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Ukraine:
Providing Relief & Hope

How Can We Help?

As a global Mennonite Brethren (MB) family, we feel very connected to Ukraine, not only because the historical roots of our MB movement are there, but because we partner with a network of MB churches there. We are in close contact with leaders like Maxym and Anya Oliferovski, who oversee Multiply’s work in Ukraine, and have chosen to stay in Ukraine and oversee relief efforts from their New Hope Center base in Zaporizhzhia. Johann Matties, our Regional Team Leader for Europe and Central Asia, is involved with a multinational team that is coordinating help for Ukrainians that have fled to countries like Poland, Romania, and Germany. They are involved in partnering with local churches and ministries in those countries who are interested in serving these refugees and giving them hope in the name of Jesus.

When asked “How can we help?”, this is their answer:

  • PRAY: “Most of all, we need prayer support, that God would intervene and stop this war. We have seen miracles happen. There was a children’s shelter that was bombed, but somehow all of the children were on one side of the building, and the missile hit the other side, and no one was hurt. It seems like God put his angels there and protected them. We count these as miracles, and we ask you to pray for even more.” – Maxym Oliferovski, Multiply Ukraine; director of New Hope Center

  • GRIEVE: “We are being invited to suffer with those who are suffering, and to cry with those who are crying. It helps them to know that we are a global family that cares, a family that will find every possible way of coming alongside those who suffer, and to encourage those who suffer, that we would see signs and wonders of God's presence with us.” – Johann Matties, Multply Regional Team Leader for Europe and Central Asia

  • GIVE: “The global MB family is mobilizing in different ways to offer practical help to those who are fleeing from the war and those who are remaining in Ukraine to serve their people. The financial resources that we supply to our Ukrainian MB churches are critical in providing emergency relief, ongoing support for families in crisis, and, above all, the hope of the Gospel.”  – Vic Wiens, Equipping Coordinator for the International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB)

If you would like to support the relief effort in Ukraine, please donate to our “Ukraine Ministry Project.” (donate here) In addition to meeting urgent needs in the war zones, this project continues to support MB churches in Ukraine with ongoing discipleship and church-planting, as well as with holistic ministries such as New Hope Center and Ukraine Camp Ministries.
Ukraine Update

January 26, 2023

Our partners in Ukraine report that on January 14, in addition to the shelling of Kyiv where twenty-eight buildings were destroyed and critical infrastructure damaged, a terrifying event took place in the Dnipro region. At 3:00 p.m., when people were resting from work, playing with their children, or just finishing dinner in their apartments, a missile hit an apartment building, leaving at least sixty wounded, twelve of them children, three critically injured and five dead. This last number will grow as the search for bodies under the rubble continues. The missile was a Kh-22 missile designed to destroy aircraft carrier groups at sea. 

MB pastor Oleksii M. of the Molochansk church plant in the Dnipro region describes the attack and its aftermath: Dnipro today, right now at this moment, is full of pain and tears. Lord save the lives of those who are under the rubble! Lord, give strength to all services and to the many people who now dismantle the destroyed walls, listening for sounds to find the wounded from under the slabs. Pray for Dnipro, this city in which we have lived for the last two years, this town where our oldest son, Mark, goes to school, the street we drive down every day to take him to school, the houses that we always pass – houses that are no longer there.” 

As emergency crews moved in to find survivors, Oleksii epitomized the spirit of his people in doing whatever he could to bring aid, comfort and the hope of the Gospel to the traumatized. “Now, with friends,” he said, “we have dismantled some of the rubble in the area adjacent to our house. We are preparing hot tea and a little food for the workers, and for whomever they are able to rescue…”

Pastor Oleksii Y. of the Heart of Christ MB Church in Berdyansk reports on the current situation in Kherson. He writes, “The villages around Kherson are in a very difficult situation. People have either been under occupation, experiencing moral, physical and psychological horror, or they lived with constant shelling. Villages such as Antonovka and other villages on the banks of the Dnieper River are under constant attack by Russian snipers. Despite this, our churches continue to serve the vulnerable living on the frontline of these battles. Thanks to everyone who helps us to do good and to carry the Gospel!” 




At the New Hope Center in Zaporizhzhia, families seeking shelter are now being housed for up to three weeks, changing the dynamic of the Center, which up until now has been serving to channel refugees quickly to relocate in Western Ukraine. New Hope director and Multiply worker Maxym Oliferovski reports, “These days people are building deeper relationships with the workers and with one another, helping and serving one another like family. Because they feel that they are cared about, they also begin to care about others, doing things like cleaning the table after meals or mopping the floor in the corridor. Since March 2022 we’ve sheltered about 800 people. And the war is not over yet…”

In the midst of the ongoing trauma and hardships, friendships are being forged among the refugee families being housed at the New Hope center. Bodies and spirits are fed, and goodwill prevails. This was recently  expressed by one family over a shared meal and fellowship.

“It’s peaceful here,” they said, smiling, “and tasty!” 

The MB conference of Ukraine (AMBCU) reports that ten trips have been made to reach the Romani (gypsy) settlements in the Transcarpathian region of Ukraine. Church teams have made multiple visits to the village of Domboki, where over 200 Romani were given desperately needed food and clothing, as well as Bibles and Christian literature for children. 

Roman Rakhuba, conference minister for Ukraine MB churches, reports on ongoing harassment of churches and church leaders. “I received a message from the Central Baptist Church of Berdyansk, that on Sunday, during the service, the Russian military broke into the house of prayer and arranged to check the documents of all who were gathered there. Then they conducted a search, closed the church and took the keys. The pastor was ordered to report to the command office, where he faced interrogation. Before being released, he was forced to register the building and the church in the Russian Federation.”

