Pastor Petr is sharing hope in war-torn Ukraine

By Petr Hušt | Ukraine in Europe

The war in Ukraine may have faded from the world’s headlines but it is still causing devastation among people across the region. One of SIM’s newest entities, SIM Czech Republic, is trying to mobilise people and resources to help both materially and spiritually. One of the people they are working with is a Czech pastor, Petr Hušt (pictured above). He has spent his life working with and discipling young people, organising multi-media festivals and hosting a radio programme. But, in the last year, God has opened the door for him to work as a voluntary chaplain in Ukraine. Here he gives us an insight into his work. 

I returned from Ukraine in mid- January. I delivered generators, independent diesel heating, sleeping bags for temperatures as low as -20C, and a large tent to be used as a chapel on the front.

Chaplains work on the front lines – in hospitals, rehabilitation centres, detoxification facilities and among soldiers and civilians. Translators are provided for those who preach in English or French.

Soldiers face death daily, witnessing horrors that leave them questioning their ability to continue living. The rise in addictions and suicides is alarming.

People here ponder life and death daily, and they are open to hearing about Christ. As chaplains, we are invited to come, preach, and pray for people.

I recently visited a village where a spiritual renewal programme is underway for 48 teenage orphans. The situation is challenging because the war has persisted for 22 months – perhaps losing attention from Western media, yet intensifying on the ground.

People are physically and mentally exhausted. Many of the women are facing extreme exhaustion as another mobilisation looms. Men who couldn’t escape Ukraine or haven’t succumbed to the conflict are now being called up. These conscriptions can be forceful and challenging.

Here are three stories from my travels in Ukraine last year

1. A father's sacrifice

In a small village, a mother packed clothes and blankets for her husband on the front lines.

Of the 120 men in their original unit, only 17 remained. As we chatted, her young daughter lay on a blanket nearby for more than two hours. When asked why she was lying there, the little girl replied, “I want my daddy to smell my scent.” I stood there with two other pastors, both men. As she spoke, the tears welled in all our eyes.

2. Sleepless nights

In Kyiv, a Ukranian colleague drove us in a van for dinner. He drove more than energetically – very fast, braking abruptly, honking at other drivers, gesturing wildly. It seemed strange to me.

At one point, he stopped, turned to me, and said, “You know, Petr, we are mentally exhausted.

“It’s been a week since I slept at all. Every night, air raid sirens sound. They wake us up five times a night. Rockets have been heading to Ukraine for two months now.

“We are completely drained emotionally. I have a wife abroad, I go to work every day, but I haven’t slept for over a week.”

Sometimes, it may not be immediately visible, but even people far from the front lines face significant hardships.

Helping hands: Relief aid from Pasto Petr’s team is helping support many people who have been caught up in the horrors of war.

 

 

3. A pastor's calling

In a place called Vinnytsia, we collaborate with a local church, which is involved in providing numerous social services.

Pastor Petr shakes Pastor Roman's hand.

We send food there because, during the war, they cannot find enough to serve the people.

I met Pastor Roman, who leads a congregation of about 150 people. Apart from worship services, they have three rehabilitation centres for drug addicts and alcoholics, two family-type children’s homes, and Pastor Roman regularly serves in local prisons.

He also ministers in 11 surrounding villages where the people are very poor, often lacking even food.

I asked him, “Pastor Roman, why do you do all of this? There are some churches that only have worship services. Why do you do all of this?”

Pastor Roman gives groceries to a woman.

The pastor smiled and said, “Sunday is a celebration for us, but the church is present in the rehabilitation centres, in prisons, in the surrounding villages. wherever there are people in need of Christ.”

Please pray

• For safety for Pastor Petr and his team as they minister very close to the front lines in Ukraine
• For SIM Czech Republic to be able to partner well with like-minded organisations in Ukraine and elsewhere
• For God to raise up more harvest workers willing to go to places where the work is hard. 

SIM Czech Republic partners with Petr and with the Nehemiah organisation, which supports chaplains, collaborates with churches and sends relief aid to Ukraine. As one volunteer chaplain put it, “Give me 5,000 voluntary chaplains and tomorrow I’ll need another 5,000.” SIM Czech Republic is looking for a worker who could coordinate this ministry. If you feel called to serve, email czech.office@sim.org.

SIM Asset Publisher Portlet

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SIM Asset Publisher Portlet

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