Russia-Ukraine Crisis Updates - Trans World Radio Canada

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Updates

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Update: Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Children in Belarus gather around a radio to listen to TWR's children's programming. [image courtesy of TWR ministry contacts] 

The hardships inflicted by the war in Ukraine are affecting Russia and Belarus as well, reports Frank Stephenson, TWR Europe communications director. But our contacts in these countries continue to serve their populations.

The leadership of Belarus, which shares borders and a long history with Ukraine and Russia, has been aligned with Russia in the conflict. It served as a staging ground for some of the Russian forces invading Ukraine and as a refuge for some Russian soldiers who were injured or retreating, according to media reports. It faces Western sanctions similar to those imposed on Russia.

Worsening economic hardships are hurting Belarusians including TWR’s contacts, Stephenson reports, but they continue to minister to those around them.

“Their work includes visiting orphanages and adult rehabilitation centers where they are able to share about their ministry work for children and adults and distribute radios with content on SD cards,” Stephenson writes. “It is quite popular and welcomed.”

As we shared last week, our contacts in Russia and Russian churches also are ministering in these difficult times, including to Ukrainian refugees from the war.

Meanwhile, TWR is adding two hours of Russian-language programming to its schedule. Beginning May 30, one hour of Russian-language content will be added to AM, or shortwave, 621kHz, and another hour to shortwave 13660kHz. The latter is broadcast from the island of Guam. This matters in Ukraine as well as in Russian, because Russian is the first language of many Ukrainians.

Will you pray with us?

  • Please continue to pray on behalf of the TWR Ukraine staff, as well as for our contacts in Russia and Belarus, as they serve in conditions of increasing difficulty. Praise God that the Ukraine staff has been able to prepare all of its programming through the end of May.
  • Pray for Rostislav, TWR Ukraine’s deputy director, who spends his weeks in Kyiv and then travels hundreds of kilometers to be with his family, who are living in a refugee camp. Rostislav’s son recently celebrated a birthday, for which the family baked a cake. With so many children on hand, it was the biggest birthday party in the child’s life, Rostislav said.
  • Praise God for the Russian content that’s being added. Please pray that Russian speakers soon will be listening to quality, hope-filled gospel programs.

Thank you for giving to the TWR Ukraine-Russia Crisis Fund. The money enables us to continue expanding our broadcasts into the region from a variety of platforms and transmitters.

Update: Thursday, May 12, 2022

Ukrainian refugees housed in close quarters in a sports center auditorium in Russia. [image courtesy of TWR ministry contacts] 

Did you know that there are refugees from Ukraine … in Russia?

Yes, it’s true that many Ukrainians have been brought to Russia against their will, but others have crossed the border by choice, reports Frank Stephenson, TWR Europe communications director.

An elderly Ukrainian refugee in Russia searches clothes for his wife who was in the hospital. He later learned she had already died. [image courtesy of TWR ministry contacts]

In fact, as of May 10 more than 750,000 Ukrainians had taken refuge in Russia since the war began, according to the United Nations. That’s the third-highest number behind Poland (which has taken in by far the most) and Romania.

TWR’s contact in Russia says that our ministry friends there along with churches have responded to the needs of the refugees, a portion of whom are being temporarily housed in a sports arena. Poignant stories from this work illustrate the toll war inflicts. There’s the man who was looking at available clothing but, stressed by all that had happened, couldn’t remember his size. Another man picked out clothing for his wife who was in the hospital, not knowing that she already had died.

Back in Ukraine, we shared in our last update about how Alex Chmut and other team members from TWR Ukraine had taken time to help with the cleanup of Irpin Bible Seminary, which is near the capital city of Kyiv. It had been severely damaged in shelling.

Stephenson updated us to let us know that the school had taken in refugees, which is believed to be why it was targeted by missile attacks. The damage truly was extensive, with even the metal frames burned. But in the center of the building, the school’s library was untouched.

Moreover, the school’s 830 students and personnel are meeting online every night to pray together. James 5:16b tells us, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power...” (ESV). Imagine the power of these nightly prayers!

In other developments:

  • Alex Chmut has been broadcasting counseling programs, especially for women who have been raped during the war. He tells them how God can bring them healing.
  • ERF Medien, TWR’s national partner in Germany, has launched a web portal for Ukrainian refugees in that country with references to online resources from TWR and other partners. The site is www.erf.de/ukrainisch.
  • Voice of Hope Ukraine Radio, the 24/7 livestream of music and Scripture, has received more than 19,500 web page views since TWR started promoting it on April 25.
TWR Ukraine team helps clear rubble from within Irpin Bible Seminary. [image courtesy of TWR Ukraine]

Will you pray with us?

  • We praise God that the TWR Ukraine staff are able to continue their work, some of which is being done in the Kyiv studio. Programs are produced in advance, which is a blessing in uncertain times.
  • Please pray for the creator of the Kaleidoscope program. She, her husband and young child had been living in Odessa, in southern Ukraine, after fleeing Kharkiv when the war began. But now with Odessa under increasing attacks, they are about to move again. Please pray for the Lord to give special comfort and peace to this family. Also, pray for wisdom for the TWR Ukraine team as they help this family in the search for a safer place.
  • We give thanks for the robust giving to our Ukraine-Russia Crisis Fund. The support from around the world enables TWR to help our partners on the ground as well as to pay for relevant programming and the means to get it to those who need it the most.

Update: Thursday, May 5, 2022

The TWR Ukraine team spends time cleaning up the rubble of the war-torn Irpin Bible Seminary near Kyiv. [image courtesy of TWR Ukraine] 

As war continues around them, members of TWR Ukraine are continuing to speak hope to others in their country through radio programs and social media.

They’re doing even more than that.

Team leader Alex Chmut narrated a video posted on Wednesday on TWR Ukraine’s Facebook page. It shows team members on a visit to Irpin Bible Seminary.

TWR Ukraine Director, Alex Chmut, walks down a dimly-lit hall inside Irpin Bible Seminary [image courtesy of TWR Ukraine]

Irpin is a community that’s about 16 miles northwest of the capital city of Kyiv. It has a strong evangelical presence and is in fact known as the “Wheaton of Ukraine,” according to Christianity Today.

Its website shows Irpin Bible Seminary to be located in a residential neighborhood, a solid, two-story building with a bright green roof.

It looks nothing like that in the video the TWR Ukraine team posted. The seminary was struck during the war effort. Thank God, no one was in the building at the time. But the level of damage, as in so much of Ukraine, was catastrophic.

In the video, Chmut at first stands outside the building. He’s wearing a beige-colored baseball cap, a yellow USA sweatshirt and heavy work gloves. Windows are blasted out and rubble lies next to what’s left of the building. Inside, a hallway is relatively intact. But inside a large room, debris is everywhere. It’s an enormous task, but Chmut and his colleagues are busily cleaning, beginning the process of bringing life back to the building.

“Our team came to serve,” the English translation of the post reads, “because in peaceful times, the seminary servants helped Trans World Radio.”

These are not peaceful times. Our contacts with TWR Europe report that the Ukrainians are worried because Russia has announced major attacks. Their programs are prerecorded because the internet and electricity might be shut off at any time.

TWR Ukraine team members help clear rubble from the ruins of Irpin Bible Seminary. [image courtesy of TWR Ukraine]

TWR Europe also is asking prayer for our contacts in Russia and Belarus, both of which are facing difficult times of their own.

The good news is that the gospel still is being heard throughout the region, including through recently added shortwave broadcasts in the Ukrainian language from KTWR on the Pacific island of Guam.

Radio hobbyists frequently send messages to TWR transmitting sites reporting that they have received our shortwave broadcasts. One such report came from a gentleman in Moscow, whose name we’re withholding for obvious reasons. In addition to the technical details, the man wrote that he does not support the war effort. He added, “These broadcasts may be heard in Moscow very well. Ukrainian and Russian languages are similar, and I enjoyed the beautiful songs, excellent quality of reception and suitable time of broadcasting.”

