A distant air raid siren splits the night in the western Ukrainian city of Lutsk. The air defense warnings are mostly ignored here because they rarely result in an actual attack–but the anxiety is always in the air. The people of Lutsk are no strangers to the destruction of this war. And these sirens are a reminder of what their fellow countrymen are facing in other parts of Ukraine.
A nation at war is effected on every level. And there are heroes in the most unlikely places. There is a saying that is heard often in Ukraine during these trying times: Slava Ukraine means, “glory to Ukraine”. The expected reply to this, especially during this tragic war is, heroyim slava… “glory to the heroes”.
On my recent trip to Ukraine I encountered many stories of heroes. The men and women at the front are the ones who are the most obvious heroes. They are fighting courageously with limited resources and under desperate circumstances. We visited military hospitals where many were recovering from their wounds—physical and psychological. Brave medical personnel are working in war zones to save the lives of the wounded with minimal and often inferior medical supplies.
But there are those far away from the fray who are just as heroic. My friend Philip and I were privileged to train and minister to those who are serving as military chaplains—all of them voluntary, all of them making sacrifices of time, effort and family, and risking their lives in an attempt to comfort the soldiers and civilians near the front and share the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
They are also helping get supplies, food, and safe drinking water to thousands who have suffered attack from Russian forces. They are facing missiles, bullets, fear, and waterborne diseases from flood waters caused by a collapsed dam.
The church I attended, run by friends I have known for nearly a decade, has been a major hub for getting refuges out and supplies and aid in to war torn areas. Besides their sanctuary and coffee bar, the entire two story church facility is a warehouse for medical and practical supplies that are so needed in areas ravaged by the war.
The people administrating this makeshift warehouse are heroes. The doctors and nurses at the military hospital are heroes. The musicians writing songs that spark hope for a future are heroes. Those blogging and posting updates on social media are a source of clearer information in a very muddied situation—they are also heroes.
Whether in a politically motivated war or in spiritual battle, every person and every unique gift is needed and crucial to the effort. Even we who are far from the conflict can help with our gifts and especially our prayers. Would you take a moment right now and pray for these heroes? Pray for strength, resources, and wisdom. Pray for safety and cooperation. And pray for the love of God to penetrate the hearts of those whose hearts have been blown open by this tragic war.