Ira Kopitavova (Kyiv)

Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!
O Lord, make haste to help me!
Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonor who delight in my hurt!
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the Lord!”
Psalm 40:13‭-‬14‭, ‬16 ‬‬

September 1 is traditionally the first day of school, the Day of Knowledge as we call it. My parents are teachers, so this day always had a special festive mood and anticipation. I’ve always felt nostalgic and emotional on this day.
That’s why I feel overwhelmed today and choking with emotions.

Because children shouldn’t experience war, they shouldn’t have their classes interrupted to go to their bomb shelter because of the air raid. They shouldn’t bring an emergency backpack to school (a recommendation from the police in big cities) and have a 3-day stash of supplies in case the school is under rubble, and they must wait for the rescue team. They shouldn’t be separated from their friends and teachers seeking refuge abroad. They should be reading adventure stories instead of learning to discern different land mines and acquiring the “life in times of war” skills (new recommended school subjects).

Those are only the obvious “wrongs” of this war, but there are so many more deep emotional wounds that will take a while to heal – the fear, anxiety, sense of loss, identity crises, separation from family and home… Only God can heal those.

Please, pray for the Lord’s protection over our children. May He find them where they are now, may He heal them from their hurt, and may He shape them to be the generation He wants them to be. Pray for His touch upon their hearts.
And we praise God there were no provocations or massive missile attacks today!

Today’s pictures come from Kharkiv and Kostiantynivka (Donetsk region). The children came to their schools for the first day of school. Since February 24, Russia has permanently destroyed over 270 and damaged 2.7 thousand educational institutions.

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

Photos by Viktoriya Vakhodska and Kostyantyn Liberov.

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Ira Kapitanova (Kyiv)

Today is the last day of summer, which still feels like February. It’s as if we are in hibernation mode, going through motions but, in fact, waiting for the time when we’ll be able to live and breathe freely.

When I was a kid, we had a tradition for the potato harvesting season. We would usually exchange the first couple of sacks of potatoes for the sweet watermelons and enjoy the treat right there with sticky juice dripping all over the place. The watermelons were brought on a huge truck from Mykolaiv and were sold or exchanged. Later in the fall, the same truck would again bring onions, sweet peppers, and tomatoes in exchange for potatoes. This natural exchange was an excellent solution for the villagers who couldn’t afford to buy the vegetables. It was also an ideal solution for the people in the Mykolaiv region – grow what yields a great harvest and exchange for something that can’t be produced locally. This tradition has been ongoing for over 20 years, and the truck drivers knew their regular customers.

Needless to say, this year, there were no trucks from the Mykolaiv region, which makes me wonder where they are today, if their families are safe, and if they will have enough potatoes for the winter season.

Please, keep praying for the people in the temporarily occupied territories and those living on the front lines.

Marie John (Kyiv)

Galina is 76 years old and living alone since she lost her husband last September. Her village was the battleground between the Russians and Ukrainians. She was hiding in her garage for so long, and when the Russians came to her house they searched her house and property for 2 hours looking for men or weapons. When they left they told her to put a white cloth on her fence to show they already checked her house. She went to stay in a neighbor’s basement who was also alone when her house was completely destroyed by the bombs.

To save her wedding rings, she put them in a piece of China glassware. They were completely melted together after the bombing but she found them. She’s holding the melted pieces in her hand and she keeps it safe constantly in a bag she carries with her. she is currently living in a friend’s house at night and during the day she has a tent on her property she has been living in.

Now she has a temporary shelter we built her thar she can stay warm in the winter.

Homes of Hope SDB/HoHCluj

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

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