Will you pray with us?

  • Ask that many in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus will hear our broadcasts and respond to the hope that comes only through Jesus Christ.
  • Praise God with us that all of our TWR partners and contacts in the region are alive and in good health. Please pray for God’s continued protection and sustenance for all during these perilous times.
  • Please pray for Irpin Bible Seminary, that it might be able to rebuild or relocate and continue its good work.
  • Pray for leaders who have the opportunity to change the course of events and bring the war to an end, that they might hear God’s voice.

Update: Wednesday, April 27, 2022

As the war continues in Ukraine, listeners and audience members continue to have access to the gospel through TWR channels. [image courtesy of IMB.org

The war between Russia and Ukraine seems unrelenting, but people in both countries still are hearing and responding to the Word of God.

The TWR Ukraine staff are continuing their work, and some are able to use the studio in Kyiv, reports Frank Stephenson, TWR Europe communications director. Alex, the director in Ukraine, and his family are living in that area again.

Rostislav,* the deputy director, spends most of his time outside of the city, but he is able to get to the studio for meetings.

Programs still are being heard in the region on traditional radio and also on internet radio via the newly established livestream.

Listeners are responding. Here’s an example from TWR Ukraine:

One Ukrainian woman wrote on Instagram to tell about miraculous incidents she had witnessed that revealed God’s power both to protect and transform lives. Not long after the war broke out in February, refugees fleeing the devastating attacks on Kharkiv arrived at the woman’s church, and her family invited them to dinner. Kharkiv is the country’s second-largest city and has been under repeated bombardment since day one – even during the past week.

The refugees knew virtually nothing about God, and one man seemed unable to sit still as he continually checked his cellphone. Eventually, they learned why: His parents had stayed behind in Kharkiv.

The father of the host family presented an introduction to the faith, sharing about God and his power to save us from sin. Others offered testimonies. Then they prayed and asked the Lord to bless the beleaguered visitors, who left the next day.

A few days later, the man who was so worried about his family called the woman’s father and exclaimed, “I believe in God! Today I asked my friend to take my parents away from Kharkiv, and as soon as they left, my parents' house was completely destroyed. I know that it is surely God to whom you prayed!"

The woman concluded her story on Instagram with a perfectly suited Bible verse from Psalms: “I sought the Lord and He answered me, and rescued me from all my fears.”

“When we sincerely ask the Lord for help,” she observed, “he never leaves us. Praise be to God for his wonders.”

Will you pray with us?

  • Praise God that all the members of the TWR Ukraine team are safe and able to continue presenting the life-giving message of Jesus to listeners.
  • Praise God that new living quarters have been found by team member Vyacheslav in Germany. He has started a language course and has permission to work in Germany.
  • Please pray for Anna, Women of Hope coordinator for TWR Ukraine. She is able to continue ministry work in Germany, where she is caring for her young daughter. But she is burdened because many family members are still in Ukraine.
  • A TWR Ukraine technician and his family are in western Ukraine, where he is able to supply programs to upload to TWR. However, they are living in challenging circumstances with heating and food shortages. Please lift them up.
  • Praise God that our contacts in Belarus and Russia still are able to produce and air their programs. Please pray for each of the directors as they engage in travels and meetings.

Thank you for your extra gifts to support our partners and contacts in this region as well as our broadcast services during this season of extraordinary circumstances and special needs. If you would like to help, you can add your gifts here.

* With their permission, we now are using the first names of most of the TWR Ukraine team members.

Update: Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Thanks to carefully-laid contingency plans and changes to new and existing broadcasts, the gospel continues to be available for people (such as these refugees on the Polish border) in Ukraine and Russia. [image courtesy of IMB.org

We’re grateful to announce that the voice of TWR is becoming more readily available in Ukraine and Russia, and on more platforms.

When TWR lost a significant middle-wave, or AM, frequency into the region because of war-related reasons a couple of weeks ago, contingency plans that already were in place kicked into high gear.

Another AM frequency, 1035, wasn’t affected. This week, TWR added a second AM frequency, 1377, to the region, and a shortwave frequency, 15200, broadcasting out of Guam. These air in the Ukrainian language, except that 1035 has some programming in the Russian language.

To be clear, you won’t get these stations at these frequencies in the Americas. They reach their intended audiences in Eastern Europe, although the shortwave frequency has a broader range. But anyone with internet access can listen to the 24/7 livestream Voice of Ukraine Hope Radio, which TWR recently introduced. It provides uplifting music in Ukrainian and English interspersed with scripture and other encouraging words in Ukrainian.

For media outlets, TWR has set up a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) site to make Ukrainian content available for local stations. Interested media owners and managers should contact Ted Siemens here: tsiemens@twr.org.

Meanwhile, Alex, the director of TWR Ukraine, and his team continue to work under adverse circumstances to provide fresh, relevant, gospel-centered programming to their war-torn country.

“The team in Ukraine is working out of mobile studios and not soundproofed rooms and yet they’re able to daily produce relevant, Bible-centered programming,” said Jon Fugler, chief content officer for TWR. “To me, that’s miraculous…We need to be praying for them, because in the long term that gets harder and harder.”

Will you pray with us?

  • Please ask God with us that his Word will be heard in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.
  • We are praising God that all the members of TWR Ukraine are alive and able to continue their work to some extent. But the war and the disturbing developments that come with it take a physical and emotional toll. Please intercede for them with us.
  • Please continue to lift up Alex and his family, who recently returned to the Kyiv area.

Update: Monday, April 11, 2022

Ukrainian refugees — such as these brothers at a church in Poland — now have the opportunity to hear our 24/7 online livestream.
[photo courtesy of IMB.org

Words and music of hope are now available to Ukrainian refugees, 24/7, from TWR.

The service, featuring Scripture and encouraging messages in Ukrainian and music in Ukrainian and English, went online on Friday morning, said Scott Hollinger, who helps develop new media content for the Strategic Initiatives & Partnerships Department at TWR.

“It’s meant to be mostly music – encouraging praise and worship music,” Hollinger said.

Jon Fugler, chief content officer for TWR, explained the philosophy behind that.

“One of the things we’ve learned, and we’ve experienced ourselves, is that music has a great ministry to our hearts and souls,” Fugler said. “And the people of Ukraine, and refugees, need that. So while we have a strong representation in teaching and talk, if we’re doing something 24 hours a day we feel that music has a great place there.”

Dozens of the songs are in Ukrainian, and more will be added, Hollinger said.

The online service went from an idea to reality in less than a month, Fugler said. The technology and the music in English were available. “What we were missing was anything Ukrainian. So that’s where we really went on the search.”

But God put the pieces together. Ukrainians who were refugees themselves volunteered to serve as translators and speakers, as did Ukrainians who had resettled in the United States. A Christian radio station offered its facilities to a Ukrainian speaker who lives nearby.

“To do all that in a month is really amazing,” Fugler said.

It’s one way TWR seeks to minister to those whose lives have been torn apart by the war.

“We want to lift people up, because in their situation they’re getting a lot of bad news,” Fugler said. “They get enough bringing them down, but the gospel is the gospel of hope.”

You can listen to the livestream here.

Update: Friday, April 8, 2022

TUNE IN FROM UKRAINE OR RUSSIA:

If you or someone you know is attempting to tune into our programming from Ukraine or Russia, the following is an up-to-date listing of our current frequencies broadcasting in the area. Be sure to check back soon for updates as they develop.

Medium Wave (also known as AM radio): 1035 AM and 621 AM

Our TWR Ukraine Director addressing listeners and audience members on social media from an undisclosed location near Kyiv.
[image courtesy of TWR Ukraine] 

Exciting news: The leader of TWR Ukraine and his family will move back to the Kyiv area in the very near future.

