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

Food bags are still a HUGE help! As the war goes on, things are still difficult all over Ukraine. Many jobs have been lost. Food and gas are more expensive and difficult to come by.
Every week, the staff and volunteers at at our Y center do the monotonous work of filling food bags. From there, our staff go out and distribute them throughout the week, as well as allow other organizations that we have relationships with to come and pick up the food bags for distribution.

Food bags are still a huge help to many families. You may not have the power to stop this war, but many of you have helped alleviate hunger in the midst of it. As the Y staff continue to go into the dangerous areas to help the elderly and mothers with children, please continue to pray for their safety as well as strength to continue their ministry.

One of the greatest things we have seen happen during the war is how Christians have come together in Ukraine to be more effective. We wanted to post about this to encourage all of the people that are praying – please keep praying for unity and for these relationships to continue far beyond this war’s end. John 13:35 “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

Ira (Kyiv)
I went outside tonight after dark and was amazed by the beauty and depth of the starry summer sky. It’s hard to believe that a few hundred kilometers away, there’s no room for this quiet contemplation. Instead, there are explosions from the Russian bombs. As I’m writing this, the firefighters are rescuing people after a missile strike on the Odesa region. A couple of hours before, there was a report on heavy shelling of Nikopol (Dnipropetrovsk region). Mykolaiv and Kharkiv are under attack every day. Lots of towns remain under occupation. What does their sky look like?

Earlier today, I read Psalm 145 and was meditating on it throughout the day. Honestly, I had mixed feelings. I wanted to praise God as David does in this Psalm, yet I was having a hard time because the war continues, and many of our prayers remain unanswered (for now).
However, it all fell into place when I saw the photo accompanying today’s post. A young guy stands with a Ukrainian flag in front of the destroyed drama theater in the occupied Mariupol (https://bit.ly/3IOmX4i). He dared to do it despite harsh persecutions for as much as the Ukrainian language or Ukrainian colors. For example, a 23-year-old girl was arrested there today for wearing a yellow-and-blue ribbon in her hair.

Seeing this resilience and courage reassured me of Ukraine’s victory, even if it will not happen for a while. The Old Testament prophets sometimes wrote about future events using the past tense, as if they had already happened because they were so confident that these events would happen. It’s the anticipation with certainty that gives you the foretaste of the expected and this almost tangible confidence. Today’s picture and this understanding help me pray through

Psalm 145 today:
One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
The Lord preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.
My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

Today’s picture – a young man with a Ukrainian flag stands in front of the destroyed drama theater in the occupied Mariupol (photo provided by Mariupol City Council

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

Ira (Kyiv))
After the sorrowful few days, I’m searching for strength in simple things, and I’m coming to the Lord for comfort and counsel.
Blessed be the Lord, my rock,
who trains my hands for war,
and my fingers for battle;
he is my steadfast love and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield and he in whom I take refuge
Psalm 144:1‭-‬2 ‬

I believe that God has a role for each one of us in this war. And He is faithful to train and strengthen us. And I know this war goes far beyond the state borders of Ukraine. Every day, many people face a choice to pick up their “swords” and “shields” and fight for the truth or to surrender to the circumstances or accept the bribe of a comfortable and seemingly safe life and not think about the long-term consequences.

I praise God for the people who choose to stand against evil, defend the oppressed, care for the wounded, and intercede for the broken. I praise God for the people ready to sacrifice their immediate comfort to share the burden of those in pain.

I praise God that He never leaves us. I shared about Yulia Paievska (“Taira”), who was recently released from Russian captivity. She gave a few interviews about her time in a Russian prison. She said she was under constant pressure there, and they wanted to break her spirit. To resist it, she was praying through Psalm 91, which she had memorized, and it kept her going.
God prepared her for that experience, was present with her throughout it, and gracefully delivered her. I believe God is doing the same with each one of us as long as we are faithful in seeking Him.

(Al)
Please continue to fight together with us in this battle through your prayers which area extremely important, because we do not fight against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces in high places. We need the whole family around the world to continue in prayer.

Pray for our DTS that starts this week in Ternopil, there is so much healing that needs to take place and these young people need discipleship and lot’s of love. It won’t be without struggle, please pray daily for them.

This tragic bombing that took place in Vinnytsia really shook up many people, it was so unexpected, it was in the far western peaceful part of Ukraine where many have taken refuge. It’s like the enemy saying, “you have no place to run.” He wants to instill fear in the hearts of people. Pray for peace to come to their hearts.

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

Vinnytsia (Al)
Just several days ago we visited the beautiful city of Vinnytsia, Ukraine. We spent time with the young team there, mostly made up of orphans who were taken in by the couple who founded the base. They have a wonderful ministry in the city and it has become a city of refuge for the many fleeing westward. We had a great lunch on the square with the airplane monument and walked the promenade filled with families enjoying the nice sunny day. They drove us to Ternopil where we loaded their van with goods for their ministry to refugees. Today I awoke to this terrible news of the bombing of a building in their city center. So far 22 were counted dead and many more still unaccounted for.

Pictured above, YWAM Center, The leadership team, Loading up in Ternopil

Ira (Kyiv)
10:45 am. A missile strike on Vinnytsia, a city hundreds of kilometers away from the front line that’s become a shelter for many internally displaced people. I’ve gone through that city many times and have friends who live there. This morning, Russia launched four high-precision Kalibr missiles (allowed deviation from the target is only 3-4 meters / 10 feet). Two of them were shot down by the air-defense forces, and two hit the city center, one of the busiest intersections. They hit an office center, a diagnostic clinic, and a parking lot. As of now, 23 people (including 3 children) have been found dead, but only 6 of them have been identified – the heat from the fire and the explosion wave tore bodies to pieces leaving them unrecognizable. 66 people (including 3 children) were hospitalized, 34 of them are in serious condition, and 5 are in critical condition. 39 people are missing.

