This past weekend the majority of us in the US set our clocks back an hour. And each evening as the darkness descends earlier, we mutter to ourselves about how it’s getting dark so early and then, without a second thought, we switch on the lights. And as the days get colder we turn up the heat, make soup, take our hot showers, and enjoy our cozy drinks. We never stop to consider IF we will have electricity to light our homes or heat our water or run the appliances we need. We don’t worry about being warm. We have such an abundant life.
This week in Ukraine, however, darkness descended around 4:30 pm each day. And instead of warm, cozy evenings indoors with their loved ones, most Ukrainians are facing much harder challenges than we can imagine. With 40% of the country without electricity and the other part of the country experiencing rolling blackouts the evenings are neither cozy or warm.The temperatures are dipping below freezing most nights and without electricity they cannot heat their homes. They cannot keep their devices charged and some are without light because candles are getting harder and harder to find. Generators are also in short supply and costing 3 times what they are worth. Even in Kyiv the lack of electricity is an ongoing challenge. Just this week our partner, Jenz, went to the bank 10 times – only two of those visits were successful because of the lack of internet or no electricity. He also shopped with a flashlight and ate in a restaurant without proper lighting resulting in having to use a flashlight to find the restroom. The people are preserving but it’s becoming harder and harder to buy or move things. In the villages that were once occupied by Russian forces things are even worse. People are living without electricity or running water. The long hours of darkness and the drain caused by war and hardship is affecting morale. But you know what we are seeing? The Church of the living God is rising up. In many of these villages we are seeing the Church stepping into the leadership roles. The church building is becoming the central location and a place where people’s physical needs are being met and they are hearing the gospel and being prayed for. United by His Love is so privileged to partner with a network of pastors and missionaries spanning from east to west. These men and women are totally committed to serving their country for Christ. Last week one of our pastors had to dodge sniper fire while uploading aid. In another village people have to run up to get the aid and then hide for fear of snipers and gunmen. These pastors are often serving at great personal expense and risk. And yet, when Jenz recently had the opportunity to sit down with pastors across the country and ask them, “What are your biggest concerns for the next month?” the answers are all the same: “The cold and winter.” How are they going to keep people warm and safe in the harsh Ukrainian winter?
Hearing their concerns and needs has been what has guided us here at United by His Love to pursue three main focuses this winter and we can’t wait to share with you all the ways you can partner with us and the pastors of Ukraine. Make sure you follow United by His Love and turn on your notifications because over the next few days we will be sharing about our Share the Warmth Initiative and we don’t want you to miss anything. Stay tuned.