My whole world came to a sudden halt the moment I read the news of Russia’s invasion of my homeland. I scrambled for my phone to contact friends and family in Kyiv and southwest Ukraine, praying that they were safe. Tears filled my eyes as I thought of my niece — the child I held in my arms when she was just a baby. A temporary sense of relief washed over me when I received word, one-by-one, that each person I know was safe — for now.
Since last Wednesday night, I’ve spent every waking moment staying in touch with my loved ones and doing all that I can to raise awareness for the needs in Ukraine. It only seemed natural that I would write to you, my Compassion family, and ask for your prayers and support.
My name is Yaroslav. I was born in Ukraine and moved to the United States when I was 9 years old. God’s plan for me included working at Compassion International, advocating for the most vulnerable children in the world. This past week, the most vulnerable on my heart have been those in my very own country. Every time there is conflict in the world, no one suffers more than babies, children and the poor.
A little over a week ago, Ukrainian children were going to school, playing in parks and attending birthday parties. Now, these same children are sheltered in cellars and bomb shelters, huddled next to strangers on piles of blankets just trying to survive. In between air raid sirens, their mothers risk their lives to venture above ground to find the next meal for their children. Many of their fathers are doing everything they can to defend them, at times getting on their knees in front of tanks. It is impossible to express the amount of fear and trauma that these kids are experiencing every moment of the day.
My heart is broken but I don’t have time to mourn. I am choosing instead to do everything I possibly can to save my people, especially the children in Ukraine. I know that you have a heart for children, and that’s why I’m writing you.
Every night at 5 p.m., children settle in with their caretakers in cold metro stations, cellars and bomb shelters. The curfew begins and will last until the early morning hours. The nights are long and frightening. Would you consider setting a reminder to pray for these children at the start of their 5 p.m. curfew? A quick internet search can assist you with calculating the current time in Kyiv. Can you imagine the power of over a million Compassion supporters — child advocates — praying at the same time for the most vulnerable in Ukraine?
Pray for children who are in hospitals receiving critical care. Pray that children would be spared from the strikes in civilian areas. Pray that children would have access to food and water. Pray that the peace of God that transcends all understanding would guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7, NIV). If you struggle with knowing how to pray, we have created a guide to assist you as you go to our Father in heaven on their behalf.
And while you pray, please remember the churches in Ukraine. Pray that they would be used mightily during this time to protect, serve and minister to those in need. Pray that the Church would be a light in the midst of so much darkness.
There is no question — Ukraine will stand up for itself. Ukrainians — my family members — are resolved and resilient. My prayer is that resolution would come quickly. Our children are the ones suffering without a choice. They are the ones who will carry the impact of this conflict for generations to come. I trust that this situation is ultimately in God’s hands. I know that trusting him is the right thing to do. I know that he has a better plan than I do.
I am strengthened by and grateful for your prayers.
Senior Director of Neighbor Innovation
Compassion InternationalUkrainian woman asks for prayer.