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Beacon of Hope in Heart-Wrenching War

Sergey Rakhuba, Mission Eurasia continue tirelessly serving Ukrainians one year into Russian invasion of Ukraine
  • Nancy Huffine
  • February 24, 2023

Mission Eurasia serving Ukrainians

 

Third in an ongoing series. Read part one and part two of the series.

February 24 marked a bleak milestone in Ukraine. One year ago, Russian troops entered the country’s Donbas region, and news agencies began reporting the sound of gunfire, explosions, and armored vehicles pouring across the borders. Along with the destruction of homes and businesses, Russian troops targeted power plants, airports, and even water lines.

Sergey Rakhuba '95 surveys the destruction of Mission Eurasia's ministry headquarters in Irpin, Ukraine.

Sergey Rakhuba '95 surveys the destruction of Mission Eurasia's ministry headquarters in Irpin, Ukraine.

Though the roots of the current conflict date back to 2014, many held out hope that a diplomatic resolution would deescalate the recent years of tension. Mission Eurasia President Sergey Rakhuba recalls, “Nobody believed that Putin would go that far.”

Born and raised in Ukraine, Rakhuba moved to Moscow before coming to the United States in 1991 to study international ministries and evangelism at Moody Bible Institute. He graduated from Moody in 1995, and after 15 years in ministry he became president of Mission Eurasia, whose primary purpose is to train and equip the next generation of church and ministry leaders.

“When the war broke out,” Rakhuba says, “we got caught like many other organizations. In those regions (that were invaded), we had seven training centers for our flagship program called School Without Walls through which we train young leaders. We had to reformat all that and help the local churches in the areas. We basically used all our networks of volunteers, these young leaders we built through all those years, to respond to the refugee crisis, bringing humanitarian aid and assistance.”

A year of massive upheaval

The number of people displaced by the war is staggering. “We estimate based on numbers given by official statistics that altogether about 21 million people were shifted—meaning they left their homes and moved somewhere else,” Rakhuba says. “About nine million people have crossed the borders into Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, and Germany.”

Mission Eurasia quickly set up three refugee centers in Poland. “They're based out of our ministry centers in Poland,” Rakhuba says. “We receive up to 100 refugees a day that come for food, assistance, counseling, clothing, and so on.”

Meeting physical and spiritual needs

The need is even greater within Ukraine’s borders. For both the displaced and for those still sheltering in active war zones, food and hope are critical. Mission Eurasia assembles and distributes I-Care boxes containing enough food to feed a family of four or five members for about a week. Each box also contains a copy of the Bible.

mother and children with I-Care boxes

A mother and her children with I-Care boxes. 

“Back in Ukraine, we have 12 ministry hubs through which we distribute or deliver food and other assistance like hygiene kits,” Rakhuba says. “People are so open for the gospel. (These) food packages—this is the most powerful sermon being preached on the battlefield today.

“I just came back from Kherson. I was there with our teams when they were delivering food boxes to people who are trapped in those half-destroyed villages. The Russian army was pushed out, but you cannot imagine (the destruction that) was left behind.”

With power stations and water lines destroyed in the bombing and relentless shelling, Mission Eurasia began mobilizing to address those critical losses.

Rakhuba beside an I-Care truck.

Rakhuba beside an I-Care truck.

“As soon as we learned that Russia started targeting the power grid—crippling the country—we knew that sources of heat would be a huge thing for families,” Rakhuba says. “So we have two factories now, and we are building and providing wood-burning stoves for families that help them to survive in the harsh winter. They can of course use them for a source of heat, but they can also cook (on them).”

Rakhuba has been seeking donations to supply food boxes and stoves to as many Ukrainians as possible. He says a gift of $50 provides one I-Care food box for a family in need, and $250 covers the cost to build and deliver one wood-burning stove.

A volunteer helping to pack I-Care boxes.

A volunteer helping to pack I-Care boxes.

Supporting Ukrainian churches as beacons of hope

Additionally, Mission Eurasia has partnered with other Christian ministries to provide much-needed water sources to beleaguered Ukrainians. “Samaritan's Purse came, and they drilled 25 wells,” Rakhuba explains, “and it's all on church properties.”

“So again, it comes back to the church becoming the center of this. The church is leading this spiritual war, if I can use that term, in the midst of all this unbelievable destruction—just shining as a lighthouse, as a beacon of hope through this.”

Ukrainian President Zelensky visiting a refugee site.

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy visiting a refugee site.

Churches’ compassion and provision haven’t gone unnoticed. “President Zelenskyy gives huge credit to the Christian community in Ukraine now,” Rakhuba says. “The Red Cross is trusting churches more. The United Nations trusts churches more. And they have volunteers—fearless, courageous people that will do any kind of work anywhere.”

Some estimates claim that as many as 100,000 Ukrainians have perished in the year-long war, a figure that includes the military, civilian adults, and children. Rakhuba gets emotional when he asks Christians around the world to pray.

“Every Ukrainian will agree with me—pray for victory,” Rakhuba says. “Pray for the leaders of the global community and all countries (assisting) Ukraine. Pray for the leaders of the Ukrainian community, for President Zelenskyy. Pray for the church in Ukraine. Pray that the gospel continues being preached in very practical ways so that people accept Christ.”


About the Author

  • Nancy Huffine

Nancy Huffine is a long-time freelance writer for Moody Bible Institute and Moody Alumni & Friends magazine.