Marie (Kyiv)
Time doesn’t stand still in war.
Many say the war has put their lives on hold. But it is not true. Time is the one thing we humans cannot control, and it recklessly moves on.

The war has become our classroom, teaching us the vocabulary of explosions — we can easily distinguish between the sound of a missile hitting and the air defense working. It took months until I heard the sound of the Ukrainian air defense for the first time; it is a sound that makes me feel glad. In the first few weeks, everything aimed at bringing death and destruction just hit its target.

The war has brought down barriers between our houses and the nation. Many literal walls have fallen due to shelling, and even more invisible ones. When I go to the nearby supermarket, it feels like coming home. Knowing everyone by name and hugging as one would hug an old friend — that can only happen when going to work became a question of life or death.

This war taught us to do what is close to our hands. People are in danger? Evacuate them. They are hungry? Feed them. Their houses are damaged? Fix them. There is nothing noble or special about these tasks. Is this worth having invested years into my education and following a missionary calling? — God doesn’t want partnership with us but ownership of us.

This war has brought God from dusty churches into dirty bomb shelters. From memorized prayers right into peoples’ hearts. God’s Word sustained me from the inside without even picking up a Bible. I woke up from dreams talking to Jesus face to face. Knowing those were no dreams.

Ukraine’s battered soil has brought forth beautiful flowers. It is a miracle to me that this land being hit so recklessly finds in itself the strength to let new life bloom. The sunflowers remind me of what I thought would be my last time in a supermarket, on February 25. We stood two hours in line to get two loaves of bread. The whole store was empty. I thought: that’s it. From now on, there will be nothing more. The last thing left in the store were seeds – for cucumbers and tomatoes. I considered buying them. I thought, maybe by summer, they would yield us something to eat.

Spring came, summer came, and the sunflowers testify that life always wins.
Consider it pure joy, when you face trials of many kinds. – James 1:2

Thank you for your continued prayers,
Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

Anya (Kyiv)
I am the most tempted right now to go into my secret room with God. Make Him my personal Saviour, my personal Shepherd , my personal Comforter and my personal friend. This is my comfortable place – I know a God of that room. It’s easy to trust the love, the plan, the future with that God.

But when I take that same God to the arena of the World, the Kingdom, particularly Ukraine. It becomes so much harder. Looking at the reality – sufferings of people, evil that is out of hand, and continues, helplessness to stop it all!! I don’t want to live in this world, not knowing who is the God of this world. He is the Creator with a plan.

I want to know how to have relationship with MY God in THIS WORLD.
I hear all the time “I don’t know how to pray about this situation”. Many Christians genuinely want to pray for us and with us.

This is how I pray:
I bless our ARMY with strength: “For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” Romans 13

I pray for PEOPLE IN SUFFERING “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. “ Gal.6:2

I pray in SPIRITUAL REALMS not against flesh and blood, standing against evil that is fighting the spread of the Kingdom of God

I pray for OUR LAND to be filled with HIS KINGDOM – we are a free nation, but not empty – filled with the King’s presence.

I pray for the WORLD LEADERS including Ukraine – I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 1Tim.2

HOPE is more than faith for me right now!! Hope is more real than ever. I hope for the people, hope for provision, hope for 100 homes, hope for victory, hope for all my prayers making a difference

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

With less news about the fighting in the East it is easy to forget that the war is still happening and that the problems of war are still there, including the many people who are fleeing the areas that are under attack.

A Russian checkpoint in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region has become the only relatively safe way for Ukrainians to try to leave southern occupied areas for Ukrainian-held territory. Hundreds of vehicles lined up, unable to cross.
“Evacuations from the occupied territories is the biggest problem.” People were attempting to leave the occupied territories of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk through the checkpoint at Vasylivka, with some having been on the road for seven days, sleeping in their cars. “Today, more than 5,000 people, over 1,200 cars have gathered there.”

“People can’t even go and buy food for themselves. The only condition under which the Russians allow people to go to buy food in the city is to leave all the documents (passport, driver’s license etc) with them and then collect them after returning.” Of course this creates tremendous stress wondering if they will get their documents returned.

People are seen sleeping in their cars and tents and crowded into a gas station in high summer temperatures. Some people are sleeping in the open.
Please pray for safe evacuations for these families to leave. Also pray for provisions as they wait to leave the check points. Pray for our teams who continue to travel further and further into these areas helping with evacuations and bringing food and aid to these people.

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

Ira (Kyiv)
Salvation belongs to the Lord;
your blessing be on your people!
Psalm 3:8
Every day I remind myself that salvation and victory belong to the Lord. I know that He’s already received victory on the cross. I know that even though it may seem to some that God is only passively waiting out this war, but in fact, He (once again!) has done the impossible. All military experts expected Ukraine to fall in a couple of days, but we keep resisting.

