Ukrainian pastor remains at his post: For locals, our family is their last hope
A 47-year-old Ukrainian pastor is helping his community amidst an ongoing war while expecting his tenth child. “We accept all the blessings that God offers us.”
In the midst of the uncertainty of war, the man with the huge hands continues to carry out humanitarian work and help people who need it, writes the Spanish daily El Pais. The 47-year-old Ihor is the pastor of the local Pentecostal Church in Velyka Vilshanka, a village 50 kilometres to the south of Kyiv. He has been distributing clothes and food as a volunteer since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24th.
Besides doing his pastoral work, Ihor is also making so-called 'rocket cookers'. With these portable devices, people can cook with a minimal amount of firewood. It is something that comes in for the military very handy. Since the Russian army bombs critical infrastructures such as water and power supplies, devices that help the Ukrainians to survive are life-saving. After watching a tutorial on YouTube, the pastor started to make the cookers himself. Since September, Ihor made already 35 cooking devices.
Ihor even opened the doors of his house to up to 34 people who fled the war in the east. “When someone got stuck at a roadblock because it was time for curfew, they sent them to our house,” he says with a smile.
Soon, Ihor and his wife Dana (39) expect another addition to their household: a tenth child. Dana is hospitalised due to the high risks of the pregnancy. In recent days, prayers have therefore been multiplying for mother and child. "The doctors are surprised that he is still alive", says Ihor. "We like having a big family and accept all the blessings that God offers us," he says in the presence, among others, of the eldest daughter, Nastia, 21, and the youngest, David, three.
Six of Ihor's children attend school and represent 10 per cent of the students at the local school in Velyka Vilshanka, making it a good reason to open doors to the family of Ihor. More than 13 years ago, that was different. Ihor and his family decided to move from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv to the village. “We believed that these people need God", he argues. It was daring for a Protestant to jump into the pool like that in a country where approximately 90% of the population follows in the footsteps of the Orthodox Church reports Actualidad Evangelica as well. “They thought we were satanic. We had a lot of difficulties at the beginning. They whispered a lot about us and even threatened us. But they have come to know us as servants of God. The situation has now improved.”
The pastor feels that the village needs him and his family. “Together with my wife we decided that we would not leave. Something told me that this town was safe. For many local people our family is the last hope and we couldn't leave them alone. If they saw us leave, they would leave. Since we stayed, they also stayed.” The pastor insists that he oes not understand how the current war has come to be. "There are religious who are blessing the occupation and I feel sorry for them."
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