Psalm 13:5‭-‬6‬
Today Russian troops shelled the area near Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) twice. They seriously damaged a high-voltage power line, nitrogen-oxygen station, and the combined auxiliary building. There are risks of hydrogen leakage and sputtering of radioactive substances. Fire danger is serious. It means a nuclear disaster can happen anytime if the Russian troops are not careful enough.

Is it something new? No. The city of Enerhodar (and Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant) has been under Russian occupation since March 4, 2022. Over the past few months, they have turned the NPP facility into their ammunition depot (which means a high risk of detonation and explosion), and they were interfering with the management and staff of the NPP. A few times, Russian missiles aimed at Kyiv or another region of Ukraine flew really low over the NPP, putting it in danger. It is one more weapon of terrorism, a nuclear one this time. We are literally sitting on a powder keg, and we are fully aware that the risks of Russia using a nuclear weapon or causing a nuclear disaster are not negligible.

What should we then do? I believe we should pray, trust God (for His interference and protection is vital in this situation), and keep on living.

The enemy (both our immediate physical enemy, Russia, and the spiritual enemy) wants us to be paralyzed by fear or anxiety. The enemy wants to steal our joy. He wants us to feel dead while we are still alive. And we must resist it.

I read a post by Ostap Slyvynkyi (https://bit.ly/3bvavKF), a Ukrainian poet and translator, in which he shares that he struggles with rejoicing because it feels wrong. It feels as if it’s something that needs to be postponed until “when the war is over.” I’ve heard similar ideas from many of my friends, and that’s how I often feel. However, Ostap also shares his conversation with a woman who had to leave her home in Kostiantynivka ( a heavily shelled town in the Donetsk region) and move to the West of Ukraine.
She said, “People often ask me how come I have so much joy? Why am I so happy? Sometimes they ask me this with some accusation. And really, I have nothing and no one left, except [my son].

But then, one day, I got a revelation – if the enemy had taken away everything I had, I shouldn’t let them also take away my days. So I stopped thinking, “just wait a little bit, and then we’ll win, and life will be back as usual.” No. Our life happens now, and there will be no do-overs. And our victory will not come as an awakening from a horrible nightmare when you say, “I’m fine, I’m home.” No, it won’t be this way because it wasn’t a dream, and “home” is no more.

That’s when I decided I would do everything in my power for our victory, but I refuse to give the enemy any day of my life. There won’t be a day when I lay flat and pity myself. No, I will rejoice out of spite. Yes, there’s joy in spite of everything and out of spite for the enemy.”

To me, these words are spoken by the woman who has lost everything except her life-asserting resilience and dignity. They were an encouragement to me, and I hope they urge you to rejoice in the Lord despite the circumstances so that the enemy wouldn’t be able to take away your will for life. May the hope of God’s promise be our light even in the deepest darkness.

Thank you for your prayers…
Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministies Team

Y Update – August 4
A survey conducted by the IOM last month showed that 15% of Ukraine’s population has been displaced. At the same time, 5.5 million people who were previously displaced have returned home, most to Kyiv city and region, as well as Kharkiv, Odesa and Chernihiv regions. The organization said many of the people who have been displaced are facing economic hardship. It said that 60% of those who were employed before displacement have lost their jobs and as many as 9% have had no income since the outbreak of the full-scale war in late February.

With the approaching colder months, many are worried about their living conditions, the IOM said. As many as 44% said they needed help with repairs and more than one fourth feared needing to leave their current accommodation due to insufficient heating ahead of winter.

Because of this growing housing need for this approaching winter, Y Ukraine have started building temporary housing for those who lost their homes. There are many elderly and mothers with children who desperately need shelter. In order for our projects to be fulfilled, we are needing teams to come and help construct prefabricated simple homes.

If you can send a team to come and help for a couple of weeks, please private message me for details. Also, finances are needed to purchase the building materials. We have a wonderful opportunity to provide shelter for those who need it. Please pray about how you may be involved in our endeavor either by sending teams

Teams in Europe Volunteers
teams@ywamkyiv.org

Dear Friends,
I apologize for the delay and the absence of prayer letters thee past few days. We are presently having a small vacation and have been out of town and out of range for internet.. We’ll be back to normal next week.

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

Ukraine’s grain starts moving. (N.Y. Times)
The Razoni, loaded with more than 26,000 metric tons of corn, sailed out of Ukraine’s blockaded ports today — the first such ship to sail since Russia’s invasion.
There are 16 more vessels ready to bring grain to world markets under a deal signed by Russia and Ukraine. But experts warn that a global hunger crisis still looms.

Russia’s blockade since its invasion sent global grain prices soaring and brought the threat of famine to tens of millions of people, particularly in the Middle East and Africa. Wheat prices have since eased, but experts think they are likely to rise again, in part because of other factors, including the prices of energy and fertilizer.
“The issues affecting food markets have not been solved,” said Ehsan Khoman, who manages emerging-market and commodities research for Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group. “There is still a shortage.”
Aid officials say that the scale of the global food crisis — years in the making and fueled by wars, climate shocks and the economic devastation of the coronavirus pandemic — is so immense that no single event will reverse the situation.
As many as 50 million people in 45 countries are on the brink of famine, according to the U.N.’s World Food Program. In the 20 worst-hit countries, the situation is likely to worsen substantially by the end of the summer, it said.
Still, the departure of the ship was a first step toward getting 20 million tons of grain to the world market, generating export revenue for Ukraine. The Razoni left the port of Odesa, from where it was led out of the mined waters by a Ukrainian tugboat. Its crew, mostly Syrian seamen, headed for the port of Tripoli in Lebanon.

This is a report for praise, the Ukraine war does not just affect Ukraine, it affects the whole world. Let’s thank the Lord for this release of grain to feed the hungry.

Pray that these ports will remain open!

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

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: teams@ywamkyiv.org

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