It stands to reason that the war greatly affects the lives of the fellow believers from Ukraine. Some are even participating in the defensive war themselves, while some have fled, and others have remained in the country. Whether as a refugee, or as a survivor, their lives have been turned upside down in the course of a few months.
The prayer in their heart was “God, save us all!”
Galyna Manoli (36) is a mother of five from Ozernoe in Ukraine. Shortly after the war started, the family experienced two missile attacks near their home. With a prayer in their hearts that God would preserve them, Galyna and her family decided to flee. A week after the outbreak of war, they crossed the border and joined friends in Romania, and then traveled on to the church in Switzerland. Here they were welcomed by fellow believers, who did as much as they could for them, according to Galyna.
After a few turbulent months, she came this summer for the first time with her whole family to BCC’s summer conference in Norway. We’ll let her tell it herself:
“The faith I have gained here at the conference has given me strength to move forward into the future. For me, it was especially good to hear about God’s love and that his grace is sufficient for me. The meetings and fellowship with several good friends from different places, the song project with friends from Poland, Hungary, and Ukraine; all these opportunities have greatly built me up.”
“We left everything in Ukraine, our friends, our home, our business, and our church. Many people ask me what I and my family will do next – and my answer is: I do not know. We are approaching this one day at a time. We know that God has great care for us, and that he gives us exactly what we need.”
Galyna particularly emphasized how the church in Switzerland received them after their escape:
“They have done so much for us. I am so incredibly grateful. The church here helped us with the trip to the conferance at Brunstad, and BCC paid for food and accommodations. This is what made it possible for us to be at the conference for the first time with our whole family.”
“The children have taken part in activities, a soccer tournament, and children’s meetings. All this has made a big impression on them.”– Galyna Monali
In the midst of wartime, the family has had many unique experiences in recent weeks.
“Our two youngest children have been able to experience “Brunstad life” for the first time, together with many other friends from Ukraine. They have taken part in activities, a soccer tournament and a children’s meeting. All this has made a big impression on them.”
“In fact, BCC’s summer conference has been the only opportunity for us Ukrainians to meet again. It was necessary and important for us to be able to gather again, and support one another in faith in these difficult times.”
Back again in Ukraine after the summer conference
Fedir Balika (63) and his wife Maria participated in BCC’s first summer conference in July. Now they are back in Ukraine, where they have chosen to stay for the time being.
“The first days after the war broke out we were praying and following the news. We also received many calls from church friends from around the world who wanted to support us and pray for us. We sensed that we were not alone. We felt strengthened by God and decided to stay in Ukraine and work as before, since the part of the country where we live in is relatively calm and peaceful.”
“We sensed that we were not alone”– Fedir Balika
The last time Fedir and Maria were at BCC’s summer conference in Norway was in 2018. Because of the covid pandemic and then the war in the country, they have not had the opportunity to come here in recent years. Their joy was therefore extra great that they could once again experience the conference at Brunstad this summer:
“We had a nice trip without any unusual incidences. Our hearts were filled with gratitude to be able to come here and meet many of our dear friends again. Here we felt a powerful spirit of faith and love that strengthened us. It was also very touching to see all the zealous young people who want to serve God.”
“I came to believe that it doesn’t matter which country you come from or what the circumstances are like; whether there is war or stability. What is important is to surrender one’s life to God, and to be awake and pray. I also want to thank everyone who cares for us in Ukraine, who prays for us and supports us. I will continue to work on my life, and will always carry thankfulness with me in my heart.”
“I have met so much kindness, now it is my turn to be along and contribute”
Viktoria Kuzmenko (23) is another of the approximately 90 Ukrainians participating in the BCC conferences this summer. She was visiting Finland when the war broke out, but traveled to Norway a month later. There she quickly became part of the church in Oslo Follo.
“It was very intense when the war broke out. I remember almost nothing of the month before I left for Norway. There was so much uncertainty, and I was also traveling alone. I cannot even imagine what my life would have been like if I did not have hope and faith.”
Viktoria’s eyes go blank, before she continues:
“I have met so much kindness, and I am very grateful to the people who have helped me after I came to Norway. I have received so much in the last few months, both renewal in my own faith, and at the same time a lot of practical help. I have really been warmly received, and have experienced lots of different activities and a bustling life in the local church in Oslo Follo. I have also made new friends.”
“Now I am determined to be along in giving back where I can. I believe in the Bible verse that it is better to give than to receive.”
Viktoria has completed interpreter training in Ukraine, and has already done some translating since she came to Norway. During the conference, she contributed as a volunteer by distributing food, and has also helped in the production of the TV broadcasts from the summer conference.
“I believe in the Bible verse that it is better to give than to receive”– Viktoria Kuzmenko
One thing she mentions as a high point during the summer conference was seeing other Ukrainians again:
“It has been really nice to see the other Ukrainian young people again here at the conference in Norway. It’s a different youth group now than it was before the war. It’s just as if everyone has grown a lot in the last few months.”
When Viktoria came to Norway in March, she quickly got the opportunity to join BCC’s international youth program at the head office in Moss. She is now looking forward to the next year in Norway – with new friends and experiences, Bible lessons, and not least, the job in Moss, where she has already met several people.