You may recall that in the wake of the February 24 Russian invasion, the Kyiv-based portion of the team fled their studio and took refuge in the basement of a home near the city. They were far from safe there, and two days later began a 300 km journey to a somewhat safer location farther west.

The director and most of his family members have been there since then. It has proved to be a reasonably safe refuge, although they spent one night in trenches that the director had helped dig.

But as Russian forces mostly have pulled out of northern Ukraine and Ukrainian forces have retaken control, security has improved. Frank Stephenson, communications director for TWR-Europe, reports the director is burdened for his team to continue ministering to the Ukrainian people, and he believes this is now feasible back in Kyiv.

An unknown is whether the studio will be usable.

The need remains great, as Ukrainians cope with the horrors and losses of war and brace for an expected attack in eastern regions of the country.

Meanwhile, our contact in Russia reports ministry also is continuing there, albeit with some restrictions. Although some social media channels have been banned, others can be used. Even the ministry’s Instagram account somehow has been viewed by thousands, although Instagram is among the banned services.

The Story of Jesus – the audio version of The JESUS Film – will be broadcast in two Russian cities on radio and online in 15-minute episodes extending through the Orthodox Easter (April 24).

It’s encouraging to know that even with sanctions creating economic challenges, the people of Russia still are supporting God’s work. Our contact sees small donations coming in almost every day.

Will you pray with us?

  • Please pray for the TWR Ukraine director and his family as they return to Kyiv and plan their next steps as a family and a ministry.
  • Please lift up the TWR Ukraine staff member and family who left Ukraine because of the special needs of one of their children. They are set to move into a new home in Western Germany on Saturday.
  • Join us in praising God for the continued proclamation of the gospel in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. Pray that these efforts will bear present and eternal fruit.

We appreciate your financial support as well as your prayers for our team in Ukraine during this crisis. Thank you for partnering with us!

Update: Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Ukrainian refugees — such as these women crossing the border near the Polish town of Chelm — have the opportunity to hear The Story of Jesus through an ongoing partnership between TWR and Jesus Film Project. The dramatizations are being heard in both Ukrainian and Russian nightly, leading up to Easter. [photo courtesy of IMB.org]

One day after Russian forces invaded Ukraine, Brandon Neal received an email.

“Hey, what can we do?” Tom Terry asked on that February 25.

The two men, who have worked together for some time on the audio version of the JESUS film, quickly collaborated on a way to assure that war refugees would be able to hear words of hope wherever they found themselves.

Neal is deputy to the director of global services at TWR, which brings the hope of Jesus to millions of people in more than 190 nations and in more than 300 languages. Terry is the head of global broadcast strategy for Jesus Film Project, which has presented the Gospel of Luke to billions of people in more than 1,800 languages. It’s an outreach of Cru, which is the name of Campus Crusade for Christ in the United States.

The two Christian mission agencies have collaborated for years in producing and distributing the audio version, called The Story of Jesus. As effective as the original film version is, it can’t reach everybody, Terry explained.

“An audio project will let you sometimes reach into an area where we don’t have television,” Terry said in an interview from Washington state, where he was visiting family.

Although the war was only in its second day, Terry correctly foresaw the coming wave of refugees – more than 10 million Ukrainians to date, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, including over 4 million who have left the country.

The Story of Jesus already was scheduled to be widely broadcast in a series leading up to Easter. But Terry wondered if the schedule could be bumped up in the Ukrainian and Russian languages – both spoken in Ukraine – and if the broadcasts could reach nearby countries where many of the refugees were anticipated.

“If there’s anything you need in a war-torn country, it’s hope,” Terry said. “And Jesus offers that.”

The project came together in a couple of days, Neal said. Since March 14, episodes of The Story of Jesus have been airing twice a night, once in Ukrainian and once in Russian, on a schedule that will continue through April 22, he said.

“We were just trying to reach as many as we could,” Neal said.

The transmitter used for the project reaches countries housing refugees, including the portions of Moldova, Romania, Slovakia and Poland that are closest to Ukraine.

Although it’s too soon to evaluate the impact of these particular broadcasts, Neal and Terry are confident that God’s Word will not return empty (Isaiah 55:11).

“My hope is really that a person or a family will be traveling and that one evening will turn the radio on and they’ll encounter Jesus,” Neal said. “I imagine a mom and kids sitting there and listening to it while her husband’s back there having to fight.”

It’s a tragic season, but it’s also opportune, Terry said.

“The bottom line for me is I want people to know and love Jesus,” he said. “And that often happens through great tragedy.”

Please keep praying with us for the many affected by the war in Ukraine.

Update: Thursday, March 31, 2022

The director of TWR Ukraine records an anniversary message to their audience in a makeshift studio in Ukraine. [ TWR Ukraine Image ] 

It wasn’t the 30th birthday TWR Ukraine had imagined.

As we reported yesterday (see below), March 30 marked the 30 years since our partner in Ukraine began its work. Early this year, plans were underway for a celebration. Then came February 24. Our team in Ukraine were driven from their two studios and from their homes and have been scattered across Ukraine.

No chance for a party.

But – praise God! – none has been killed or seriously injured. Moreover, TWR Ukraine is continuing to produce encouraging, Christ-centered content that’s being transmitted to Ukrainian and Russian speakers in the country and beyond.

TWR Ukraine also continues to have a presence on social media, including on Facebook, where the team shared the news of their anniversary along with photos and a video on Wednesday.

More than 1,800 people responded with “like,” “love” and “care” icons, and hundreds commented.

“You bring love to the people,” one woman wrote (in the English translation). “May the Lord protect you.”

“We are very grateful to you for these programs, and in the present time of war, we do not stop listening to them,” another individual commented. “They have now become even more inspiring and needed.”

“May God continue to show his miracles in your service and the spread of the word of God?” yet another wrote. “Love you. Listen for over 20 years daily (now via internet) and can’t imagine my life without you.”

Will you pray with us?

  • Praise God for 30 years of TWR in Ukraine and the continuation of this work in spite of great obstacles.
  • Please continue to lift up the TWR Ukraine family who left the country because of the special needs of their child. Their search for a suitable place to live in Central Europe is weighing on them.
  • TWR’s contact in Russia was prevented from a planned ministry connected journey. Please ask the Lord to provide him with wisdom and foresight about the next steps.

Update: Wednesday, March 30, 2022

TWR Ukraine team members in the studio prior to the outbreak of war. [TWR Ukraine image]

With the Soviet Union crumbling in the early 1990s, Ukraine declared its independence about the same time that a new media ministry was established. As the nation struggled to overcome dire economic problems and divisive politics, TWR Ukraine reached out to its countrymen with messages of biblical truth, hope and reconciliation.

Nearly 30 years later, on the eve of the war with Russia, the ministry was producing over 20 radio programs in Ukrainian and Russian that were broadcast weekly into the nation from TWR’s powerful AM transmitters in neighboring countries. When the missiles began flying, TWR Ukraine’s staff had to abandon their studios and offices. Amid the death and destruction evident in daily news reports, however, this dedicated band of believers continue ministering, finding ways to help others and even recording content for broadcast when possible.

The leader of TWR Ukraine, who was chief executive officer of a vibrant organization until a few weeks ago, today is sheltering with his family far from their home near Kyiv and has been conscripted by the military to dig trenches. Sometimes he can be seen walking to work carrying a shovel and recording profound messages on his cellphone for social media users.

We felt sharing one of his heartfelt messages with you would be a fitting way to celebrate TWR Ukraine’s 30th anniversary, coming as it does in the middle of a devastating war. As you read, please join us in honoring and praying for our brothers and sisters as we commemorate the founding of their ministry on March 30, 1992.

 "If God makes it possible, if he has mercy and we stay alive, I will have to explain to my granddaughter what happened here. As soon as she understands that it is war, she will ask me, 'Grandpa, which side were you on?'

