In 2014, Russia began the seizure of Ukrainian territories, starting with Crimea and followed by the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. As a result, some of the disciples in the Donetsk Church remained under occupation, but most of them scattered with their families to different cities in Ukraine. According to the UN, as of March 2015, the total number of refugees from Crimea and the eastern regions of Ukraine amounted to 1,941,000 people.

Then, on February 24, 2022, the Russian army entered Ukraine and war broke out in several parts of the country. Many cities in Ukraine have been severely damaged, some totally destroyed, and human casualties are in the tens of thousands. Several times a day, every day, air raid alerts sound throughout the country. Many Ukrainians spend extended time in cold basements and bomb shelters.

Massive missile strikes have targeted the country’s critical infrastructure. More than 10 million people have been forced to leave their homes and flee the horrors of war. Many families have been separated for an indefinite period of time: children from parents, husbands from wives. A huge number of people are deprived of their basic vital needs, both physical (light, water, food, safety …) and socio-economic (clothing, housing, work, communication with their family).

The European Missions Society (EMS) partnered with HOPE worldwide to determine how to best facilitate the distribution of care and funding for supporting our brothers and sisters during this challenging time. It was decided that HOPEww would focus on emergency humanitarian help, while the role for EMS would be to focus attention on caring for the spiritual welfare of the disciples. Thanks to funding from HOPE worldwide, the Ukrainian disciples have been providing hot meals, medicine, food packs, water, hygiene products, and clothing for their local communities. They have also been helping evacuate people, organizing assistance for people with limited mobility, donating blood, and serving in hospitals.

With a focus on spiritual care, EMS has provided funding to maintain the full-time ministry staff to ensure spiritual care to all our Ukrainian disciples. Thanks to the generous donations of many, EMS has been able to make up the drop in contribution due to massive job losses. The staff has been working extremely hard to serve disciples in these traumatic situations. In the midst of frequent trips to shelters, electricity shortages and sometimes water shortages, the Ukrainian leadership has rallied to give hope and encouragement to disciples. The staff has also led groups of brothers who visit villages close to the front line where people lack everything, and distribute basic supplies: food, blankets, clothes, diapers, etc.

They drive where other humanitarian organizations no longer go because of the risk. Taking care of people in de-occupied territories is a very dangerous ministry because all the roads and fields in these regions have been mined. In the midst of these challenges, God’s light continues to shine on the disciples in Ukraine. The Kyiv church meets when possible, sometimes without electricity. It celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2022 and new elders are being trained.

Also, despite the war, thanks to the help provided by the EMS Ukraine Relief Fund, the disciples have had the opportunity to participate in retreats, organize trips and seminars for small group and house church leaders, as well as summer camp programs for children, teens, campus, and young professionals.

The Ukrainian churches continue to baptize and restore people. Children have been born, and couples have gotten married. Disciples try to live their life to the fullest, not just survive. The brothers and sisters are grateful for every day of life and try in the name of Christ to bring love and serve people around them. There are many true heroes of the faith.

Here is the story of one of them, whose boundless love shows how disciples can find ministry and purpose during such a challenging time.

Sasha Vinokurov was a faithful disciple, husband, father of three children, and a leader in Irpin (a suburb outside Kyiv). When Russian troops entered Bucha and Irpin, Sasha risked his life to evacuate many disciples as well as complete strangers from the area under attack. He ended up saving the lives of more than 1000 people. Unfortunately, he later died tragically on peaceful territory. He received a posthumous award of gratitude from the community of Irpin for his selfless volunteer work and service to the local community. EMS is also committed to supporting the transition of those families forced to flee Ukraine and the European churches ministering to them. View his testimony here.

During the first months of the war in February 2022, a large number of disciples left Ukraine and were welcomed by disciples in Western Europe. About 300 are now in our churches in Germany, Switzerland, and France. These are mostly women and children who have suffered intense trauma, traveled in very challenging situations, and left their husbands and adult sons behind. Most were welcomed in disciples’ homes and then helped to find more permanent housing provided by the local authorities.

Because most Ukrainian disciples speak only Ukrainian and Russian, the local staff in Western Europe were unable to communicate with them to meet their spiritual and emotional needs. Therefore, EMS has hired Sasha and Maya Telyatnikov, a Ukrainian couple who left Ukraine and were in Warsaw at the time, to help local leadership shepherd the disciples scattered throughout Western Europe. They have provided counseling, a listening ear, and helped Western European church leaders begin a process of integrating the Ukrainian disciples into their local churches, despite the communication challenges. Sasha and Maya’s help will be needed as long as the war continues to separate wives and children from their husbands back in Ukraine. In the midst of pain and tragedy, God has been using Sasha, Maya and the European disciples to touch hearts. Click on these links to read two stories among many: Julia’s Story | Inna’s Story.

Our heartfelt thanks to all who have contributed to the EMS Ukraine Relief Fund. Every gift, large or small, has made a difference. As the war continues, the need for support will not decrease since more and more jobs are lost in Ukraine. Please pray for our Ukrainian brothers and sisters, and donate if you are able. Without sustained contributions, many of these needs may go unmet in the future.

If you would like to make a financial gift to the Ukraine Relief Fund, please visit our Ukraine Relief page on our website at All donations to the Fund go to help disciples. EMS keeps nothing for administrative expenses. Again, thank you for your prayers and financial support.