Hello friends, we hope you are doing well. A week ago, we dropped our girls off at college and now everyone is trying to get into a new routine, but transition to college and kid’s being gone from home is always an adjustment. Thank you for praying for our family.
If you have been following us for a while, you may know that we like to provide testimonies of our various ministries or families that we are helping, so you have an awareness of how people’s lives are being affected by this horrible war and how you are helping them, in Jesus’ name. Most of your gracious giving goes to food and supplies to thousands of people inside Kharkiv, but we still support families outside of the Ukraine too - at least in some small ways.
Without a doubt, you are helping many people, but I can only highlight a small select number of people that God places on my heart, since there are enormous needs everywhere. You have most likely helped around 150,000 people with food, water, medicine, supplies, heating units, Christmas outreach, vehicle repairs, and biblical literature since the beginning of this war (our ministry partners have given out about 8 million boxes of food, but most of it comes from UN or another large ministry or two) and you are helping thousands of people through our ministry now, but almost all are in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Last year you helped Ukrainian orphans in Romania too. Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do!!!
By our Lord Jesus Christ working through you, we are helping ease the burden for some Ukrainians who have fled to other countries with one time gifts (sometimes we have given several times to various families). Due to our finances dropping by 70% since last year, we cannot do as much as in 2022, but we are thankful to help where we can do so. As you know, millions of people have been displaced due to this war and with your help, we are helping those God has placed in our path. Today, I want to share with you about Maxim and Lyudmila Khilobochenko’s and their children, who became refugees since the outbreak of the war:
WE WERE AWAKENED BY LOUD EXPLOSIONS!
“Hello, my name is Lyudmila. My husband and I have been married for 16 years and at the beginning of the war, we had three wonderful children: Stefan, Bohdan, and Taya. After our marriage, we moved to Kharkiv, Ukraine, where I went to the Aviation Institute and my husband was working in construction. After moving to the city, we discovered Calvary Chapel – Kharkiv and discovered the church was planted by Americans. Eventually, the church transitioned pastors and our new pastor was Viktor Fisin. Viktor’s wife, Vika, worked with Slavic Christian Ministries for several years in the English and translation department. We had many wonderful years at this church and made amazing friendships. We met the Putnam’s when they rented their Ukrainian home to us, while they were in America.
We were able to purchase our first home in 2014, when the war initially broke out between Ukraine and Russia. Refugees were streaming into our city and we were praying that the war would not expand any further. With the passage of time, many people, including us, believed that war would not affect us and we lived our normal everyday lives – my husband worked, the kids went to school, I loved working in my garden, and the kid’s enjoyed their after-school activities.
By winter 2021, many people were getting concerned about the war in Ukraine expanding. There was such a huge buildup of military personnel on our Ukrainian border. We heard many rumors and we were praying regularly. We were anxiously making plans about what we would do if our worst fears came to reality – a war with Russia. We prayed regularly, but it was just hard to imagine that a full scale war with Russia would happen .. but the day came on February 24, 2022.
We were awakened at 5:00 AM to loud explosions; it was impossible to believe this was happening! After the third explosion occurred, we checked the internet and learned the war had begun with missiles being launched all across our country.
Due to our evacuation plan being in place, after about 40 minutes, we woke up our children, took some of our items, got into our car and began driving toward my parents’ home in central Ukraine. There were a huge number of cars on the road and as we were waiting in traffic to pass an intersection, a rocket flew right over our heads until it exploded somewhere. Seeing this brought us to the reality that this is really happening to us!
As I just mentioned, we decided to visit my parents in central Ukraine, but it took us 20 hours to drive what should have taken 10 hours or less. We stayed with them for a week, as we collected our thoughts and decided on our next steps of action. We knew we could not return to our home in Kharkiv, since it was under heavy bombardment. After much intense prayer, we felt the Lord guiding us away from Ukraine. We decided to continue our journey westward, but we were concerned the government would not allow my husband to cross the border. Nevertheless, we traveled to the border of Moldova. We were thankful to learn that families with three or more children, the entire family was allowed to pass the border. We saw God’s loving care for us all along our journey, as people helped us at various points. God was so gracious to us!
Originally, we were going to travel to Poland, but we learned we could get a free home in a small village in France near the German border, so we changed our plans and decided to go there instead. We lived in this home and discovered five other refugees came to this same village around the same time as us. Despite the graciousness of the French people, life has been hard for refugee families. We are the only Ukrainian family that remains in this village of the original five families; the others dispersed to other locations.
It has been difficult for us because we didn’t know French when we arrived and many in this location don’t know English either. It was really difficult at first trying to find employment and find an apartment too. We were able to get some financial assistance, but it has been reduced, making it harder to survive. We discussed many times about going to an English-speaking country, where life would be easier for us, but something always prevented us from going. Perhaps this is where God wants us for now. Nevertheless, God has provided for us, despite the difficulties. My husband finally found a job in construction, the kids are back in school, and there is some semblance of normalcy. The kids are still struggling with the French language, even after a year and a half, but thankfully, my children are not coming home from school crying every day, like they did last year.
Six months ago, God graciously gave us a fourth child, whom we named Thomas. We are now in a local church and making some relationships. Our extended family remain in Ukraine as we try to make the best life we can inside of France. Please continue to pray for our financial needs, that the war would end, that we will get better at speaking French, and for our loneliness. It is hard to build strong relationships when you cannot communicate in another language very well. We carry much sorrow for home, friends, family, and having difficulty building deep meaningful relationships here, due to the language barrier. Please pray our children can get passports too.
We don’t know how long we will be here, but we don’t feel led to go back to Ukraine. Please pray God will guide our steps. Thank you for helping our family; we thank God for all of you in America who are helping Slavic Christian Ministries!”
Dear friends, this is a very familiar testimony for millions of people who left Ukraine as refugees. We thank God that the Khilobochenko family were allowed to leave the country and find some peace, but it is hard, as you can imagine.
This is a wonderful family who loves Jesus, gave up everything to protect their children and it has not been easy on them whatsoever. Please keep Maxim, Lyudmila and the kids in your prayers. Please continue to help us provide for them and families like them. The war continues to rage on, people are still dying (about 1,000 per day are killed from both sides), families are barely getting by and have lost everything.
Lyudmila asks us to pray for their language learning, to have Christian intimacy with their newfound friendships, and for God to continue to guide them. Because this is one of the families God placed in our path, let’s pray for them and help them, even if it is in small ways to encourage them that they are not alone. In Ukraine, the needs haven’t diminished since the beginning of the war, so please pray for our ministry partners too.
A quick note about me – please pray for me, if you are willing. I have lost lots of my high frequency hearing, have bad tinnitus, and now I am dealing with vertigo on top of it all. If you could pray for me too, I would appreciate it. Thank you again for all of your prayer and sacrificial giving; I recognize how much you are doing. Thank you!
In Jesus’ love,