Missionary Family Safely Evacuates Ukraine

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Calvary Chapel Missionary Family Safely Evacuates Ukraine: The Mission Continues

Story by Kathy Symborski

George Markey Jr., a missionary and pastor at Calvary Chapel Kyiv, Ukraine, and his family, have safely evacuated the country after last Thursday’s Russian invasion. In a more secure location now, he is still very much involved in ministry.

“We had heard there were possibly sleeper agents in Kyiv that were going to target key leaders and religious leaders. I initially dismissed it, but we started seeing strange guys not normally in our neighborhood the day before the invasion,” George said.

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Calvary Chapel missionary George Markey finds it very slow going as he follows many other vehicles in the Carpathian Mountains heading for the border of one of Ukraine’s neighboring countries. The car ahead demonstrates the mood in Ukraine with the words written in dirt on the bumper, translated into English, “Glory to Ukraine! God Keep Ukraine!”  Photo by George Markey

George and his church staff from CC Kyiv discussed whether they should evacuate or not; after much prayer they all agreed they would leave. However, the immediate attack on Kyiv on February 24 disrupted their plans, and it was not safe to travel right away. The Markeys’ exit strategy was further thwarted after their car was totaled the night before the invasion.

Sharon Markey explained, “Our car was in a rental pool, and we were going to take it out of the fleet and park it in front of our house. We would drive out of the city if it looked like Kyiv was going to be attacked.” Days before he himself left, George had already sent his family ahead to Ternopil, in Western Ukraine, where his brother, Jon Markey, is a missionary and pastor at Calvary Chapel Ternopil.

Sharon added, “We wondered at the time if this delay was a sign from God not to leave, but we understand now that it enabled George to spend extra time with our neighbors, having deeper talks about Christ; it gave him crucial time to talk one-on-one with the lady who drove him to Ternopil, who is not a Christian.”

                  

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While the Markeys’ evacuation didn’t go quite as planned, George, Sharon and their six children were reunited at a safe location outside Ukraine this past weekend.

A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

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Pastor George Markey of Calvary Chapel Kyiv made it out of Ukraine this past weekend to a neighboring country; thousands of others also headed to Ukraine’s borders. Now that his family is safe, George will continue to help Ukrainians. In this photo, refugees walk past a queue of cars heading to the Polish border near Shehyni in Western Ukraine on Tuesday, March 1. Russian shelling pounded civilian targets in Ukraine's second-largest city again, and a 40-mile convoy of tanks and other vehicles threatened the capital. Ukraine's embattled president said the tactics were designed to force him into concessions in Europe's largest ground war in generations. AP Photo/Pavlo Palamarchuk

The Markeys have deep-rooted relationships with people in their Kyiv community, some of whom are not believers. Even though they wondered about God’s plan for their evacuation, just three short chaotic days later, they have assisted many friends—and even families they didn’t know—out of danger and to places of refuge. 

Over the last six years, Jon Markey, in Ternopil, has developed connections at a local coffee shop. Sharon pointed out, “He has poured all this time into maintaining those relationships, and now that the church is involved helping refugees, the coffee shop has partnered with them in the relief effort!”

“God’s hand has been on us, leading us even though things didn’t go as we planned,” George emphasized.

What’s Next?
With weariness in his voice, George shared, “It has been nonstop since the war started. We have been helping others evacuate, writing and talking with people, coordinating efforts to help other Calvary Chapels and even our soldiers, and getting my own family to safety.” Although George’s ultimate goal is to get back to Kyiv and help rebuild, his focus now is on helping evacuees, supplying soldiers with needed items, and obtaining medical supplies.

After spending five months training to be a chaplain with the Ukrainian Peace Force, George has contact with other chaplains all over Ukraine. These men are now serving on the ground during this crisis and are aware of needs in their locations. With his contacts throughout the Calvary Chapel network, humanitarian aid resources, and relationships built in Kyiv and Ternopil, George is working on a plan to provide for the need of others during this conflict.

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Conditions in Kyiv have steadily worsened since the Russian invasion. In this photo, students study the Bible together in an underground location in the beleaguered city. George Markey shared that before he left the country, “We had heard there were possibly sleeper agents in Kyiv that were going to target key leaders and religious leaders. I initially dismissed it, but we started seeing strange guys not normally in our neighborhood the day before the invasion.”

Ways to Pray & Help
George and some of his colleagues are meeting now to brainstorm ideas and develop a more organized strategy, but priority is being put on obtaining vans to get 20 orphans out of Ternopil.

Another unforeseen problem has been the difficulty foreigners and international students in Ukraine are having getting out. Please pray for open passages for those trying to return to their homelands, and for wisdom and favor for those assisting them.

In the meantime, donations can be made through Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia at app.securegive.com

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George Markey Jr., his wife Sharon, and their six children stand in front of their Kyiv apartment. George’s father George Sr. and his mother Pam moved to Ukraine many years ago to share the Gospel with and minister to her people. George Sr., loved in Ukraine, has since passed away.

 

                  

(To learn more about Calvary Chapel University, visit their website or read our past coverage on the school)

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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.