Steadfast: Reflections of a Ukrainian Pastor

By: Andriy Takthay

“My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast…” (Psalm 57:7).

I repeat these words like a mantra a thousand times a day.

Every time I see tears in my wife’s eyes and I understand that she is just scared, but I can’t change the situation.

I repeat these words when I look into the eyes of an elderly woman who ended up in the basement/bomb shelter only because this is her home and she has nowhere to run.

I repeat these words when I see anxiety in the eyes of parents who are trying to calm their children and tell them that this is not scary.

I repeat these words when, at nightfall, children drag their parents into the basement, because they do not want to wake up again to the sound of exploding shells.

I repeat these words when I write to my friends on the front line and hear their answer that the last 10 minutes of their lives were complete hell, but they are alive. They stand, they hold on, they don’t give up.

I repeat these words when I hear from my acquaintances that they have been driving for days and have been evacuating women and children, but they do not plan to stop until there is still an opportunity to take out at least one more family.

I repeat these words every time I hear about another church in Ukraine that has opened up and become a refuge for frightened neighbors, giving people not only temporary protection but also peace of mind.

I repeat these words when I hear about the efforts of thousands of ordinary Ukrainians who, despite fatigue, are doing what they can on various fronts, for the sake of a common victory.

We are with 200 neighbors in the basement. We can’t go out because of a curfew. We can’t do much because we are grounded. So, I just do what I can from here as a pastor. I counsel people, listen to their needs, pray with them. I spend countless hours on the phone talking to people from the church and my friends and relatives trying to think through options and finding the best way to help those in need on the ground in Kyiv and Ukraine. There is a lot of pain – a lot of fear, despair, and uncertainty about the future. Lost hopes and broken dreams. Those who lived through this will never be the same. I just spoke with someone who said: “I never understood what refugees are going through. And now I am one of them. One of those who had to abandon everything we loved to build a new life in a new place. We are treated well here in the new place. But it is just not home.”

Listen to this prayer, and please pray it over all the people of Ukraine!!! And if you are like us and going through the most terrible storm of your life, remember and pray with me:

My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast.

*Andriy Takthay is Pastor of the Pozniaky Church of the Nazarene in Kyiv, Ukraine.

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