Finding Friends Through Hardship
Written By Leslie Simonin
In May (third month of the invasion to Ukraine), I traveled with The Wild Team. We visited Poland, Czech Republic, Moldova and Israel to listen to the people who are fleeing and to honor the efforts of all the saints who are putting their lives in service of those who mourn today. All the Ukrainians we talked to had heard rumors of war, so it wasn't entirely a surprise. Some believed them and others did not. There wasn't much that could be done, other than hope and pray.
"On the dawn of February 24th, life changed for all of them regardless of what they believed."
There are situations in life that we cannot avoid, only find the strength in Christ to face them. Even having been there myself and listening to their stories, I know I fail to understand the depth of the loss they experience—when everything you are, everything you know, everything you have built, your relationships, your cultural identity, everything is in risk —or in ruins.
In John 16:33, Jesus warned us that in the world we would have trouble, but we can trust that He has overcome the world. God prepared His church in advance to love the displaced, which was something we marveled to witness. We visited churches and ministries in neighboring countries and often heard testimonies of people who had decided months before the storm, guided by the Spirit, to implement things that did not seem urgent such as open a kindergarten, renovate kitchens, and expand warehouses. All of which served to prepare them to be ready to rescue those who managed to get out of Ukraine! God provided teachers, resources, and supplies. God never sleeps!
In the moment of greatest distress, you meet your friends.
People from neighboring countries rushed to the borders to help strangers. I admire that. I know they continue to work to this day. The churches, who had disagreed in the past over small things had put aside their differences and came together to serve.
When I was there, The Poles, Czechs, and Moldovans had completed 100 days of non-stop service to crowds who were having the worst days of their lives.
One of the girls we talked with didn't flee right away, but waited for a strategic moment. She talked about trying various combinations of the things she could carry in her luggage. Considering that maybe only what she brought with her would survive, but that the weight may hinder her escape.
Ukrainians are facing a difficult reality. However, I have noticed they are sustained by their fearless spirit and a firm faith in coming back home and rebuilding. I wish with my heart that their desire is fulfilled. More than anything, I wish that they place their faith beyond passing things; in Christ, who does not change and whose promises do not fail.
I invite you to cling to the hope of Jesus and to support those who are struggling today. Let's put aside the irrelevant things, the weight that stops us, and set our sights on the eternal.
Let us love with what we have to give and share.