Christ is risen!
"Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.'" - Jn. 11:25
Yesterday was an important day on many levels. It marked the beginning of the third (and hopefully last) month of this war. I must confess that on Saturday night, my heart was heavy. New mass graves were discovered again (bodies pictured below right being transported to a cemetery), and more burnt Ukrainian corpses with signs of torture by depraved Russian terrorists. But there was hope. Sunday was coming.
Yesterday we also celebrated Easter here in Ukraine. There had been warnings from the Ukrainian security service that church services could be targets for Russian forces and to avoid mass gatherings. I was apprehensive—what if we went ahead and gathered and people were hurt? But no, the devil was not about to ruin the celebration of Christ’s victory over death! "...that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery." (Heb. 2:14-15)
We had something like 130 people in attendance for this day (Easter service pictured above). One irony of this war (among many) is that, despite sending around 30 of our church members on as refugees to other European countries, our church is fuller now than it ever has been. We even bought an extra 30 chairs for our Easter service—and it’s a good thing as they were almost all used! There was a large number of unbelievers in attendance, including both refugees and those with whom we’ve been building relationships for a long time.
In the end, this reflects the irony of Easter itself: everything the enemy does thinking that he will destroy the work of God (i.e., the cross) only brings God’s victory closer. We held a celebration feast after service yesterday, complete with roast kielbasa, Easter egg painting and a “Just Dance” station. The weather was sunny and warm after a cool and rainy week. God’s grace was evident in every detail. One of the ladies who is a refugee currently staying in our church (not yet a believer) commented that she’s never experienced anything so joyful in her life. For a short while, we almost forgot we’re in a war—until 9 rockets struck our neighboring city of Kremenchug 15 mi. (25 km.) away in the evening. This was the largest strike in our region so far.
The last group of refugees we brought to the church has been difficult on a practical level, as they are mostly very old and really need to be located in a nursing home due to various health issues. Lena has been working on getting them settled into the nursing home in our area, but in the meantime, she and the care team have been doing the incredible work of assisted living nurses. Please pray for strength for them.
We’ve got yet another run to the eastern front in Donbass happening tomorrow to evacuate more people. The next couple weeks will mostly likely be very intense there. Putin in his nostalgia for the USSR wants to gain “some kind of victory” by May 9, when the countries of the former USSR celebrate Victory Day from WW2. Pray that God crushes his satanic ambitions and humbles him and all those doing the devil’s work in Ukraine to repentance—or if not, simply through swift judgment.
We are so thankful for those of you who, now in to the third month of war, do not tire of praying for us here in Ukraine! Please keep it up! We believe that the victory is ultimately Christ’s and He will soon glorify Himself in crushing the evil pride of bloodthirsty men. And thanks for coming alongside us to serve the refugees in this time through your generous donations.
"Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning!" (Ps. 30:5) Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!