In today’s picture, you see 4-year-old Liza. Her mom really wanted to have kids. During one of the prenatal screenings, the doctors discovered that the child has Down’s Syndrome and recommended her mom terminate the pregnancy to avoid “unnecessary torture.” But her mom kept the baby, loved her, and was doing her best to help her child’s development. They went to Vinnytsia from Kyiv, hoping to escape the war. This morning, they went to a speech therapy class. An hour later, Liza was killed by the Russian missile. You may have seen a sensitive content picture from today with a lifeless child’s body next to a stroller – that was Liza. Her mom lost a foot and was taken to a hospital in critical condition without regaining consciousness and unaware of her baby’s passing.

As one of the missiles hit a neurological diagnostics clinic, most seriously injured people are the doctors and patients of that clinic.
Such terrorist attacks are meant to cause panic, fear, and despair. Instead, they cause anger and resolve. We grieve the losses, but that makes us long for justice even more.

Please pray for Vinnytsia today, pray for our team. Pray for all of Ukraine in this reign of terror that inflicts the people with fear.

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

It’s amazing what God will do when we choose to partner together with Him and with others. It’s wonderful how often it happens all the time between YWAM, churches, other missions and people that are out there.

Yaroslav (Ternopil)
Couple days ago I asked God to lead me to do some people that need my help, but also that I could get to know someone closer… and just enjoy ministry…due to constant busy days and 42 days without single free day I stoped notice people around me…all I saw is crowd that need so much help and we all try to help them.

…Today I met this amazing christian family at the base. Few days ago soldier took them out of Bucha. On the way, he asked to close everyone’s eyes and not to look out the window so that they would not see the horror around them. Kids told me that it was a game that they played with parents…like hide and seek.

Their house is destroyed, they have nowhere to return. they have a fellow pastor in Bulgaria and wanted to get there, but could not find how.
Long story short… 6 am I’ll take them to Romanian border, in another side of border amazing people from YWAM Romania will meet them and they will continue their journey.
They smile and crying.
Glory to God and respect to everyone who is helping us to make this sstory.

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

Yulia (Kyiv)
The War is not over
I saw this photo today and my heart started beat faster.
All those lights are bombing and shelling that is going on every night and day on the front lines.

This reality is not letting us to give up because so many people need help and aid, so many people need a transportation to leave, so many need to hear and know that they are not alone.

On the second picture I marked with yellow dots our current humanitarian aid locations and where we bringing aid to.

We are not afraid of those “lights” because God is with us. We are so grateful for such opportunities and trusted people who make it all possible, grateful for amazing team who’s working together, grateful for you who’s reading this, praying and supporting us.
I will write this again and again
“ WAR is NOT OVER “

As I make my departure from Ukraine, these are the words that I take from my dear friends here, I cannot say it any better…

We had a launch meeting of the new DTS that starts next week. Many of the students are a whole group of young new Christians from Mariopol who fled the disaster there. Other new students are volunteers who were ministered to here at our center and found Jesus and decided to stay. There is so much excitement here at all that is happening. Please pray for them….

Al Akimoff and Slavic Ministries Team (Ukraine)

Ternopil, Ukraine
The story of the first days of the war and particularly the first night are told often by the dedicated staff here at the YWAM Center in Ternopil. An hour after the initial attack by the Russian Army, a call went out to the pastors of the churches of the city. Within minutes they gathered at YWAM together to discuss the happenings and what would be their response.

Within a few hours a call came form the mayor of the city. A train had departed from the Eastern part of Ukraine and would arrive in Ternopil around midnight with 1500 people, what can we do. The response was quick, we are ready let them come.

The YWAM Center became the staging area and a couple of the girls instantly created an app that would register each new refugee. The pastors had mobilized hundreds of their people to bring their cars and to take people into their homes .

Within days, vehicles were procured, busses rented and hundreds of Ukrainians were transported to the borders of Poland and Romania. The flow of refugees has subsided now but the dedication and creativity of the staff toward their needy guests continues. Feeding stations are situated around the city. A large warehouse takes in donations and shipments of food and supplies from all over Europe and YWAM and church vans come from all over to fill them, often to overflowing with the supplies that are taken out to the affected villages.

The Center here has settled into a rhythm of ministry to countless people coming through seeking help. There are doctors who are themselves refugees but are offering their services. There are cooks, a masseus and a trained councilor who give their time. Some have found God here and they and they have joined the volunteer staff to serve in many different ways.

The Staff here has decided to begin a Discipleship Training School here in a few weeks. Applications are still coming in and half of the school is made up of refugees who became volunteers and stayed on to work full time.

Life is different since the war started. Our priorities have changed, our ministries and outreach are different and we are learning to lean on the Lord in new ways every day. This has been the same response from all of our centers here in Ukraine.

Young leaders are rising up to the new challenges thrown at them daily and they are growing in confidence and leadership abilities. I just left a meeting where they discussed the picking up of a load of water filters to be distributed to the villages without water or electricity.

Pray for YWAM Ukraine! They will shrug off any compliments that you throw their way that they are some kind of heros. No, we are ordinary people serving an extraordinary God. You can’t help but love these wonderful ywammers who have chosen to serve God and others in these incredible times.

Picking up goods at the Ternopil warehouse to take to Vinitsa

Please continue your prayers for these volunteers and workers , pray for more to come. Pray for the Shelter program that is beginning soon Pray for an end to the war.

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team