God With Us - Ukraine
Fleeing the war in Ukraine, young mom Natasha spent two days, with her baby and young child, trying to cross the border into Slovakia, crying the entire time. Eventually coming to Ranch Kralova Lehota, Youth for Christ’s ministry and conference center in the Tatras mountains, she found a place of safety and help.
When the war in Ukraine began, the center, usually full of young people and adults on retreats and trainings, quickly retooled to care for the sudden influx of traumatized refugees. Natasha was one of them.
“All day long she was crying,” Andriy Kostyshyn, National Director of Youth for Christ Ukraine said of Natasha. Andriy, having felt directed by the Lord to go to Slovakia shortly before the invasion of Ukraine, was coordinating efforts to care for Ukrainian refugees in Slovakia.
“The first night she was here we had a special prayer and worship meeting with Youth for Christ staff, volunteers, and the Ukrainians. Natasha sat with her head down, crying all the time. When they had a prayer time the leader said, ‘Pray God will heal your heart, no matter how deep the situation is in your heart.’ Natasha was crying like a waterfall.” Someone came over, hugged her and prayed with her.
“In the morning when we woke up, Natasha came to coffee with a clean and shining face!” Andriy said. “From this time to now she gives glory to God. Jesus come into her heart and she is clean person right now. So special! This is what God is doing! People who never went to church and right now they come to Christ.”
“God says, ‘I’m here. You need my love and my care, to be my servant.’ This is what we are doing.” Immanuel – God with us, in war, in peace, in our past, present, and future.
Since the beginning of the war nine months ago, Youth for Christ has been actively showing the love and care of Christ to refugees who have fled to other nations, and we continue to provide humanitarian support and outreach to young people and families within Ukraine.
Before the war, Youth for Christ Ukraine operated 83 day centers for at-risk young people. Working in cooperation with local churches, they provided love, support, food, skills training, and Bible teaching to young people from difficult backgrounds who had little or no family support. Fifty of those day centers remain in operation today, 11 within occupied regions. Since the war began, Youth for Christ Ukraine has also been providing humanitarian support to families in need – food packages, medicine and hygienic products.
“What I realize in this period of time is that the body of Christ do fantastic ministry,” Andriy said. “I don’t know, but nobody say, ‘Oh are you Catholic? Are you orthodox? Or protestant?’ No! People say, ‘Do you need help? Yes? Jesus loves you.’ And give clothes to you. Give soup or borscht.”
Youth for Christ programs in neighboring countries and Youth for Christ supporters around the world have rallied to provide assistance to Ukraine and refugees during this time. Slovakia, Moldova, Romania, Netherlands, Sweden, Hungary have all actively been housing and transporting refugees, taking supplies into Ukraine, setting aside normal life to show the love of Christ to hurting people.
The needs go beyond the physical. So many young people and their families have experienced the destruction of their homes and death of family and friends. Pairing with professional counselors and psychologists, Youth for Christ is providing trauma counseling and, even just recently, art therapy for children in Kyiv.
“God is still on the throne,” said Andriy. “We see lots of people changing. This is a huge time to be salt and light. We have a good big family, Youth for Christ, and we will go through this. God will always help.”