News & articles

Sasha, the church deacon, supporting displaced people in Chernivtsi


(In the photo: Vitalii Mariash (Far right) with Sasha (far left),deacon of the Heart of Jesus Evangelical Church in Chernivtsi, and Valeriy, (centre) church pastor. The BBC news site tells us that ‘Volnovakha, in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, is in ruins because of the Russia-Ukraine war. Empty playgrounds, bombed out buildings and discarded tanks appear almost all that's left of a small Ukrainian town …It did have 22,000 inhabitants.’ It is from this ruined town of Volnovakha that many of the people in the attached photos have fled, finding refuge in the western Ukraine city of Chernivtsi and its environs.

60,000 displaced people in Chernivtsi!

EMF missionaries Vitaliy Mariash and his wife Lyudmila, along with their children Marianna and Mark,arrived in Chernivtsi from Kyiv as refugees themselves some weeks ago. They found a new ministry there, one that is very different from their work in Kyiv Theological Seminary and in a local Baptist Church. They have joined forces with the leadership of local evangelical churches, and have set to work helping to provide shelter, transport, food, and above all love and care to refugees, as they reach out in Christian love to suffering people.

One of Vitalii's friends, a deacon in the ‘Heart of Jesus’ church, is Oleksandr Diankov (known to all as ‘Sasha’). He has been working alongside Vitaliy and Lyudmila as they do all they can to help people leave dangerous areas and find a place of safety and support in the western part of Ukraine.

These are some of Sasha's latest comments on what life is like in this city of Chernivsti…

‘Our situation is more or less calm. Thank God the rockets do not reach our region.  But everything shows that the country is at war.  Now there are a lot of people, immigrants in the city.  Housing is almost impossible to find.  We continue to receive people in all our premises, in the school where we have been allocated training facilities and a gym. Today, about 45 people permanently live there.  Some of them stop for a short time and go further abroad.  We try to support them morally and give them hope by talking to them about Jesus and life in him.  Of course we try to provide everything they need’.

Sasha tells us that they are using appeal funds to buy essential products (food and hygiene items) in Romania, which is about 280km from Chernivtsi. Aid packages are then made up and delivered to the places the refugees are living in. Some of those towns, like Beregomet, 40 km from Chernivtsi, are more remote, but news still reaches them that there is aid in the Chernivtsi churches. So when refugees from these more distant places call Sasha and his colleagues, they do not heistate to drive out with supplies.

To all who have donated to our appeal thus are a few words of gratitude from Sasha, on behalf of his church, and of the other churches and relief workers:

‘...many thanks to you….to all people who are worried about the situation in Ukraine.  And support people.  It's very valuable right now.  For our part, we are doing everything to ensure that this assistance goes where there is a need.  Although the need is now everywhere.  We pray that God would give mercy to our land and send peace, so that there would not be so much suffering.  But everything is His will.

We asked Sasha if we could publish some photos.  He sent us a few images, but he asked for several not to be posted on social media. He told us ‘..sometimes it is difficult to take a picture, sorry.  People are in a lot of pain.  Some of them say that there are no emotions left.’

You can understand that, can’t you?

Boxes of essential supplies delivered by Sasha and his colleagues
Some displaced people grateful for aid packages

Delivering some welcome relief packages!

Baby supplies too!

Prayer Points

Please pray:

  1. Pray for Sasha and the team distributing aid. For their safety in travel, and for health and strength to carry on.
  2. Ask the Lord to give the team help as they try to speak about Gospel hope in Christ and minister to traumatised people
  3. Pray for these traumatised, grieving people, who have lost everything. May they be comforted in every sense.
  4. Pray for the churches in Chernivtsi. Various of them receive help from the EMF appeal funds, via Vitalii Mariash.