2014 WAR REFUGEES
“Dear friends, I was born in Kazakhstan in 1937. My family
consisted of both Christian and unbelieving family members. My
father died in World War II, when I was very young and I was
raised by my mom and grandmother. I had a delightful upbringing,
and my grandma was the one who taught me how to pray and took me to an underground church because of the
persecution by the Soviet regime. When I wasn’t attending an underground church, I prayed secretly, so my
family and I would not get into trouble with the government. Many years passed and I eventually moved to
When the war broke out in Eastern Ukraine, I lost everything in a moment’s notice. My sister begged me to
move to Kharkov a few months after the war broke out. Amazingly, I caught the last train out of my area before
everything closed down. My nephew died in the war after I departed, and my sister died of grief and an illness
six months later.
I was able to rent an apartment in Kharkov, but with the overwhelming events with my life and family, I felt
broken and lost. My sister was the dearest and most precious person in my life and when she died, I lost any
purpose for living; I became hardened and empty inside. During this period of time, I lost my hearing, so I went
to the hospital and I met another refugee, who encouraged me to visit Living Hope Baptist Church (the church
SCM partners with to help refugees).
The timing was too amazing and I knew this connection was from God. When I arrived, I was amazed by the
church atmosphere and how welcoming people were to me. They accepted me into their church family, showing
patience, mercy and understanding. It was evident that they loved people and worshipped God in this church. I
began to attend the theology courses and made relationships with Slavic Christian Ministries workers, who
brought me closer to the Lord and helped me recover emotionally and spiritually. Living Hope and Slavic
Christian Ministries have been God’s refuge for me for several years now and I am so thankful for them!
I am grateful to God for directing me to these wonderful Christians. I was baptized here and I believe Jesus is
doing a greater work in me. Thank you for helping in this area of ministry!”
Ludmila Mashkova’s Testimony
“My name is Ludmila and I was born and raised in the town of Horlovka, Ukraine, which is near the epicenter of where the
major battles happened between Ukraine and Russia. I wasn’t brought up in a Christian family, but at times, I did reach out to
God. Many years ago, when my daughter became very ill (she had 4th stage cancer), I repented of my sins before God. It was
at that moment, that I began to see our lives turn around for the better. I know that God was guiding my steps all along the
way. I fervently began praying and my daughter was healed from her cancer, she got married and now I have two wonderful grandchildren! I was baptized in 2008 and was attending Christian Word Community Church in the town of
Makeevka, which was near my home. When the war broke out in 2014, my town and the cities around me were bombarded with explosives, warheads, etc. We tried to remain in our home, but when things really escalated in our area, we decided to leave in 2015.
My husband was really sick when we escaped and unfortunately, he died during this time of crisis. After I came to Kharkov, I heard about Living Hope Baptist Church from other refugees. I initially received help with food and supplies, but then I began attending a service led by the church and Slavic Christian Ministries. They have provided me with so much hope over the past few years, which I am so grateful. I know what God’s ways are so different than our ways and I am learning so much. I now volunteer with the church and SCM in distributing food to other refugees. The war has settled down, but we still feel displaced. Thank you for all of your prayers and support!” I usually only share about our refugee ministry once or twice per year, but our SCM partners work diligently every week in distributing food, counseling people, and providing a worship service for them. Because of your ongoing help, we are able to serve a couple hundred refugees and homeless people. Thank you for your prayers and sacrificial giving to help use reach needy people, in the name of Jesus.
I am unsure how much you have been following the events with Ukraine and Russia, because it isn’t making headline news, but over the past few months it has been reported that Russia has placed approximately 100,000 troops, artillery, tanks, and missile launchers around the southern, northern, and eastern borders of Ukraine. We were unsure of what Putin’s next steps were going to be earlier this month. Thankfully, Russia has pulled back “some” of their troops, relieving some of the pressure of an imminent invasion, but make no mistake, there is still a serious threat looming. A couple of weeks ago, I posted an update on Facebook that you may want to read – it states that Russia may invade this summer, if things continue to escalate. We hope not, but we are keeping a very close eye on this situation, because our ministry is only 30 miles away from the Russian border.
