Iryna’s experiences, like many others, is the bleak reality of thousands of families who have fled Ukraine. Many sheltered in this hotel and nearby churches have come from the southeastern region of Ukraine, where the conflict is most intense.

Pastor Anatoli and church members would visit the Ukrainian refugees. “Come to our church today! We’ll have some help, some food,” and they also post invitations on the information boards.

“We accepted the invitation, because we needed to shift focus away from all the bad news and stress,” said Olga. “It wasn’t just about the humanitarian assistance—you can imagine how psychologically draining this is. So many of us have lost everything.”

Through donor support, Quiet Hour Ministries was able to meet some essential needs through food kits and Bibles to support local church meetings. Praise God! the response has been incredible!

“There was massive feedback. People have been very interested,” said Tatiana an Adventist Christian from Ukraine. “We prepared several programs. The prayer meetings are very well attended. People come because they know how important it is for Ukrainians. They’re determined to do everything possible to find strength and hope.”

“We went to the church with empty bags and just hoped that somehow we’d be helped,” said Olga. “We came to Poland with nothing, literally nothing. As we were attending, I started to feel a new hope.”

“People are hungry for hope, for a place to be welcome and accepted,” shared Tatiana, as she went on to describe the different programs. At the prayer program, the church would have a large notebook with “Pray for Me” written on the cover. The pages are filled with requests, so many people asking for prayer. Retired Pastor Anatoli and other church volunteers are following up with those who’ve requested to meet with someone.

“With everything they’ve gone through, they need someone to listen,” shared Pr. Anatoli. He’s chosen to live with the refugees in the hotel and support them in this time of crisis and uncertainty. “They can be skeptical of religion and maybe they can’t accept Jesus in the way we’re hoping. But, they a listening ear, some encouragement, some hope. And when we share hope in its many forms, the gospel is there. God will work with what we’re sharing.”

After Sabbath worship service, the church offers additional afternoon programs, Bible studies, and most of all, spending time talking and praying with people.

Most Ukrainians have an Orthodox Christian background, but many are now turning to the Bible, searching for answers, for direction.

“We’ve been giving individual and group Bible studies,” shared Tatiana. “Many people have read parts of the Bible, and even though it’s in our own language, some parts are still hard to understand.” The majority of those joining the Bible studies only have a basic understanding of who God is, very little depth. No one has ever taught them how to study and apply God’s word to their lives.

“Right now, I believe in God in a deeper way than I did before,” said Olga. “We’ve been praying, searching for hope, something stable. I know life will always have challenges, tragedies, but with God, I know this horror has an end.”

“We praise God for the overwhelming response,” said Tatiana. “Any meeting we’ve offered, people are constantly attending.”

While the response to the meetings have been positive, there is so much uncertainty still in the lives of Ukrainian refugees.

“In many ways, we don’t know how to move on and heal,” said Olga. “I’m raising my kids here in another country, another culture, everything’s different. Work is harder for us because of language and cultural differences. We don’t even know how to plan a future. We’re in a shared hotel room. We’re told, ‘Ok this month you can live here for free.’ But what about next month? Will we have to pay? Get kicked out? There are so many variables it’s hard to build a long-term strategy. Will we be in Poland one month? A year? Five years? Forever?”

Olga let out a sign as she continued, “In Ukraine, I was almost ready to retire, to finally slow down and relax. And now, it’s like I’m trying to rebuild my life again… but without knowing where we will even go.” She paused. “But one thing I know for sure: I believe God is my stability, unchanging, eternal. I don’t know where we would be without Him.”

“Thank you for giving us hope,” said Iryana. “We are just so grateful for the help of QHM and other organizations. We would not survive without your help. Please continue to pray for us.”

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.Psalm 46:1

Main: Olga and Iryana’s family Above: Tatiana

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