By Holly Culhane
It’s been more than a month since Vladimir Putin and the Russian army began its attacks against Ukraine and her citizens. The painful stories of a country at war, due to no fault of their own, fill our screens. Unfortunately, we don’t often hear how God is moving in that country. Or how He’s doing it so remarkably through His flock.
Meet Vasyl, the brother-in-law of a gentleman we know from church. Just days into this war, we learned of how he, his wife, and their four-year-old son awakened to the sound of explosions. As a pastor of a local church in Kyiv, this young man led his family there to help others and seek shelter in the basement. It wasn’t long before 30 fellow citizens had joined them and, not long after that, the decision was made for Vasyl to lead them all to western Ukraine for safety. Like Moses moving with the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land, Vasyl and his small family led a caravan of seven vehicles to a relative’s farm, normally a seven-hour drive. Fifteen hours later, they arrived at the crude Airbnb. No running water and no electricity, this was their sheltered retreat.
Then Vasyl kissed his wife and son goodbye and headed back to Kyiv.
Knowing his family was safe, he couldn’t abandon his flock.
Vasyl left the safety of western Ukraine and drove toward the shelling at the capital. To his church body, the sheep of his pasture. And to his neighbors, the lost sheep of the city.
Just days ago, I learned that Vasyl is the only pastor of his church that stayed in or returned to the city. He, alone, is meeting those who come to the church for shelter, for safety, hoping for temporary sustenance — but finding much more.
Yes, this under-shepherd pastor is introducing one Ukrainian at a time to the Good Shepherd. As he hands out packages to those who come to the church, he shares the gospel. Earlier this week, in just a few hours, he handed out 300 packs of dried food and basic hygiene necessities. And then he offered these weary, worn, and frightened souls the Bread of Life.
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?
And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?
And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
A war-time under-shepherd demonstrating Provision, Protection, and Presence in real time to the anxious, lonely, and desperate of his city.
I was excited to read a recent account from Intercessors for America of God’s miracles in Ukraine, but I was even more encouraged and refreshed to learn of Vasyl and his work — a story we probably won’t see on the ticker at the bottom of our screens.
May we all live as deeply into our calling as he is…