I hope you are doing well, despite the cold weather. It has been snowing more frequently here in Colorado. As I mentioned last month, the Soles for Souls outreach was a wonderful success. We followed that up with our firewood campaign for those at-risk. In case you missed it, our ministry partners didn’t ask for more heating units for people’s homes this year, as you did a wonderful job providing for this need last year. But what our friends did asked for was firewood for these at-risk families.
The needs are greatest in the villages and towns that are closer to the front of the war. Many elderly and poor families stay in their villages where there is no running water or electricity. The poorest people even live in their half-destroyed homes from fighting that went on in their region. But there are needs in our area too.
We didn’t have a huge response to this firewood outreach because many of you gave sacrificially to the kids Christmas, but with the undesignated gifts, we still were able to send several thousand dollars to help many needy families. In this prayer letter, we share about two families you helped (of course you helped many more too). Here is a brief update we received from one of our ministry partners in Ukraine:
WE HAD JUST RAN OUT OF FIREWOOD
“Dear friends in America, thank you so much for helping out with the firewood; it is a huge need this winter! We were able to buy enough to help at-risk families. One family that was helped was a Christian family where the lady goes to our church and she leads one of our home Bible studies. Her family lives in the village of Malaya Rogan. Her village suffered catastrophic losses from the Russians when they invaded and her home was severely damaged by a direct rocket hit. By God’s grace, no one was there when the missile hit her home, so everyone is alive. But the blast destroyed part of her home, as well as, damaging her neighbor’s homes due to the blast radius. Her family was able to remain in the undamaged portion of the home, but they have no electricity. The firewood was a huge blessing for her family and she sends her sincere thanks to you all!
Another family that received firewood was a young family with a young child. Just before the war began, this family joined our church. The husband’s name is Nikolai and he leads one of our home Bible study groups. His wife’s name is Anya and she helps with our Sunday school. They are not very well off financially and they have to heat their home with firewood from with the heating stove we installed last year. They are so grateful for the firewood. The parents said, ‘Our son is only three years old and we were very concerned for him this winter because our firewood that we could afford to buy was gone and we didn’t know what to do next - and then this huge blessing from you and God – thank you so much!’”
Your generous giving helped many families in a similar situation as these two families, so thank you very much!!!
I am sad to report that an increased number of missiles are falling on our city of Kharkiv with greater frequency. It was quieter for many months (relatively speaking to the beginning of the war), but in recent weeks, the missiles and bombs have been coming with more regularity, so please keep our region in your prayers. In Kharkiv yesterday, a missile hit the home of a family. The direct hit caused the home to catch fire and they all perished by being burned alive. The family had three young children who passed away – they were only 7, 4 and 6 months old. This breaks my heart! I don’t know what to say, except, please keep praying. I sent an email this past week with a video of some of the people’s homes that were damaged by this horrific war. This video was just a small select number of people that you have helped directly or indirectly through food, supplies, heating units, firewood, etc. Our ministry partners conveyed to me that they have seen a huge drop off from all ministry partners, including the United Nations and other large ministries, so they appreciate all that we do to help them.
In our March prayer letter, I am going to highlight one of our former employees (from before the war) that worked with our orphans and disabled children’s ministry. When the war began, her family fled the country and became refugees. I will share her testimony in March. In April, I will share about the church where we are helping by coming along side of them with their soup kitchen that feeds between 500-900 people per week. At some point, I will also be sharing with you about our new ministry director in Ukraine, but we still have another church partner that was never highlighted in 2023, so we will update you on this church first.
You may have heard that Tucker Carlson interviewed Vladimir Putin this past week and it seems like Ukraine is in the media a bit more due to this interview. But I don’t sense that this war is close to being done, unless something happens that changes the atmosphere or trajectory of the war …. or until Ukraine runs out of resources. There have been discussions of Ukraine drafting a half a million men for military service. If this comes to pass, then this war will most likely continue beyond 2024. Here is one article on the subject: https://kyivindependent.com/new-version-of-mobilization-bill-seeks-to-reinforce-draft-in-ukraine-in-2024/,
Thank you for being a huge blessing to so many people in Ukraine. I feel encouraged and blessed with your continual faithfulness, prayers and sacrificial giving. You are helping in significant ways! God bless you in every way!
In Jesus’ love,