On February 24, 2022, Russian forces invaded Ukraine and left utter destruction in their wake. The lives of the Ukrainian people were forever changed on that day. For the missionary staff at Word of Life Ukraine, February 24 began a continuing journey of learning how to shine the light of Christ into the shock and despair caused by the war.
As we approach the first anniversary of the initial invasion, we have the privilege of hearing from Matias Radziwiluk, the director of Word of Life Ukraine. Matias offers an inside look at the current events in Ukraine and shares how God is continuing to work through these dark times.
Ministry One Year Later
While Word of Life missionaries continue to stay busy responding to wartime crises, Matias shared that they are beginning to resume ministries that were going on before the invasion. A small group of students are attending discipleship courses on the Bible Institute property, and they regularly go out on ministry projects with the Word of Life team. “Especially over the past couple months, God has given us amazing opportunities to share the gospel with doors He opened for us.”
Matias shared a particularly exciting opportunity God provided in December: an evangelistic musical production that resonates with war-torn Ukrainians. “During this winter, there have been power outages because of rocket attacks on the electrical grid; the theme of light and darkness has been very common. We’ve used that as a backdrop of what people are experiencing, and we’re sharing the gospel through that.”
The missionaries originally created the musical as a Christmas production for displaced children and their families, but God opened the door to continue this ministry beyond the holidays. “We travelled to around thirteen cities in the first tour. It was amazing,” Matias reflected. “We reached 7,000 people already, and we’re having our last presentation shortly. We’re looking toward possibly doing something similar for the Easter season.”
Hope in the Chaos
When asked to share wisdom from his experience of living through catastrophe, Matias pointed out that suffering is inevitable in our earthly lives. “We pray for peace, but we realize that hardships are not going to conclude with the end of this war, in Ukraine or anywhere else.”
Matias pointed to the hope found in James chapter one, to count it as joy when we go through trials. “It’s finding joy, not in the circumstances, but in something bigger, something better, something more important. For me, that joy has been seeing Christ – through other people, through how the church has come together and served, through seeing my own need for Christ, how He has brought people to encourage me, and how He has used our team.” He explained that, while they desperately want the suffering to end, they understand that Christ can give hope despite it all.
Current Condition of Ukraine
Matias emphasized that the crisis in Ukraine is still going on. “The intensity of the war hasn’t stopped. The east and south of Ukraine are still occupied. Unfortunately, many lives are being lost.”
Families continue to bear the ripple effects of the war throughout Ukraine “We’ve had over seven million internally displaced people, people who had to leave their homes and relocate. The wartime economy makes it difficult to find employment in many cases.”
While the war is a very present reality in Ukraine, Matias was encouraged to report that churches and other ministries are partnering with Word of Life Ukraine to help the hurting. “When the Russians were advancing, there were a lot of evacuations taking place. Now, there is more of an emphasis on serving liberated cities and meeting the basic needs of those who have been displaced – answering the need, while at the same time pointing to Christ.”
Ways to Pray
- Please pray for strength for Word of Life missionaries in Ukraine as they continue to serve relentlessly.
- Pray that peace would come to the nation of Ukraine.
- Pray for the church of Ukraine as they respond to the needs of the people. We believe that revival is coming! As people are looking to the church for their physical needs, pray they would find the hope found in Jesus Christ.