Multiply’s Regional Team Leader for Europe and central Asia is Johann Matthies. Johann tells of a recent delivery of 123 handmade comforters from Dutch Mennonite churches that were taken, along with other relief goods, from their base in Germany to Ukraine. He writes, “I just cherish the thought, how much love and creativity were poured into the warming quilts, and how much compassion and prayers follow them into the war zones of desperate Ukraine.” The van used to deliver these quilts was driven by a courageous volunteer, pictured below; his vehicle already has more than one hole from flying shrapnel hitting it during other deliveries. 

Ukraine MB churches continue to partner with Mission Eurasia in initiatives like the Gift of Hope project. One volunteer tells of their experience: “Early in the morning we came to visit a girl who has been living in a basement for eight months. She showed us her room (if you can call it that!) and introduced us to the cats that have been both her source of friendship and a means of keeping warm. 

“The small gifts we brought gave her much joy; she kept smiling even while a close air strike rattled the building. Please pray for the children of Ukraine.”

 
View Previous Updates

December 22, 2022


MB pastor and director of New Hope Center, Maxym Oliferovski, shares that his team in Zaporizhzhya was able to host their first therapeutic retreat in the Carpathian Mountains. 

The New Hope Trauma Retreats temporarily relocate traumatized families to a safer location east of the active war zones, providing professional therapeutic treatment sessions and an opportunity to connect with the eternal hope of the Gospel. For this retreat, a group of sixteen from Eastern Ukraine were transported to the retreat center in Lybokhora, over 1000 kilometers from the harsh realities and pressures of the war. Max writes: “The nature of the surroundings is itself healing, with no air alerts, missiles, or midnight explosions waking us up to check on friends and family. Our daughter Katya used her skills as a trained therapist to give people opportunities to process their emotions and understand what trauma is doing to their bodies and minds.”


Time spent outside - climbing the hills, going to the mountains, playing in the snow - all helped greatly to release stress. Although power outages were frequent, there was much love, laughter and prayer to distract the attendees. Max and his team express their gratitude to Multiply and to donors for making this retreat possible, and hope to move forward with future retreats every six to eight weeks, beginning in the New Year.


Since the severe shelling of December 16, Zaporizhzhia has had their critical infrastructure facilities partially destroyed, impeding a consistent electricity supply. Despite this, Christmas relief efforts continued, with thousands of gift packages distributed to churches that host events for displaced children. The Ukraine MB conference minister, Roman Rakhuba, writes: “The ‘Give Hope’ project put many gifts of sweets, toys, children's Bibles - and, above all, hope – into the hands of those struggling with the hardships of war. We especially thank the local church in the village of Velyki Luchki for their help. Merry Christmas!”


Ukraine army chaplain Oleg S. writes: “War always breaks the weakest and most defenseless. Often these are the disabled, the elderly, and families with many children. Thank you Multiply for the wonderful packages that we are able to give away; war always shows us who we actually are and who our friends are!”  


Staying warm and staying connected are a daily challenge.
Wood-fired metal stoves have become a real treasure for residents of those cities on the front line of the conflict, who have been without electricity, heat and gas for a long time. One of such settlements is Shevchenko, Donetsk region, where 60-70 children come to the church for children's meetings, many of whom are refugees. 

Johann Matthies, Multiply’s Regional Team Leader for Europe and Central Asia, traveled to Ukraine from Germany beginning on December 12. Meeting up with MB pastors Oleksii M. and Sergei F. he and others loaded the valuable cargo from their van into their vehicles for transport, via icy winter roads, to Odessa and Balakleia. They delivered five generators, five electro-heaters, thermo-underwear, Embrace Ukraine relief bags and more to various orphanages, churches, and homes for the elderly. They returned to Germany with a refugee family of a mother with four children and her aging mother, stopping at a Mennonite church in Regensburg to collect a load of comforters for the next relief trip, planned for December 29.

Johann writes: “A generator supplied by Tabernacle Church in Odessa has allowed for the creation of what is being called, ‘A Point of Unbending’ in the local church. People from the community can come to the church to warm up, charge their devices, get a hot soup or tea, and receive prayer and words of encouragement.” 

Other gifts are intensely personal. Oleg S. tells of the hand-knitted wool socks sent from a Mennonite church in Switzerland. He writes, “It was so touching to pass on these socks, sewn with such love and care by grandmothers in Switzerland! 

Oleg M., another army chaplain, tells of the additional stress on young people who no longer have the option of going to school, and are cut off from their friends. He shares the words of one student who is struggling to stay engaged with learning during a time of traumatic distraction: 

"For almost two days in Kyiv there is no light, water, heating, internet or mobile communication. With no gas and only electric stoves, we cannot cook. Our complex is mostly families with young children. We children have no lessons, no training, no social circles. We read and do some schoolwork with flashlights and candles…” 

Oleg sees the creative, heroic efforts of teachers trying to keep children connected and engaged in learning. One teacher, pictured here, teaches online on the streets of Kyiv as best she can, wherever she is able to connect with her mobile device.

Pray for those who are cold, hungry, and traumatized by this war. Pray for the country of Belarus to not  be drawn into the Russian aggression against Ukraine. Pray for the Prince of Peace to be sovereign - in Ukraine, and all over the world -, and pray for hearts to melt before him. Pray for people who, against all hope, refuse to give up hope, like this couple pictured here, carrying a Christmas tree home, down the streets of war-ravaged Donetsk.