"And it will be difficult for me to explain to her what it means to be on the side of Jesus.

"To be on the side of Jesus means to be with his people. Jesus came to his people, he lived with them, ate with them, healed them, raised the dead. They were not obedient, like we Ukrainians sometimes are not. They were material. My brother Ukrainians rant with swear words. I don't like that, but I love them, and I am with my people. I will be able to be honest in front of my granddaughter that I did not run away.

"I am ready to die with the Ukrainians. My calling as a pastor is to see the lost saved.

"That is what the Bible says, and the people who may hear me must understand. We are condemned to death. We have been condemned. We are to be killed.

"I am not afraid of death. I know that life does not end with death. My life is secure in Jesus, but as long as I am digging trenches and carrying logs, I can tell the men I work with here about Jesus. I can tell the non-Christians how they can still pray to God even at the last moment when the bombs are going off. So, they can call out to God who saves.

"There is peace and tranquility in my heart. Jesus has given it to me. I love Jesus! I know he controls everything, but today he has put me in this place with my people. That I might pray for them, witness to them, serve them. Just like Jesus did.

"I personally understand what it means to be on the side of Jesus in this war!"

Update: Monday, March 28, 2022

A little-told story amid the tragic war in Ukraine is about how God is at work there.

At TWR, through our partners and contacts in the region, we see only the tip of the iceberg. But what we see includes evidence of how the hearts and minds of people afflicted by the war are being moved spiritually.

For example:

  • The director for TWR Women of Hope in Ukraine, whom we’re calling Svitlana, has relocated to Central Europe. But she remains in contact with various Ukrainian women. She shared that most of these women had little interest in the things of God in the past, but now many of them are constantly contacting her with all sorts of spiritual questions.
  • Some members of the TWR team in Ukraine have been helping to evacuate women, children and handicapped people. They say that some of their passengers are in a panic, while others pray silently. The drivers are able to pray, sing and talk about God with the passengers. "There is certainly a great deal of openness to the gospel message," reports Frank Stephenson, TWR Europe communications director.

Your prayers and your financial gifts to the Ukraine-Russia Crisis Fund are so meaningful at such a time as this. Stephenson shares that the funds from our international partners are being used to provide for food and other daily necessities for our scattered team in Ukraine. It’s also being used to keep content continuously produced and on the air. TWR still is broadcasting into the region from transmitters located outside of the country. Svitlana is providing some of the voicing for those programs, in both Ukrainian and Russian.

Will you pray with us?

  • Praise God that all on the TWR Ukraine team are still alive. Most are still in Ukraine, and they are in areas that are coming under increasing attacks, so please continue to pray for protection and strength during this stressful time. Ask that God would give them the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7), and that they would be able to convey that peace to their listeners.
  • Please intercede for TWR’s ministry contact in Russia, who faces important ministry-related travels in a time when travel restrictions to certain countries keep changing.
  • Pray that evacuations would be able to continue. Media reports indicate that Ukraine halted evacuations today, March 28, because of a belief the routes would be unsafe. Pray that team members, when they are able to minister in this way, would continue being a positive witness to their passengers. Pray for protection as they bring these refugees to safe places.
  • Lift up Svitlana. While serving out of Central Europe, she’s also struggling with the fact that her husband, brother and father are still in Ukraine.

Update: Thursday, March 24, 2022

With the war in Ukraine in its second month, there’s evidence that Ukrainian people are turning to media to find hope.

Throughout this time of conflict and turmoil, TWR has consistently beamed the light of the gospel from our strategically situated radio transmitter in Eastern Europe. The reliable voice of radio continues cutting through the spiritual darkness – reaching millions of listeners in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and beyond.

Amid the bombardment of the war, visits to TWR360’s abundant Christian audio, video and text have increased 40 per cent from the capital of Kyiv, according to data compiled by our TWR360 team. From Lviv, which has become a transit city for refugees leaving the county, visits have risen 32 per cent. We have active contact with dedicated ministry teams in Ukraine and Russia. Both languages are among the more than 90 available on TWR360.

The number of users also has been on the rise, mostly in double digits, in other Eastern European countries, reports Frank Stephenson, TWR Europe communications director.  Many of those countries are housing refugees from Ukraine, he points out.

Despite the massive wartime disruptions, our ministry partners in Ukraine continue doing what they can to produce relevant programming. In a recent Ukrainian recording, the speaker reminded listeners that the biblical story of Daniel “tells us that prayers do not go to waste, my friends...We have been crying out to heaven for the last three weeks, and all this time, heaven hears us, all our prayers.”

At TWR, we’re thankful for our media friends who are helping to get the word out, inviting more people into our efforts to support our partners and bring hope to the affected region. Mission Network News has provided several updates in its radio and online spots. Kinship Christian Radio, a network of stations in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa, offers a list of agencies doing work in the region on its website, starting with TWR. The K-LOVE Radio network, in addition to posting about TWR’s work in Ukraine, used its Facebook pages to help in our search for Ukrainian speakers. These were sought to enable us to prepare additional content especially for the Ukrainian people during this traumatic season.

When considering the lives lost, the homes and businesses destroyed, the families split between those staying and those fleeing Ukraine, the adjustments facing refugees, it’s a given that trauma is widespread in the region. Our Ukraine TWR Women of Hope coordinator, whom we’ll call Svetlina, welcomed the possibility of being involved in producing programs on trauma therapy, Stephenson reports. Having fled from Ukraine and taken refuge in a Central European country, Svetlina is dealing with the process herself, she said.

Your prayers continue to make a difference in ways that are entirely known only in heaven. Your financial gifts help us provide and distribute content to Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

Will you pray with us?

  • Praise God with us that all our TWR Ukraine team members are still alive. They also are still putting content together! But some of them are in areas where the fighting is intensifying. Please continue to lift them up for protection and wisdom.
  • Please uphold TWR’s ministry contact in Russia for upcoming ministry-related travels. Our contact shares that ministry is continuing in Russia on media platforms that haven’t been shut down.
  • Pray for wisdom and insight for world leaders meeting in the NATO, Group of Seven and European Union summits as they seek to find a way to bring the war to an end.

Update: Monday, March 21, 2022

"Peter" and his wife from TWR Ukraine. [TWR Ukraine image]

We continue to be amazed, humbled and inspired by the daily efforts of our ministry partners in Eastern Europe to endure, be courageous and minister to others amid the winds of war.

One of the team members of our partner in Ukraine continues working in the Kyiv area to help people who need to be evacuated. We’ve touched on his efforts in previous reports, noting that the circumstances faced by this man we’ll call Peter are frequently life-threatening.

We received word that as he was helping evacuees, it suddenly dawned on him that he hadn’t heard from an old friend he hadn’t seen for two years. He managed to contact the man in Kharkiv, a city that has been under near-constant attack since the war began. The man was distraught, saying he was ready to die with his family and just “be over with it.”

Seriously concerned, Peter promptly made the dangerous trip to Kharkiv to reunite with his friend and bring the family to an area that is safer though still part of the war zone. In recent years, the friend said, he had grown away from the Lord. Now, he could see Peter’s presence and eagerness to rescue the family was like God shining a ray of light into the nightmare that has descended on his homeland.

Like other TWR partners and the Eastern European countries where they minister, our national partner in Romania has commendably stepped up to the challenges of war. Bordering Ukraine, Romania has already taken in roughly half a million refugees.

TWR Romania director Mihai Papuc said his team has committed itself to providing media coverage of the incoming refugees and how churches and pastors are rushing to identify host families, assist with government paperwork and provide practical help in any way possible. Papuc said the response by local churches has been “exemplary.”

That description seems to apply to the TWR Romania staff members, as well, who have distributed food to refugees along with gospel literature, Bible readings offering spiritual comfort and devotional materials in Ukrainian. TWR Women of Hope’s Romanian team produced a 28-minute video focusing on the crisis.

