Family/Youth Camp Poland Lisa W.
Today I crawled under a table and sat with Sasha in his pain and God spoke to both of us.

We were having an activity reenacting Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000.
We had baskets with huge marshmallows as bread and colorful gummy fish, all flexible, sugar-coated and washed in blues, greens, reds and yellows. As we were handing out the sugary stand-ins for the 2 fish and 5 loaves, I saw Sasha run over to a table in the corner, crawl under and lean against the wall with a look of despair.

I went over to the table, got down on my hands and knees, peered into the most beautiful brown eyes and asked, “Sasha, what is wrong? ” He looked at me like his world had crumbled. “I didn’t get any fish and now they are gone”. Somehow, I heard so much more behind that simple statement. I could see the pain in his eyes, the fear, the reality that his 7 year old world was a mess and no 7 year old should have to try to comprehend war.

You see, Sasha is Ukrainian. He speaks Russian, not Ukrainian. He is in Poland with his grandmother living with a family that he just met. His parents are both in the Ukrainian military. They are both in active combat on the front lines in two different places. Sasha is in pain, he is confused. I heard one of the children today ask him if he is Russian because he doesn’t speak Ukrainian. I watched as he emphatically said – “I am not Russian, I just don’t speak Ukrainian, but I am Ukrainian, not Russian” The fierceness with which he responded caught my attention and broke my heart. Sasha is 7 years old. He should be catching frogs, learning to ride a bike, enjoying carefree fun. He should be swimming and eating ice cream and going on summer vacation with his family. He should not have to defend his nationality or make an excuse for the language he speaks. Sasha should not have to fear that a senseless war will take the life of one or maybe both of his parents from whom he has been separated now for months.

I left Sasha under the table and discovered that once again the fish were multiplied. There was indeed more rubbery jelly, colorful fish for Sasha. We found another bag of fish we had missed when putting the snacks out, or maybe God did multiply the fish once again. I grabbed two fish and crawled back under the table with him. His brown eyes lit up as I handed him the fish.

We sat in silence for a few seconds. He munched and gnarled on the taffy-like candy. I looked him in the eye and said, “Sasha, I know things are really hard right now”. He shook his head up and down. “I’m so sorry that your Mom and Dad are not here with you”. He shook his head again. “Sasha, I want you to know how much God loves you and He is with you right now and always will be”. He nodded his head. We sat in silence a little longer just looking at each other.

We crawled out from under the table to join the rest of the class. Sasha ran over to sit with some of the other boys as class continued.

My heart breaks for Sasha and the thousands of children like him.

Lord, please allow these children to know that you sit with them in their pain.
Please show them how you STILL provide and you WILL provide now and in the future.
Remind me again and again how important it is to get down on my knees,
look these precious children in the eye and tell them about your magnificent love for them.

From Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team