Pray for Ukraine.

 

December 7, 2022

Ukraine in DarknessThere are no Christmas lights in Zaporizhzhya, or in many other cities in Ukraine. This year, there are hardly even any streetlights. Even so, the Light of the World shines into the darkness, and “the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4) 

Multiply’s partners at New Hope Center in Zaporizhzhya report that the Russian military have damaged over half of Ukraine's energy infrastructure in the city. This results not only in a lack of light, but also a lack of water and heat. Many streets are cut off from any power grid, making it dangerous to drive or walk, especially at night. Yet workers at New Hope, like so many Ukrainians this winter, are determined to improvise and keep going, and not be overcome by the darkness.

“In the fall, we had to evacuate due to the shelling,” one volunteer explained, “but since returning from Western Ukraine we have continued to provide support for families here; both with urgently needed supplies as well as through our Art Therapy sessions. We also resumed our training programs for municipal social service workers. Well,” he concluded wryly, “the last time we met, the electricity went off. But we found candles and flashlights to finish our meeting.” 

Even candles are in short supply in the Kherson region. After enduring almost nine months of Russian occupation, the Armed Forces of Ukraine finally liberated the right bank of the Dnieper River on November 11. They were greeted joyfully by its inhabitants; however, as the Russian troops retreated, they crippled critical facilities, planted mines, looted stores, took all ambulances, fire engines and city buses with them and destroyed the Antonovsky bridge connecting the two banks of the Dnieper.

MB pastor Oleksii M. traveled to Kherson soon after the liberation to visit the church there. With them, he celebrated the retreat of the Russian military, but there were no illusions regarding the future.

“Kherson can hardly be deemed safe, with Russian troops continuing to shell from the other side of the Dnipro River,” Oleksii said. “From sunrise to sunset people are looking for food, water, fuel. Portable generator stations are being used to charge phones and flashlights, as everyone tries to solve the issue of heating their homes.

“Life here is just survival now."

Into this crisis, churches are both giving, receiving and distributing aid. The MB conference of Ukraine churches (AMBCU) began bringing supplies to Kherson soon after it was liberated. With the help of our Dutch Reformed Church partners, the Multiply Ukraine shelter in Mukachevo was able to purchase 20 power generators, 20 sets of special motor oil and 20 gasoline canisters. By November 17, a team from Mukachevo was on their way to Kherson, making their second trip to deliver humanitarian cargo, including food kits, wood stoves, blankets, an electric generator and two tons of Christian literature. Mission Eurasia was likewise quick to bring supplies of food, warm clothing, and hope. 

Among others, pastor Vasily S. and his church, located five miles from Kherson, have been the grateful recipients of this urgent relief. The church had been meeting in a small, rented apartment where, aside from lack of heating, there was also an acute shortage of safe drinking water. AMBCU was able to deliver bottled water, which congregants then distributed to their most vulnerable church members, such as the elderly and infirm. 

Vasily said, “Our church did not stop meeting all the months of the occupation. Every Sunday we held services. Sometimes, when there were problems with transport or roadblocks, we would meet online. It was not all that simple either, because not all older people know how to connect online. But we keep going.

“Even without light, water, or heating,” pastor Vasily concluded, “people are happy to be free. Pray that we will never stop gathering to glorify God!”

MB pastor Alexei Y. of the Heart of Christ Church in Berdyansk tells of hundreds of settlements where constant shelling has left not a single whole house standing in any village. At times it is too much to bear. “When is this nightmare going to end?” he asked. “Please pray for our country, our ministry. There are hundreds of thousands of people in need!”

The needs can indeed be overwhelming, but the MB churches of Ukraine are not being overcome. The global outpouring of prayer and support sustains them and fuels their own faith. Pastor Oleksii M. puts it succinctly: “We pray for the Lord to give us an understanding of the needs. Then, we pray that he help us to be the answer to these needs! Despite the lack of basic goods, people’s lives can still be filled with God’s light and his peace.”

Army chaplain and MB pastor Sergey R. echoes this prayer: “Even if there is no light, there is a desire to serve those who are struggling, because the Light of God is stronger than all darkness!” Sergey described churches which continue to provide places to gather – albeit unheated and lit only by candlelight– to keep hope from being extinguished. The warmth of God’s love is also being extended in the most practical of ways, as wood-burning stoves are built and distributed to homes; view this video to see how your support has made this possible.

Pray for peace that passes understanding. Pray for light to overcome the darkness.

Pray for Ukraine.





Thank you, from Ukrainians in Lithuania

November 8, 2022

MB pastor Oleksii M. reports that Ukraine’s power grid has been seriously damaged by daily Russian rocket attacks. This has led to forced power outages, and a bleak outlook as people face the approaching cold weather. MB churches, in partnership with Mission Eurasia and other relief organizations, are scrambling to provide people with warm clothing, stoves, firewood, generators, flashlights, batteries and basic food supplies. Times of prayer are an important part of all these meetings, Oleksii tells us, bringing hope to the hopeless. He writes, “We are grateful for all of you who are standing with us. We feel your open embrace.  

