Keeping a Promise in Wartime

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God’s Wartime Providence at Just the Right Moment

Story and photos by Pastor Billy Rutledge, Hatteras Island Christian Fellowship

Billy Rutledge is pastor of Hatteras Island Christian Fellowship, NC, a Calvary Chapel affiliate. He was recently invited to Ukraine by that country’s army chaplains and is now working with CC pastors and missionaries as they help refugees during the war with Russia. In this story, Billy shares a firsthand account of how God providentially reunited him with a friend he made in Ukraine eight years ago.

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Billy Rutledge, pastor of Hatteras Island Christian Fellowship, NC, reaches out to hug old friend Masha at a home in Hungary. He had been invited by long-time Calvary Chapel missionary Cara Denney for coffee; when he arrived, he was surprised to find Masha living in Cara’s home. Masha had to flee her home in Kyiv, Ukraine, when the war with Russia began.

I was preaching at the Calvary Chapel Ukrainian National Conference when the 2014 Maidan “Revolution of Dignity” was taking place. I wanted to go into the city of Kyiv to see the tense situation and make some purchases, so a few young people from the conference volunteered to accompany me. One of them was Masha, a young but mature Christian woman with excellent translation skills.

In the time spent with those young people, I spoke quite a bit about my relationship with my own kids, but especially my daughter, Katy. I shared how precious she was to me; she was my surfing partner in the summer, my co-leader in music ministry, and my snowboarding buddy every winter. I wanted Masha and the other girls to know that God’s heart for them was that their earthly fathers, in their God-given roles, should make them feel beautiful every day and be a safe harbor for them.

                  

(Learn about a missions school training and equipping young men and women in full-time, cross-cultural missions in order to send them to reach the unreached people of the world from one of our sponsors, Calvary School of Missions)  mayfair logo
                  

This had a profound impact, particularly on Masha as she did not have a father in her life. She shared how much sorrow and loneliness she had endured without her father and only wished she had what Katy did. I comforted her, letting her know that while I couldn’t replace her dad, maybe one day I would be there for her at just the right moment.

I wrote Masha’s name in my prayer journal before I left, and we spoke occasionally throughout the years since 2014. When war broke out in Ukraine in February this year, my immediate thoughts were about her, but I wasn’t sure I would be able to reach her because of the chaotic situation. Thankfully, we connected almost immediately, and she reassured me she was still safe. We spoke daily until Masha no longer seemed accessible by phone.

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Billy and Masha, old friends, start to catch up with each other. Billy met Masha, a talented translator, eight years ago when he attended a CC conference in Ukraine. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he had promised to locate her and her family if he ever found a way into the country; but he lost contact with her.

One night, she left a message, and the fear in her voice broke my heart and my wife’s heart as well. She told us about the bombing of a local airport, how over 300 tanks were passing through her town, and that low-flying jets had just dropped bombs on a house two streets away. She said that a house belonging to a friend’s neighbor had been blown up, killing three people. I was only able to speak with her once after that night. I tried reaching her for several days thereafter without a response. I feared the worst.

Meanwhile, I had been invited to join the military chaplains for the Ukrainian army. In one of our conversations, I told Masha that if I ever found a way into Ukraine, I would locate her and her family. Unfortunately, by the time I left the U.S., I learned Masha had already left Ukraine. I had no information where she went and was unable to reach her family.

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Billy prays for Masha during their surprise meeting, what he calls a great gift God arranged “in His beautiful kindness.”

After flying into Warsaw, I was shortly relocated to Sandomierz, a small town in southeast Poland. It was there that George Markey, Jr., pastor of Calvary Chapel Kyiv, reached out asking me to join their effort supporting Ukrainian refugees in Hungary. I did not hesitate to accept. After catching a ride to Krakow, Poland, George and I drove on to Budapest. Cara Denney, a former long-term missionary to Ukraine who is currently ministering to Ukrainian evacuees, invited me over for coffee. God, in His beautiful kindness, had arranged a much bigger gift. There was Masha, alive and well, living with Cara!

Only our King!

                  

(To learn more about Calvary School of Missions, visit their website)

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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.

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