"Russia's relentless shelling of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv with cluster munitions and scatterable land mines amounts to a war crime that indiscriminately killed hundreds of civilians" – Amnesty International.
39-year-old Ivan, along with his wife, 37-year-old Inna, somehow survived the monumental bombing and destruction of the city of Kharkiv, where they have lived for all of their life. Now they are in the Nehemiah center in Uzhhorod, Ukraine, where they live as IDPs (internally displaced people) with ten-year-old Sasha, six-year-old Lira, 63-year-old grandmother Elena, 64-year-old grandfather Mykola, and 87-year-old great-grandmother Liudmyla (not pictured).
Before the war broke out on February 24th, 2022
Ivan was a public relations manager for Publishing House. Now, his office and life have burned to the ground. Inna was a teacher at the National University of Civil Protection, where she taught public administration.
February 24th changed everything. The missiles rained down on their city like hell from the heavens, and they hid in a kindergarten basement for shelter. One week seemed like an eternity. One week in the dark; one week with 30 children and 60 adults; each person united in a singular goal, to protect those they love, to stay alive. The Lord's Prayer never held so much meaning to them as it did at that moment.
February 24th, this family made a gut-wrenching decision to leave their home in Kharkiv to save their lives. This family of seven wedged into grandfather Mykola's little car (a Lada) and started a nightmarish journey that ended in western Ukraine at the ministry of the Nehemiah Team in Uzhhorod. The yellow ribbons they tied onto the mirror of their car identified them as Ukrainians who were peacefully leaving their city. The signs in the rear window indicated there were small children on board. They prayed that these words and symbols would bring them safety, knowing that for many, it did not.
In one of the photographs posted, you will see 87-year-old great-grandmother Liudmyla, A World War II survivor, when she was six years old. She now prays that her six-year-old great-granddaughter will survive this moment in history as she did.
The people of Ukraine are survivors; their history has taught them to fight, to be brave, and to endure.
What does Nehemiah Team Ukraine mean to Ivan and Inna? Safety, community; they are thankful to Tetiana, who organized this community and made it feel like home. "Nehemiah has helped restore our faith in a God who, despite the events of this very broken world, loves us and has a plan for our life."!