The MB churches of Lithuania continue to send  humanitarian assistance from Vilnius to Ukraine. Along with warm clothes, bedding, footwear, hygiene products, and gas cooking equipment, two generators were recently donated. The director of the shipping company that provided the transport trucks and driver, when thanked for his services, replied, “With such a generator you can light only one small apartment building. Is that a lot? Of course not. But a dozen families will be brighter, and maybe a little warmer!" Courage and camaraderie are evident in these ventures, as churches and community services come together with the common goal of alleviating the crisis in Ukraine.

MB pastor Gediminas Dailyde expresses his appreciation of recent donations received from MB and Mennonite churches in Canada/USA, Korea, and the Netherlands. He writes, “Your brotherly love, help, unity and support strengthen us to try - with all our might - to help both those who are fleeing Ukraine and those that remain behind. Even as we witness the worst rampages of Satan during this war, we also experience an extraordinary work of God.”

 

A short video was created to express heir gratitude to donors and to those who are faithfully praying. It can be viewed here. The next humanitarian aid trip from Lithuania is planned after the New Year. “Maybe some of us are tired of helping, maybe some of us have run out of patience,” Gediminas says, “but we cannot get tired of praying for peace! In that, tiredness is not allowed.”

Pictured below are Oksana and her four daughters, Ukrainian refugees who fled the occupied city of Berdansk, and were helped to resettle in Lithuania. Funds sent through Multiply allowed for them to find a place to live and to have their basic needs met in these last six months.

 

Pastor Valdas Vaitkevicius informs us that since the beginning of the war, more than 100 refugees have passed through his church in in Siauliu. He writes, “Currently we house twenty-four women and children from Ukraine. The cost of war is real, and terrible. It is difficult for those who do not have faith in Jesus.”

Oleksii Yuditsenko of the Heart of Christ MB church writes of the desperate plight of those under fire: “In between sirens and Russian shooting, we continue to help people; but there are so many in need and in pain! People are left with nothing and can buy nothing…” Transporting and delivering humanitarian cargo is grueling work, as they may unload and then ship out upwards of twenty tons in a day. Their stamina is fueled by the kindness and generosity that these shipments represent: “We are so thankful to you who are with us during this difficult time! Thank you also, MB churches of Lithuania! You are heroes!”


New Hope Center in Zaporizhzhia continues to help and minister to the damaged and displaced, including sessions of counselling and art therapy to help people process their trauma. The hope was to gather every Monday, but director and MB pastor Maxym O. reports that the constant barrage of missiles in the city center have forced them to cancel these meetings. “We hope to renew our work as soon as possible,” Max writes. “For now, please pray for peace and safety.”

Max and the New Hope staff have also launched a new project which aims to minister to those families who are living in a state of unrelenting danger, fear and grief. New Hope Trauma Retreats temporarily relocate traumatized families to a safer location east of the active war zones, providing professional therapeutic treatment sessions and an opportunity to connect with the eternal hope of the Gospel. Up to five families will be sent to spend 10 days in the relative safety and restorative beauty of the mountainous regions of eastern Ukraine, where being in nature will allow for a release of stress and an opportunity to recover a normal family dynamic. New Hope Center staff and members of God’s Family MB Church oversee all activities, including prayer ministry and therapeutic sessions designed to facilitate holistic healing of minds, hearts, bodies, relationships and faith. They envision that this project will be long-term. 

New Hope staff relate how the vision for this new ministry evolved in October, as military attacks escalated: “After a rocket hit the building near our office, we temporarily stopped New Hope Center ministry. We needed to calm our souls and slow down our pace, and so we decided to send most of our team members and their families to a safe area in the Carpathian Mountains of Western Ukraine, where we have hosted summer camps. While we were there, the situation in Zaporizhzhia did not change for the better, but we learned that retreats like this one help to renew our strength to go on…“It will take years,” says Max, “for Ukraine to heal.” Nevertheless, our churches in Ukraine are resolved to be a part of that healing, and they are grateful to be doing this together with you who support them in prayer and in giving.

 

October 14, 2022

On October 8, 2022, an explosion on the Kerch Bridge caused the partial collapse of the road used to supply Russian troops in occupied Crimea. The explosion occurred one week after the announcement of the annexation of four Ukrainian regions by Russia. Since then, there have been a dramatic increase in Russian attacks on Ukraine. Our Ukraine MB pastors, including Multiply workers Maxym and Anya Oliferovski, based in the hard-hit city of Zaporizhzhya, ask for our continued prayers for a cessation to the violence.

Reports confirm that the missiles hit multiple high-rise apartment buildings in the city center of Zaporizhzhya, burying at least 16 people under the rubble, taking out windows within a radius of 500 meters, and tearing balconies from the walls of buildings nearby. The Ukraine MB conference (AMBCU) has helped rally volunteers to join the specialized services who are clearing the debris, recovering the bodies, and tending to the wounded. A child trapped under the rubble was, miraculously, rescued. Others were not so fortunate. As of October 8, two have died from the blasts and ten people are in the hospital. 

Pastor Alexei Y. of the Heart of Christ Church in Berdyansk, writes, “Another night of terror, another night of shelling, with unsuspecting people asleep in their beds. God, protect us! Lord, have your way!”

Another pastor writes, “I will share with you one true story about a   house, and the family who lived in that house. In February, in the first days of the war, a mother decided to move with her two children from their house in the central areas of the Dnieper to a safer place, in a smaller house with her grandmother. Today a Russian missile hit that small, supposedly safe house. The mother Natasha, her twelve-year-old daughter, Vasilis, her eight-year-old boy, Ivan, and the grandmother, Alla - all dead. Even as I write these lines, explosions thunder again, and again. No, I don't want to think about it. God, forbid this! Please pray for the military, for the volunteers, for the medics, for the politicians, for the rescuers, for the children, for everyone. God, save us! God, hold us close! Gather up the shards of our broken hearts.”

