More thoughts from Ira (Kyiv)
It is the end of May, a traditional end of the school year in Ukraine. I remember how it made me feel when I was a child – a little nostalgic yet excited for the endless opportunities of the summer break. That’s how the kids should think about it. However, this year is different. Ukrainian children will not have their traditional graduation parties. Most of them are scattered all over the world or are busy sheltering from Russian bombs and missiles. Our children have matured overnight because of the crazy ambitions of the Russian dictator.
Please, take your time to pray for the children of Ukraine. They ask serious questions. They are dealing with anxiety from sirens wailing with air raid warnings. They are learning to manage their emotions, especially anger at the situation. They experience losses on various levels – loss of security, their home, loss of a friend or a family member, loss of limbs. The war scars their childhood, and we pray for their future not to be crippled by this experience.
In these past three months, whenever I was thinking about the children in Ukraine, I would be reminded of the passages from Deuteronomy where God instructs Moses and the Israelites to make sure their children and their children’s children know about the great deeds of the Lord and understand and keep His commandments. Children will grow up to be the new generation, yet their childhood determines which way they will go as adults.
Will our children hate Russia forever? Will they learn to be cruel? Will they recover from the atrocities they experienced in their lives? If they left Ukraine as refugees, will they ever return home, and which country will they call their home? Will they always be afraid of thunder and the sound of an airplane? Will they understand what values their nation was fighting for, or will they take it for granted or disregard it completely?
The answers to these questions depend on what we, as parents, do today. They will learn from our responses and our actions. May God grant us wisdom in fulfilling this responsibility: “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children”.” (Deuteronomy 4:9-10)
The poem in today’s picture was written by Pavlo Vyshebaba, a Ukrainian man who currently serves in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. His family is in a safe place in Europe, and when his daughter asked him what she should write him about in a letter, he gave her this response. I am deeply moved by this poem because it shows the true heart of a father wanting to preserve his girl’s childhood.
According to the official reports, 242 children were killed in the war, and over 440 were wounded. Please, keep praying.
Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team