Over the years, many of you have gotten to know our dedicated Coordinator and Child Advocate, Inna! Inna is Hope Now’s eyes and ears in Ukraine, and much, much more. We strongly encouraged Inna to get her driver’s license a few years ago and she gladly agreed, saying “Sure, anything to be more useful to the ministry.” This has been a vast understatement – especially in these past 2 years of pandemic / war in Ukraine. Since February, Inna has been in Europe helping us with the young women, orphans & moms we evacuated to Sweden and Romania. She longed to go home to Ukraine to be with her family, but she did not want to do this at the expense of anyone, and certainly if it was not convenient.
But last week, Inna’s chance to be useful and to go home to Ukraine happened quite suddenly, but it was God’s perfect timing. And it was all about a borrowed van in Poland. You see, when the American Embassy asked all Americans to voluntarily leave Ukraine back in January, the Mennonites in Cherkasy packed up their vans and families and headed to safety in Poland, where they remain today. Fast forward 3 months, and everyone left in Ukraine is searching for vans to buy or borrow, since so many of them have exited the country. One of our other volunteers, Olga, remembered the Mennonites and asked them if we could borrow their van. (One of ours had to be retired – we wore it out from all the trips to the border.) Sure! We could borrow their van, as long as we could come pick it up in Poland. That’s when Inna came into play – she was in Poland already, and Olga asked her if she would drive it all the way back through Ukraine to bring it to Cherkasy. This is a pretty big ask, but Inna agreed.
Inna was already in Poland, because we had already arranged for her to meet up with another volunteer, Anya who was flying in from the USA, who was then going to visit relatives inside of Ukraine – in Cherkasy to be precise! This lady also does not travel light, so Anya had a 2-car convoy to meet her, so Inna was going to catch a ride. Anya and her 18-year-old nephew brought 18 duffle bags full of medical supplies with her! A girl after our own hearts! Instead of being a passenger, Inna was asked to be a third driver! God really covered this little convoy of 3 – our Baptist girl Inna, driving a Mennonite’s van, led by a Ukrainian Orthodox priest! Inna said it was very scary at times, and a very long journey. They had to drive much faster than she is used to, due to the curfews and trying to get to the overnight stops on time. Due to the fuel shortage, they also had to navigate the route very carefully not to waste diesel, and when they came to the gas stations, they had to wait three hours just to get 3 gallons of fuel. She said God was always with her, and she could not imagine being able to do it, without Him. Inna was glad to finally “surprise” her family as she arrived and gratefully fell into their arms.
Our other drivers also give thanks to God for protecting them on long, dangerous journeys into hot spots like Donetsk, Odessa, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Lysychansk and Kramatorsk. Please keep praying for them and for those they serve as they bring in medical supplies, food and other essentials that you help us provide. Many soldiers on the front lines, those recovering in hospitals in Cherkasy (soon to return to their posts) and everyday families believe they have received a gift from God when our volunteers give them these life-saving gifts. They are right! You are helping us answer their prayers. Here are a few photos of the medical supplies we have most recently delivered. Maybe you will recognize some of those items from our Amazon wish list!
With help from Inna, and from many of our other Ukrainian volunteers, we continue to serve hundreds of people who have been displaced due to the war in Ukraine. Please pray for peace, for healing, for protection and most of all that people will draw ever closer to Jesus. Thank you for partnering with Hope Now.