Marie and Japhin see a revival in Kiev – and stay there


Eastern Europe

Edited by Daniela Städter, Idea

Japhin (left) and Marie. Photo Private

The Russian army is coming nearer. But the German Marie and her husband are staying in the Ukrainian capital Kiev. Too much work to do.

The 27-year-old Marie lives with her husband Japhin (28) in a suburb of Kiev. She told the German news agency Idea why she and her Indian-born husband would stay in the Ukrainian capital despite the approaching Russian army.

“Until the outbreak of war, my husband and I ran the Youth with a Mission (YWAM; pronounced as Why-Wam) Bible School in Kiev. Our students mainly came from Central Asia. In many Muslim countries around us, but also Russia, YWAM is considered a foreign agent. Here in Kiev, Christians are trained for nine months and then return to their home countries. Ukraine is like a cradle of freedom for them.

We now feed the soldiers

But that is all over now. War broke out, and our work has changed. We are the only foreign employees of YWAM who have remained in Kiev. Together with twelve Ukrainian volunteers, we provide people with food and medicine, among other things.

We mainly take care of Ukrainian soldiers. If it weren’t for them, Ukraine would no longer exist. They stand at checkpoints and roadblocks day and night. They protect our city and defend our freedom. They remind me of the guards on the wall of Jerusalem (Isaiah 62).

YWAM Kyiv. Photo Facebook

Meanwhile, we cook about 650 portions of food every day. The boys go into town at lunchtime. We all have to be very careful because some Russians camouflage themselves and mingle with the Ukrainian people. But our four Ukrainian YWAM workers are in the army themselves. They know where there is a food shortage and how we can best reach the soldiers. It’s all through contacts.

The old and sick are on their own

We also supply goods to a hospital and a home for the elderly. I understand everyone who wants to get to safety. But the people in the older people’s homes – nobody evacuates them! Two staff members are now responsible for all the residents in one house. We try to bring the most urgently needed products to the older people’s homes: Medicines and basic foodstuffs. We go to many grocery shops in the area to buy food. Because everywhere there is a lack of products. The volunteers also take people to the country’s West, loading food on the way back. They mainly evacuate people who live on the upper floors of the high-rise buildings. These are likely to be hit first in case of attacks. Meanwhile, getting petrol is becoming difficult.

Accustomed to the sound of bombs

We soon got used to the sound of bombs. At first, we were startled at night, but you quickly develop a sense of whether you need to go to a safe place or whether the attacks are further away. We don’t have a bunker or basement here on the YWAM site, but only a specific place outside the houses where it is relatively safe.

YWAM Kyiv. Photo Facebook

There we all stood close together one night: The horizon was coloured red from the fired rockets. We can hear and see the firing. You can feel the ground shaking with each impact. The attacks usually take place at night. Nevertheless, we have been able to sleep through the past nights. There is more prayer around the world for this country than ever before. We feel that this is also carrying us through these difficult times.

We are experiencing a revival

I am grateful to be able to help here. My husband and I were in Amsterdam the day before the war started. We knew that the war could break out soon when we flew back. We also had the option to leave now – but we decided not to.

When we got married, my husband and I promised each other that we would be there for each other in good times and bad. This is now also true for our work in Ukraine – we stay even in bad times. We experience so many miracles, every day anew. We are experiencing a revival here through the war.

Baptism in the bunker

My best friend prayed for her brother to become a Christian for two years. Now he has converted and was baptised in a bathtub in the bunker. We see soldiers praying in the street. We can add a Bible to every portion of food we give away. It is also no coincidence that so many missiles miss their targets.

Never felt such peace

Friends of mine from Germany who don’t know Jesus can’t understand what we are doing here. We talk to them a lot and ask for prayer. And it happens: non-believing friends suddenly start praying for us. I have never felt such peace as I do now.

The New Testament often speaks about persecution. But today, we live comfortably instead, worrying so much about ourselves. However, the Great Commission is not a suggestion; it is a command. We are in the right place. We will leave when we get the impression that God tells us to go. But not sooner. We experience God’s care.

Many Christians in the West are very focused on external security. We want to satisfy the earthly hunger in the West, but often not the spiritual need. However, Jesus says: “My kingdom is not of this world.” Life can always end suddenly and quickly. And the question is: What comes next?

We feel sorry for the Russian soldiers

Within the country, we communicate mainly via Telegram. When we hear bombs in the distance, we know via Telegram a short time later exactly where Russian troops are attacking.

YWAM Kyiv. Photo Facebook

We also hear that Russian soldiers are surrendering. They are so young and don’t know what they are fighting for. Some of them thought they had to go to training. We feel sorry for them. Ukraine is a peaceful country. We are sure that God will intervene – whatever that may look like concretely. We pray that more missionaries will come to Ukraine after the war to rebuild the country spiritually as well.”

This is a translation of a German article published by the Protestant press agency Idea. Marie’s last name is not mentioned for security reasons.



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