 

Sleep deprivation is intensifying the suffering, as the attacks are relentless. Maxym tells us, “This war is a cruel and evil thing. It takes the physical life of so many, and also drains the emotional life from the rest of us. Our city of Zaporizhzhia and its surrounding villages have been under severe missile attacks almost every night. We can hardly sleep. We pray that God helps restore our land to us, but we know that it will take years to restore the people. God, help us! Please pray against the forces of evil, on the loose and triumphing. Only the Lord of all Lords can turn this tide!” Maxym and his New Hope Center staff in Zaporizhzhya relate that the need for blood donors is now urgent. Humanitarian convoys to occupied territories have been stopped, halting the flow of vitally needed supplies. 

As winter looms and fuel and electricity are cut off, our MB churches are working hard to provide relief to the displaced and vulnerable. MB Ukraine conference minister Roman R. reports that they continue to partner with Mission Eurasia to produce more wood-burning stoves and stockpile fuel for the winter. Their goal is to produce and distribute up to 2,000 wood-burning stoves within the next two months, and to deliver them to families in need, along with a food package and a Bible. He writes, “Pray that we will be able to provide warmth for their bodies, and warmth also for their souls.” Pastors Oleksii M. and Sergey R. have so far delivered 100 ovens, along with provisions of coal and firewood, to guard against the threatening cold. 

 Oleksii writes, “From the night until now, when I am writing this message, there has been a massive shelling of missiles in almost all areas in Ukraine. Power grids are damaged in many cities and now there is no electricity, no water, no communication. We are still looking for more stoves and firewood, people are moving to basements and to underground shelters for safety. We are again, as at the beginning of the war, preparing for the mass evacuation of people, and providing them with housing, food, and clothing. Friends! Pray for Ukraine!” 

Maxym and Anya’s daughter Katya, who chose to return to Ukraine from Germany to be with her parents and the other workers at New Hope Center, has been practicing her profession as an Art Therapist with displaced and frightened children. The task is made even more daunting, in the face of a trauma which is ongoing, but she holds firmly to the hope that God is with them.

From the outskirts of her city, where her parents are initiating a recovery center, she writes, “It is hard to call this morning a good one. The darkness is so great that you cannot bear it alone. Psychologists call this condition a ‘collective trauma’. I call it the black hole that absorbs you from the inside. Yet, somewhere deep inside, a little light is smoldering. A beacon of hope. We must hold on to Him, with all our might! God is with us, he does not forsake us; these words have kept me standing. 

“One day, there will be rejoicing on our streets. Until then, only hope remains… One day, we will look up at the sky, without fear of the shells that fall down from it.

September 29, 2022

When Home is Not Safe

In the early hours of September 22, we received this text from Maxym O., director of New Hope center in Zaporizhzhya: “A rocket just hit the TV tower near our apartment building. The glass in the windows blew out in the entrance and in some apartments. Our daughter Katya was at home, and very scared. 

“Thank God, she is alive. Please, continue to pray for us and for Ukraine."

Throughout that day, nine more missiles landed in this area. Katya had only recently, like many other displaced Ukrainians that sought refuge outside of Ukraine, decided to return to her country, her parents, and her home.

Homesick

The Ukraine MB conference (AMBCU) blogpost affirms that “despite the war that continues to literally tear apart the country and takes human lives every day, people want to come home… Hundreds of thousands of children had to leave their homes, schools and part with their best friends and close relatives…  “One thirteen-year-old boy was from occupied Kherson; he had to leave home for Chernivtsi because of the war. When asked, ‘How are you?’ he answered, ‘Far from home.’"  


New Partnerships

The New Hope Center teams have started a significant work together with the municipal social services of Zaporizhzhia, meeting for training once a week to give support, share valuable information, and strategize relief efforts. One topic of the training was the Poverty Stoplight Program, with the goal to raise the standard of living for people in every sphere. Social workers are eager to see how they can apply in practice this resource in their work with families in crisis. The partnership is rich and fruitful, and Maxym writes of the joy felt by all as they serve together to bring hope and healing to their part of Ukraine."

Life in a Cellar

MB pastor Oleksii M. writes of another visit to the front-line city of Avdeevka to deliver humanitarian aid. The war has brought increased pain and destruction to this place, and the dark circumstances had obviously impacted its inhabitants. He writes, “In the absence of goodness, life is inevitably filled with something disgusting and dark. Here there is an absence of light, gas and water; replaced by darkness, cold and thirst. The lack of utilities has plunged the city into chaos and brought debris and mud to the broken streets. Lack of work and money has led to anger and blame. ‘Nobody cares about us. We have been left to die,’ they say. Some turn to lies and theft, cynical that any help will reach them and feeling that they have been abandoned to fend for themselves."

Lack of adequate housing, the absence of family and friends, an unsustainable rhythm of life and intolerable conditions in the damp and stuffy cellars where they are forced to live has resulted in trauma, poor health and an overwhelming sense of fatigue and irritability. Oleksii’s team delivered flashlights, candles, batteries, food and sanitary items to these people, hoping to make their lives a little more bearable. 

He writes:

“Don’t stop praying for the people who live on the frontline! Pray for their safety and pray for them to come out of the darkness, a darkness which is both spiritual and physical. The war reveals many contrasts. 1 John 1:5 tells us that God is light, and there is no darkness in Him. John 12:46 says that Jesus is the light and came into the world so that none of those who believe in him would be in the darkness. We must bring this light to Ukraine.

