When Russia shocked the world by initiating a war with Ukraine (click here). British Asian Christian Association’s trustees agreed to find ways to support both people fleeing the war and those choosing to stay in Ukraine.
Our work towards this grows in strength and we gave the finance required to start a food programme for many Odessan’s choosing to stay in Ukraine. Already our partners led by Pastor Vasilev have begun to share bags of food and Bibles with desperate people.
Many people have lost their jobs after more wealthy Ukrainians left the country and their businesses behind. local people have also had to cope with a currency that is suffering under a withering economy. We have been told that the food packages we have provided through your support has become a beacon of hope so much so, that Pastor Vasilev is being called by many new families desperate for some help.
Pastor Vasilev is now holding church services 3 times a week to provide desperate people with free food bags and to encourage people to turn to God during these troubling times. Pastor Vasilev, said:
“We can’t cover all physical needs people have so we serve them with spiritual food, too.
“We find needy people, invite them to our church services (three times a week), encourage them to believe God, read the Word, pray and trust that He can help.
“Some people only want food, others get saved, share their life stories, come back to church and even bring others.”
‘Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”‘ Matthew 4:4
Pastor Vasilev, added:
“Many people have been saved and have even shared their testimonies and loudly sung worship songs on the streets, they are keeping the spirit of God alive in our town.
“This has encouraged more people to attend our church services.
“11 people have repented of their sins and new faces appear in church weekly.
“Our gift of food has also meant many hungry people have been able to eat well and healthily.”
However, the overall situation in Ukraine is worsening shared Pastor Vasilev. He explained that the war is spreading to more cities throughout Ukraine. He further added:
“Some cities are occupied, some are heavily destroyed.”
“People migrate to regions which are not under attack or move abroad.
“Since men can’t leave the country, they need to decide whether to stay together with their families in Ukraine, or let their wives and children go abroad into the unknown.”
He described a very desperate situation in which people are moving from their homes seeking refuge wherever they can. Some people move to different cities (often city to city) to seek shelter, while others are travelling abroad to seek refuge.
Economically, Ukraine is struggling, leaving more people in need. Businesses are closing down, due to being destroyed, owners fleeing the city and from the impact of currency inflation. This has led the rate of unemployment to increase massively. The tourism sector has especially taken a fall as though Odessa is known for its beautiful beaches aerial attacks and mines in the sea have terminated holiday jaunts in the region. This has all led to a large number of people seeking aid as they can no longer afford basic needs such as food.
Many people are worried about the future of Ukraine, but feel they have nowhere else to go. Some people have lost hope and have started to break the rules. There are stories of people going to the beach and being killed by the mines in the water. The perpetual curfews are affecting the mental health of large swathes of the population who had only recently gained freedom from the COVID-19 lockdown. Pastor Vasilev, talked about what the church was doing to reach out to so many disenfranchised people:
“We as a church make street concerts, preach and witness to people, call them to repentance and explain that there is hope in Jesus.
“We pray with anyone who desires it and encourage them to join us in fellowship, prayer and worship at our services.”
More support is needed as the demand for aid has continued to grow due to more refugees coming for help as more cities are being destroyed. People are requesting for not only food but baby supplies and medicine, which are harder to come by.
Juliet Chowdhry, said:
“Pastor Vasilev bravely and determinedly continues his work in Ukraine trusting God for his provision and safety.
“Though not a citizen of Ukraine he believes has been called to Odessa and has chosen to stay in the mission field.
“No city on Ukraine is safe and it takes great courage and conviction to undertake this work – but he is seeing God move and that has lifted his spirit and that of his church.
“People are being saved through his work and heaven rejoices – even then we must pray for strength and safety of this church.
“May God continue to bless this work and bring solace to the beleaguered people of Ukraine.”
Supporting Pastor Vasilev with his work in Odessa comes at a cost. We are currently providing £500 a month to continue provision of food bags and Bibles. We cannot continue this work without your help, so if you have been moved by this account and want to donate, then please click (here).
Some accounts of people in Odessa: