Marie John(Kyiv)
This week felt like the foretaste of a new season.
Throughout six months of war, I prayed Ukraine would once again be a place people would come to visit from afar, instead of leaving it.

This week, pallets of humanitarian aid were moved aside to make space for 70 young Ukrainians, who were trained as evangelists on our campus and are now launched to spread the good news of the kingdom all over Ukraine.
We welcomed 40+ international volunteers, partnering with us in the great effort of rebuilding in the Kyiv region.

Ukraine is a hospitable nation. It still hurts that visitors have to see ruins and burnt-out Russian equipment, rather than just taking a stroll in Kyiv’s lively old town, admiring 1,000 years old golden-domed churches.

But Ukraine has different things to show to the world in this season. Stories of courage and resistance in the midst of war. Sparks of hope when the world gave up on us. Maybe these are things worth traveling far to see.

May Ukraine get the chance to show the world all it has to give, after having to ask for so many things.
May Ukrainians be known as heroes, and no longer as victims.
As long as we are still awaiting that reality, we chose to open our eyes to the hidden sparks of a new reality. People opening their hearts to the Gospel message as we are extending our hands to help. Encounters with God as churches are turned into shelters. Realizing that freedom and dignity come at a price.

Would we not overlook the One who is walking with us all this time. The Living One is not to be sought among the dead. Where He is, is the abundance of life. And we recognize His presence once our hearts start burning within us.

Gospel of Luke 24:34

Thank you for your prayers for all these wonderful teams coming to Ukraine to share the gospel, to build and to feed the hungry.

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

Many of you have stood fervent in prayer for the release of grain from Ukraine. Here is one report of the release of grain.

Three more ships leave Ukraine with grain to feed world

Three more ships have left Ukrainian ports under the Istanbul grain export deal. Shipments from Ukrainian ports are continuing. “Three more ships loaded with grain departed from Ukrainian ports this morning.”

44 ships has been sent to 15 nations. A further 70 applications for ships to be loaded had been received. The goal is to export three million tonnes a month.

Let’s continue to pray for more shipments of grain to be sent to nations that desperately need it. I believe that God is answering the cry of the hungry in nations longing to be fed.

Thank you also for the prayers for the Homes of Hope/Homes for Winter project that has brought over 90 workers from 9 countries to the Kyiv area these last few days. Already 13 structures have been built in the last few days.

It’s not only these temporary homes that are going up but hope that is coming to these villages. The city councils, the villagers that are housing and feeding these teams are super excited about what is happening, the hope and joy that this is bringing to these villages is life changing.

Watch this video of one of the first homes that went uup.

Thank you for your prayers, let’s give thanks for what God is doing.

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

Ira Kapitonova (Kyiv)

For the word of the Lord is upright,
and all his work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.
Psalm 33:4‭-‬5‬

You know, sometimes there are prayer requests that you keep bringing to God day after day, but they remain unanswered, so you keep praying for them, but the enthusiasm is gone. Today, I saw a few news reports that encouraged me and showed that our prayers do make a difference.

Yesterday, there was a UN Security Council meeting, and the members voted on whether to allow the online address of the President of Ukraine. Russia voted against it (yeah, big surprise), China abstained, but the surprising response came from India. They usually abstained or agreed with Russia, but this time India voted in favor of Ukraine. Yes, it’s a small and insignificant vote, but I believe that it can be a stepping stone for a big change. Every day for the past 6 months, we kept praying for the countries and governments who support Russia (because they share the same worldview, are historically close, because it fits their politics at the moment, or because of the influx of Russian money they had been receiving for decades). We pray for the truth to prevail in the hearts of their leaders and people and for the truth to outweigh any temporary benefits or long-time preferences. I believe that this vote of India is an answer to our prayers.

A couple of days ago, I read that Russia has illegally deported over 5,600 children from the occupied territories. Over 1,000 children from Mariupol have been given up for adoption in Russia. My heart sank as I read it, and I simply couldn’t bring myself to think about what these kids had to go through or what their relatives must be feeling now.

