As the war in Ukraine rages on, the staff of the Ukrainian Bible Society remain in their country bringing humanitarian aid and Scriptures to people in need.
Despite the war, Bible mission there has not only continued but expanded. In Kyiv, life for the Ukrainian Bible Society team is now based around a new normal: each morning the team load up the van with boxes of aid supplies and Scriptures and head out to various distribution points around the city.
They have even been given a special military pass to travel around the city to do this work. The people of Kyiv are so grateful for their support that the team has been labelled the ‘angels of Kyiv’. But this is not the only aspect of life that has changed here since the war began. Bible Society Head, Oleksandr, says that people, fearing for their own lives and the lives of loved ones, are turning to the Lord in ever greater numbers.
“Churches are filled with people wanting to pray and find comfort. People call us and visit daily, desperate to get Bibles. But our stock for the entire year is almost gone. People are taking whatever we have. One pastor pleaded for Bibles that were damaged or even copies with pages missing,” says Oleksandr. Deputy General Secretary, Anatoliy, agrees saying there is now an unprecedented demand for Scriptures.
“We have met so many people in the last weeks here in Kyiv where we are serving, people who never had a Bible before, never prayed before, but now they are asking, ‘Are you from a church? Are you from Bible Society? Please pray for us.’ On the streets, in homes, everywhere. When you are so close to death people begin to ask spiritual questions,” says Anatoliy.
“One man, who received a Bible and some bread from Bible Society, stood there with the bread in one hand and the Bible in the other and said, ‘I think that the Bible is more important than daily bread for me, personally, now. I never prayed before. I have never been to church.’ (He is 70+ years old.) ‘I have never read the Bible, but I feel it’s time to come closer to God,’” he said.1
Recently, the Bible Society van was in a small park, one of its regular distribution points, where elderly people who have not been able to leave the city gather daily to collect water from a well. On this day there were about 80 – 90 people there. An elderly woman spotted a children’s Bible in the back of the Bible Society van. “Is that a children’s Bible?” she asked. “Yes,” replied the volunteer. “I had one when I was a child. It was my favourite book,” she said. Soon, more elderly people arrived asking for Bibles, which were available in both Ukrainian and Russian. Many have even older, sick relatives who cannot leave their homes. “Now, we will be able to come home with the Bible and read it together and be glad,” one lady said.
Bible Society workers have also been working in southern Ukraine, delivering Scriptures and basic aid to people in hospitals and bomb shelters. As missiles explode around them these people clutch the Scriptures just handed to them. Through God’s Word they find strength and hope. The words of Psalm 31 have become a mantra for Ukrainian people: For I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side!” They conspire against me and plot to take my life. But I trust in you, LORD; I say, “You are my God.” (Psalm 31:13-14, NIV).
Within Ukraine and in neighbouring countries, Bibles are now urgently needed. Soldiers, people in bomb shelters, mothers and children in refugee camps in Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, and Moldova: everyone is asking for God’s Word for help, comfort, and support. Will you help to bring Bibles to Ukrainians at this challenging and difficult time? You can make your gift here.