Here in Ukraine a heavy fog has rolled in this November morning. Sveta holds her cup of tea with two hands to keep them warm. “What causes me to be thankful in my life now?” She pauses for a moment to think about the question. “Now, every single day I am just thankful to be alive. Especially in the morning, when the sun begins to shine and the birds begin to sing, I am so grateful to God for one more day of life. Honestly, before the war began, I would just start each busy day and not really even think about it.”
Sasha and Sveta Moseychuk have served in the city of Donestk, on the far eastern edge of Ukraine for more than twenty years. Their city is in the center of one of the world’s greatest humanitarian crises, a “Forgotten War”, now into its fifth year. Located just behind a 300-mile line of trenches and massive fields of land mines, every day brings more shelling to the city. Donetsk has been decimated. Ten thousand people have died. A million and a half have fled. Every day there are more casualties.
While those who are left behind try to press on with their lives, it is always the nighttime that is the hardest. They must keep a curfew inside their homes. There is nothing to do but try to go to sleep to the sound of rockets and gunfire. When they are hitting close it shakes the windows of the house and sleep is impossible.
The Moseychuks would have every reason to leave. In July, separatist soldiers arrived at their New Life Church. The soldiers announced that the building, which the Moseychuks have owned for twenty years, was no longer theirs. They had one day to vacate with their personal belongings. A month later, when they re-gathered the congregation at another rented location, a policeman quickly appeared. He ordered them to immediately disperse or he would call in soldiers. The next morning Alexander was “invited” down to the KGB building. Sveta waited on pins and needles, praying and wondering if her husband would ever return home. They have now divided the church into smaller groups, meeting in homes, and moving locations to avoid detection.
Alexander and Sveta have the documents to leave if they want to. Two thirds of the people in the city are already gone. All of the western missionaries have long since evacuated. I can’t help but ask, “Have you thought about leaving?”
“Of course!” Alexander responds. “This is not easy for us, but what about those who can’t leave? They are mostly old. Some of them are blind. With the winter coming, who will be there for them to help them survive?”
“We are so thankful to God that we still have strength, and the freedom to move about, and the ability to help those that are just trying to survive. And each morning when the sun shines again, we cannot help but praise God that we still have life.
With this, I set down my pen and wonder who I am to be asking the questions. The smallness of my own gratitude and the frequency of my own impatience leave me deeply convicted. I had come to the Ukraine hoping to bring encouragement, but I realize that I am the one who has received.
So I will return home to a world of safety and abundance. They will return to home to one of constant need and danger. But in these days I have learned much about faith and joy – for the morning sunshine and the singing birds, these alone are reasons enough for grateful praise.
Alexander and Sveta Moseychuck serve as Missionaries with Missions Door in church planting and compassion ministries in the war-torn city of Donetsk, Ukraine. Please consider a special gift this Thanksgiving to support their ministry, giving the help and hope of the Gospel to those who are just trying to survive this winter.
Article by: Mike Fleischmann
Vice President of Personnel