Refugee family reaches destination

TWR Ukraine refugee family having reached a safe location in Central Europe. [TWR image]

Let’s close with another ray of light amid so much gloom. If you’ve been following these updates, you probably remember the saga of the family that finally made it to safety in a neighboring country after a weeklong journey from Kharkiv. After several days of welcome and care by TWR staff members, including replenishing their clothing supply and getting their overtaxed car repaired by a generous Christian volunteer, the family has been able to move on to another country farther west.

The father, who is a studio technician with TWR’s partner ministry in Ukraine, and his wife, who has provided voicing on radio programs, are eager to continue working to produce and polish content. The plan is for that new content to be broadcast back into Ukraine one day very soon. They are a part of a major initiative in which TWR Europe and TWR International are moving rapidly to develop special programming geared to meet the spiritual, emotional and informational needs of listeners in the war zone.

As you can imagine, providing resources so TWR can respond quickly and effectively to the constantly changing situation in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus can be challenging. Many supporters like you have already asked how you can help or have donated to our Ukraine-Russia Crisis fund. We are profoundly grateful to you for standing with us through your finances and prayer.

Please join us in prayer

  • The political situation and great uncertainty remain a major source of anxiety for all of TWR’s ministry contacts in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Please pray for the Lord to supernaturally gift our staff with his peace, which they can then convey to their listenership. Pray for the upcoming important ministry-related travels of TWR’s ministry contact in Russia.
  • Praise God that the studio technician and his family from Ukraine have finally reached a location in Central Europe where we hope they will be able settle down. On this World Down Syndrome Day 2022, please especially give thanks for the life of their daughter, who has this condition and needs special care.
  • During a relative lull in fighting during the past weekend in their areas, our Ukrainian partners worked zealously to create as much content as possible. We praise the Lord for keeping them all safe and for their incredible devotion to serving their audience.

Update: Friday, March 18, 2022

Ukrainians in the wider Kyiv area [TWR Image] 

We at TWR are so appreciative to all of you who have given to our Ukraine-Russia Crisis Outreach Fund. This is something you couldn’t have budgeted for at the beginning of the year, and yet you have already been so generous in your response.

On behalf of our team in Eastern Europe, thank you.

We're seeing a similar generous response from our global partners, who are not just able to help with media expenses, but in practical and tangible ways. Here’s one example:

In our last update, we mentioned a TWR Ukraine technician who managed to escape from a town near Kyiv that had been destroyed. He then traveled with his family and three other families to a site in western Ukraine that is relatively safe.

But they had no belongings.

With your financial support, a partner in a bordering country was able to provide these families with medicine and other needed items as well as technical equipment needed to keep the ministry going.

Yes, even with all they are going through, the handful of people who make up the staff of TWR Ukraine remain determined to keep providing encouraging, biblical content to the people of their country.

As Frank Stephenson, TWR Europe communications director, put it:

"It is amazing to see how dedicated the TWR Ukraine staff are in reaching their listeners in these extreme, life-threatening circumstances."

Stephenson notes that in addition to helping this family, the crisis fund is being used to ensure that programming for the region continues on our transmitters.

That includes programming being prepared on trauma, trauma therapy and counseling, both from within TWR and in partnership with other ministries.

One example of this is a podcast series consisting of music and Bible verses chosen to calm the storms of anxiety and fear. A Ukrainian musician who fled to Germany has offered to do the music, and a member of the TWR Ukraine staff will read the Scriptures.

There is so much to be done. Please continue to pray and, as you’re able, to give.

Will you pray with us?

  • The conflict and all of the uncertainty that goes with it remain a great source of tension for all of TWR’s ministry contacts in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Please pray for the Lord to supernaturally gift our staff with the peace of God and the ability to convey that to their listeners.
  • Praise God that all of the TWR Ukraine team members are still alive. Please continue praying for protection and wisdom on their behalf.
  • The Kharkiv studio technician and his family, including a special-needs child, are at a temporary stopping point while preparing for another leg in their journey toward a longer-term destination in Central Europe. Praise God for financial support they’ve received, and please continue to pray for them as they travel.
  • Give thanks also that the TWR Ukraine director was able to make it to Kyiv and back to where his family is temporarily staying farther west in Ukraine. While there, he was able to pick up some items from the studio that can be used by the team from various locations.

Update: Wednesday, March 16, 2022

TWR’s partners in Ukraine have been swept up in war for three weeks.

It has been a period of unspeakable horrors, and they’ve been dispersed throughout the country. But they know they do not stand alone.

You are standing with them in prayer. The staff of TWR Europe are staying in contact with them, providing whatever assistance they can, helping to care for the few who have crossed out of Ukraine.

One of the team members alluded to a biblical account (Daniel 6) when thanking TWR’s director for Ukraine, Russia and Belarus for keeping in touch, writing:

"We are in the lions’ den, but your regular communication with us is as if you come to the edge of the lions’ den and show care for our situation."

As of today, March 16, the 21st day of the conflict, all of the members of TWR Ukraine’s team are alive, but all are in the lions’ den.

  • The town where one team member lived has been destroyed. He was able to get away safely but lost all of his belongings, including his laptop. TWR is working to provide the support he needs.
  • Our TWR Ukraine director was able to pay a visit to his house in the Kyiv area. A journey that would normally take a few hours took nine because of the many security checkpoints. But he safely made it there and back to his family farther west in the country.
  • The TWR Ukraine family that made it out of the country can proceed to a more permanent destination in Central Europe because their car has been repaired. The repairman, a Christian who listens to a TWR station, did the work for free.

This amazing team is continuing to record and produce biblical programming for the people of their country. It’s a day-to-day endeavor as their lives are in danger and the infrastructure of their country is deteriorating.

Meanwhile, the rest of our content team is working vigorously to prepare fresh, meaningful programming for the region, reports Jon Fugler, chief content officer for TWR. He adds:

"We are beginning the process of writing and producing content in a variety of lengths for a number of platforms. Our biggest need is for Ukrainian translators, writers and speakers. We have a handful of people identified and have leads on others around the world.

"I am grateful that God has given us the facilities to broadcast content into Ukraine and Russia from the outside. This is becoming the only way people are being reached with the gospel truth. (The) internet is being cut off in both countries, which has made that option increasingly difficult."

Thank you for praying and for giving to support our friends in Ukraine as well as in Russia and Belarus. You can give to our crisis fund here.

Will you pray with us?

  • Please continue to pray for TWR Ukraine personnel, asking for protection and wisdom through this dangerous and stressful situation.
  • Please continue to pray for TWR’s leadership as they find ways to continue tangible areas of support for TWR’s content in Belarus and Russia.
  • Praise God with us for the generous support so many people and organizations have offered to the TWR Ukraine-Russia Crisis Fund.

Here’s a final thought shared a few days ago by TWR Ukraine’s director:

"In the present world, life has changed. The world is not going to be the same, and we don’t know what to expect. But I know that God has already planned the end of the world and human history. But he has promised us that everything will be for our good."

Update: Monday, March 14, 2022

In this the third week of the war in Ukraine, we have encouraging news to share: Not only are all of the TWR Ukraine team members alive, but word has come in that the studios in Kyiv and Kharkiv both are still standing.

Given the scope of destruction in Ukraine’s two largest cities, that’s at least remarkable, if not miraculous.

Thank you for continuing to stand with our brothers and sisters in Ukraine, as well as in Russia and Belarus, in prayer. Thank you for giving on their behalf. This extraordinary crisis has saddled these ministries with significant unexpected expenses, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. If you’d like to give for the first time or help out again, you can do so here.

We’re happy to report that the entire TWR Ukraine team was able to meet virtually over the past weekend as the technology and internet held up to allow for a Zoom meeting. They were able to have fellowship together in that way, and to pray for one another. Imagine the power in that!

