How to begin? My heart is full to bursting with emotion, yet I feel almost embarrassed to write. We are Ukrainian babies. We’ve only lived here for a little over 3 months. We only just started falling in love with Ukraine and her people in 2010. What do we know of Ukraine?
There are missionaries who have lived here for decades. They’ve given years and years of their lives to the Ukrainian people. They’ve loved Ukraine for almost as long as I’ve been alive. What do we know of Ukraine compared to them? Not much.
Then there are the Ukrainian people themselves. So many lived through the fall of the Soviet Union, were present when Ukraine found it’s independence, had their hopes built by the Orange Revolution, then hopes dashed when things did not improve- but only got worse.
They know what it is to expect corruption. They know what it is to live without hope of change. They know what it is to be stolen from and oppressed over and over and over. What do we know of Ukraine? Nothing.
We know practically nothing of Ukraine compared to these, yet our hearts yearn to know. God has planted us here and He has given us an overwhelming love for these people. I know I will never understand like those others, so I can only share what I do know, with a humbled heart. I simply have to write it down because I never want to forget these days.
Yesterday we took a walk with the kids to the site of the fallen Lenin statue here in Zhitomir. We attempted to explain to the kids why these days are significant. As we walked we talked of history books yet to be written and revolution and lost lives. We talked about what it means that the people of Maidan were willing to give their lives for freedom. We talked about those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. We have several friends who spent significant time at Maidan in the past few months. It could have been any one of them.
When we reached the statue our hearts swelled and our eyes filled with tears. Photos of some of the fallen were on the front of the monument. Candles and flowers were at the base. Where Lenin stood for so long was a lone Ukrainian flag. People were constantly streaming to the site. Some took pictures, some talked with each other, some simply looked and were quiet.
What struck Jed and me the most was that the crowd was almost solely made up of the elderly. Old men hobbled up with canes and snapped pictures. Babushkas looked at the photos on the monument, lips moving silently. Oh, what I would have paid to know what they were thinking. These people who have endured such hardship and pain, what do they think of this time in history? Do they hold hope for their beloved Ukraine, as we do? What can they tell us of life and suffering, hope and fear? Oh, what I would pay.
Today the president was impeached and fled from Kyiv. Today Ukraine began to build her new future. This is the stuff of the History Channel, yet we are here, living it alongside our neighbors and friends. We are here trying our best to understand and support. And we have to wonder, why did God place us here for this time in history? He knew when we boarded the plane in Oregon that a revolution would begin a week after our arrival.
Perhaps He placed us for this time so we would understand just a bit more what it means to be a Ukrainian. Perhaps it was so we would know better how to pray, and others who may not have noticed before would be prompted to pray as well. Perhaps there are people here that we are specifically here to encourage at this time. God only knows. I will just say that I am 100% thankful for it. There is nowhere else we would rather be at this time. Our hearts are simply exploding with love for our new countrymen.
We pray that as Ukraine builds its new future that men’s hearts will be turned toward the Lord. May the sacrifice at Maidan never be in vain. As the thousands stood, and even now stand for justice, may they not forget their most vulnerable who desperately need justice as well. May government leaders’ hearts be softened for the fatherless. May their eyes be opened to the value of every single life in this country.
Ezra said it best: “I know, Mom! Let’s pray that the new president will love orphans!”
Amen. So be it.
There is a long road ahead in building a new Ukraine. Much wisdom and courage will be needed. May God bless Ukraine and may His Spirit flood this land like never before. May many, many hearts and eyes turn to Him as the real Hope for this country. May Ukrainians live lives wide awake to the Father and His never-ending love for them.