Ukraine: Looking Back at 2014

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Ukraine: Faith in Christ, A Shield in Crisis

Story by Jessica Russell
Photos by Ilya Leshchenko, unless otherwise noted

As of Thursday, February 17, 2022, there were many reports of hostilities beginning in Ukraine, as Russian soldiers and armament have been planted around much of Ukraine’s border. The possibility of invasion by—and war with—Russia remains imminent.

Sasha Andriyashyna, a member of Calvary Chapel Kyiv, Ukraine, reported early this morning that there has been heavy shooting and shelling. “Mines were coming our way. Almost 20 different little villages and towns were bombed. … but God saved us,” she shared. “I was with different soldiers today pretty much the whole day; they’re doing fine, they’re ready to fight, but they will not let Russia provoke them.”

She added, “I’m grateful for your prayers, for your support. I will be driving around and talking to many of the soldiers. They are very open to praying and talking about the Lord. And they are grateful because I tell them that even people in America are praying for them.

“We’re fine. But we don’t know what’s going to happen. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for support for everything. May God’s grace and His mercy be with us, and may He be glorified in our life or death or anything that will come our way,” she affirmed.


Calvary Chapel Magazine is republishing the following story, which first ran in Issue 60, Summer 2014. It describes the political turmoil the country faced in 2014, as well as practical and spiritual outreach efforts made by Ukrainian Calvary Chapels in that time of crisis. Although the challenges of 2014 differ from those in 2022, Ukraine is no stranger to political tensions.Continue to pray for this country.

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Anti-government protestors in Kyiv, Ukraine, guard a barricade from police forces in February 2014.

After three months of anti-government demonstrators occupying Maidan Square, the center of Ukraine's capital city of Kyiv, tensions escalated in early 2014. Eventually, protestors defended themselves with Molotov Cocktails (glass bottles filled with gasoline) as armed police forces opened fire on the crowd, resulting in more than 70 deaths.

After the events of February 20, organizers of a main stage in Maidan Square encouraged the public to visit the prayer tent next to the stage. Believers from Calvary Chapel Kyiv and various other Protestant churches in the city served in the tent, operating it 24 hours per day. Equipped with hot food, homemade furnaces, and manned by nurses, the tent provided help for physical needs, in addition to spiritual. Though the tent was run by different churches from various denominations, the believers had a common goal to simply share the Gospel.

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Christians raise a prayer tent in Kyiv during a time of unrest in 2014. Calvary Chapel Kyiv was one of many churches participating, spiritually encouraging and practically assisting the cities’ residents and the protestors.

Mykola and His Men
Mykola shivered in the subzero temperatures but refused to leave the protests in Maidan Square. He insisted on leading his self-defense group—men who formed to guard the protesters’ barricade from police forces. The believers at the prayer tent noticed Mykola wander toward them, looking for shelter and hot tea. Along with the beverage, Sasha Andriyashyna of CC Kyiv gave him a New Testament. "A few days later, I saw Mykola again," Sasha recalled. "The men he is in charge of are now reading that New Testament before going to bed." At times, she added, the men would memorize verses together. "We had several conversations with Mykola before he and his men were taken for training with the Ukrainian army," she continued. "Pray for their souls and for lives to be saved.”

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Dasha Proshchenko of CC Kyiv pours hot tea for a man visiting the prayer tent. Many people came to the shelter to warm up as temperatures dropped below zero.

For God or Country?
"We've done outreaches in the city before, in peaceful times, but only some people would take Bibles," added Dima Lyamin, CC Kyiv's assistant pastor. "Here, they went very quickly.” The believers distributed all the Bibles they possessed and the local stores also ran out. It was several weeks before churches could restock. "People had a great hunger for God's Word and an openness to the Gospel—unseen since the times of the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Lord worked, and is still working, in the hearts and lives of people through this difficult time," said Dima.

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Ladies in Kyiv receive New Testaments during the unrest.

King of Kings
In March, breaking news of Russian troops invading Crimea overwhelmed many Ukrainians. The impact was felt around the country. Benjamin Morrison, pastor of Calvary Chapel Svitlovodsk in Central Ukraine, walked into a local hotel to reserve rooms for a mission team on their way there. The hotel’s administrator, Valya, was watching news when he arrived. “She began to share with me how in shock she was at what was happening,” Benjamin remembered. He shared with Valya, “Though we hope and pray for just leaders, every man will ultimately disappoint us, and we need to place our hope in the Lord, who is the true King.” After listening, Valya agreed that God is truly Ukraine’s only hope.


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When the mission team arrived from the U.S., their English caught the attention of Yura, a local man. He approached them, hoping to practice his English with them. They quickly discerned that Yura was distraught because of a notice he had just received, commanding him to report to the local military dispatch center to fight against Russian aggression. “Through a translator at our church, the team was able to share with him the hope of eternal life in Christ,” said Benjamin. “Yura prayed right there to receive the Lord. After he prayed, Yura seemed to have found hope again.” In broken English, Yura said to the team: “Such big happiness!”

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Pro-democracy protesters in Kyiv stand behind a barricade made out of snow-filled bags in 2014. Photo by Oksana Dyachenko

As many throughout the country have turned to God for refuge, prayer tents have also been established near the Russian border. “People are praying like I’ve never seen before,” noted Nate Medlong, who is the assistant pastor at Calvary Chapel Kharkive, located just 25 miles from the border. Byron Johnson, pastor of CC Donetsk added, “Our biggest hope is that we will see a great spiritual awakening occur because of the political situation in Ukraine, and that in this time of unrest and uncertainty, many will turn their eyes to the Author and Finisher of our salvation.”

“I haven’t seen this kind of unity among churches and openness to the Gospel since the ‘90s,” exclaimed George Markey, Jr., then pastor of CC Ternopil in Western Ukraine. He added that the political situation has given the believers a sense of urgency to reach their loved ones.

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Thousands gather at the main stage in Maidan Square. The people met every evening to hear speeches from political activists. Though CC Kyiv stayed out of the politics, they proclaimed the Gospel from the stage several times. Photo by Oksana Dyachenko


Look for our previous story here from February 16, 2022, in which several CC missionaries now serving in Ukraine share their perspectives on the current turmoil in their country. Some have temporarily left Ukraine for either the U.S. or a neighboring country, but many have stayed. They remain ready to minister to the Ukrainians they love, whatever happens.


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All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

© 2022 Calvary Chapel Magazine (CCM). All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.