Editor’s Note: This blog was written by a Live Global staff woman who spent time in Romania in the days following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” (Proverbs 31:25)
This verse is perhaps the most used verse for Mother’s Day, women’s conferences, and cute Christian apparel. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that, except that we quickly become over familiar and unimpressed with the truth packed into this little sentence.
I was right there with you until about two months ago when I met Ukrainian mothers who truly lived this way.
Three Mothers, Six Children, and Three Grandmothers
February 24, 2022 marked the beginning of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. In the days that followed, families fled their homes to find shelter from the destruction around them. Homes, businesses, schools and much more were quickly brought to nothing.
Three Ukrainian mothers, six children, and their three grandmothers hid in the subway systems of Kyiv. For five days, they lived there with only the clothes on their backs and the few things they were able to throw into a bag before their homes were destroyed.
Day six brought a chance to get out of their home city and begin the grueling journey to find refuge in a country not their own.
Meeting at the Border of Ukraine and Romania
My husband and I had the opportunity to meet these women and their children two days later in a border town in Romania. It broke our hearts to watch the overwhelming sight of Ukrainian mothers with their children walk into a country where they had never been and try to communicate their needs to people who don’t speak their language.
On average these families had been walking at least two days in frigid winter weather with little to no food and no shelter. Once they arrived at the border, it was possible that they stood in line for another two days waiting to be cleared to enter the country. All of this without the comfort, leadership, and protection of their husbands. That’s because Ukrainian men age 16 to 60 have been required to stay home to fight.
It was most definitely God who orchestrated our beautiful and seemingly coincidental meeting just moments after these families crossed the border.
Through Live Global’s Romanian partner, Alexe, we learned that these three families were traveling together hoping to get to extended family in Spain.
By God’s grace we had enough seats in our vans to offer transportation for all twelve of them.
As the three young Ukrainian mothers discussed the details with Alexe, I was amazed at the strength I observed in them. Here they were having just fled a war which left them without homes, jobs, and their husbands. It put them in an unfamiliar country. Although they were not without fear, uncertainty, exhaustion, and tremendous grief, these women carried themselves in such a way that displayed dignity and and courage to lead their families with strength.
Conversations Interwoven with Joy, Faith, and Grief
Over the next few days, we had the opportunity to transport these precious people on half of their journey to Spain. We learned along the way about their lives before the war, their families, jobs, faith in Jesus and hobbies. Our conversations were interwoven with joy and laughter even in the midst of extreme hardship and grief. To me, there was no greater picture of the strong, dignified, and joyful woman Proverbs 31 portrays. I couldn’t help but be humbled by their character and moved to pray because of their stories.
What these women have gone through, and will continue to go through, is not unique to them. Their stories reflect the stories of over 4.3 million people who have fled Ukraine. Because of the mandates for men to stay and fight, the overwhelming majority of people fleeing are women and children.
Several of the countries bordering Ukraine (namely Poland, Moldova, and Romania) have taken in droves of refugees and are still bringing more in everyday.
Though the circumstances are heartbreaking, it is beautiful to see the European church stepping up to meet the needs of refugees in extraordinary ways.
Christian Refugees Are Not the Majority
I praise God for the faith and incredible example of the Ukrainian mothers, children, and grandmothers we had the opportunity to meet. Their strength, dignity and joy were evidence of their relationship with Jesus. Unfortunately though, they are not the majority.
Although the suffering Ukrainian refugees have faced is real, it pales in comparison to the eternal suffering that awaits those who do not believe in the saving work of Jesus.
May our prayers then ultimately climax in the petition for mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, children, and grandchildren to have an encounter with the living God and come to salvation through Jesus our Savior.
How to Pray for Ukraine This Mothers Day Season
- Protection for refugee families from predators who would seek to take advantage of their vulnerable situation.
- Safety for both refugees and our partners as they travel many miles. Just in the two weeks we were in Romania, our partner Alexe traveled over 4,000 km (roughly 2,500 miles) transporting refugees from the border to various places in Europe.
- Those who are ministering in this crisis to have provision and endurance to meet the continuing needs of these refugees. At one of the host homes our group stayed at along the way, the wife of the home spent all night washing the families’ clothes so they would have fresh laundry for their remaining journey.
- Husbands and sons who had to stay behind and trust their families into the hands of God and strangers.
- The wives, mothers, and grandmothers of these men to be comforted as they endure the uncertainties of separation due to war.
- Discernment for mothers who are having to lead and make decisions regarding their family in this difficult transition.
- Wisdom for mothers and grandmothers who are navigating their children’s unfolding trauma, while also dealing with their own.
With every new day, refugees will face new difficult situations. It is normal even in positive circumstances for families and individuals to face culture shock, stress, and challenges when moving to a new country. Now add on top of that trauma, grief, uncertainty and separated families. This is what Ukrainians will face in the coming days and months. Not only will adults face these hard things, but right alongside them children will struggle just as much.
How You Can Help Financially
Money given to the Ukraine Crisis Fund is being used to support Live Global national partners and North Americans who are on the ground serving refugees and sharing the Gospel in and around Ukraine. You can help meet needs by giving to this fund.
(All statistics where taken from World Vision or were directly learned through our partners.)