We have had several trips to the refugee camp since November. On the highway, we constantly see a flow of military vehicles and tanks. The roads are once again in bad shape because of the number of heavy vehicles traveling on them, which is making our drive to the border even longer than two hours.
At this moment, there are about 120 refugees in our camp, with 35 of them being children. The number of people coming and going is constantly changing, with the on-going movement of people.
No one wants to go back home until the war is over; all of them have lost their jobs, and some of them have no food to eat. When we spoke with some of the children about their situation, you could see that they were exhausted, tired, and still in mild shock. When we first began coming to Holy Mountain Refugee Camp, there were 7 children, now there is five times as many kids.
Initially, there was no heat in these buildings, and families had to constantly wear their coats inside their temporary housing. But now the families are thankful because the heat has been turned on inside their buildings. One woman we met who had to flee her home in Donetsk was just days away from giving birth to her baby – this wasn’t idea at all. Just a few short months ago, these people were living at home and living normal lives, working during the day and enjoying family in the evening; now they don’t know where to turn.
During our trip, we prepared the same type of Sunday school lessons for the children, as we do in the orphanages. After our study time, we counseled the kids and played games with them, and spoke with the parents. The kids loved our program and we were successfully able to give them a joyful respite from their situation. The parents were very grateful for our visit and appreciated our time and ministry. When we asked them what their needs were, they mentioned food, laundry detergent, hygiene products, etc. But most of all, they just want the war to end and have the ability to go home. I would like to share Irina’s testimony:
“Before the war, I lived in the suburbs of Donetsk, but when the intensive fighting and heavy artillery shelling began near my home, I realized I was in the middle of the war zone and needed to immediately leave for my safety. Praise God, some volunteers were evacuating people who wanted to leave, so my adult children and I left with them to get away from the constant gunfire and bombing. My van passed safely through a few checkpoints until we safely arrived in our refugee camp. My husband chose to stay in our town with some other men, trying to protect our houses from looters.
I am really worried about my husband’s safety. We try to keep in contact by telephone. I just learned that several of my neighbor’s homes were destroyed, but my house is still standing. Currently, I am working as a cook in the camp and my sons are working to improve the camp’s conditions for future refugees. Please pray for the peace of our country, so we can go home.
Thank you for visiting us and helping us with food and supplies, but more importantly, thank you for visiting and serving – It gives me assurance that we are not alone in our struggles. I trust God is in control, but you are his blessing to us today. Thank you!”
It is a long drive to get to this refugee camp, but we can see that God is using us during this very difficult time. We are serving the families spiritually, but please ask our ministry friends to help us feed these displaced families and help them receive basic living supplies. Tell them everyone is very appreciative of the ways we can help, in the name of Jesus!
Ronald David Putnam