Today, I read that Ukraine has tracked down and recovered 53 children who were set up for adoption in Russia. They are safely back home in Ukraine. Yes, it’s less than 1% of all abducted children, but it’s 53 lives saved and hope for hundreds.

Today, in Latvia, they toppled down the monument intended to commemorate the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, which in fact, was an offensive reminder of the decades of oppressive occupation by the Soviet Union, which ended in 1991 when Latvia declared independence. It’s the latest in the series of demolished Soviet monuments in the Baltic states. It took over 30 years to work up the decisiveness to do it, but even six months ago, it seemed unlikely. I believe it’s the result of prayers (not only ours but those that started decades ago) for the complete liberation from the poisonous worldview and Soviet heritage.

So let us keep praying, even if our prayers seem unlikely or take too long. Keep praying for the occupied territories (especially Mariupol suffering from a major fire), our POWs, the possible “referendum” in the occupied territories, and for Ukraine’s victory in this war against evil.

Pray for our building teams who are arriving at the site by the van loads. This is a picture of one of the first panel houses that has gone up.

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

Warm for Winter project Ukraine update – August 16

The great adventure has begun! Today we brought in materials for 50 foundations! Just a few more days and we will have 65 volunteers coming together in a wave of bringing Hope to the people of Kyiv region.
We ask for prayer that the construction of the temporary homes will go smoothly.

There are several initiatives working together with this project. The Homes of Hope project is a joint effort with Homes of Hope San Diego, Homes of Hope Romania and YWAM Kyiv. Another initiative is a coalition of churches and ministries together with some staff from YWAM Ternopil.

The Homes of Hope initiative is working with volunteers coming to put together panels to make up a precut shelter. This has some benefits as they can modify them for the needs they encounter, even for bigger families. The other initiative is having Tiny Homes that are being built by a Ukrainian company and then delivered to the spot. They are a bit smaller and less expensive but have fewer possibilities for modification. Both of these initiatives and others that may come along are all working toward to same goal of providing shelter for those who lost their homes and need their shelter before this winter. These initiatives are working in different villages.

Funding for this overall project is coming from a number of sources and through a number of different channels. A number of people are raising funds for this like the “Lada Story.” All of the funds that are given for this shelter project will go to this project, including those who are giving through YWAM Slavic Ministries.

We encourage people to recruit teams of volunteers or givers. A family, a church, a YWAM base or a group of fellow workers at a company can come together to sponsor a house.

Ukrainians are also joining in the effort to provide volunteers and the city councils of some of these villages have offered to house and feed the volunteers that are coming.

For information on sending teams or participating as volunteers you can contact:

Please Pray for these volunteers that are coming these next weeks This is an exciting outreach with teams coming from the U.S. Europe and even Austrailia.
Pray for their safety, for their travels and provision. Pray for the materials and tools that are needed. Pray that the funding will continue.

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

The materials are arriving!
The Panel model and the tiny home model…

Prayer for the children
In early April, a civilian car drove slowly toward a Russian checkpoint in the occupied town of Vasylivka, Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
It had passed dozens of checkpoints on its way from the occupied city of Melitopol to the Ukrainian-controlled regional capital Zaporizhzhia. None of its passengers expected what was about to happen. As a Russian soldier approached the car, he spotted a teenage boy checking something on his phone. “What are you doing, filming me?” the soldier yelled.
He took the boy’s phone and pulled him out of the car.

“Should I shoot you right now or smash your phone?” he shouted, pointing his gun at the boy. The furious soldier dragged the boy to the backyard of a nearby cafe where Russian troops were based, leaving those in the car speechless and terrified.
The following 90 days in Russian captivity would become nothing but unimaginable horror for the 16-year-old.
“Every minute there was a very severe challenge because every minute could have been
my last.”

He is not the only Ukrainian minor who has spent a long time in Russian captivity since Russia’s all-out war began on Feb. 24: Russians have held captive five minors in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Two of them remained imprisoned as of the end of July.

