“My city suffered a lot during the war, it barely still exists,” Ivan told FEBA Ukraine when he phoned the helpline. Ivan is a new listener, one of millions of people caught in the physical and figurative storms raging in Ukraine and Russia. “My wife just told me she wants a divorce; my mother died while she was abroad … and now I take care of my father, who is ill.” Ivan had never read the Bible before. He was not even sure if God truly exists. But when FEBA’s counsellor prayed with him, Ivan burst into tears and thanked them.

Storms of destruction

Winter is approaching in the Northern Hemisphere and it has brought severe storms to Ukraine and the south of Russia. The BBC reports that violent winds, rain, and snowstorms have left more than 2,000 Ukrainian towns and villages and two million people in Russia without power. At least 14 people have died. Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kyiv, three of the regions where FEBA Ukraine broadcasts, have been badly affected.

This comes at a time when the Russo-Ukrainian war has been going on for nearly two years. Recent months have seen increased, and heavier, attacks from both sides, leaving Ukraine with a shaky power grid as they enter the cold months.

FEBA Ukraine is not immune to the storms. Some of the team members are in larger cities, while others are overseas, but all of them have suffered loss and must endure hardship for the sake of the Good News. Some of our broadcasters’ buildings were bombed and, while they were mercifully uninjured, the teams struggled with emotional shock afterwards. Many of FEBA Ukraine’s male broadcasters have been drafted into military service, with several serving as chaplains on the frontlines, and they only have sporadic contact with their families, who are far away.

A Saviour who silences storms

It is easy to feel hopeless, like Ivan did.

However, in Psalms 107:29 (NIV) we read: “[God] stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.” Jesus slept in the middle of a raging sea and woke to calm the wind and waves when His disciples became afraid (Luke 8:24).

This is why FEBA Ukraine continues to broadcast God’s Word to their listeners, so that they can draw hope and encouragement from the Good News. Broadcasters connect with people, like Ivan, listening to their stories and praying with them. And God works where the storms are fiercest. The Zaporizhzhia region, which suffered severe flooding in June of this year when the Nova Kakhovka dam collapsed, has recently been the target of more missile attacks. The nuclear plant is under Russian control. Yet God opened the door for FEBA Ukraine to open a station there during wartime and it has become one of the most responsive regions. The Ivano-Frankivsk station, which opened a few months ago, is also receiving more responses from listeners, including thousands of in-country refugees.

Even soldiers seek help from FEBA Ukraine’s counselling helpline. A young soldier, Danylo, phoned FEBA because he was feeling suicidal. Although Buddhist, he agreed to join the Christian counsellor in prayer. Afterwards he said, “Amen,” and broke down in tears.

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, let us pray for the people of Ukraine and Russia, who are caught in these violent storms and desperately seeking a Light to guide them.

For more information on Ukraine and other FEBA fields, please visit www.febaradio.co.za.

Until all have heard,
Dr Jurie Vermeulen

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