Kherson region especially needs our prayers. It looks like the Ukrainian army is advancing there, cutting all connections of the Russian forces, especially because the Dnipro river goes through the region. It would take destroying a few bridges to have the invaders surrounded. Please, pray for the protection of those remaining in the active war zone and for our military success there. Our people are waiting to be liberated.

Please, pray for the cities and regions that have become the usual targets for the Russian missiles and artillery – Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, and Odesa regions. Almost every morning, in the wee hours when most people are asleep, the enemy strikes. Please, pray for God’s deliverance and justice.

Today’s picture shows a prayer request in one of Kharkiv’s churches. It says, “Hello God! Save Kharkiv. I’m Simon, 8 years old.”

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

The little Lada with a lotta love
In YWAM if there was ever a vehicle that marked us it was the VW Van. In our early days we crisscrossed all of Europe, the Middle East and Aftirca in these dependable little boxes on wheels.

But for us who worked in Eastern Europe it was the Lada. Built in the Soviet Union on the framework of a Fiat but twice as heavy and not nearly as dependable. Many jokes were told about Ladas, most of them based on facts but people across Eastern Europe would pay two years wages and wait for 10 years on a waiting list to have one.

We used them because they were so plentious and we were able to get lost in the crowd as we traveled with our teams behind the Iron Curtain in Central and Eastern Europe.

My friend Rune a missionary in Romania from Norway has just purchased a Lada, a nice little red one they found in Ukraine. He and his son is driving the Lada all the way back to Norway (pray for them). They hope to sell the car there but in the process they hope to raise $10.00 or Euro per every 100 kilometers they cover of the 2, 233 kilometers of the trip.

The money they raise will go toward buying Tiny Houses for the bombed villages around Kyiv. We are bringing little homes to the village of Moschun that will help people get through the winter and to bring small stability to their life. The cost of one home is 4000 USD (that includes: 180 square feet building, 2 beds and mattresses, small kitchen, refrigerator, electric stove, electric radiator and simple bathroom)’

You can find out more about this wonderful vision of the Little Lada.
Follow us on our way from Ternopil in Ukraine to Stavanger and Norway at Theladastory on Facebook.
This is just one person doing their part, maybe you can think of how you can make this need known and think of creative ways to raise funds for this huge need. Thank you for praying!

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

On my recent travels around Ukraine my team and I had the opportunity of hearing a number of stories from people in the bombed out villages. One little babushka pointed proudly to her garden just beside her destroyed house. “Look” she said, “the garden was covered with bricks and pieces of my house. My grandchildren came to help and we threw all the bricks back and look what happened, the garden popped right back up.” That in a nutshell describes the resilience of the Ukrainian people.

Even in the areas of heavy fighting, many people are returning home, willing to face being bombed than leaving. Many never left, “who will take care of my tomatoes?’ This is often the response when our teams tried to evacuate some of the elderly from their destroyed homes.

Teams are now descending on these villages to help repair homes that can be repaired and soon we will begin to build temporary shelters before winter sets in. Several projects are being launched in order to do quickly what can be done.

Our Ternopil base is launching a a joint venture with a company in Ukraine building Tiny Homes, really tiny homes. Here is Sasha describing their venture.

“The vision of this project is to bring temporary homes for people who lost their homes in the war. There are hundreds of villages that were destroyed by Russian army in Kyiv region and there is not much hope that the government will help them now (we hope in the future they will get help) . We are bringing little homes in the village of Moschun that will help people get through the winter and to bring small stability to their life. The cost of one home is 4000 USD (that includes: 180 square feet building, 2 beds and mattresses, small kitchen, refrigerator, electric stove, electric radiator and simple bathroom)’

Another project is being launched from Kyiv together with YWAM Romania and Homes of Hope. These will be small insulated shelters, a bit bigger than the tiny homes but equipped similarly. They will be in kit form taken to the villages and put up several in one day. Teams are needed to come to Ukraine to help with this task of repairing 100 homes and building another 100 and possibly bringing in another 100 Tiny Homes. To volunteer for building teams write:

Would you pray with us for this massive undertaking. Pray for workers to respond from Europe and the US. Pray for the needed funds to come in. Pray for the materials to come together, we are hoping to get these in Ukraine and Romania. Pray for safety for all of these people and places.

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Minstries Team

Marie John/Japhin (Kyiv)
“When electricity, gas, and water went off, when the shelling started – we finally got to know our neighbors. From living our separate lives next to each other, we finally started living with each other”, said a woman in the village.
We experience the same — as physical walls are torn down by destruction, spiritual strongholds fall as well.

People can’t hide behind their success, their car, their house. The nation lies bare, so does the soul. We knock on a door with a bag of groceries, and people spread out their lives before us. We come to replace shattered windows and are thrown into shattered lives.

