Ina never believed in God. She thought faith was for weak people and the elderly. In fact, if anyone said something like, “May God protect you,” she scoffed and rolled her eyes.
Ina lived in Chernihiv, the city in northern Ukraine hit hard by Russian forces. Civilians have been trapped in Chernihiv for weeks; they have limited access to utilities, humanitarian aid, medicine, and other supplies. Evacuation has been nearly impossible since Russian troops block routes out of the city.
Ina and her daughter hid in their basement during bombings. A friend had offered to have her brother help the mother and daughter escape to safety, but the brother hadn’t been able to connect with them, so they remained hunkered down.
One day Ina and her daughter ventured outside and saw a neighbor who told them he was taking people out of the city to relative safety in Kyiv.
“I’ve got two seats left if you’re ready to leave right now.”
Ina and her daughter decided to go, so they jumped in the neighbor’s vehicle. After a dangerous trip through the city and its surrounding villages, they made it to Kyiv.
The driver stopped at a house where a man welcomed them and told them to use anything they needed. He prepared a place for them to sleep and food for them to eat. Ina and her daughter were surprised that this man would open his home to strangers.
Their host also arranged the next leg of the journey for Ina and her daughter. In the morning, a different driver picked up mother and daughter and took them to western Ukraine.
When they arrived safely, Ina began calling the people who had helped them on their trip; she wanted to tell them they were safe and to thank them. When she called her neighbor, he told her, “I am a member of a church, and people from my church are helping people evacuate.”
She called the man who had welcomed them into his home, and he said the rest of his family had left the country for protection, but he stayed so that he could help people. He stayed specifically because he is a Christian, and the people from his church are helping evacuees reach safety.
Ina called the driver who took them from Kyiv to western Ukraine, and he told her he is a Ukrainian orthodox priest and is doing this as his service to God.
A short time later, Ina received a call from her friend’s brother, the person they initially had hoped would help them evacuate. He said he was now able to help them. Ina explained that she and her daughter had left and were now safe. Then she asked why he risks his life helping people evacuate. He told her that he is a Christian and is trying to help people.
“I never believed in God, but God came to me to help me,” an astounded Ina said. “I always thought God was just in a picture, but now I see he is in people.”
These selfless Christians showed Ina and her daughter the love and care of Christ. She saw them as the physical representation of God on earth.
This is a single story of one woman and one girl who have been reached with that love, but those Christians and many others work daily to help people reach safety. Reports from Ukraine tell of a network of homes and drivers that help people leave the war-torn eastern regions. They shelter these refugees in an underground-railroad-style system. The people providing refuge and aid are mainly Christian people who do it out of their love for God and for others.
Pray for these brothers and sisters who remain in embattled areas to show God’s love and protection whenever possible.