Featured Writers, Guest Post, Personal Reflections, Ukraine, Uncategorized

Update from Ukraine, 147th Day of the War (From email dated July 23rd)

Dear friends, I wish you the God’s Day.
My wife and I haven’t seen you for a long time, so we would like to physically be with you face to face over a cup of tea. But now there is a war and you cannot come to us in Ukraine, and we cannot come to you.

I am glad that I have many friends and acquaintances. It’s good for me, but I can’t physically write to everyone in person – it’s bad for me, I’m sorry.

My personal news, my personal feelings and observations.
Today is the 147th Day of the war: Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
The fifth month of the war will soon end. It feels like “eternity”.
I was interested in analyzing myself, what did I feel at the beginning of the war and what do I feel now?
I remember the first days of the war, from February 24 to March 31, when Russian troops quickly approached Kyiv and tried to surround and capture it. At that time, I felt confused, scared and stressed by the rocket attacks and shelling of our city by the enemy. Now in the news, this time is called the first stage of the war. Many people then prophesied for Ukraine, as a state, that it had 3-5 days left to live, and then it would have to capitulate to Moscow. But by the grace of God, this did not happen, the Ukrainians withstood this sudden, strong and insidious blow of the aggressor. God loves us.

The next period of the war, this is the time from about April 1 to June 30. This is the time when the Ukrainian troops forced the Russians to start retreating from the cities of Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy, that is, the enemy retreated through Belarus from the north of Ukraine to the east. At that time, I felt joy for our Armed Forces, I felt hope for our quick victory and the end of the war, but at the same time I felt the pain of our losses, because the Ukrainian army at that time had about 100 soldiers killed every day, who died in battles to deter the enemy from seizing the east and south of Ukraine. A large number of Ukrainian civilians died from shelling and shooting. The International and Ukrainian Olive Branch and the “Path of Truth” church prayed together and then my feeling of pain decreased. Thank you all for your many prayers through messenger. Thank you, Olive Branch! God loves us.

Now say that now is the third stage of the war. This is from about July 1 until today. Russian troops are concentrated in the east of Ukraine and are trying to attack all this time. Our Ukrainian troops stopped them in all directions. Positional and artillery battles are now underway. Ukrainian troops with the help of American weapons are trying to seize the initiative and destroy their rear. I still feel in me the old stress from the shelling and the new stress  from the uncertainty, because every time it seems that the end of the war is near, it is pushed back further. It is difficult psychologically. But God loves us.

Today in our church was Chaplain, who graduate a 2015 year of the  program “Pastoral Chaplain Leadership” at the KTS, Major of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Yuriy us his testimony, he thanked us for our prayers, and he repeated many times that prayers work and they are real act even when we do not see it with our own eyes. Major Yuriy cited many cases when he felt our prayer, when he himself prayed, when soldiers started coming to him one by one, and when the shelling started, then 20 people came to his room.He said that God, through our prayers, brought their unit out of the enemy’s encirclement, God saved their broken car at night, God saved the building where their military unit lived from terrible shelling for two months. All the windows there were broken and covered with plywood, but the glass in Yura’s window was intact. It is a miracle of God that where there are trained military chaplains, there are almost no wounded and none killed.

Our church has a list of alumni chaplains and has been prayerfully and financially supporting them since the beginning of the war.
God used to prepare Ukraine for the battle against Mordor through the Olive Branch, and now God continues to do so.
God is doing this through all of you, dear friends and employees of the Olive Branch, this is God’s miracle in Ukraine!

What I do at Olive Branch in Ukraine

During the time that has passed since my last message, I conducted two three-day online seminars: 

for the Evangelical Reformed Seminary of Ukraine (in June there were 18 students) and for KTS in July.
So, on July 4-6, 2022, by the grace of God, I conducted the second three-day training course on the topic: “How to prepare a military chaplain for the local church to care for the defenders of the country.”
35 students were registered for this course during the war.
All three days of the course, 28 students were present online (according to screenshots). Another seven did not listen during the entire study time. The senior chaplain, pastor Vasyl, helped me in teaching.
Among the 35 listeners were:
Pastors – 7;
Deacons – 6;
Chaplains and volunteers – 10;
Other types of service – 12.
After reading the given literature, the students will be sent the Certificate of the program “Pastor and Chaplain Leadership” of the KTS.
The leadership of one of the independent Baptist churches of southern Ukraine was present at the seminar: a pastor and three deacons, one of whom was a military chaplain. They had a conflict in the middle because of the chaplaincy of one of their deacons. The church did not understand who a military chaplain is, how to equip and support him, and the chaplain did not understand accountability to his church and adherence to his creed. Therefore, I explained it to them in the course of teaching. They understood this and reconciled.
I think that during our studies we were able to learn to love God and each other more.

