The War in Ukraine needs no introduction. It is dominating global news headlines, with every event being reported as it emerges.
Our mainstream media channels, and social media feeds, are drip feeding us fear, panic, despair, and the existential threat of a Third World War involving nuclear weapons.
Whether it’s refugees, internally displaced people, separated couples, grieving families, unarmed civilians, military personnel, peacemakers, politicians, pastors, humanitarian aid workers, doctors, nurses, the sick, the injured, the dying, the bereaved, the scale of suffering is incalculable, and it feels difficult to keep track of all the groups of people being impacted by this war.
Yet the response to this unfolding tragedy is amazing – whether it’s people volunteering their expertise, money being given to help those most in need, humanitarian aid being delivered, homes being opened to displaced families, or prayers being offered in faith – and what I am finding particularly heartening are the reports of God’s hand observably at work.
So – spurred on by several of my subscribers, who have requested that I seek out stories of faith and hope from Ukraine* – I thought I would share with you some of the examples I have discovered, which reveal how God is protecting, providing, intervening, and ordaining timings.
(Please click on the links below to view the original sources.)
Miracles of protection
There have been reports of God intervening to protect people, such as this, from a pastor based in Kyiv:
“At this moment we see a lot of bombs that do not explode,” says Victor Punin, a pastor based in Kyiv.
“We have a lot of testimonies of people being led out of danger shortly before an attack. Also, very heartening, many people in the Ukrainian army are asking for prayer.”
Despite the brutal conflict raging in his country, Victor and his congregation are praying with a clear expectation that their prayers will be answered.
“Today we prayed at 12 noon with all denominations,” says Victor.
“It was announced the whole of Ukraine would pray together, although it’s hard to meet in person.”
“The Pastor of a small church in Volnovakha did not feel like fleeing from the city for the first days of the war. But then he heard the Lord saying, “Leave the city immediately”. He took the whole church in two buses, and they left the city. Only a few hours later the Russians completely destroyed the city, including their houses. There is no such place any more – just bare ground.
One of our associates in Kharkiv told how her 10-storey apartment block was bombed and all windows were broken – except for the windows in her apartment. There is a very strong presence of the Lord in this area.
We have heard of soldiers in the front-line testifying to supernatural miracles and wonders happening. They say they feel someone invisible nearby and experience supernatural protection when bullets and shells were just flying past. They also tell of unexplained guidance and wisdom in the battles, and some feel unusual strength. Someone said that they could see the enemies, even in pitch darkness, and they knew what to do and how to do it, but they were not visible to the Russians.
Where we are in Kremenchug (Central Ukraine) is currently safe. No missiles, tanks or Russian troops so far. Today there were 360 people at our prayer meeting. And six new converts have been baptised in the water today!
All the churches in our two cities have refitted their buildings as refuge places. In the churches, the refugees are receiving not only physical care, but they hear about God, and they are prayed for. The churches are constantly praying. There is a very strong anointing at prayer meetings”.
Miracles of provision
There have been reports of God multiplying resources to provide for people, including this, from Sharyn Borodina, who has co-led YWAM Ukraine for the past 25 years, with her husband, Ruslan:
“My husband got a phone call from a maternity ward in a small town just outside of Kyiv that had been destroyed from the bombing. The maternity ward was in desperate need of all supplies and gave him a list. He took the list, walked out the door of our building, and all of a sudden a truck pulled up outside. Out jumped a group of Norwegians who had come over from a YWAM base in Romania. The van was full of humanitarian aid, including every single item that was on the list from the maternity ward. Ruslan was able to direct the supplies to exactly where they were needed”.
And speaking of the work at the YWAM base in Kyiv:
“They are feeding 150 people a day right now at their base. They are talking about how eight kilos of macaroni is feeding 150 people – food is being multiplied.”
There’s also this, from the Bible Society in Ukraine:
“Yesterday, we were outside in a park, delivering bread to people. I had children’s Bibles in my vehicle, to distribute in the basements where women and children were hiding. But one lady saw them and asked: “Are they Bibles? Can I have one please?” And other people – 80 or 90 – just came to the car and asked: “Can I have one?” One man, in his 70s, stood there with his bread in one hand and the Bible in his other hand and said: “I think the Bible is more important than daily bread, for me personally now. I never prayed before. I have never been to church, never read the Bible. But now it’s time to come closer to God.”
We’ve met so many people in the last two weeks who have never read the Bible or prayed before, but now they’re asking “Are you from the Church? Please pray for us,” on the streets, at homes, everywhere.
People are searching for faith because they know that a miracle must happen to relieve this situation. We don’t see any diplomatic or other solutions. We just know deep inside us that only God can stop this horrible war.”
Miracles of intervention
There have been reports of God causing confusion, setbacks and logistical problems in Russia’s “military operation”. Returning again to Sharyn and Ruslan Borodina from YWAM Ukraine:
“We have heard of bombs dropping out of the sky and not exploding. Stories of tanks running out of fuel that had fuel. Stories of Russian soldiers who have given themselves up as Prisoners of War, because they refuse to take up arms against part of their own Slavic families. For the last three days there has been a storm raging on the Black Sea. It has been so ferocious that Russia’s naval ships have not been able to dock at port.”
Miracles of timing
On Sunday 20 February, just four days before Russia invaded Ukraine, 90-year-old evangelist David Hathaway flew to Kiev, where he held a ‘National Day of Prayer for Ukraine’, after which he reported, “People were healed and many repented, even at this last hour”.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with him, David has been a faithful visitor to Ukraine (and all the former USSR nations) over many decades. He also has the most incredibly powerful personal testimony, which features a miraculous escape from jail and twice being miraculously healed from cancer! (I’ve previously blogged about it here.)
During the Day of Prayer, the services he held were attended by thousands of people in person, and thousands more online. They were supported by bishops and leaders from multiple church denominations. (You can watch the recording here.)
In sharing these stories, I don’t want to encourage any sense of triumphalism. Far from it.
The reality of the suffering being endured is immense. The death, destruction and devastation are real. The evil that has been unleashed is undeniable.
But God is there, dwelling in the midst of the mayhem. We mustn’t forget this.
How, then, can we respond?
If you want to reflect, you might appreciate this poem by Ann Weems, which you can turn into a prayer.
If you want to worship, you might appreciate this song by Shane and Shane, based on Psalm 46.
If you want to pray, you might appreciate this sermon by Simon Ponsonby, which unpacks Psalm 10 in light of the War in Ukraine.
As ever, constructive comments are welcome below!
Photo by Max Kukurudziak via Unsplash
*Footnote: The subscribers who requested this blog post asked for it because they remembered me stumbling upon some encouraging stories – and blogging about them – following the Australian bushfires (here) and the Lebanon explosion (here and here), as well as during the first few months of the Covid pandemic (here, here and here).