It is sometimes intimidating how easily people are opening up. In one afternoon of fixing windows, we hear the story of a man caught up in alcoholism, astrology, and paganism. Years ago, he survived being buried under a four-ton-load but still isn’t sure if there is a God after all. Now, he is one of the men who survived the occupation. Not everyone was that lucky. He shows us the devil tattoo on his shoulder and asks, is there a place in the church for a sinner like me? Had the shelling not burst his windows, would this man have listened to some young people sharing the Gospel?

In the same way, we would have never heard the story of a young woman who started praying earnestly after the Russians abducted her friend.
Jesus gave her the strength to carry out small acts of kindness as the village was under occupation – to collect all her neighbors’ phones and charge them. The Russians perceived footage taken with these phones as a threat, and the head of the division gave the order to execute the young woman. The soldier charged with the execution sat down in her neighbor’s house, confessed the order he received, and that he felt he couldn’t do it.

Two days later, the village was liberated. The neighbors told the young woman how she barely escaped death — a miracle to everyone. The young woman became an advocate for her village and is now pointing us to families needing aid and reconstruction.
If her life was not turned upside down, would she have turned to God?
Jesus says, Man does not live by bread alone — but by every Word from the mouth of God.
So we take the bread, and we take the windows, but they really are only door openers into peoples’ lives. Their windows might have broken recently, but their hearts broke long ago. We can easily fix their windows but reconciling them to God is what truly gives life.

Sometimes we must experience vulnerability and loss to see what is of actual value. As Ukraine is covered in destruction, it’s blossoming in faith. As much as I want this war to end, I am not at all concerned about the spiritual condition of this nation.

We are unknown, and yet well known; dying, and behold, we live; punished, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, yet possessing everything. — 2 Cor 6:9-10a

Please pray for the many teams that are involved with rebuilding and building homes and shelters. We will report more on this in the next days.

Please continue to pray for the grain situation in the ports on the Black Sea. After months of negotiations, it seemed there was a huge breakthrough and the tons of grain stored in Ukraine’s ports would finally be delivered to the hungry and poor of the world. The next day, missiles were fired on Odessa putting all of this into question. Pray for this grain to be released!

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

An answer to prayer… N.Y. Times
Russia and Ukraine today signed an agreement to release some 20 million tons of grain stuck in Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. If the deal holds, it could alleviate the global food crisis and bring down soaring grain prices.

The agreement is the first that Russia and Ukraine have publicly signed since the war started, but it moves them no closer to peace, . The deal was brokered by the U.N. and Turkey after months of negotiations.
Given the realities on the ground and the lack of trust, getting the two sides to stick to the deal could be a challenge, and the risks that it could unravel are high, analysts and officials warned. U.S. and Ukrainian officials expressed skepticism that Russia would follow through on its commitments.
Ukraine and Russia together supply more than a quarter of the world’s wheat, and Russia is also a major supplier of fertilizer. Ukraine is also a leading exporter of barley, corn and sunflower.
When Russia invaded, Ukraine mined its ports to prevent an assault from the sea. Those mines, along with Russia’s blockade, prevented Ukraine from safely resuming its exports and trapped its grain.
How the deal will work
The first shipments out of Odesa and the neighboring ports of Chornomorsk and Yuzhne are expected within weeks, U.N. officials said.
Ukrainian captains will steer ships with grain out of the ports through safe passages mapped by the Ukrainian Navy to avoid mines.
The ships loaded with grain will be given safe passage to Turkish ports to be unloaded and, when returning to Ukraine, will be inspected to ensure that they aren’t carrying weapons — a key Russian demand.

The agreement covers an initial 120 days, but it could be renewed on a rolling basis.
The deal will not immediately solve the global food crisis.
Before the war, the pandemic, droughts in North America and the Horn of Africa and poor harvests in China and France were squeezing global food supplies.

By December, global wheat prices had risen about 80 percent in a little over a year, according to the International Monetary Fund. At the same time, the war incited a jump in oil and gas prices, which led to an even sharper increase in the cost of fertilizers.
The flow of wheat to Somalia could be increased within weeks, averting a full-blown famine, officials say. The agreement is particularly important in 14 African nations that depend on the two warring nations for half of their wheat imports. One country, Eritrea, is fully dependent on them.

What’s in it for Ukraine
With its economy decimated by the war, Ukraine will receive income from the grain shipments.
Once the ships start moving, some five million tons of grains are expected to be shipped out each month. At that rate, the stockpiles of nearly 20 million tons should be cleared within three to four months.
This will free up storage facilities for the new harvest already underway in Ukraine. Without the storage, the harvest would rot.
Since there is no formal cease-fire agreement, the ships will be sailing through a war zone, and attacks near them or the ports could also sink the agreement.

