When the war started, Pastor Anatoly Kalushni (66) decided to stay in Kyiv with his family. Together with his church, the New Life Centre, he set up numerous projects together with the Worldpartners foundation to provide the affected population with food, medicine and seeds.
How did the contact with the Worldpartners Foundation come about?
From 1978 to 1990 I was active in an underground movement that, among other things, smuggled Bibles into the country. Ukraine was then still part of the Soviet Union. Hans Hamoen (the founder of Worldpartners) was working at the Dutch organisation ‘Open Doors’ at the time and supported this work. When the Soviet Union fell apart, I founded the New Life Center in Kyiv in 1991. Nowadays this congregation has more than 1500 members. I think it is very special that the contact with Hans Hamoen is important again.
How did you get started?
Shortly after the Russian invasion, the city was empty. I decided to continue serving the congregation in Kyiv. In the beginning, only 20 people came to the service, but we haven’t missed a Sunday service in all that time! Every Sunday more and more people came and I told them that we should not only pray, but also take action.
How could you help?
In the third week of the war we received flour from farms in Western Ukraine via Worldpartners. We started baking bread in church. In the most difficult period there was no bread in the city and we were baking 24 hours a day. We also received tons of potatoes. We don’t have storage space at the church, so we stored this in our Sunday school classrooms. The church still smells like potato! In addition, we have started to supply medicines, we helped refugees and we are now visiting the areas north of Kyiv. The Russians have withdrawn there and we bring packages with food and seeds.
“We don’t have any storage space at the church, so this is what we stored the potatoes in our Sunday school classrooms. The church still smells like potato now!”
What is the greatest need among the population?
Petrol! The Russians have bombed all our oil tanks, exploding the prices of gas, petrol and diesel. We have now received 2000 liters of diesel via Worldpartners. In addition, many people are now returning to Kyiv, but they are often traumatized and full of fear. Moreover, our economy is flat, many people no longer have a job and therefore no money.
How do you see the future of Ukraine?
Despite the difficult circumstances, I am a happy man. Thanks to the prayers of many people, Ukraine has stood firm against a country with the second army in the world. We experience very strongly God’s protection and if you want to see miracles then you have to come to Ukraine! As the church of Christ, we now have many opportunities to sow. Not only by giving help, but also by handing out Bibles and praying with people. I am very grateful for all the help and prayer from the Netherlands. Keep praying and giving! Our country is broken and we still need a lot of help.
Worldpartners works as much as possible with the local population, churches and pastors. Through the church we are meaningful to the people around them.