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Left: Brothers and sisters in Ukraine packing humanitarian aid boxes from Poland into a cargo van for distribution. Right: A brother’s home in Hostomel destroyed by a projectile

APRIL 13, 2022
UKRAINE

UPDATE #6 | Brotherly Love Prevails Amid Ongoing Crisis in Ukraine

UPDATE #6 | Brotherly Love Prevails Amid Ongoing Crisis in Ukraine

Sadly, more of our dear brothers and sisters have lost their lives as a result of the ongoing warfare in Ukraine. A total of 28 of Jehovah’s Witnesses have died.

As reported in international news, towns near Kyiv experienced especially heavy fighting during the first weeks of the war. Of the approximately 4,900 publishers who lived in this region, more than 3,500 of them have now fled to safer areas.

The following experiences demonstrate how our brothers in these areas are maintaining unshakable faith in the face of extraordinary trials.

Oleksandr, an elder from the town of Makariv, fled to a safer area in central Ukraine. However, out of concern for four publishers in his field service group who could not be contacted, he returned to the war zone to find them. He related: “I understood that to Jehovah, his worshippers are most valuable. . . . When I arrived at the yard of one of the publishers, I saw that it had been hit by bombs. The door to the cellar of the house was closed, and nobody responded to my calls. This scared me.” Oleksandr broke through the door to the cellar and found a group of people staring back at him. He had found the publishers, as well as their non-Witness neighbors sheltering with them.

Yaroslav and his wife (center) and Oleksandr and his wife sharing a meal after arriving at a safe area

One of the publishers in the cellar, Yaroslav, explained that they had sheltered in the cellar for eight days. He recounted: “We had only some biscuits and a glass of water a day per person. But we read the Bible and our publications, prayed, and encouraged one another. When I heard Oleksandr call my name, I thought soldiers had come to take me away. I thought I was going to die. . . . [Instead,] he rescued all of us. We are thankful to Jehovah for such a loving spiritual family, with people who pray for us and even risk their lives to rescue us.”

Pylyp

Pylyp and another brother decided to bring food to those who stayed in the town of Borodianka. On March 17, while driving to the town, soldiers commandeered Pylyp’s car and took the food. Then the soldiers arrested both brothers, handcuffed and blindfolded them, and brought them to a small room in a basement with seven other men. Two days later, they were moved to a cell where the guards physically assaulted them during the night. Pylyp said: “I was not sure if I would survive. I prayed to remain loyal.”

During one beating, Pylyp started praying aloud for the elderly sisters who were without food, for the safety of his family, and he thanked Jehovah for his years of happy service to Him. The guard returned him to his cell, where he continued praying for the soldiers to understand that the brothers were not dangerous. Both brothers began witnessing to the guards. For two days, they preached to every shift of guards. Additionally, one of the imprisoned men showed interest in the Bible’s message. He thanked the brothers. On March 27, the brothers and the man who showed interest were freed.

Svitlana, a single sister from Bucha, could not escape the war zone for two weeks. She related: “As never before, I understand the importance of the peace Jehovah gives. Having the peace of God does not imply that we always know what to do. But when we do not see a way out of a situation, we fully rely on Jehovah.”

While traveling to a safer area of Ukraine, Svitlana witnessed to a woman and her nephew. They all arrived at a safer area and were greeted by a Witness family. The Witness family accommodated Svitlana as well as the woman and her nephew for the night. The next day, the woman asked to attend a congregation meeting and requested a Bible and our literature. Svitlana continues to keep in contact with her.

As of April 12, 2022, the following totals have been reported from Ukraine. These statistics are based on confirmed reports from the local brothers. However, the actual numbers may be higher, since it is difficult to maintain communication with all regions of the country.

Effect on Our Brothers and Sisters

  • 28 publishers have died

  • 48 publishers have been injured

  • 40,778 publishers have fled their homes to safer areas

  • 278 homes were destroyed

  • 268 homes sustained major damage

  • 746 homes sustained minor damage

  • 1 Kingdom Hall was destroyed

  • 9 Kingdom Halls sustained major damage

  • 26 Kingdom Halls sustained minor damage

Relief Efforts

  • 27 Disaster Relief Committees (DRCs) are operating in Ukraine

  • 41,974 publishers were assisted directly by the DRCs to find safer accommodations

  • 18,097 publishers have fled to other countries and are being assisted by fellow worshippers