Illya's Story (Becoming a Refugee)
Dear Friends and Partners,
At the time of me writing this letter, the war rages on, over 4 million Ukrainians have crossed borders of Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Moldova. There are no less than 10 million displaced people in the country. In our city of Kharkiv, the mayor has made the following comment on March 28th:
“In Kharkiv, we have had 1,200 high rise buildings / apartments, 53 kindergartners, 69 schools, and 15 hospitals destroyed in the city.” The mayor also said on 3/30, “It is not just a war; it’s a massacre.”
Some of Illya’s family during their travels to escape the war and to a safety location. The Russian army continues to heavily bomb our city of Kharkiv daily (as well as many areas of Ukraine). We are partnering with six different ministry partners inside Kharkiv to help provide food, medicine, water, and other supplies. We are also partnering with a ministry in Romania to help displaced Ukrainians and sending money to many refugees who have fled to west side of the country and to neighboring countries. One of our ministry partners said, “Because of Slavic Christian Ministries rapid response in the early
days of this war, you helped us survive our most dark hour.” Friends, thank you for helping us make this possible!
This month, I would like to highlight in this prayer letter, Illya Kameshanski and his family. I met Illya when I taught at Donetsk Christian University many years ago. After he graduated, he married his wife, now has 9 children, and was living in Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv, Ukraine, when the war began. Here is his story (that he is allowing us to share):
“Early in the morning of February 24th, I heard the sound of rockets or planes over my home. I turned on the news to discover that a war with Russia had begun. We heard loud explosions and intense smoke coming from the airport, which is 5miles away from our home. There was intense fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces in our area for several days. I walked around and saw many burning and destroyed buildings in our town of Bucha. Most of my children remained calm, but our 12-year-old daughter was having a very difficult time – she could not eat, sleep and was constantly trembling. Our children’s ages range from 4 years old to 18 years old. I am so proud of how they have been able to endure during this horrible time!
The Kamenshanski family in a displacement camp with many other refugees from Ukraine On March 4th, the Russian planes began dropping bombs on civilian areas of our town, so we decided it was time to leave, so none of our children would lose their lives. On March 3rd, with many tears in our eyes and saying goodbye to our church friends, we all entered a bus and were moved to western Ukraine. Our spirit was saddened that these events changed our lives forever. We left with only the backpacks we took with us and leaving all of our earthly possessions behind. Almost the moment we left, the road we departed on was destroyed by bombs; we barely left with our lives! The Russians have bombed civilian areas, hospitals, orphanages, schools, etc. We saw dead bodies along the road while we were traveling to safety.
On March 11th, we traveled to Koln, Germany and settled into a displacement camp, where we have been until we secured temporary housing. Our future is uncertain, but we are thankful that we are safe. We are looking for permanent housing and it looks like we may be able to work and live here for a year. Please keep praying for us and all those who have been displaced by the war. We thank God for everyone who has helped us at Slavic Christian Ministries and beyond. Thank you!”
Slavic Christian Ministries is helping many families like Illya’s from Kharkiv and Kyiv. All their stories are very similar and we will highlight others in the weeks and months to come.
Thank you for all your prayers and financial partnership. Please advocate to your church and see if your pastor would be willing to have a phone or Zoom meeting with me. Please also consider becoming a regular monthly donor, because the millions of displaced people will need months and months of help, if not years. Please sign up for a recurring donation or give as God leads you at www.slavicchristian.org/donate.
We will be giving regular updates on Facebook, so please friend one of these sites: Slavic Christian Ministries, Katya Putnam or Ron Putnam. We will also be sending you a weekly update on how things are progressing. Thank you to everyone for your prayers and support! You are truly a blessing!
In Jesus’ love,