A reflection from the Churchwarden in Christ Church, Kyiv on the anniversary of conflict in Ukraine 

Christina Laschenko, Churchwarden of Christ Church in Kyiv, Ukraine, has written this reflection to commemorate one year of full-scale war in her home country. 

Surviving through the Time of Trials: Entering Lent for the second year running.  

A year has passed from the beginning of a full-scale invasion of Russia to Ukraine. Where we are, where are we going, and what we have learned? 

Where we are? 

Our small Anglican congregation in Kyiv has shrunk to 10 people who attend bi-weekly prayers and services in the premises of Lutheran church in Kyiv. These include both Ukrainians who have not fled from the war and some expats who work for the international aid missions in Ukraine. 

Where are we going? 

We are staying here in Ukraine, and we are going to pray and give hope to all people around us who require physical and material help, human support and spiritual encouragement in these dark times. 

What have we learned? 

We have learned three crucial lessons: 

First lesson: “This is not a sprint; this is a marathon”. Ukraine was not conquered within three days, as was the original plan, and after a year we are still fighting. We grieve for huge human losses, ruined families, lives, and homes; for the whole country living in continuous fear of an air raid alert. They want to expel us from our land, we simply do not have other options than to resist. Having reached that point we found out that we had had good neighbours. Death and ruination can be overcome only by compassion and love to your neighbour. Ukraine has sent 87 emergency rescue rangers with huge experience of rescuing people from under crushed buildings, to Turkey; they arrived on the third day after the terrible earthquakes and immediately joined the rescue campaign. Courage, perseverance and God’s help raise our stamina and strengthen our hope. 

Second lesson: “In the war pessimists die first, optimists die second, and only realists have chances to survive”. With daily air raid alerts, hitting shopping malls, maternity hospitals and residentials blocks, even if we are almost 1000km away from a frontline we all are in the war zone. Yet we stay in our cities and towns despite regular and emergency blackouts, interruptions in heating, transportation, connections and supplies in order to work and support each other and our soldiers. Each family in Ukraine today has either a close friend or loved one who are fighting at the frontline. During a war the value of human life becomes negligible. This makes us love even stronger and pray for our loved ones even more passionately. 

Third lesson: “There are no atheists in trenches”. This phrase I’ve heard from one Baptist military Chaplain. In times of war people look for the most powerful Protector and Comforter. They come to Christ. There is a huge demand for spiritual communication, spiritual guidance, and spiritual leadership in society. This demand will grow due to protracted war, that’s why we hope to find a permanent chaplain for our congregation and pray for our congregation to grow and flourish in free and peaceful Ukraine. 

Commemorating one year of full-scaled war we are entering the Lent period, time of trials. But the darkest hour is before the dawn, and we are looking forward for Easter, the time of Resurrection and Triumph of Life.