In the Church “The Way of Truth”
On July 25-30, in the premises of our church, we plan to hold a six-day camp on robotics and English for 20 teenagers from military and other families.
We are preparing four people for baptism.

Hospital chaplains work in Cherkasy
Senior hospital chaplain, reserve lieutenant colonel wrote:  “We, the Cherkasy hospital chaplains, are very grateful to OBI for the support you provide us. It inspires us to defeat the enemy. Soldiers who need both medical and spiritual support enter our medical facility. We are always on the spot and work together with the medical personnel (due to martial law, I do not provide most of the photos with the soldiers). Glory to God and Glory to Ukraine.”

In Irpin, under the leadership of Zhanna, the Ruth club works:
1) On July 17, 2022, the leader of the women’s ministry, Zhanna, Marina and the club “Ruth” at the “Path of Truth” church held a women’s event on the topic “Spiritual gift set” for women from the Irpin of branch of “Olive Branch”. These are women, who survived the occupation, internally displaced persons and refugees who recently returned home. Spiritual truths were remembered more because each of them was associated with one of 10 symbolic gifts: a neckerchief, soap, perfume, salt, a candle holder, a chocolate bar, a towel, lip balm, tea and a rose, as a symbol of originality and uniqueness every woman Each truth is related to one of the biblical images (women) that made them interested in reading about these women. A total of 26 women attended this event, including 8 for the first time. Faithful women from the club decided to prepare for Mother’s Day to invite other women to such an activity. And each will tell one biblical truth and give one gift.We also plan to prepare a presentation and excerpts of other Christian films!
2) We make plans for what we will do after the war is over. This is also a way to overcome the stress that women are under. We thank Linda and Caroline for their training during the online classes at the “Ruth” club, which were held on June 7 and July 11.
3) By July 31, we are preparing Galina teenage group for an evangelistic trip to the place of compact residence of people who lost their homes due to bombs and mines in Irpen. We also prepare a gift set for them – towels, bedding, hygiene products.
4) I visit these people once a week, I bring food to those who especially need it, then I learn about their needs and we pray. We sincerely thank our American brothers and sisters for their support, for the fact that we can help people in difficult circumstances. Together with the Word of God, we bring what is necessary. We also distribute volunteer aid.
5) We received bandages, towels and sleeping bags from volunteers from the city of Brody. The dressing material was transferred to the hospital of Kyiv and Kropyvnytskyi. Towels and sleeping bags – for people who have lost their homes.

Another 21 subdivisions of Olive Branch operate in different cities of Ukraine.

Our regional presbyter Mykola Romaniuk suggested that I prepare online training for pastors of the Baptist Brotherhood with the participation of his familiar American chaplain on the topic: “How to prepare yourself and the church for the meeting of military personnel from the war.” I am starting to work on this issue.

My mother continues to live in the village. I was in her apartment in Chernihiv. I installed a new door there. The inner walls of the apartment collapsed from the air strike, so we threw them down through the window from the fifth floor. We need to restore the walls, order and buy new windows, electrical wiring, pipes for water and heating …

Remember this letter in your prayers.

This is the latest news I have. Tomorrow I plan to go to sell my garage, and then I will go to my mother in the village for two nights. My son Mark has not cut his hair for 147 days …

Thank you for your prayers and other help.

Valentyn Korenevych,
Colonel (retired)

President of the Public organization “Olive Branch” Ukrainewww.olivebranch.org.ua
Program director of “Pastors-Chaplains Leadership” of the Kiev Theological Seminary
www.ktsonline.org

The above is from an email dated July 23rd, 2022.

Featured Writers, Guest Post, Testimonies, Ukraine, Uncategorized

Eyewitness Account From Ukraine

From my friend, Valentyn Korenevych, in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Dear friends, remember that now I wish everyone not a good day, but God’s day. You admit that Russia’s aggression against Ukraine began on February 20, 2014, when the Russians captured Crimea and then eastern Ukraine. Eight years later, the Russians decided to capture and destroy the whole of Ukraine, so on February 24, 2022, at 4 am, they began bombing our Ukrainian airfields, military units and cities. Today is the forty-first day of the active phase of the war. We Ukrainians defend our faith, our way of life, our land. A strong servant of Satan, hidden in the Kremlin walls of ancient Mordor: an old evil that pretends to be light under the guise of pagan Orthodoxy and Z occultism, is leading Russia to its doom. The unburied corpse of an idol man (Lenin) for about 100 years lies in the center of the Russian capital, near the cemetery of the same murderers and thieves.
We Ukrainians, as residents of the state of Gondor in the Tolkien writer, live in Mordor (Muscovy), and since 1487, we have been fighting with the Muscovite orcs for the right to live freely and believe in God.

