Real People. Real Stories.
Pastor Mervin Strother and his wife, Dasha, from Louisiana, left for Ukraine last week to minister to the refugees at the border. Here are real stories from real people crossing the border, escaping Ukraine.
REAL PEOPLE. REAL STORIES.
by Pastor Mervin Strother
What a day. Shortly after breakfast, we loaded into the van and started the 30 minute drive to the border. It was COLD!!!! Besides being cold, the winds were blowing like crazy all day. There were far less volunteers on the border today, possibly because it was Sunday, but also because of the harsh weather conditions. Nevertheless, families–mainly women and children–were still coming across the border. Some of them had been walking, taking buses, etc., for days to get to the border. Many had tears streaming down their faces as they entered. Their faces are full of stress, confusion, and unbelief.
Here are the stories of some of the people we met.
TATIANA: The first lady we helped, Tatiana, was around 65 years old. She didn’t even realize she had crossed the border. She had traveled by herself from Mariupol, a city that has been basically leveled by the Russian army. We had to tell her she was not in Ukraine but had already crossed over into Romania. Upon finding out, she broke down in tears. We started getting her basic needs tended to–hot food, hot tea, etc. All she had was a paper with a Romanian address on it. She found out once she arrived that her nephew had been hit by a missile and was alive, but they were not sure if they were going to be able to save his leg.
YOUNG MAN: One young man who was in their group was not allowed to cross the border. He was turned around to go back and fight because he was 18.
PEOPLE ON THE VAN: We spent time with a young lady who had just crossed the border and was very scared. She was trying to get to Belgium where she had a friend that was going to help her. Just like all the others, her husband had to stay behind to help defend Ukraine. She was so scared. She was scared once on the bus that they were going to take her somewhere and harvest her organs (that is a real thing) or make her a sex slave. We assured her the bus was safe, legal, and that she would be fine. She asked us how much the bus would cost because she only had 400 Euros. The people coming across the border do not realize that everything is free for them. They think they have to pay for the food, transportation, etc.
EDUARD: Most of our time today was spent with a 53 year old man, Eduard, from Ukraine. He also was from Mariupol. His family was already in Spain. He went to the military office and tried to enlist to fight and was not allowed to because he is on military disability. He was told he could leave and join his family. He explained that he had a good life. He owned three apartments; he lived in one and rented the other two. He and his wife had good jobs. He said in the beginning of the war his apartment building was hit with a missile. Part of the building was burned down and all the windows were blown out. He was devastated and could not understand how Russia could hate them so much that they would try to level the whole country. He said it would take 200 years for Ukraine to have a normal relationship with Russia after this. Of course, we ministered to him about healing and forgiveness. He understood in his mind, but his heart was not there yet. He does not even know if his mother and aunt are alive. He just wanted to talk, so we talked for around 3 hours.
FROSTBITTEN CHILDREN: Last week, when the weather got so cold, there were children who had to have their fingertips amputated once they crossed the border due to frostbite.
These are just a few stories from thousands and thousands of hurt and devastated people. They are so surprised at the abundance of help and love once they cross the border. They were told that people crossing the border were being robbed. Some were also scared that once they were on a bus, they would be taken to Russia.
There is no shortage of pain, heartbreak, and devastation. Yet at the same time, there is hope, help, and healing. We are glad to play a small part. We are making history His-Story.