In the midst of anguish, fear, devastation and loss, chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) are bringing God’s hope to the people of Ukraine.
Between March 13 and June 19, chaplains prayed with more than 2,900 people, with more than 330 praying to receive Christ.
And with the opening of a Samaritan’s Purse field office in Kyiv, the Billy Graham RRT hopes to reach even more people with the Gospel. More than 200 Ukrainian nationals have now been trained and will be serving under the leadership of Chaplain Coordinator Vitaly Tkachuk, who will oversee the continuing ministry of chaplains in Ukraine.
Tkachuk, who was able to evacuate his wife and two daughters to safety in the United Kingdom early in the war before returning to help others, said that people seem more open to the Gospel now.
“I don’t want to waste this trial,” he said, explaining that he doesn’t want to look back and realize that he didn’t do everything possible to share the Gospel with others at such a time.
“People like this are heroes to me,” said Josh Holland, international director of the BG-RRT. “We all go through trials, and we all deal with things in life, but hearing what Vitaly is going through and seeing how he is allowing God to use it is very inspiring. It encourages me to view trials as opportunities for the Gospel.”
During their ministry in Ukraine, chaplains have seen God work in amazing ways.
At a Samaritan’s Purse mobile medical clinic in a village near Lviv, a chaplain began talking with a woman from Bakhmut, in the Donetsk region, which has seen heavy fighting. After she evacuated, one of her friends told her that her house had been destroyed by a bomb. Her thoughts were consumed by worry, she said. The chaplain told her that she could have the peace that God offers and that she could give all her pain to Him. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18), the chaplain added. The woman said she wanted to receive the Lord Jesus, and she called for her daughter to come and join them. Together, mother and daughter prayed a prayer of repentance and asked Jesus to be their Savior.
In early June, the team at a mobile medical clinic experienced a disruption when a man and his family came to see a doctor. The man had a medical issue that was disturbing him greatly. He began yelling, pounding the table and throwing papers around. The chaplain serving at the clinic, a Ukrainian national, intervened and asked the man what was the matter. The man took the chaplain into another room and explained his medical problem.
After some discussion, the chaplain began to speak with him about his anger and the example he was setting for his children. The two also talked about how to properly care for the man’s wife. Over the next couple of hours, the chaplain shared the Gospel with him. The man started to recognize that he wasn’t living well and that he needed Jesus. After the chaplain shared BGEA’s “Steps to Peace with God” booklet with him, he repented of his sins.
People quickly noticed a difference as the man changed the way he carried himself and addressed others. He apologized for his earlier actions and humbly thanked everyone on the team for what they were doing for his family and the Ukrainian people.
One nurse was so surprised at the difference that she asked the chaplain if he was the same man. “No, actually he isn’t,” the chaplain said. “Now that he has been born again, he’s ‘a new creature, old things have passed away, and behold, all things have become new’” (Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17).
A father, mother and their 7-year-old daughter came to the Emergency Field Hospital in Lviv for treatment. The family was dealing with grief and trauma; their 19-year-old son had died suddenly a few months earlier. The father, in particular, was carrying unresolved guilt. All their grief was compounded by the danger around them.
The father cried as he shared how the family had been forced to hide in an occupied city. After praying with the family, the chaplain gently explained that although he could not take away their pain and guilt, he knew someone who could—Jesus. He explained how to have peace with God and asked the father if he wanted to ask Jesus to be his Lord and Savior. “Yes!” he replied. Immediately after praying, he said he felt so much better—he couldn’t believe the difference. The chaplain gave him a Bible and explained how important it is to read God’s Word, and that God would always comfort and strengthen him through the Bible.
A woman came to the Emergency Field Hospital with a friend. Both had fled from a city that was under attack. As she waited to see a doctor, a chaplain asked how she was holding up. Her son was serving on the front lines in the military, she said. She had had no contact with him, and she feared for his safety. She had also lost a daughter to cancer last year.
“How can I find some peace through all of this?” she asked. The chaplain shared the Gospel and told her that true peace can only come from the Lord. He will never leave us nor forsake us (see Hebrews 13:5), and He will walk with us through our lives, no matter what tomorrow brings. The woman said she wanted that peace, and she accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as her Savior. Feeling calm and having a new purpose in her step, she began to walk away but then turned back toward the chaplain. “Thank you all for coming to Ukraine,” she said. ©2022 BGEA
The Scripture quotation is taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.
Click here to view the BGEA TV special “Ukraine: Courage to Stand.”
Photo: Josh Holland/©2022 BGEA