They are also in mourning for their country, of course, but also because each of them knows people from their circles who have been killed in the war.

They are not together physically. Some are in embattled cities, others in the Ukrainian countryside and a few have made it out of the country. That includes the family we’ve told you about who have a handicapped child. The head of household, whom we’ll call Ivan,* has been able to set up a makeshift “office” at his temporary location in Central Europe. He and his family hope soon to travel to a more permanent location farther west.

Ivan is busy finalizing and uploading fresh content that the team in Ukraine continues to create and upload as an encouragement to their fellow Ukrainians. Even as they face danger daily and struggle to survive, they feel an urgency about bringing hope to the people of their country.

Meanwhile, TWR’s contact in Russia reports that churches there are continuing to meet and pray over the situation in Ukraine. Where they can, they’re helping refugees from Ukraine in practical ways, such as providing food and shelter.

Will you pray with us?

  • Praise God that all in the TWR Ukraine team are alive and that the studios are standing. Praise him that they were able to meet virtually over the weekend and are still able to produce good news for their listeners.
  • Continue to ask for protection for this team, and please pray for Ivan and his family as they prepare for the next leg of their long journey.
  • Please lift up TWR Europe’s leadership team, as they’ve set up a new Crisis Management and Response Team for this emergency. This team is preparing to address not just the immediate needs but to provide support and encouragement over the long haul.
  • A TWR contact in Belarus has asked for prayers for family members who formerly lived in Ukraine but have taken refuge in Central Europe. They are Belarusians and as such are hampered by sanctions against that country. Yet it’s not safe for them to return to Belarus. Pray that they might be able to get established in this new location.

 * Names changed or withheld for security reasons.

Update: Friday, March 11, 2022

Russian women gather at a recent conference that included some of TWR’s ministry friends. Brothers and sisters in Christ are represented in all three countries – Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. [ TWR photo ] 

The war in Ukraine grinds on, taking a horrifying toll. Yet we can report again, on March 11 – Day 15 of the war – that by God’s grace all of our TWR contacts in Ukraine are alive, if not safe.

Heaven only knows the full impact of your prayers for these dear saints, but we know your prayers matter. Thank you so much. Please keep at it.

As you may recall, one TWR Ukraine staff member* has been serving others in the Kyiv area. The TWR Ukraine director and most of his family remain in the country, but farther west. None of them is out of danger.

Meanwhile, the staff member* who made it out of Ukraine is getting his troubled vehicle checked out by a local Christian car repairman. When the car gets a clean bill of health, he and his family will be able to travel into central Europe, likely within the coming week. God is providing for this family!

TWR Europe is coordinating specific technical assistance for this individual so that he can continue his vital work wherever he stays in the long term.

Elsewhere, ministry continues in Russia and Belarus. The photo above is from a recent women’s conference in Russia in which some of TWR’s ministry friends took part. The situation in Ukraine weighs heavily on them as they pray for peace in the region.

In Belarus, TWR’s contacts are continuing to speak hope to their people and are providing the means by distributing content on digital SD cards and USB sticks.

Will you pray with us?

  • Praise God that all of our TWR contacts in Ukraine are alive. Please continue to pray for safety and wisdom in a perilous situation.
  • Thank God with us for the generosity of donors and TWR’s partners responding to this time of crisis. Ask God with us that donors will be in this for the long haul as well as for the urgent needs now.
  • Please pray with us for TWR’s ministry friends and contacts in Belarus and Russia as well as in Ukraine. May they have wisdom, courage, strength and foresight to serve in a time of uncertainty, fear and tension.
  • Please especially pray for our ministry director* for Russia, Ukraine and Belarus as she keeps in touch with TWR contacts in all three countries. Ask on her behalf for wisdom, strength and sensitivity as she ministers to them in such a stressful time.

*Names withheld for security reasons.

Update: Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Despite ongoing war, believers gather for worship and fellowship in Ukraine [TWR Image]

The news from Ukraine has been especially grim today, March 9, including the reported strike against a maternity hospital in the city of Mariupol.

Nothing can diminish the pain of hearing such reports. Yet hope still is being delivered to the region, in person and on the airwaves.

A TWR Ukraine staff member has remained near Kyiv and has been helping with food deliveries to others.

And not only are programs of hope still being heard in Ukraine on AM radio, but content for this time and this situation was developed within Ukraine itself.

That’s because with all else that’s going on – digging trenches, delivering food, living in perilous conditions – our partners in Ukraine still have prepared fresh programming, in rough form.

They sent the audio files on to the staff member who recently left the country with his family that includes a handicapped child. He was able to use his technological skills to prepare the content for delivery from TWR transmitters.

Yes: Hope from within Ukraine, prepared outside of Ukraine but then sent back to the people of Ukraine. The AM signal there remains strong, reports Frank Stephenson, TWR’s communications director for Europe.

All our TWR contacts in Ukraine are still alive, praise God. However, it’s not hyperbole to say they know each day could be their last. Your prayers matter.

Finally, we have a joyful reunion to report. You recall that the daughter-in-law and 2-year-old granddaughter of the TWR Ukraine director made it across the border a few days ago. What of the director’s son – the husband and father of the duo?

It turns out that he was not in Ukraine when the war broke out. Within the past day, he traveled into Eastern Europe and has been reunited with his wife and his little girl. 

Please join us in prayer

  • Praise God for the heartwarming news that family members of the leader of our Ukrainian contact group – whom we call Matthew for security reasons – were able to reunite in an East European country. We’ve been following the story of Matthew’s 2-year-old granddaughter since he spoke so movingly of her in a video (scroll down to the March 2 update to watch the video) soon after the war started. Now the girl, her mother and father are back together in a safe country.
  • Although the focus understandably remains on the shooting war in Ukraine, our brothers and sisters in Russia and Belarus most definitely also need our sustained prayers. TWR friends and partners there are already feeling the strong international backlash against their nations and are concerned about how they will continue to minister to their countrymen as resources dry up. Among the outreach that may be affected in Russia are relatively young but growing FM broadcasts, vibrant internet programming and groundbreaking broadcasts of TWR’s Women of Hope in the North Caucasus.
  • TWR staff in Europe are feverishly working to ensure that transmitter sites outside the war zone will be able to continue beaming vitally needed gospel programming to the Ukrainians, Belarusians and Russians. Access to additional broadcast facilities has been secured, and backup sites are being planned. Ask the Lord to preside of these ongoing efforts, providing wisdom as these dedicated staff members sort through the complicated details and providing the necessary resources to his Word on the air. 

Update: Monday, March 7, 2022

Ukrainian refugee coordination [TWR photo]

The war clouds still darken the skies over Ukraine, but fragments of joyful news frequently emerge from the shadows.

One of these bright spots involves a family whose journey to safety we’ve been following since soon after the war erupted on February 24. For security reasons, we aren’t able to give you his name, but the father is a member of TWR’s ministry partner in Ukraine. From the area around Kyiv, he began driving his family – which includes a special-needs child and a mother in fragile health – toward the western border. Although the distance is less than 400 miles as the crow files, it took more than a week for the family to reach safety outside the war-torn country.

Sunday, the six members of the family finally crossed into a European country adjacent to Ukraine and were warmly received by TWR staff.

“They arrived in a temporary place today while we look for longer-term options,” said Frank Stephenson, communications director for TWR Europe. “They are thankful to have arrived after an odyssey of eight days and a broken car. They are also grateful for the friendly welcome.”

There’s also great news regarding our media outreach to the war zone. Beginning today, March 7, TWR is reactivating its programming on a powerful, strategically located transmitter in Eastern Europe. This means we will be able to boost our broadcasts in Ukrainian and Russian to reach listeners in those nations and in neighboring Belarus, where Russian is also widely spoken.

