One Year On
More than a year since the war in Ukraine started, and the needless suffering, loss of life and terror continues daily. While living in Russia hasn’t changed in the same way, people are scared of what the future holds.
Restrictions on freedom of speech have brought oppression and fear of speaking or even thinking an opinion that differs from Russia’s state-controlled rhetoric. A friend who helps victims of domestic violence bravely used the word 'war' while revealing their thoughts to us... "It's very hard to live because of war - increased prices... parents working constantly unable to pay attention to their children. Children are abandoned, and a large number start using drugs early. Men drink and their hearts are hardened because of what is happening. They beat women, and without housing, many find themselves on the street.
Mobilisation has also caused distress. Many know they could be ordered to serve, whether they believe in the war or not, and saying 'no' could mean prison for up to 15 years. Families, like Serafima’s (above), are left to deal with the devastating effects. She was recently welcomed into Galina’s orphan mum support group after her husband was served papers to mobilise. Without her husband’s income, she is struggling to provide for her son Maxim. He is often ill and is too young for kindergarten; she cannot work as she has no family to help with childcare. Serafima was only just making ends meet. Mobilisation has plunged her into poverty.
The situation has also caused an exodus of people leaving the country which has left an orphan group of 15 without their role models and support. Our Russian partners are working to find a different way to support them.
Imported quality medications are scarce and prices have risen dramatically, so those with ongoing health conditions are resorting to low-quality substitutes - this led to two of our orphanage leavers becoming unwell.
On top of all this, oppression is increasing. Laws that sniff out ‘foreign agents’ (aka traitors) are designed to deter anyone from having any contact with the west. Those deemed ‘under foreign influence’ are punished with large fines and up to 5 years in jail.
It’s more important than ever that our Christian brothers and sisters still know they are supported. It’s still God’s work and we continue to see His blessing and care touching many lives… Addicts are still in recovery, orphans are still finding stability and guidance through their mentors, mothers in poverty are supported when feeding their children seems impossible, homeless men are cared for, and abused families have shelter. But, the best reason of all to keep going is the increasing numbers of people coming to know Jesus through the projects we support.
We will not give up, and we thank you for sticking with us through these unprecedented days. Let's continue to keep those affected in our thoughts and prayers and trust that God's plan will ultimately prevail.