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Friday, February 25, 2022

People real to us in Ukraine


Last summer, our Bundibugyo Team hosted four summer interns.  We don’t typically have international interns, but we did last year - a Ukrainian woman, let’s call her Sarah to protect her privacy.

Our interns thrived for their 2 months in Bundibugyo, despite the limitations caused by the COVID pandemic. They couldn’t do the home visits or overnights or Christ School ministry which our interns so often do, but they threw themselves into relationships with our neighbors, with team families, and with some emergency relief work as well. They were a pleasure.

So, the crisis in Ukraine has taken on a personal face for our Bundibugyo Team.  Where is Sarah and her family? What are their plans? Are they safe?

While not huge social media activists ourselves, we do have IG and FB — and, not surprisingly, that’s the best way to communicate with a millennial refugee. Today we got this message:

We drove to the border and then waited in the line for 17 hours to cross over. My mum is also with us….We stayed all night long in the line, outside with all women and children, who are also leaving the country  We are so thankful for all the prayers! God has lifted up our spirits even when we were physically and emotionally exhausted. Sometimes there were so many people. And the crowd led some to fall unconscious. Thank God we got over the border safely. Today my hometown (where my father is now) was bombed. Thankfully nobody was injured. Thank you and all the team for the prayers!

We heard a political commentator today who described Putin as having gone “full-Hitler.” This is a tragic situation and it’s affecting real people.  Sarah is the only one we know, but it has made the situation very real to us and I hope that by sharing a tidbit of her story, it might feel more real to a few of you out there.  

Like Russia and Ukraine, we are all vulnerable to devolving into dehumanizing our neighbor as wrong, different, "other", to the point of causing them harm to "protect" our own interests. The proximity of a summer of working together gives us a glimpse of Ukraine as God sees it, full of brave, hard-working, humor-loving, smart people who just want to live their lives. Our hearts are heavy for Sarah, her family and our world. And as people who imitate Jesus, let us soberly support every effort to bring peace and freedom back to Ukraine, and to love our close-by neighbors too.