Winter is Coming

AMBCU conference minister Roman R. writes of his countrymen preparing for a harsh winter, where fuel for heating will be scarce if not nonexistent. Missile strikes have destroyed many municipal heating networks, and the evacuation of the population has been announced in several regions. Some are preparing by stocking up on firewood. Pray for those who are especially vulnerable in these circumstances, such as the sick, elderly, isolated, and those forced to live in cellars and other inadequate shelters.

Together, We Can

MB pastor Alexei Y. reports that they continue to gather with displaced refugees to share the Gospel, pray, and even – against the natural inclinations one would expect under these circumstances – to sing. He writes, “Volunteers and relief workers do not just share in word, but in deeds, and with huge hearts! We met together in Vinnytsia to distribute care packages from Mission Eurasia, with whom we are partnering. Meeting practical needs, and just listening to their stories, this makes a huge difference. 

“Together, we can do a lot!”

Hundreds of thousands of pounds of food have been packed and sent to the east of the country by teams of young adults over the past six months. These volunteers are themselves refugees from the occupied territories of Zaporizhzhia and Donbas, but they work tirelessly to send aid to those in need. One participant remarked, “It will be fine Ukraine that has generations of such sons and daughters, jealous messengers of the Gospel, who are at the forefront of the humanitarian efforts. Pray for them that God will preserve and give them even more strength.

New Birth

MB pastor Sergei F. from the Small Arch Church was distributing relief in Kyiv when his wife Nastya gave birth to their first child, a girl, in Bielefeld, Germany. While all praise God for the safe delivery, and the safety of both mother and child in Germany, there is grief at being apart for so long. Pray for pastor Sergei as he continues to serve in Kyiv, where their church plant has relaunched Sunday services and is celebrating a different kind of new birth, through conversions and baptisms. Pray for the reuniting of families like his. 

Pray for peace in Ukraine

September 15, 2022

New Hope Center

New Hope Center in Zaporizhzhya continues to minister to more and more families in crisis, offering temporary shelter and helping the displaced to continue westward. Seeking to broaden their resources for ministry to the traumatized, some of their team spent time learning from a nonprofit organization in Chisinau, Moldova. One team member writes, “It was a really inspiring experience for us. We learned about their programs and had a chance to participate in art therapy classes.” Maxym Oliferovski, New Hope director, continues to plan for the future, recognizing that ministry to the displaced and traumatized will require a long-term strategy that offers months, not days, of shelter, rehabilitation, retraining and pastoral care.



Maxym writes, “It's been half a year since the full scale invasion in Ukraine began. The needs are still so vast! We continue to run the shelter that you helped us to remodel, but besides meeting physical needs, we want to start meeting people's emotional and mental needs. These ones are more difficult to meet, and so our team is being trained in post-traumatic stress disorder. We hope to prevent the effects of war trauma in the future by giving support to the families now. We need to start planning for the future of our country, and this will be a long-term goal. Please pray for strength and wisdom, as we envision and begin new ministry projects.”


Unity in Community

War is hard on marriages and families. Ukraine MB conference minister Roman Rakhuba tells of recent outreach events which focus on the alarming increase in domestic violence in Ukraine. Together with local police, they visit various communities to distribute both food and informative booklets, praying with individuals, families as well as with police officers. Pray for God’s people to continue to minister in unity as they oppose evil, heal hearts, and persevere in kindness and generosity. Pray for peace. 

Ongoing Giving

Thank you for your ongoing donations toward Ukraine ministries. Because of you, Multiply’s Ukraine Team continues to be involved in evangelism, discipleship, leadership training, church planting, and emergency relief - all supported through our Ukraine Ministry project. The New Hope Training Center, under the leadership of Multiply Ukraine leaders Maxym and Anya Oliferovski, continues to care for families in crisis and to plan for future ministry that will help their country to recover from the trauma of war. Our Ukraine MB churches continue to focus on the marginalized, the poor, and those who have been left behind by society and traditional churches, as well as providing immediate emergency relief to the damaged and displaced. Thank you for your generous support and, especially, for your prayers.

August 24, 2022


UKRAINE INDEPENDENCE DAY

August 24 is Ukrainian Independence Day, a day commemorating Ukraine’s formal separation from the Soviet Union in 1991. This year, August 24 is also a day of bitter irony, commemorating six months since a Russian invasion initiated an ongoing war. Could it be, for us, a day of fasting and prayer?    

On this anniversary of freedom, we encourage prayer not only for peaceful resolution to this devastating and deadly conflict, but also for deep reconciliation with the God of peace. The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) and the European Evangelical Alliance (EEA) have issued this statement, “On this day of independence, we want to declare our dependence on God, the One who can bring true peace to the hearts of each individual person, each family and even entire peoples.” The WEA has also made available this kid-friendly prayer guide for families to use as we pray for Ukraine. www.children.worldea.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Pray-with-Children-in-War-and-Conflict.pdf

Ukrainians have always had their own culture and language, but for centuries were dominated by Russia, Poland, Turkey and other countries. Because of this, the holiday has always been a time for Ukrainians to publicly express their love for, and strong commitment to, their homeland. Celebrations have typically been strongest in the capital of Kyiv, but with the realities of war overshadowing the city, the Ukrainian capital has banned public gatherings, with security forces on alert and ready to respond to any missile attacks or bombings. Pray for protection, and pray for peace.  
 