Striving to be nimble to overcome whatever barriers develop because of the war, TWR is “continually working in the background to set up alternative options to keep broadcasting programs of hope,” Stephenson said.

A chat with our European colleague

In the United States for meetings this week, Stephenson sat down with TWR President Lauren Libby to discuss the war in Eastern Europe. We invite you to take about three minutes to view the video below.

Will you join us in prayer?

  • Please pray for the family of six who have finally emerged from the war zone. We thank God for bringing them safely through incredibly challenging circumstances, and now they will need time and healing to decompress and process those harrowing experiences.
  • Praise the Lord that TWR has access to highly sophisticated broadcasting technology in areas that can reach the war zone but not be immediately knocked out of service. Through his provision, including the generous contributions and prayers of our supporters over many decades, these “towers to eternity” enable us to share God’s Word with people in hard-to-reach places.
  • Ask the Lord to bring peace, fortitude and encouragement into the hearts of believers in Ukraine who daily face life-threatening conditions but continue to share Christ with their countrymen. More than ever, Ukrainians need hope and assurance in their lives

Update: Friday, March 4, 2022

No one is more in need of words of hope than people in a war zone.

As bullets and missiles continue to fly and as even a nuclear plant came under attack on Day 9 of the Russia-Ukraine war, we’re pleased to report that TWR still is able to broadcast hope to the region.

Beginning Monday, TWR will be broadcasting to Russia, Ukraine and Belarus from a second Eastern European transmitter, reports Frank Stephenson, TWR’s communications director in Europe.

This includes two programs in the Ukrainian language, Beacon of Hope and Kaleidoscope, totaling 30 minutes. Both focus on providing encouragement and point to God as the source of comfort.

Two programs are being produced in Russian, including a 15-minute slot produced locally by our ministry contacts. Two programs in Russian also are being produced for our Belarus partner. The Russian language is spoken by many in Belarus and Ukraine as well as in Russia.

Incredible journey

As of Friday, March 4, the U.N. refugee agency reported that 1.2 million Ukrainians had arrived in neighboring countries since the conflict began on Feb. 24.

Among an untold number who still are trying to reach the border are a TWR Ukraine staff member* and five family members. The staff member is a man who normally would be required to stay in the country for defense purposes. But because he has a special-needs child, he has permission to leave with his family. However, their progress has been painfully slow and included a vehicle breakdown earlier this week.

But there was a grace note. The breakdown occurred close to where TWR’s Ukraine director* and his family are staying, so the two families were able to be together for two nights while the vehicle was being repaired.

At last word, the repairs had been made and the staff member and his family again were en route to the border. It would normally be a half-day trip, Stephenson reports, but under current conditions, it’s expected to take much longer.

The situation overall remains grim for our TWR family and for all the people in the region.

Stephenson writes:

“Humanly speaking, there is little hope for any improvement of the massive suffering taking place in Ukraine. The pain is real and heavy, and the consequences of this war will be long-lasting. But we can cling to the word, ‘In Christ alone, my hope is found.’”

*Names withheld for security reasons

Please pray with us

  • Father God, may your grace be upon this family that has had such a painfully long journey toward their country’s border. Would you protect them, give them calm hearts, comfort and patience.
  • We lift up the TWR Ukraine director’s family members and the Women of Hope coordinator who have reached other countries. We praise you that they are physically safe, but we intercede for them as they cope with the trauma of the past nine days and the reality that family members are still in places of danger.
  • We also lift up the Ukraine director, shown in the accompanying photo, who remains in danger digging trenches by day and returning to the rest of his family in the evening.
  • We pray on behalf of  all ministries in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus as they seek to serve people in uncertain, worrisome circumstances

Update: Thursday, March 3, 2022

We all say it from time to time during crises: “Well, the only thing left to do is pray.” It’s an understandable sentiment – and a good one, too, if it spurs us to get serious about going to the Lord in prayer.

But sometimes we must remind ourselves that prayer isn’t the last resort; it should always be our first resort. However terrifying the perils we face – including missiles, food shortages, veiled threats of nuclear action – our God is the creator of the universe and unimaginably more powerful.

This is why TWR’s president, Lauren Libby, turned to his communications team as the Russia-Ukraine war intensified early this week and said, “We really need to encourage our supporters to pray for the protection of the staff members in that part of the world.” It’s one of the main reasons for this continuing update on the war. As we receive scattered reports from our brothers and sisters in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, we’re eager to share the news so you can pray with us – and especially with them – during this world-shaking crisis.

A region needing healing

The headlines from the Ukraine front continue to be gloomy: the death toll mounting, one major city apparently being taken over and the capital facing heightened military pressure, airstrikes damaging other cities. Although insubstantial progress had been observed in peace talks between the two sides, there were reports that they had agreed to establish humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of some civilians.

In a recording received by TWR Europe today, the director* of the ministry’s partner in Ukraine addressed the weighty impact the turmoil is having on his countrymen. His incisive words have great value for those of us far from the war zone, as well.

“This morning I prayed for the people who are injured. There are very many. It is difficult. Injured people are not able to act or function in a way that people can without injuries. Unfortunately, there are also many emotionally injured people. More even. Mental injuries don't heal on their own. They grow. … Such things as grief, arrogance, revenge do nothing good for our hearts. They don't heal. It requires God's intervention. They need healing. God did not create us to avenge, to destroy, to kill. God created man to love and be loved. That is how GOD IS, and he wants us to love him. Only a healed person is able to do that.

“I want to ask you today: Are you healed? If not, then you will do a lot of wrong today. You need a healed heart! Only then can you be effective and functional. Pray to God to heal your heart from anger, gloating, hypocrisy, revenge. Ask God to come into your heart with his power, to change it, to heal it. Even in these tragic situations you can have peace in your heart and fulfill God's plan for you.”

Small but meaningful successes

The good news from TWR partners in Ukraine mostly focuses on varying degrees of success in getting family members to safety outside the war zone. If you read yesterday’s update, you’ll recall the wonderful news that the director’s 2-year-old granddaughter managed to reach safety in Romania in the company of her mother and a producer of the Ukrainian version of Women of Hope. If you haven’t watched the brief video in which the director speaks heartbreakingly of his worries about his granddaughter, we urge you to take a couple of minutes to scroll down to the video in yesterday's update.

The director, his wife and other members of the family remain in the country as internal refugees. He has been called on to dig trenches for the military.

Another member of the Ukraine ministry team who leads the digital outreach confirmed that his family made it safely to Poland. This man has stayed behind, however, and is working with a nonprofit organization to distribute food and other goods to those who need them.

Still another Ukraine team member whose travels we have been following encountered a new obstacle. His car broke down as he continues attempting to deliver his disabled child and sick mother to safety over the border. Fortunately, however, there is hope that he might be able to meet up with the director, whose family is staying nearby, and obtain help to fix the car.

Before going to the Lord in prayer, we invite you to watch this short video – less than a minute long – offering a poetic reaction to the war by a young Ukrainian lady close to our ministry team.

Will you join us in prayer?

  • Whenever you hear or see the war mentioned on TV or in your newsfeed – or if God just lays it on your heart – please take a minute to ask the Lord to protect, assure and encourage our ministry team members in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.
  • Please remember that TWR partners with dedicated believers on both sides this tragic war. One of our contacts in Russia reported today that evangelicals in that nation are ministering to refugees. As economic repercussions hit the country, many worry about the possible financial impact and loss of jobs. Many believers and nonbelievers in Russia also are deeply disturbed about the war and how to react to it. Pray that God will use this crisis as an opportunity to move powerfully in this nation.
  • As bilateral talks continue, call upon the Lord to intervene in the hearts and minds of the negotiators and bring peace upon the region.

* Our staff members’ names are withheld for security reason.

Update: Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Thank you for your continued prayers for TWR’s partners and contacts in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. Your prayers matter.

