War weary Ukrainian stand in front of a destroyed house.

War-weary Ukraine Braces for Winter

As Russian and Ukrainian armed forces continue an onslaught of violence in eastern Ukraine, civilians are bracing for another difficult winter. Even before the war, Ukrainian winters were a struggle for people with low incomes. The war has only compounded these people’s needs.

Since the war, some Ukrainians are taking care of friends and family members who fled their homes. Others are unable to find work. Inflation has made food, firewood, and medicine less affordable. In some areas, landmines prevent people from cultivating gardens and harvesting firewood. Damaged homes increase the dread of winter.

Some Ukrainians have bitter memories of last winter. One couple wintered in a single room since a missile damaged most of their home. Without enough firewood, they burned rubber and other trash in their stove. The smell was awful, but at least it kept them warm.

CAM funds are used to purchase and distribute food, firewood, comforters, literature, and other aid to churches and Christian organizations that use the aid to assist believers and minister to unbelievers on both sides of the conflict. Across the country, churches are reporting that many of their members fled west due to the war, but the pews are filling up again—with unbelievers! “This war has made people a lot more open to the Gospel,” shared one staff member. “It’s happening everywhere—churches are building connections with unbelievers.”

Funds are also being used to facilitate rebuilding projects for those whose homes have been damaged by missiles and artillery fire. As much as possible, CAM hires Christian men who can be a godly influence to homeowners. One contractor told a staff member, “I would like to thank you on behalf of the 40 men who have been able to provide for their families because of CAM rebuilding projects in this area. Praise the Lord, they can provide for their families, because it is very hard to find work right now in Ukraine.”

When Russian forces approached the village of Bila Krynitsya in southern Ukraine, most of the 5,000 residents fled west. The 100 mostly elderly villagers who stayed behind were caught between enemy lines for the next six months, with the constant threat of missile attacks. Some slept with their clothes and shoes on at night so they could escape to their cellars at the familiar whine of an incoming missile. When a house burst into flames, the villagers gathered to extinguish the blaze, often as missiles streaked above them.

One time it was Ivan and Zorania’s home that was damaged. Neither of them were hurt when a missile blew off their roof and broke the windows. “The Lord kept us,” recalled Zorania. During these difficult months, Ivan and Zorania were unable to receive their government pension. “But praise the Lord,” they said, “we got food boxes with meat, macaroni, oil, and flour to make bread. With this we were able to survive.”

When the conflict finally moved away from Bila Krynitsya, the villagers’ temperaments had changed, and some were emotionally unstable. Stimulated by adrenaline, they remained in good health during the months of fighting, but since the fighting moved on, many have medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

In preparation for last winter, Ivan and Zorania made their barn livable and put a woodstove inside, but they did not have enough firewood for the winter. “Sometimes it was unpleasant,” Zorania recalled. “We couldn’t buy firewood, and we couldn’t get any from the woods because they were mined.” This year, Ivan and Zorania’s roof and windows were replaced. Some of their neighbors commented on the construction workers’ clear Christian testimony. “With our pension, we would hardly be able to buy a few windows,” Zorania commented. “I never thought people who don’t even know us would help us like this. I’m thankful that people who don’t know me care about me.” Zorania was referring to you, the supporters who made this work possible.

Though CAM is able to meet only a fraction of the needs, your support has made a big difference for many people. Our 2023 budget for Ukraine is $12 million. With funds received to date, we are in need of approximately $2.4 million to meet this goal. We are also needing significant funding to continue work in Ukraine in 2024. To all who have donated, thank you and God bless you! One recipient asked CAM staff to relay the following message: “We wish you peace in your country. We hope you don’t need to worry about guns and missiles in your homeland. Pray that the war would finish fast, and we can have peace in our country.”

To help support the Ukraine War Crisis Crisis program, please click the button below to give a gift.