MINISTRY TO DISPLACED PEOPLE


Pastor Maxym and the team at New Hope Center in Zaporizhia continue to provide shelter and care for those fleeing war zones. He writes, “We had thought that by the end of summer the amount of displaced people would decrease. But unfortunately it stays the same. There are still many people moving out from occupied territories and search for a safer place.” Max continues, “The Heart of Christ MB church in Vinnytsia is also leaning in to help displaced people from other parts of the country to integrate into their new realities. MB pastor Aleksei writes, ‘Although it is important to help people by giving away food kits and essentials, it is also important to help them find jobs, rent houses, meet together, make new friends, and just talk. Every Friday we hold a tea party where people can share their problems. People are looking for answers to their questions; we tell them about Jesus, the One who helps us go through and survive all these horrors of war. Pray for us to show the heart of Christ.’”

Other relief efforts minister to both civilians and military alike, as church teams share practical aid as well as emotional and spiritual encouragement. We are told, “Everyone we meet is amazed and encouraged - beyond what I can even express in words - to learn that there are people in North America who pray for them, and who even give their own money to help them. Even from thousands of miles away, you are encouraging Ukrainians in their fight for their sovereign right to exist and to live in peace. Thank you!”  

SUMMER CAMP MINISTRIES
Despite increased dangers and logistical challenges, Ukraine summer camps are reaching children, youth, and families with the hope of Jesus. One of our MB pastors in Ukraine writes, “We hear these words: ‘I don't want to leave here.’ This is what we are hearing again and again as camps are ending. Summer is flying by at a tremendous speed. Time is not in our power, but we wish we could stop it. More than seventy people came to the tent camp from Avdeevka, Andreevka, Berdyansk, Zaporizhia, and Balkovoye. Several kids gave their hearts to Jesus; we keep working with each one, we believe that all of them will be servants of God! On behalf of everyone, I would like to say words of gratitude to Multiply, Mission Eurasia, and the Association of Mennonite Brethren Churches of Ukraine (AMBCU) for making this possible.”


MB pastor Oleksii Makaiov also writes about what God has done through camp ministries this summer, “What we definitely didn't expect and didn't plan for, during this turbulent war time in Ukraine, was to hold a summer camp for young people. And yet the camp took place! Young people from Zaporizhia, Dnipro, Kyiv, and Molochansk spent several days in the quiet refuge of the Carpathian mountains. Thank you for helping with the camp, and for your prayers!”

August 12

Summer camps in Ukraine have risen courageously to the challenges imposed by war. Pastor Alexei in Kherson reports, “Special pain is felt for those children who are without a home, who sat in bomb shelters for months, who saw people die and their homes being bombed.” Their team in Vinnytsia has been holding weekly children's day camps for children living in schools, dorms and other shelters, as well as for the local children from Vinnitsa. “We are giving joy to children during war,” Alexei says. This is no small victory.

Pastor Maxym, director of New Hope Center in Zaporizhia, speaks soberly of the recent missile strikes in his city. Many houses were damaged in the village as a result of shelling in the suburbs, and some were completely destroyed. The risk to the nuclear power plant remains high. 

Maxym’s wife Anya writes, “Daily I receive many messages from friends from abroad, asking, ‘How are you?’ Many write that they pray for us. Our nights are rough and restless. Explosions are heard all night. One morning, I learned that two rockets were shot down over the community where my mother lives. I pray daily for my country, for peace. 

“Please, Lord, let this be soon!”

Pastor Oleksii in Molochansk is involved in distributing thousands of Multiply relief bags to people in need in various regions of Ukraine, supplying urgently needed food kits and personal hygiene products. 

He writes, “This war touches everyone. In addition to numerous losses in the army, civilians are dying every day; schools, hospitals, houses and the country's vital infrastructure are being destroyed. Ukraine still needs our prayers and help! By daily meeting with people and passing them a food basket, we build friendships and remind ourselves and them of God's promise from Hebrews 13:5 – ‘I will never forget you; I will never leave you.’”

July 22

MB pastor Oleksii reports on how the war has disrupted their usual summer camp ministries. With Molochansk now being occupied territory, holding a camp there was impossible. However, as young people and families with children have been evacuated to a safer location, opportunities to run camps in western Ukraine opened up. He writes, “Last week we were able to minister to over 130 children - displaced children whose homes are in the occupied territory or in the war zone, children whose parents are fighting at the front lines, and just local children as well. They were all united by the hope that the war would end, that long-awaited peace would follow, and that they and their parents could go home together. Pray for these children, that their childhood dreams will come true. Pray for peace in Ukraine.”

The MB church of Nikolay-Pole, in the Zaporizhzhya region, has been able to host a children’s summer camp, which they called “Your Choice”. Fifty-three children have attended the camp, half of whom are refugees from the occupied territories of Zaporizhzhia and the Donetsk regions. The camp program includes a Bible lesson, fun workshops, a delicious lunch, and various outdoor sports activities. Church volunteers are asking us to pray that the living Word of God will work in the hearts of these children.


