Update: Believer clings to faith as bombs fall

March 17, 2022 – After an escalation of attacks in Kharkiv, Nastya decided her table and home could no longer provide refuge from the deluge of Russian assaults. Nastya, a Ukrainian Christian, evacuated, first to western Ukraine and then to Romania.

Since the beginning of the conflict, Nastya had sporadic contact with her mother, Julia, due to disruptions in cell service. Julia lived in an area of Ukraine under Russian control. Nastya sometimes went for days without hearing whether her mom was alive. Julia managed to flee and is now in western Ukraine.

In the days before her departure, Julia shared with Nastya that there is a dire need for food in areas under Russian control.

“Villages and small towns are out of provisions. Russians are cutting off the cities and communication with the cities. They have no way to get provisions,” Nastya said. Ukrainians in many areas are living off what they have in their homes.

“Please pray for supernatural provision of food in their area,” Nastya asked.

Julia lived without electricity, heat or hot water. She was not able to cook, as her stove was electric, and she relied on neighbors for help. She struggled to stay warm.

“It’s still very cold. Even though it’s March, it’s still winter in Ukraine. Please pray the Lord would turn on electricity in her area,” Nastya said.

Now that Julia is in a safer area, she and Nastya frequently communicate. Nastya also remains in contact with IMB missionary Martha Richards.

March 7, 2022 – Nastya slept under a table in her hallway as missiles dropped from velvet skies and explosions shook the foundations of her home in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Huddled in her makeshift bomb shelter, God gave her a song:

“It became a slightly lower ceiling, but it’s more comfortable here than under the rubble. The bed is a little smaller, but it’s better to wake up in it than not at all.

And I’m so sad to lose the world in which I lived yesterday. That in one day it shrunk to the size of my table.

We did not think to know the other side. Things ordinary and familiar to us, like my table.

Yesterday you were just furniture, just comfort. Today You are my refuge, my home.”

Here is this Ukrainian Baptist’s story in her words.

I couldn’t move to a shelter or a subway station because I live far away. I felt that God was saying, “You need to stay home,” which is a pretty weird decision to make as I don’t have a basement where I can hide.

I moved to the safest place in my house, a room without windows. I decided for this time in my life, I’ll be sleeping and living under a table next to the wall because it is the safest place.

I do believe that God is protecting me because the whole neighborhood I live in is fairly safe, even though I hear bombing all around me. I live near the center of Kharkiv, and right in the center, there was a series of government building bombings and even the Orthodox churches were bombed, not just military targets. Sometimes my house shakes, the windows shake, and I can feel the earthquakes caused by the bombing. The bombing is not close enough to cause damage to my house. Thank you, Jesus. My house is still standing, and I’m grateful for this.

The wonderful thing that I see here, with all our church members with whom we are praying every day, none of us have been harmed. We hear all the bombing, and it is close – sometimes too close – but we are safe. Our houses are still standing. We are safe, and we’re alive.

When I wrote the song above, it was from my emotional experience. Sometimes I write songs about something that I experienced that is deep and strong. It’s not a common thing for me to do, but when I do, it’s a powerful experience, and I just felt that God wants me to express my heart right now because we are in the middle of this fire. I hope it will be a great help for people around me because I’m not just singing from afar. I’m here with them. I’m praying with them, and I’m really in this place with them, with those who are scared, who are frightened and don’t know what will happen next. I believe that it’s easier for people to receive from you when they understand that you understand them.

I do believe that Jesus can bring peace and joy in the middle of this tough time.

Nastya sleeps under her table for protection from falling bombs in Kharkiv.

No one imagines themselves in a situation like this. You believe your life will be a certain way and nothing can interrupt that plan, but then something like war comes.

My church members and I knew that there was a possibility of an invasion, but we all believed that it probably was never going to happen because we prayed against it. It still happened.

It made our church here in Ukraine wake up strongly, especially for the people who live in dangerous areas. It’s powerful how the church is reacting. I never thought I’d be living in a time like this, but I feel that we are like the first church in Acts because we pray constantly and God shows us something, and we are all united in one spirit. We all receive from the Lord the same encouragement and message. We are so united, and it is amazing.

Our task is to believe, no matter what is happening. God is giving me a fire that I didn’t know I had before. Even if I don’t see yet with my physical eyes, He still brings encouragement and reminders to continue to pray. We’re still bombed every day, but God is still constant. We’re in survival mode right now. In addition to praying for physical protection, we pray God will protect our land with our spiritual shields.

We’ve heard miracle stories from the battlefield. One recent story was from a soldier who called his parents to explain how they won a battle. An iron curtain of planes moved toward the Ukrainian army, but suddenly, lightning appeared, and all the Russian aircraft disappeared. The Ukrainian army stood in amazement.

God is bringing miracles here. We feel it in our veins. The atmosphere here is the belief that God brings victory. We all hear it and feel it, even if we don’t see it with our physical eyes. Grace is here.

In the future, I think it will be easier to share the grace of the Lord because people here will be more open, and those who survive this time will know that it is God who saved them. The only thing that helps us to survive here is God.

If you are praying, pray for us to be courageous and bold until the end, because sometimes it’s difficult to be stable emotionally and physically, because we don’t know what is going to happen, but we want to be strong.

We would love it if you supported us by praying that we would be strong and focus on what God says about us, that He gives us a hope and a future.

We are praying God would close the skies because when the sky is closed, there will be no bombing, and it will save our cities from destruction. Every day something is destroyed in our cities, and it is a painful thing to see. We would love for you, for all believers, to join us in praying for the skies to close.

For several days, Nastya lost contact with her mother, who lives in an area of Ukraine now under Russian control. Thankfully she is back in contact with her. Her mother has been without electricity, heat and hot water. Her mother is struggling to stay warm in Ukraine’s frigid winter weather and must rely on neighbors to help her heat food to eat. Courageous souls brave missiles and enemy fire to bring groceries to their neighbors in need. One of these heroes brought Nastya groceries.

As Nastya shared about the protection of her church members’ homes, many of which were close to an area hit by bombs, I was reminded of the Lord’s protection of the Israelites when death passed over. When she shared the story of a soldier who saw Russian aircraft approaching and then lightning struck and the planes disappeared, I marveled at how this, too, was reminiscent of how the Lord protected Israelites in the Old Testament. As Nastya said, the Ukrainian church is a modern-day Acts church – Ukrainian Christians living out their faith amid an onslaught.

Nastya is close friends and a missionary partner of IMB missionary Martha Richards. When Martha had to evacuate, Nastya packed up her apartment. Stay tuned to hear more about Nastya and Martha’s ministry in Ukraine.

Join Nastya in praying. You can also aid by giving. Read stories of IMB work in Ukraine from the past and present, as you thank God for how He has uniquely positioned your missionaries to respond at this time. Join Southern Baptist relief efforts.