Bill and Oksana Brower, WGM missionaries in Berdyansk, Ukraine, recently sent this update to their ministry partners. Please lift them up in prayer.
“Was that thunder?”
Oksana and I were standing outside our house and felt the ground shudder. We looked up at the clear blue sky and realized the rumbling wasn’t thunder; it was the Ukrainian army doing target practice. Another reminder that the Ukraine-Russia conflict is still an active war zone situation.
The war hasn’t been in the American news much lately, but I assure you that it’s still going on. There’s been some back and forth but no major advances on either side. Sadly, we hear that approximately 5 people are losing their lives every day in the conflict zone.
Still, we’re doing fine; we’re still in Berdyansk, and if it gets worse, we are ready to leave at a moment’s notice. We are seeking God’s wisdom regarding our next steps, and we pray that we will follow Him in all things.
But life goes on! I’ve been staying active in our church youth group, and even preached last Sunday in the main service. Oksana’s girls’ group is still meeting. With it being summer break, we’ve been involved in camps and special events. One new fun thing we’ve done several times this summer is teach various teen groups to play baseball. We’re not too serious about the rules (having fun is more important than rules – a good reminder for us all!) and the kids seem to like it. One group near the Home of Hope started with just 10 kids showing up, and now there are over 35 who come!
We always include an invitation to come to the youth center, where they will hear Bible lessons. At a BBQ we had recently, over 40 students came to play baseball and have some good food. I did a Bible lesson there. Many Ukrainians are really wary of churches because non-Catholic churches are often perceived as cults. So we do these fun things to start building relationships and tearing down those stereotypes.
One refugee family is still living in the Home of Hope, but everyone else has either moved farther west or they’ve found jobs and apartments here in town. We are still happy to help refugees, but our focus has shifted to helping locals. Prices for gas, food, and electricity have gone up and salaries haven’t. Berdyansk is a tourist town, and tourists have stopped coming. People are really struggling financially. We try to help as we can through our Samaritan’s Fund, which gives humanitarian aid.
What’s our biggest need right now? Prayer!
Pray for peace and calm. People are anxious, nervous, and that is really wearing people down.
Pray that we can convince people that God is still in control. We hope that our example of staying here and continuing in ministry is a testimony of God’s work in our lives. We want to be His light in this dark place. Pray that God will guide us to be better “light-carriers.”
Friends, I can’t thank you enough for standing with us in prayer and financial support. We know that God has us here in Berdyansk, Ukraine, at this time for His purposes. It’s not easy, but when did He promise us an easy life? We just hope we will always be faithful to listen and follow Him.
Bill, Oksana, and Denis Brower