It has now been 120 days since Russian President Vladimir Putin declared an unprovoked attack on Ukraine, invading the neighboring nation and killing thousands of civilians. Millions have since been displaced. But more and more pastors have been stepping up to help rescue trapped civilians all over Ukraine. One of them is Gennadiy Mokhnenko.
Mokhnenko is a chaplain in Ukraine's military and since the Ukraine-Russia war sparked 120 days ago, he and his band of brothers have helped rescue trapped civilians in Ukrainian cities most impacted by the invasion. CBN News went on a multi-car convoy deep into a war zone in southeastern Ukraine, where Russian forces continue their assault.
"We will try to evacuate some people from a little city on the frontline, directly on the frontline," Mokhnenko explained. "Right now this is so dangerous place."
"Every time when we evacuate people, there's shootings and explosions," Mokhnenko added. The mission was to evacuate about a hundred people from Orikhiv, which had been subjected to non-stop shelling by the Russian military. The town is located 40 miles from the major city of Zaporizhzhia and lies directly in the path of Russian military advancing from the south and east border. Ukrainian officials worry that if Russia gains control of Orikhiv, Zaporizhzhia may soon follow.
Ukrainian Pastor Assisting in Humanitarian Aid in City Battered by Russian Forces
Upon arrival at Orikhiv's city hall, Mokhnenko's team moves quickly to lead evacuees into vans and busses. Meanwhile, Russian troops try to force their way into the city as Ukrainian military try to push them back. Mokhnenko's team unloads supplies such as food, water, and other goods for Ukrainians who choose to stay and fight 120 days into the battle. From a distance, artillery fire can be heard.
Mokhnenko warned again that the small town of Orikhiv is "a very dangerous place." He reported that most of the Ukrainians leaving are women, children, and the elderly. While they deliver people from Orikhiv to Zaporizhzhia for now, Mokhnenko and his team must head further east to deliver more humanitarian aid.
Upon traveling to the town of Huliaipole after visiting Orikhiv, they found 38 adults and six children living in a bunker ever since the Russian invasion began 120 days ago. A baby named Veera had been born on February 24, when the Russians declared their attack on Ukraine. These people never left the bunker and now, Mokhnenko's team brings them food, water, and new clothes for Veera.
Huliaipole is also in the frontline in the eastern part of Ukraine, which has become a contested area. Ukrainians are still struggling to defend their territory here. Shortly after the distribution of humanitarian aid in the town, Russians launched an artillery shell, which landed not far from Mokhnenko's convoy.
"This is really crazy," the Ukrainian pastor remarked. "When you have moments like this, your hands shake, your heart is beating, it's not easy."
Pastors All Over the World Working to Aid Displaced Ukrainians
Mokhnenko is not the only pastor mobilizing to assist displaced Ukrainians amidst the war that has now lasted up to 120 days. In the U.S., a pastor from Dickson, Tennessee by the name of Stu Martin and his comrade, a 94 year old World War II veteran T.L. Brewster have packed 13 pieces of 50-pound duffle bags full of basic supplies for orphans who have been displaced in the Ukraine-Russia War.
According to Fox 17 Nashville, Martin had been serving overseas orphans for 25 years. He lamented that when it comes to the Ukraine-Russia war, orphans are often underreported and neglected. He said, "There's been story after story about the refugees but nothing about the orphans, not one story, not one time have you seen a picture of them going into these small towns with those war orphans living out of the garbage cans just to survive."
Martin and Brewster flew to Vylock in Ukraine, where their local contact, also a pastor, said that was a dire need and that there were about four to five thousand orphan children living on the street. The two seniors raised money from donors all over the U.S. to help purchase medicines and other necessities for the orphans.
Martin said, "I've learned over the years, God will take care of you, he will do it, just trust him to do it."
Euractiv reported that the Ukraine-Russia war has increased the number of refugees worldwide to more than 100 million, as per the new "Global Trends" report by the United Nations Refugee Agency. The UN also labeled the horrendous Ukraine-Russian war as "the fastest and one of the largest forced displacement crises since World War II."