The congregation in Palma knew all about his work as the pastor of a Baptist church in the eastern Ukraine town of Pereshchepyne, and of how he would regularly make trips to what was already a zone (the Donbass region) racked by war, to minister to the Ukrainian troops and police who were stationed there; Gennadiy, seen as a kind of chaplain, would go right up to the frontline. From 2014, when Russian-supporting separatists took over parts of this region, until war broke out on 24th February 2022, the area was a forgotten battleground, an ongoing bloody conflict in which thousands died. It was a dangerous, forlorn, and poverty-ridden place; itis now so much worse than that.
Gennadiy had a kind of routine before the latest full-blown conflict broke out. He would drive up through checkpoint after checkpoint, stopping to pray with and for the soldiers there, giving them a little message about the Christian faith. He would then go on to find people in the street who would listen to an open-air message in which he would explain the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ to people enveloped in despair, urging them to accept Christ as Saviour. Food packages were given out, and bread handed to the needy.
In spite of the additional enormous danger, which makes his family tremble for his safety, Gennadiy has persevered in his efforts to take gospel hope to people now without water, food, and other resources, loading up his van with food, nappies, medicine, and so on, heading directly into peril. As he did before this war, he is taking in gospel literature and Bibles, aiming to reach those desperate civilians who most need help, and trying to give them the opportunity to hear the Gospel. He still searches out the soldiers, who are now fighting more intensely than ever before. It has always seemed to him, and to those who accompany him, that the sense of eternity being just around the corner for these (often very young) men was very real. We can only imagine how much deeper that sensation is at the moment.
In addition to this aid-giving task, our brother has been able to transport some civilians out of the danger zone (from the city of Kharkiv, for example), so that they can take the first steps on the road to greater safety. Those managing to get out are taken to a free train that evacuates them farther west. No need to tell any of you who read this how much of a risk Gennadiy is taking in making those rescue trips.
The other day, we received a request for help, not from Gennadiy himself, but from someone in Spain who knows him well. She told us of how his already-rickety van had at last come to an end of its life. Could we do anything? The people who are looking after our appeal funds have said ‘Yes!’, so a large part of what Gennadiy needs to replace the van with another 2018 model that he has found in the city of Dnipro is already going through all the rather complex banking process. Soon, we trust, he can reach those dozens of people ringing him up to request help, either for food in ‘the hotspots’, or for transport away from what they fear may be death and destruction.