A total of 203 children have been recorded missing in Ukraine as of the beginning of August. Most of them went missing in the war’s hotspots. Russia’s war has also killed at least 358 children as of Aug. 4. The numbers are expected to be higher since they don’t include casualties in the Russian-occupied territories and areas where hostilities are ongoing. Among all of Russia’s atrocities against Ukrainian children, his story has a happy ending. On July 7, he was released.

When his father saw his son getting out of the car in the Ukrainian-controlled area of Zaporizhzhia Oblast, he said he felt that “a piece of his heart returned home.”
There, on the road not far from the Russian-occupied settlements, the two stood for several moments, hugging and crying. His son had made it back home. Although he is safe now, he will never forget the horrors of captivity he endured.
Seeing his son alive and at home with him feels like a personal “victory”.
“Now we need a victory for the country,” the father said.

The reason for posting this story is that we do not forget what is happening in Ukraine and the lives it has affected. Please pray for the children who are caught in the middle of a horrible war. Pray for their safety and release from captivity.

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

Anya Schegle (Kyiv)
This is one of the 100 stories and one of the lives that are waiting for the winter home.

This is Halina. All her life she lived in this village. She lived happily with her husband for 52 years building the house together, building their lives together to than spend peaceful old years together. They had everything they needed. Her husband passed away in September last year and she is very grateful he didn’t live long enough to see these days. Until February 24rth!!

At fist when Russian troops came in her village she was hiding in a garage. One day two Russian soldiers came in checking in her home. She came out holding her cat and said there were only her and a cat. They did not want to believe her that there were no man living with her. They checked thoroughly through all her rooms, seller, garage, garden. People were hiding males, since most of them were a target. (In The village of Andriivka 45 men were shot, just because they were males). After the check up, they have allowed her to put a peace of white cloth on her fence, indications that the house was checked.

She remained living in her garage, really thinking it would protect her from shelling. Her house was bombed and She lost everything and currently lives in a tent.

She is so sweet, such a hard worker – the garden is planted and soon to be harvested. She can provide for herself to an extent.
After her husband died she took their wedding rings and put them in a China cup in the cabinet. As she was going through the rubble she spotted one of the cups. She could not believe it – the 2 cups survived and so did the rings. From the fire the rings deformed and melted into the China, but it’s still the most valuable and precious memory for her. She says “God was watching over me and over my beloved husband”.

We will bring a beautiful box to put her memory treasure and we are also very honored to bring her a home for winter.

Please pray for these survivors, that they will be ministered to and blessed by the many teams coming to build in the next weeks.

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

Some thoughts from Ira Kapitonova (Kyiv)
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my words.
Wondrously show your steadfast love,
O Savior of those who seek refuge
from their adversaries at your right hand.
Psalm 17:6‭-‬7 ‬

There are some random things I remember from the first weeks of the invasion. Those are not important things, but they speak volumes to me. For example, because of many supply chains being broken, in those first weeks of the war, you had to hunt for bread because it was hard to come by. Ironically, that was our biggest craving, so I remember how happy we were when we could finally find yeast in the store. It was a true treasure. We smile at this memory now, but I know that, unfortunately, for many people it is still their reality.

And I know that after our victory, many years later, there will be things or words that pull at the strings of our hearts and trigger the memories you weren’t even aware of. Who could have thought that we would be the generation to live in times of war? And who knows how many generations it would take to heal from this trauma?
So we keep on trusting God and asking Him for His justice.
From your presence let my vindication come! Let your eyes behold the right! (Psalm 17:2)

Today was marked by powerful ammunition explosions at the military airfield in Novofedorivka in occupied Crimea. The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine said it “cannot determine the cause of the fire, but once again reminds of the rules of fire safety and the prohibition of smoking in unspecified places.” The New York Times claims that the attack on Crimea was carried out by Ukrainian-made weapons. Whatever it was, it raised the spirit of many Ukrainians as that airfield was used for air attacks in the south of Ukraine.