This has been an ongoing prayer point since it really affects the whole world and especially the poorest of the poor.
Pray that this agreement will hold for the good of the poor and hungry. Pray that Russia will soften it’s heart toward the hungry of the world.
Pray that this grain will get to it’s rightful destinations.
Praise God for answered prayer.
Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

Japhin. (Kyiv)
I am impressed. -An entry from my last week’s trip.
At 7:30 Me, Marie, Dmitriy, and Dasha sat down to eat breakfast with a wonderful pastor named Stas in #mykolaiv; this happens to be the next city from Kherson (which is occupied by the Russians). So, things are pretty hot there. It is the most if not one of the most targeted cities.

As we were enjoying our scrambled eggs and coffee, we heard loud blasts. We knew the Russian Missiles had hit the city. We all took our phones to see where they hit. We knew it was close by but wanted to know.
I wanted to see how the Pastor, a resident of that city, responded. He was sad, but he did not care to know what and where it hit. This kind and Godly man knew, regardless of where it hit, it would be destruction and death of his
fellow brothers, who stayed back in the city.

We finished breakfast and headed out. We were going to serve somewhere closer to the University that was hit.
What impressed me was that it was only one hour had passed, but by the time we got there, people were already cleaning the rubble and sweeping the streets clean. I understand firefighters and police officers being on the ground, but what is the necessity of cleaning the trash and sweeping the roads the next hour after the explosion?

This is not the only incident. During our first night in Mykolaiv, a hotel was hit. A few hours later, when we went there, everything was back to normal except for the big hole in the building. All the rubble was cleared.

A few days ago, someone who was visiting Kyiv asked, “Why is there no destruction in Kyiv?”. It made me think, Yes, it is true; Kyiv looks as glorious as ever except for some odd checkpoints. The reason is that the leaders do not want people to see all these destructions way too much and lose hearts.

When we went to Irpin, Borodayanka, there were many tanks, cars, and vehicles on the highway. A couple of days later, everything was cleaned.
The highway was blocked as the walk-over bridge was destroyed; a few weeks later, it looked as if nothing had happened there. Bridges were destroyed; in a couple of days, temporary bridges were made, and a new bridge was constructed in a couple of weeks.
Because of Shelling, the national highway was filled with potholes. Ten days later, now they are as suitable as a racing track.
I can go on and on and on.

Many would think and say, why reconstruct now during the active war? Total waste of US, UK, EU aid and what not.
Ukraine’s situation is different from other war zones. In Ukraine, people don’t want to leave the nation or plan to live outside Ukraine forever (most). This is home for them; you treat missiles and sandstorms the same way. You wipe everything clean and move on with life.

There is a time to mourn; there is a time to grieve. But now, the nation needs every single man and woman to be vigilant and filled with hope. Hope even when your fields are burning, hope even when your husband dies, hope when a million dollars worth of missile brought down the only store in the whole village.

Missiles are powerful, but there is something more powerful: love, hope and faith.

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

Anya (Kyiv)
Not many people make their way to this village, the road is not too good, crossing the wooden temporary bridge we came to Chervona Girka village. Natasha and Olya are left without home. The rocket took their man, father, husband away from them. Unexpectedly the rocket hit their home in daytime. They were on a different side of their yard, when their father was feeding the chickens. They were “the lucky ones” to stay alive.

Their house burned to the ground, all that they owed was gone. But their greatest loss was the father, provider and a cover of their family. “All that was burned was built by the dad” – they said. As of now they have no place to live. We were able to give some temporary help and hope to give them warm shelter for the winter.

Today together with a team from YWAM Colorado we are fixing small summer kitchen for them!! They will have shelter for the winter!

Marie and Japhine (Kyiv)

On the long way to grandpa Vladimir’s house, we listened to an audiobook about Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Plot to kill Hitler. Somehow, it felt like its a contemporary story. He said every German will come out of the Nazi regime guilty. Guilty of either doing something or not doing anything. I think that is the same for all Russians, Belarusians, and others who are in a position of influence.

Due to the Russian shellings, part of Vladimir’s property caught on fire, but somehow he was able to put the fire out and save his house. He had tape all over the windows to keep the glass from bursting into the house during the impact.

Two things that I love about this project.

  1. Cutting glass- it’s exciting, unpredictable, and it is not about the power but about precision.
  2. I love that it is personal; we get to know, minister, and serve one family at a time. At the end of that day, it’s not about the windows; it’s about the people, the relationships, and healing from the nightmare called war.
    It was a long day. But we will do it over and over again, for such lovely people

A number of projects are being launched across the bombed out villages of Ukraine to help rebuild damaged houses and to provide temporary shelters to the many primarily elderly who have been affected. Please pray for this next phase of ministry across Ukraine. Funds and volunteers are needed.

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team