Ukrainian Christians: Life in The Hague need not be a prison sentence
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Don’t expect to see Vladimir Putin…
As the 18-month-long war for Ukraine drags on, its beleaguered people face a new problem.
The Kakhovka Dam on the Dnieper River in southern Ukraine collapsed recently, flooding over 100,000 acres, claiming lives, destroying farmland and polluting the water supply, the Associated Press reports.
Dennis Zolotaryov saw dead bodies and furniture floating in the floodwaters when he traveled to the affected region, Kherson.
Zolotaryov, who worships with a Church of Christ in the capital, Kyiv, was part of a team of church members that took 2.5 tons of bottled water and filters to distribute to survivors.
In addition to the ecological disaster — the effects of which will last for generations, the AP reports — the people of Kherson “still have, every day, bombing and shelling in the area,” Zolotaryov said. “So it is double the problems.”
Zolotaryov works with Volunteer Brothers, a ministry that delivers relief supplies to the hard-hit areas of Ukraine near the front lines of the Russian invasion. The church members also shuttle women and children to western Ukraine and the European Union. Zolotaryov spoke with The Christian Chronicle from Ukraine as the ministry’s director, Dima Grischuk, translated.
Both sides of the conflict blame each other for the destruction of the Soviet-era dam, but the AP recently reported that the Russians had the means and motive to destroy it. Drone footage shows a car full of explosives right next to the dam.
Regardless of the cause, help is needed, say workers with Texas-based Sunset International Bible Institute, which has collected and distributed aid to Ukrainians since the beginning of the war. According to an email from Sunset, the people of Kherson need supplies and equipment to help with rescue and aid. In addition to bottled water, Volunteer Brothers brought soap, diapers, blankets, electricity generators and cooking supplies provided by Sunset.
As the floodwaters rose, many Ukrainians waited on their roofs for rescue, Sunset reported.
“A lot of them lost everything,” Zolotaryov said. Many of the elderly or disabled people of Kherson were not able to save themselves.
While the dam flooded one area, it left other areas dry. Irrigation systems were drained and aquatic wildlife were left with no water to survive in.
“The water from the Dnieper River is almost gone,” Zolotaryov said, “so we have a lot of fish dying — a lot of animals dying because of that.”
Related: A band of brothers drives Ukraine
“A lot of people are scared, a lot of people are disappointed and a lot of them need just to feel caring and love as well,” he added. “So any kind of physical help and any kind of spiritual help — everything is very needed.”
Zolotaryov spoke to the Chronicle from a Christian youth camp in rural Ukraine. Despite the destruction, loss of life and threat of missile attacks, church members continue to serve children and attempt to offer them moments of respite in the middle of the war.
The Chronicle asked the Ukrainian Christians how they find the resolve to serve youths after witnessing the devastation in Kherson and other parts of their besieged homeland.
“We understand that it is very emotionally hard,” Zolotaryov said, “but we also feel a responsibility to keep going.”
TO CONTRIBUTE to relief efforts in Ukraine, visit the Sunset Global Relief Ministry page or text “Ukraine” to (806) 203-7424.
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