MB pastor Sergei of the New Hope Church in Zaporizhzhya reports that they continue to work in the frontline zones, where they have already helped evacuate more than 4000 people back to the relative safety of Zaporizhzhia. There, the New Hope Center has created a warm and welcoming refuge to house them. Many arrive with nothing but the shirts on their backs, having spent two or more months in bomb shelters. Every day since the war began, Max and Anya Oliferovski and their team of volunteers - including psychologists - cook for, feed, house and minister to complete strangers who are shell-shocked and traumatized. Volunteers continue to do this even while their own homes and lives are in danger. The New Hope team write, “Every new day brings sounds of sirens, rockets that destroy houses and take away lives. At night we are not allowed to turn on the lights, and must stay at home. Most of our faces look exhausted and tired. May war not become something ordinary. We need to stay strong in our prayers. And not lose our true Hope.”

Pastor Alexsei of Berdyansk has been living and serving in Vinnytsia with his family since they were forced to flee their home in eastern Ukraine which was taken over by Russians. Recently, at least twenty-three people were killed in a midday missile attack, despite the city being hundreds of kilometers from the front-line. “Many of our leaders and church members have been forced out of their homes, yet they do not stop helping others. Every week we give out seventy or more family food packages, and part of the team continues active service in Vinnytsia, giving out food, hygiene products, clothing and more. But the most important thing that we give is hope, something which is very much missing, as we know from our own experience. Some people have begun to attend the church and learn about Jesus. They tell stories about how they have literally escaped death and believe that God is giving them another chance.”


July 8


MB pastor Oleksii in Dnipro reports that summer camps, although dramatically restricted, are still going forward this year, ministering to children and families in crisis and sharing the hope of the Gospel. Camps will not take place in high-risk regions where churches are already doing extensive relief work with evacuation, humanitarian assistance, psychological and spiritual support. However, small teams from MB churches in the cities of Molochansk, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhya and elsewhere are being sent to western Ukraine to partner with churches that have a large number of refugees, children of those serving in the military, and local families. Right now, the first of three anticipated camps is taking place in the city of Novoyavorivsk (Lviv region). Another is shortly to take place in the Carpathian mountains and in the village of Lybohora (Lviv region).

 Kateryna Oliferovska (daughter to Maxym and Anya of the New Hope Center in Zaporizhzhya) will be volunteering at a summer camp in the Khmelnistkiy region (unoccupied as yet). She writes, “It’s time to share about God’s mercy. I came to Germany in the middle of January, not knowing that I would stay here for six months instead of my planned month-and-a-half. One of the reasons I went to Germany was to take a break from my New Hope Center work with kids, and to find out what God wants from me. But children have been following me everywhere! I ended up doing almost the same work at the German elementary school as I did in Ukraine. During this time I have realized how much I want to help Ukrainian kids to have a life full of peace, hope and joy. I want to use my knowledge to restore the broken. When I heard about an opportunity to serve at summer camps, I didn’t have any doubts. Incredibly, God made a way for me!” Donations towards these summer camps can be made at www.multiply.net/project/ukrainian-mb-summer-camp-ministry

In Lithuania, MB churches have continued to coordinate humanitarian aid trips to Ukraine. On the fifth trip, cash and food supplies were taken in three vans from Vilnius to the city of Lublin in Poland, to be used for Ukraine relief work. From there, the teams crossed into Ukraine and unloaded more supplies at a warehouse in the western Ukrainian province of Zakarpattia. While the flow of refugees being transported out of Ukraine and into Lithuania has slowed, a 17-year-old girl from Mariupol was brought across the Slovakian border. Lithuanian MB pastor Arturas Rulinskas and others express their thanks to all who are contributing to this cause, both financially and in prayer.


Ukrainian journalist Oleg Sheykevych writes of the recent attacks in Odessa: “Most people have the illusion that the tragedy of war is somewhere out there - and that it will not touch us. Until the awareness of the calamity comes with the calamity itself, and the missiles hit closer to home. The Illusion of safety is dangerous.” Pray for those who lost loved ones in this attack, and for those facing intensified battle in the Donbas as Russian troops push into the eastern city of Slovyansk.

 
 

June 27


In Lithuania, pastors Gediminas Dailyde, Valdas Vaitkevi?ius and others continue to be engaged in relief work with refugees as well as delivering supplies to the Ukraine – Poland border. A partnership with Operation Mobilization has proven to be very fruitful. Gediminas was thankful to be able to share a recent excursion to the border with his son Joel, pictured here. Even the youngest generation is being shaped by this wa

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Multiply’s Ukraine Team is involved in evangelism, discipleship, leadership training, church planting, and emergency relief - all supported through our Ukraine Ministry project. We also support the New Hope Training Center, founded by Multiply global workers Maxym and Anya Oliferovski. This project provides orphans and youth-at-risk with vital vocational training and organizes Summer Camp ministries for families in crisis, children, youth, and the elderly. Staff of New Hope have chosen to remain in Ukraine during the war and are now involved in delivering food kits, relocating families, and responding to requests from municipal social services for emergency relief for the poor. Their new online ministry now supports isolated families with encouraging Bible messages, prayer, and the hope of the Gospel.

Although Ukraine has faced years of political instability, and now full-scale war, the MB churches there have been growing and embracing their role of influence within society. MB churches in Ukraine have always been focused on the marginalized, the poor, and those who have been left behind by society and traditional churches. For years, they have organized relief for people in the Donetsk war zone, providing food, medicine, water, and the Good News. This work is now happening on an even greater scale throughout Ukraine, providing both immediate emergency relief and the eternal hope of the Gospel, with a vision to see multiplying churches that utilize a holistic approach to serve and transform local communities.

 
View related videos

Ukraine Update - March 15, 2022

Ukraine Update - March 8, 2022

March 8, 2022 - Safety in Steyr

A clip from our call with Maxym and Anya on March 1, 2022

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