This is my little introduction to give you a better understanding of how I feel and what is happening around me in Ukraine. Because I noticed that many people from other countries do not understand the essence of these events and continue to believe in fairy tales about good Russia. By the way, the name Russia is also was stolen by orcs in Kievan Rus, as now Russian orcs steal and take out of our cities, even fleeing Ukraine, refrigerators, washing machines, TVs, toilets, tablets, computers and more. But it’s not scary, we will still work and buy it all. It is not terrible that they destroyed our cities, we will rebuild. The scary thing is that they are killing our people by throwing bombs and missiles at us. And even worse is what they do with locals and children in the occupation. The city of Bucha, near Kyiv, where someone called the second Srebrenica. The name is not for the number of deaths, but for the cruelty. People and children were shot, tortured and raped by orcs there. Corpses, corpses… people. But it is not yet known what is being done in other Russian-occupied cities.

I have been with my family in Kyiv for a week now. Arrived on March 29 with my family (five of us). It helped a lot to have a car that all you raised money for me. We left Kyiv in this car for Cherkasy and we came back, and now I am transporting some things for the military in this car. Because transport is almost non-existent in Ukraine now. Thank you all again. May our God bless you all with His blessings.

In Kyiv I try to be useful to other people.
I communicate with military chaplains over the phone and various messengers.
I support them in various ways.
I take medicine to military units.
Every night for 41 days I have a church prayer for our military.
I join the online seminary every Sunday night.
Every Monday I conduct online communication with the employees of Olive Branch Ukraine.
On Sunday, I worshiped with the Lord’s Supper in our military building. Now there is no electricity and it is very cold.
On Thursday, Vasily and I will teach our pastors to understand chaplaincy.

The Russians have already left Kyiv, Chernihiv, Zhytomyr and Sumy oblasts, so military teams are currently working there to clear roads and buildings. Today the first road to Chernihiv, my mother’s city, was opened. The city is 70% destroyed, and there is no water, gas, electricity or heating. My mother begs for food and an apartment every day, which she does not have, and still does not have a safe way there. My mother is 79 years old, I don’t know if she understands that or if she’s so stubborn. Maybe in ten days I will try to go to Chernihiv.

Today, at the door of our rented room called “Olive Branch” and the Church “Way of Truth”, I hung an announcement for needy people that those who need food, please contact. We plan to help those who do not have jobs and money for food, especially refugees.

Thank you, my friends, co-workers with God, I feel your prayers and other help. We all Ukrainians feel. The Russians bombed almost all our strategic enterprises, oil depots, food bases, airports, blocked seaports and river ports, but thanks to you our army fires bullets, shells, missiles, our tanks, cars and planes are at war, air defense is alive. Four million refugees are abroad, and they are safe.

I thank God and you for your countries contribution to all this. God works through you in times of war. I would like to thank you all in some way, but I do not know what and how?

Postscript. In Cherkasy on March 8, Marina and I went outside for a walk. We walked 500 meters to the city center when the alarm siren sounded. Marina immediately hunched over like a very old woman. It’s scary when you’re standing in the middle of the street of a still peaceful city, and the sirens around you are buzzing around, and you realize that you’re standing face to face in front of a cruise missile, and you’re defenseless (I didn’t mention God right away). I still didn’t have time to understand how Marina dragged me to the bomb shelter at a school. We waited at school for a while, but without waiting for the alarm to end, we went outside. We walked another 500 meters and I saw something strange, surreal. Near the market, right during the alarm, women were selling yellow and red tulips. It flashed in my head, today is Women’s Day, April 5th! And even more surprising was the fact that these tulips were lined up for men of all ages, who nervously shrugged, looked around, but stood in line, and they bought these flowers, mostly only one flower. To this day, I have before my eyes a picture: anxiety, the market, tense men, yellow and red tulips. I did not dare to stand in line, and did not buy a flower for Marina, because then such a purchase seemed strange and inappropriate. When I came home and calmed down, I was a little ashamed that I did not overcome myself and did not buy a flower for Marina. Suddenly, about an hour later, the son of the owner of the apartment where we lived, Lieutenant Colonel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine., came and brought three flowers for Marina. Such are our military in Ukraine!
That is why Women’s Day, thanks to the military in Ukraine, exists even during the war.
Thank God for Ukraine and America and our other friends in Europe.

Valentyn Korenevych,
Colonel (Retired)

President of the Public organization “Olive Branch” Ukraine

www.olivebranch.org.ua
Program director of “Pastors-Chaplains Leadership” of the Kiev Theological Seminary
www.ktsonline.org