However, Russia is known for retaliation, especially when its pride is wounded. Please, pray for special protection for Ukraine and our victory to stop this evil.
Today’s picture was taken by me back in 2010 during our vacation in Yevpatoria, Crimea. The 200-year-old vine grows in the inner court of a Karaite Kenesa (Karaites, along with Crimean Tatars and Krymchaks, are the indigenous peoples of Ukrainian Crimea). I dream of the day when we would be able to go there again.

Today’s picture was taken by me back in 2010 during our vacation in Yevpatoria, Crimea. The 200-year-old vine grows in the inner court of a Karaite Kenesa (Karaites, along with Crimean Tatars and Krymchaks, are the indigenous peoples of Ukrainian Crimea). I dream of the day when we would be able to go there again.

Thank you for your continued prayers, so many are dependent on them.

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

The list of atrocities committed by Russia continue to pile on. Several reports, including a statement by Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN, claim that Russian troops forcibly detained and transported 121,000 children from the shelled city of Mariupol to the Russian city of Taganrog in an attempt to accelerate them through the adoption process.

As long as the war continues, it will pose a serious security threat to orphaned children. The preservation of their legal identification is paramount, as is their connection to the children and adults they were living with before the war.

Please pray that many of these children will be reunited with parents. Pray that no more children will be forcibly detained.

There are a number of children’s and family camps being run in Ukraine and the surrounding countries. Many of these are orphan children, please pray for these camps.

The families that are now separated from each other and the above mentioned forced separation are some of the most evil parts of this war. Please pray for these families and children.

Pray for the Kindergarten initiative in Poland, there are now six kindergartens that have been established allowing the children to learn and socialize. Also allowing their mothers to find jobs to support themselves in Poland. Pray that more of these would be established and continued support of these initiatives.

Thank you for your prayers,

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

Ukraine’s defense ministry said on Tuesday that at least 140,000 residential buildings had been destroyed or damaged since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February, leaving more than 3.5 million people homeless.

There is at least one person who is going to do something about fixing that…

Anya Schlegle with her husband are the leaders of our Kyiv base. It was Anya who gave life to the vision of providing temporary housing to the people who lost their houses during the Russian onslaught on Kyiv. The villages that were in their way were devastated.

Listen to Anya as she describes the progress of the vision to provide these temporary shelters.

So, we are moving forward with the homes project. I love it!! It feels like a big YWAM outreach. 8 teams so far committed to come from U.S., 3 teams from Germany (YWAM Hurlach, YWAM Nuremberg), 2 from Romania (YWAM Cluj), YWAM San Diego and of course Ukraine (all YWAM locations are coming together). More teams are lining up to come in, even as far as Australia!

This is bigger and deeper than construction!

So many prayers come our way, people are getting excited to put their hands and feet to bringing Hope. We are definitely preparing hearts and paths for God to remain in the homes and in the lives. We will fill these homes with Hope and Kingdom presence.

We have 70 families lined up already to receive these shelters. And many more are on the waiting list as we don’t want to overpromise. Working closely with village councils – they are providing accommodations and cooking for us. They are so grateful, they will work with us as we get the project accomplished. We see Gods favor everywhere.

We are getting 50 foundations out it the next 2 weeks. August 23rd the teams will arrive.

We love the idea of the panel homes as we are seeing some bigger families with bigger needs. For example, the family of 7 children and a grandma now are living with different neighbors scattered around the village. We will be able to modify it, so the family stays together.

The homes will be very warm and of great quality. Although we hope that it’s a temporary solution only for a year, looking at the country’s economy we foresee, that people might have to stay in them longer. The quality of the homes will sustain through this coming winter and much longer. We want families to have a home, furnished, warm with needs covered.

Florin, YWAM Homes of Hope Romania, has ordered panels and furniture to bring from Romania for 50 homes. We want to be ready on the ground in Kyiv for 30 homes – building and furniture.

Thank you for praying and giving toward this project. Pray for safety for these teams that are coming. Thank God for the leadership of these villages for their generosity in housing and feeding these teams. Pray that we can get hundreds of these homes repaired and built before winter.
To volunteer, contact:

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team