Photos of Ukraine war taken by men and women who see mercies in the midst of misery
by Christine Leow // March 24, 2022, 2:08 am
Today, exactly a month into the Ukrainian war, many families fleeing their war-stricken homes are doing so on foot. Soaring fuel prices and damaged roads have made travelling by vehicle that much more difficult. All photos courtesy of Naty Tully unless otherwise stated.
They sit around the dining table – women, children, the elderly – singing songs of hope in Russian.
“It is well … it is well …”
Except all has not been well in their lives.
They are Ukrainians who, overnight, have become refugees. They have lost everything in the hope of saving their lives. Their country has been attacked, bombed, invaded.
But there is hope.
They, at least, have made it to neighbouring Moldova and have found sanctuary in the homes of locals.
“They were fed more than physically, they were fed spiritually, too.”
There is a little bit more serendipity in all this. Some three generations ago – 1940 – Moldova was made part of the Soviet Union.
Wrote Naty Tully, who grew up in Moldova and whose husband pastors the International Church of Bucharest in Romania: “We spoke Romanian, they forced us to learn Russian. Oh, how it comes in handy now.”
Indeed, it has. Because of this slice of shared history, the Moldovan hosts and Ukrainian refugees have a common language – Russian.
This has allowed Naty’s father, who is a pastor of a church in Moldova and who has planted most of the churches in the country’s south, to more easily share the Gospel with the Ukrainians he is helping.
Continued Naty on her post: “Only one of them is a believer. He brought them supplies we sent from Bucharest. They were fed more than physically, they were fed spiritually, too.”
Here is the Ukrainian war told in photos taken not by journalists but by ordinary men and women from Ukraine, Moldova, Romania and Poland who, in the midst of misery, have seen miracles.
Miraculous survivals in Ukraine
According to Pastor Roman Danylyshyn who pastors a church in Poland called New Life in Kraków and knows many pastors in Ukraine, prayers have wrought miracles.
He told Salt&Light; “Those fighting in the Ukraine call to say there are miracles. The place they thought they would die in, they escaped. God is helping. Somehow, they think there is no escape, no chance to survive, but they do.”
Ukrainian churches are also seeing an upsurge in attendance.
Said Ps Roman: “They are going to church to pray. Some are open to the Gospel, on the way. Some are accepting Jesus.
“The pastors in Ukraine are not coming to Poland. They are staying to pray, to help. They are helping kids with no parents, no families. They are united. It is wonderful to see.”
As dangerous as it is to remain in Ukraine, it is as dangerous to enter the country. Yet, some willingly do.
Those who volunteer to drive the supplies from Romania to Ukraine risk their lives with every trip. Naty reported that God has been protecting the drivers. Supplies have been successful transported across the border.
She added: “Some of my mom’s family from Ukraine crossed into Moldova through a less popular border to get supplies and were able to take it all through the border.
“Praise Jesus for answered prayers. Some border patrols are very difficult. [The] car in front of them had more trouble. They were covered in prayer.”
Personal transformations in Poland
Since the war started in Ukraine, Ps Roman’s church of some 60 members has been helping the constant stream of refugees pouring into Poland.
So far, they have 340 families in their care. This may be a drop in the ocean of the over 2 million Ukrainian refugees in Poland, but it is overwhelming for his city church.
“People are doing more good things for the Ukrainian refugees, not just caring for themselves. I have seen the changes.”
Yet, in the midst of this, there is hope.
“People are thinking over the situation, their lives, their beliefs. God is opening the eyes of so many people now,” said Ps Roman.
“People are becoming more open to God. They are doing more good things for the Ukrainian refugees, not just caring for themselves. I have seen the changes.
Ps Roman has also seen more people going to church.
“And (the Ukrainian refugees) are believing in God and praying because they found shelter and people are helping them.
“Everything happens in God’s time.”
Rescues in Romania
Nearly a month since Naty and her husband Ps Bill Tully started rescuing Ukrainian refugees from the border, the operation has become a lot more organised.
“Lots of refugees attended church with their hosts. Some churches offered translation in Russian.”
They now have a system of accountability for the funds coming in, someone to manage accommodations and the people hosting the refugees, a team of drivers and translators, volunteers to help cook for the refugees, a technical team as well as night shift co-ordinators since the refugees can come in at any time.
This has allowed them to host up to 100 refugees at any time.
“We have a growing network in the city and in the country for overflow, long-termers, or random phone calls needing help in different parts of Romania,” wrote Naty.
“We are creating a website to have a trustworthy database with churches and volunteers we trust.”
Naty has also extended her network of aid beyond Romania so that the Ukrainian refugees have safe passage from one country to another.
“Three women accepted the Lord in our church. Many more received Bibles all over Romania.”
“We are starting to create a database of all international churches in Europe as we send our guests their way ‘to water the seeds planted here’.
“We connected with a big church in Oradea BBSO willing to send buses (50 spots each) to take refugees for free to Vienna. From there it’s easier to connect to most EU countries. (We are) grateful for all believers connecting and supporting each other.”
Meanwhile, they are seeing God make something good out of the very bad.
On March 7, Naty reported on Facebook: “Today, lots of refugees attended church with their hosts. Some churches offered translation in Russian. We started handing out Bibles. Jesus is our hope.”
The International Church of Bucharest, Naty and Ps Bill’s church, is one of those including Russian translations to their regular service to accommodate the Ukrainian refugees. They print out sermon notes and worship songs in Russian, and have translations for their Sunday School classes as well.
Ps Bill is helping the Ukrainian refugees in others ways. He is counseling four different couples and running five Bible study groups on top of his usual duties running the church.
As this article was being written, Naty contacted Salt&Light with an update: “Yesterday three women accepted the Lord in our church. Many more received Bibles all over Romania.”
The Tullys are considering planting a Russian church in Romania for the Ukrainian refugees in anticipation of more becoming Christians.
Mercies in Moldova
As of March 18, over 300,000 Ukrainian refugees have crossed the Moldovan border. About a third have chosen to stay rather than venture elsewhere where the culture and the language are different.
Naty has been hard at work raising funds to help them. So far, 44 churches in her network in Moldova are receiving funds to help the Ukrainian refugees.
Even as God is blessing them with resources, He is also bringing in the souls.
Naty told Salt&Light: “Yesterday on March 19, one woman got baptised in Moldova. That triggered a couple of locals to get baptised after the service.”
Added Naty: “Let’s never waste opportunities to share the Gospel.”
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