FCA Ukraine leader Pasha and his family were living in their flat in Kiev when Russian forces began their attacks. Pasha assessed the best course of action for he, his wife and their five children. A small window of opportunity to leave the city opened, and they took it, evacuating to the western part of the country.
“As we drove, it was entertainment for the kids,” Pasha recalled. “’Tank! Helicopter!’ they would point out. But as a parent, I saw it differently. I am thankful we could leave.”
They found themselves in western Ukraine, near Rivne, where Pasha, who had begun FCA ministry with coaches in the All Ability world (those with mental and developmental disabilities), expanded his service to all coaches and everyone who had the same immediate needs of survival. FCA Ukraine’s sports center turned into a makeshift shelter, where they take care of refugees, feed and house families while sharing the Gospel and ministry of FCA.
“The main thing people want to receive nowadays is care. Take care of them, and then they ask questions. ‘Why are you here? What do you do?’” said Pasha.
Where Pasha is now, many people pass through on their way west, to cross the border or stay as close to the border as possible. They arrive carrying difficult memories and stories of seeing loved ones killed. Hope is hard to come by, but this is where Pasha and other volunteers give them a glimmer.
“They want care for the heart, and this is where we care for them,” he said.
Though things are relatively calmer in western Ukraine, alarms still wail and rockets land. Residents head to safety on a regular basis and uncertainty remains each day, but Pasha continues to care.
“We brought the FCA New Testament Bibles to the shelters, and when people would go underground and hide from the bombs, we handed them out.”
Pasha also put out FCA books like One Word and 3D Coaching at the sports center for people to take—One Word, 3D Coaching—and every copy was snatched up. This brought further conversations about hope and spiritual matters, about God and who He is in the middle of hard circumstances.
Pasha has found an honesty with people whose hearts are longing for comfort and truth. And he still gets to serve the sports community. “God leads coaches to us,” he said. “After the war started, people are very open to God. They read passages of the Bible in the night and are open to the Gospel.
Such suffering up close can harden hearts. Pasha feels the heaviness, the exhaustion. “It’s different when you see it with your own eyes versus seeing it on the news or in a picture. It’s a personal experience. I testify that we escaped from where we were.”
The escape left Pasha and his family without much—clothes, food, shelter—but God’s seen them through. “I’m thankful for the family of FCA, and the family of Christ,” he acknowledged. “I’m using a car that isn’t mine. The clothes I am wearing are not mine. One of my coaches is living in my flat. Everything is mixed, but it is all from God—His provision. Glory to God.”
Each day lends to new needs, but also to new opportunities for connection, service and knowing God more.
Said Pasha, “I’ve been acquainted with God for some time already, but my faith has gone deeper. It’s what I’m sure about. I’m glad we are here and can be God’s hands and feet and be connected to people directly.”
Life nowadays has changed, but God’s constant care has not. Despite the dire situation, Pasha harbors a hopeful outlook.
“My motto in life is Love God, love people and love FCA. We are trying to stand by this,” he shared, believing God’s presence in even greater ways and expressing more hope for the future of his beloved country.
“The sun is shining today on our land,” he said with a smile. “God is wonderful.”
Please pray for Pasha, his family, and other volunteers in western Ukraine who are caring for coaches and refugees. Pray that they can find the most effective ways to be useful and serve, and that God would continue to protect and guide people to Himself. And lift up Pasha and his family for their safety, and material and financial needs.
To get involved and support people like Pasha, visit our FCA Ukraine Crisis Relief page.