Originally posted on Peter Greer’s blog.
For 476 days, we’ve heard about the dire realities of war in Ukraine: Thriving cities abandoned. Loved ones missing. Lives and livelihoods plundered.
In June, farmers HOPE previously served in the Kherson region woke up to the reality of losing yet another harvest. With fields under water from enemy attacks on the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant, their crops and profits have been wiped out.
While traveling to Ukraine to visit our HOPE colleagues recently, these scenes were at the forefront of my mind. The horror and destruction of war I’d read about was real. But as I spent more time with staff and entrepreneurs there, one thing became clear: Even as bombs weakened infrastructure and devastated neighborhoods, they most certainly did not crush the Ukrainian spirit.
During my trip, I heard HOPE Ukraine staff recount story after story of God at work in the midst of chaos and instability. Max, manager of HOPE Ukraine’s resilience efforts, was one of many who chose to remain at home despite being in close proximity to the conflict. Max is not alone; many in Ukraine have a deep commitment to be part of restoration—even as enemy forces continue to sow destruction. Their motivation? To put their faith into action by providing swift aid and meaningful response in service to their communities.
Two entrepreneurs I met who shared that same determination were Artem and Alina. As restaurant owners, they have viewed their business as a calling. Not just a calling to their nation, but to their King. At dinner together, Artem told our group that earlier in life he had wanted to serve God by joining his church’s choir. Laughing, he commented, “But I wasn’t very good at singing.” Instead, he and his wife realized they were skilled in operating restaurants, providing employment, and modeling generosity.
Artem has been a long-time client of HOPE Ukraine, utilizing investments to scale their business. When war broke out, he was one of the first to seek a recovery loan. With unreliable electricity services across the country, Artem used his loan to purchase a generator to power the kitchen, dining area, and office of his restaurant, as well as half the residences on the street. Artem has also used his business to employ internally displaced individuals. They now make up more than half his staff. He’s trimmed his profit margins to maximize employees’ earnings and pays them daily, knowing they might need necessities for their families during this time of turmoil. He and his employees also cook extra meals and deliver them to families whenever there is a need. His work is evidence of God’s goodness. Although he wasn’t singing in the choir, Artem found a way to worship through his work.
Like Artem and Max, the work of so many other Ukrainian believers is proof of God’s goodness pushing back against evil and destruction. It’s obvious in business leaders who risk their safety to provide work for others in desperate situations. It’s shown by families who open up their homes to strangers in need. Ukrainian believers continue to walk in God’s leading in times of war, just as they had done in times of peace.
Despite the devastation Russia inflicts on their country, the Ukrainian spirit will not be broken. We will continue to see Ukrainian believers serving on the front lines of a courageous response, daily finding ways to love God and love their neighbors.