War trauma and hope in Ukraine

06 Dec, 2017 | Ukraine
OM International
Solider battered by war enjoying a cigaret and casual conversation with chaplains on the front line of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, is shepherded by OM supported Chaplains.  Photo by Garrett N
After starting out in April, reaching out and making contact, in May we continued our work with the IDPs and returning soldiers.  At the beginning of the month we invited families of IDPs with their children to a picnic. It was a good opportunity to have fellowship in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.


The next step was to start with counseling sessions. One of the IDPs from the war zone we work with is Julia. She moved to Odessa with her husband and teenage son. Julia is in a state of depression. It is hard for her to find a reason to keep living. We spoke with her about God and the true meaning of life. Julia needs further counseling. She asks for help in raising their son, because she cannot cope.


Almost all the IDPs we are counseling are people with disabilities, so it is very difficult for them to solve their psychological problems on their own. They cannot cope with reality. Furthermore, everyone is asking for physical help and spiritual support. We are counseling with adults, teenagers and children in both individual and group sessions. We also realized that people are in desperate need, and thus have been bringing humanitarian aid. These people need basic household things because they are left without a permanent residence.

God also provided us with the perfect opportunity to invite the IDPs and soldiers to church with their families.  The 500 years of reformation are also celebrated in Ukraine. In connection with this event, a large symphony orchestra performed in our church. Many of the IDPs' military families came to this event. It was a great opportunity to bring people into the walls of the church where they could hear the word of God.

Since both my husband and myself are registered chaplains, we have access to the military hospital.  In the hospital we visit the soldiers who are in the ophthalmology department. One of the soldiers, Slavik, has lost his sight and we were able to order a player with an audio Bible for him. We also gave him music from a Ukrainian musician who plays on an old musical instrument - a ‘kobza’.  He was appreciative.

All these soldiers are injured not only in their bodies but also their souls. They all need and ask for spiritual and psychological support.

Sasha - a paratrooper’s mother called us to visit her son at their home. He is in a state of greatest depression and clearly suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome.  He was fighting on the frontline for the last three years. He has many wounds. There are many pieces of debris that doctors say are too dangerous to remove. One is even under his eye. Sasha struggles to speak, is very aggressive and has not left his room in six months. We spent a lot of time with him and talked a lot about God saving his soul.

Ruslan is an 18 year old orphan who joined the army straight after leaving the orphanage. His leg was amputated after stepping on a anti-personnel mine. He was very thankful for a visit - needing to know that he still means something to someone in this world. One of his biggest struggles is that he still wants to do something "good" before dying. Because of the explosion, Ruslan is also now blind in one eye. He however believes that it is a miracle that he is alive since he had a hand granade in his pocket which did not explode... We shared the Gospel with Ruslan and prayed. Please pray for him. All ask for prayer. 

The newest part of our ministry is a group for wives of soldiers. They come with their children, and volunteers spend time with the kids during sessions. A few ladies from church also attend - so we are able to help the IDP ladies integrate into society and, of course, have a live witness of Christ in our group. We discuss lots of different subjects, struggles, life skills and such things. 

We ask for your prayers and God's blessing for all of us and all our people who are suffering in Ukraine and are forced to live in such circumstances.

Anzhela Aleksandrovich, Psychologist and Chaplain

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