“This is our exodus” – The Christian Chronicle
Warsaw, Poland – Oddly, Yura Taran is grateful for all the years he abused drugs.
That was another lifetime ago, before he became a Christian and then a minister at a Church of Christ in the eastern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia.
But the poison he polluted himself with had lingering effects. He is not healthy enough to serve in the Ukrainian army.
Neither did fellow minister Boris Sanzhura of Kramatorsk. He is grateful for the ongoing eye problem resulting from an old injury. It is a “thorn in the flesh,” as the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12. But it allowed him to cross the border with members of his congregation when other men had to stay.
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They cannot serve their country by taking up arms. But here they can serve their flock by taking up the cross.
“God turned what was bad into good,” Taran said.
The two ministers live among more than 50 Ukrainian refugees – most of them from Churches of Christ – in a small building in the Polish capital. Across a busy suburban street is a cemetery with a memorial to Polish soldiers who died in World War II, when the Russians played the role of liberators and occupiers in the European nation of ballast.
Churches in the United States helped Polish Christians secure and rent the brand new facility for Ukrainians. The Eastern Europe Mission provided funds to help repair and supply the vehicles. Łukasz Kondracki, a third-generation member of the Church of Christ in Warsaw, and his wife, Nicole, are helping coordinate the relief effort.
One Thursday afternoon, as workers were installing an oven in an upstairs kitchen, Kondracki spoke with Taran about vacuum cleaners and garden equipment – in a mix of Polish, English and Russian.
Linguistically, “we’re breaking all the rules,” Kondracki said. Regarding the facilities being built, “They told me it shouldn’t be a five-star hotel, but don’t be like what’s across the street,” he said. he declared, pointing to the cemetery.
The apartments are popular, said Taran’s wife, Yulia. They allow for greater privacy than the refugee centers they stayed in during their trip here. In the large backyard of the complex, the Ukrainians set up a tent for devotions and plant a vegetable garden.
Some plan to stay here for a few weeks in search of jobs and a new life in other parts of Europe. Others are waiting for a chance to return home.
It’s a tough wait, said Yura Taran. They learn that things have calmed down and start thinking about going back. Then they learn a new attack.
Meanwhile, Ukrainians have revitalized the congregation in Warsaw, which had shrunk to a handful of congregants in recent years, Nicole Kondracki said. Missionary efforts here struggled and supporting churches withdrew. The Kondrackis plan to move to Alabama in July.
In recent weeks, church attendance has topped 60. Church members have rented an auditorium to accommodate the growing congregation of refugees.
“Church” itself has taken on new meaning for Ukrainians, said Yura Taran. It used to mean “sit for two hours, sing songs and then go home.”
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“We don’t do that here. … Here, we are in the face, in the throat! he said laughing. “We love each other, we respect each other, we try to bless each other. And inside of us everything is calm and peaceful.
“This is our exodus. Soon we will find the promised land.
Filed under: Eastern European Mission International News Poland refugees Russia Russia Ukraine conflict Top Stories Ukraine Warsaw Zaporizhzhia