In the seventh day of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, we have some good news to share: A few family members have made it across borders to safety.

Among them are the 2-year-old granddaughter of TWR’s director* in Ukraine, reports Frank Stephenson, European communications director. The little girl, along with her mother and a Women of Hope producer* have crossed into Romania, where they are staying with Christians.

This came soon after especially perilous events. Fighting had broken out, forcing our director and his family to abandon the children’s home where they had been staying and to hide in nearby trenches. Our director shares his thoughts in this accompanying video.

The people of the region continue to desperately need your prayers. This message comes from a producer* of the Beacon of Hope series from the TWR Kharkiv studio in Ukraine.

“Pain, pain and again pain. These are the feelings that prevail at the moment. Pain for people who experience confusion, fear and panic when shells explode nearby, windowpanes fly out and you don’t know if a shell will hit your house. Pain for the children who are under incredible stress. Pain for their destroyed city, for their country that is now crying tears of loss, fear and despair. When my husband persuaded me to prepare my things, my documents, in advance, I could not believe that war was possible. But today it is a terrifying reality. Thank you to all the brave people who sacrifice themselves as messengers of light to help others.”

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, has been bombarded for three straight days. The Wall Street Journal reports that airstrikes have hit residential areas and civilian infrastructure.

But light shines in the darkness (John 1:5). We’ve shared about the staff member* who has a child with special needs and whose travel has been slowed because of that. This staff member told a colleague that, despite the darkness of the situation, he has experienced and heard countless stories of God’s grace and protection for people. Praise God!

Please pray with us:

  • In thanksgiving for family members of staff in Ukraine who have made it to safe refuge in other countries. Ask that those en route also would be able to make it to safety.
  • For those still in Ukraine, and especially the men between the ages of 18 and 60 who must stay and serve in their nation’s defense.
  • For physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being for those suffering greatly because of this war.

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Update: Tuesday, March 1, 2022  

The devastation of war is readily apparent in the governmental heart of Kharkiiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. [ TWR photo ]

 Warfare was growing more intense in Ukraine on Tuesday, March 1, reports Frank Stephenson, TWR’s communications director for Europe.

“Humanly speaking it is looking bleak, and the suffering is immense,” wrote Stephenson, who is gathering reports from the region in Bratislava, Slovakia. “This means we should even more pray and ask the Lord to intervene as only he can.”

In addition to continuing to call for prayer, TWR has set up a crisis fund for those wishing to provide direct help to our partners in the region as well as to support more broadcasting options into the Russia/Ukraine/Belarus region.

Media reports confirm Stephenson’s grim assessment. The BBC on Tuesday was reporting on a large Russian military convoy moving toward Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, as the Russian defense ministry threatened strikes on targets in the city. Five people died when Russia attacked a TV tower in the city, the network reported.

Conflicting reports have made the overall human toll impossible to verify.

All of our partners and contacts in the region have survived so far. But the war, in its sixth day, already has had profound effects on their lives.

On Monday, TWR’s Ukraine director* was delivering food and fuel to people in need. On Tuesday, he was digging trenches. Because he is not yet 60, he has been called to serve the Ukrainian military.

Another team member* traveled into Kyiv on Monday to distribute food and medical supplies. After spending the day witnessing the destruction and effects of war on the capital city, he returned to his home outside of Kyiv safe but exhausted and frustrated.

We’ve been telling you about a team member* slowly traveling away from danger with a handicapped child and his mother also needing care. The conflict caught up with them on Monday, and they had to spend the day in a bomb shelter.

The men on our Ukrainian team may have to stay in the country, but they are trying to get their families to safety, across the border if possible.

In Slovakia and other bordering countries, there’s continuing solidarity in finding practical ways to welcome refugees. That includes a TWR staff member* in Slovakia who is organizing a house for one of the Ukrainian families.

Those arriving will be processing the trauma of recent days. Stephenson reports about one young refugee who went into shock after learning that her temporary accommodation in Slovakia would be near an airport.

“This shows the dire consequences of war and violence that gets placed on the shoulders of the innocent,” Stephenson wrote.

Although Ukraine has suffered the attacks, the conflict is affecting believers and others in all three countries. For example, a family member of one of TWR’s Russian contacts* has been called up to military duty as the conflict escalates.

*Names withheld for security reasons

Please pray with us:

  • Father God, we ask for your hand of protection on those traveling to find refuge. Keep them safe and give them the peace that only you provide.
  • We pray especially for TWR’s Ukraine director, that he would have  physical and mental strength as he digs trenches and as he is away from his family. May he be a light for Christ in the midst of darkness.
  • We lift up the family whose travel has been slowed because of challenges of a handicapped child and an ill elder, and who remain in a danger zone in Central Ukraine. Oh God, would you supernaturally protect them and bring them to safety.
  • We pray that you would enable our partners to continue broadcasting into the region. May these programs provide hope, courage and strength and dispense with fear for all who hear.

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Update: Friday, February 25, 2022

Dear TWR friends and supporters,

When war erupted Thursday, our partner in Ukraine was cut off from its office and studio in Kyiv. The director and staff gathered safely outside the city and began planning to set up makeshift facilities in a house basement so they could continue producing gospel radio programs for listeners caught up in the hostilities. Before a day had passed, however, our colleagues were hearing small-arms fire nearby and considering whether they needed to relocate farther from the battlefront.

Our hearts are heavy with concern but also filled with hope as we monitor the lamentable fighting between Russia and Ukraine. TWR has strong ministries to both these nations, and we are striving to stay in touch with our contacts on the ground and to provide any help, encouragement or other support possible. 

As you know, the most important thing we can do for our brothers and sisters in these warring nations is to pray for them. So we would like to offer a few requests you can pray for the people, the situation and the gospel work in Ukraine and Russia.

More news from the front lines

Despite the inescapable antagonism between the two nations, a beautiful demonstration of grace and love has emerged from our ministry partners there. The leader of our contact ministry in Russia reached out to his counterpart in Ukraine, expressing his sorrow for the distressing events, indicating that the Russian team will be praying with the Ukrainian team for peace, and offering his assistance in any way possible.

“I also participated in a call with Ukrainians, Europeans, Americans and Russians,” the Russian team leader said. “… I issued along with my fellow leader a call to evangelical churches in Russia to pray for peace and take active humanitarian efforts to help the wounded.”

Speaking from his home near the fighting in Ukraine, TWR’s ministry director there reflected on the current circumstances.

“Suddenly, our hearts were confronted with worrying news,” he said in a translation. “What happened to us? What will our future be? We need to remember that our hearts are in his hands. His desire is that we should seek him in all our ways. We need to put all our trust only upon him.

“This is the chance for Ukraine to become closer to God in these difficult hours,” the Ukrainian director said. 

Please join us in prayer: 

  • Please pray for a peaceful and rapid resolution to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
  • Pray that even in this season of human conflict, God may be glorified as people throughout the region hear the good news of Jesus Christ and turn to him as their only hope of salvation and peace. Give praise to him that the means to share the gospel are still available through radio.
  • Ask for protection and guidance for TWR’s team in Ukraine as they’ve taken refuge in the basement of a house near the war zone. Pray that they would remain safe and that they would have adequate supplies for the duration of their stay. Pray for wisdom as they consider the possibility and timing of an evacuation.
  • Unite in prayer with believers and churches in Ukraine, that they would stand strong in this time of testing, and with believers and churches in Russia, as they unite with their brothers and sisters in Ukraine in prayer.
  • Lift up those fleeing Ukraine to neighboring countries as they provide places of refuge. Intercede for married couples who are conflicted and uncertain because one is of Russian descent and the other Ukrainian.

We encourage you to visit the TWR International website to watch a short video update from TWR International President, Lauren Libby, and TWR Europe Vice President Branko Bjelajac, and to follow along for more updates in the coming days. Thank you for joining us in prayer. 

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