Below are some refugee stories that never made it into earlier prayer letters. Despite our refugee ministry being shuttered a couple of months ago (due to the vast majority of the families being integrated into society), we may need to reopen this ministry, if Russia invades again. Here are a few stories from our refugee ministry that didn’t make it into earlier prayer letters, but these testimonies serve as a reminder of the effects for war on ordinary families and are appropriate to highlight, with the current political situation:
“Hello, my name is Natalia Ryavkina, and I am a 35 years old mother of two young children. I had to leave my home in the town of Debaltsevo (a town in the war zone within the Donetsk region) because of the war and moved to Kharkov. Before moving, I had a stable job, but the military conflict destroyed our family life and employment opportunities. My husband is handicapped and I have to work and take care of the children. It has been a difficult transition, not knowing anyone in Kharkov; I didn’t know where to go, how to feed my family, or where to turn. One day I heard from another refugee about Living Hope Baptist Church (the church SCM partners with to help with the refugees and homeless ministry). I was excited to discover that they distributed food, as well as, have a ministry to families like ours, who are trying to survive. I have met many nice people from the church and SCM. We are now attending the church and we thank God for SCM and all the wonderful Christians within the church!”
“I am Olga Gorshkova and I am a 40-year-old refugee from the city of Pervamaysk (in the war zone near the Lugansk region). When the war broke out in August 2014, I moved my family to a town in the Kharkov region, but we just could not get the help we needed to survive. When we heard about Living Hope Baptist Church, we moved to the city of Kharkov and incorporated into the refugee ministry that was run by the church and where Slavic Christian Ministries helps out. We have received so much help and thank God for everyone. We are now members of the church and we have learned about Jesus’ love for us and his willingness to save us spiritually, despite losing everything of worldly value. Thank you for all of your help.”
“Hi, my name is Ludmilla Pavluchenko. I am 51 years old and I fled from war zone in 2014 with my children and grandchildren. When we left, we had no time to waste and took nothing with us, except our legal documents and a little bit of savings. When we left, we truly believed we would be able to return in short order, but now we realize that we can never go back home. Our home was destroyed and practically everyone left our town; almost no one remained because it is just too dangerous to return. When we heard about the ministry for refugees, we immediately came to the church and met so many wonderful people – we have made many faithful friends. Slavic Christian Ministries has encouraged us emotionally and spiritually and helped point us to Christ. I am so thankful for all of the support the church has given us. I am not alone, I have found God, and I feel like God will take care of me, my children, and grandchildren.”
I have even more testimonies that never made it into earlier prayer letters. If the war begins again, I may share some of these other testimonies, until we get some new ones, which I hope isn’t the case! For now, SCM’s involvement with the refugee ministry has ceased, since almost everyone is now integrated into the life of the church and we are using our limited resources to expand our kid’s clubs (which is where we reach out to children in villages and towns, who don’t know Christ and/or come from difficult families). I will be reporting more about this ministry in our next prayer letter.
I don’t like to pass on discouraging news like the current threat level in Ukraine, but unfortunately, I have more bad news and need prayer for our orphan and disabled children’s ministries too. There has been a spike of COVID cases in our city of Kharkov, and once again, the government has shut down our ability to serve the kids inside these facilities. We offered to purchase TV’s and laptops, so we could have live sessions online, but we were denied access online too. We have also been turned down by the government in wanting to helping orphans who have transitioned out of the orphanages and are being supported by the government in trades schools or colleges. They buried us in red tape and made it virtually impossible for us to serve them in this transitional role. This is disappointing news because we have spent six months trying to gain a foothold into this new area of serving. We trust God is guiding our steps and will use all of our resources to helping children. We do believe the orphanages and disabled children in hospitals will only be shut down temporarily, and we should have access again soon, Lord willing.