A minister from Lancashire has been presented with a prestigious award by Ukraine’s military for his unwavering support for their country.
Bernard Cocker who is the founder and CEO of the International Aid Trust received the Ukraine Military Award in Odesa from General Oleg Pidlubny and Colonel Sergei Sudets of the National Guard, who presented him with the medal and passed on their thanks to all who have contributed to the charity’s support. General Oleg said: “Thank you for caring, thank you for your help, for your co-operation, you are with us and we will win together”.
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion Bernard and his team have travelled thousands of miles across Ukraine to distribute donated aid and shoebox gifts and they’ve also been sharing hope in Christ, with internally displaced people and communities close to the frontlines.
Bernard told Premier his passion for helping people in Ukraine started many years before the current conflict:
“I became a Christian in 1992 and within three weeks, I was in Ukraine. Our Ukrainian teams are delivering aid to the neediest of communities and this is a continuation of what God's been doing through us over these 32 years.
“We were knocking on doors and the people were coming out and dragging us into their houses and we were giving them New Testaments and Psalms. And they were thanking us and giving us everything they have. So I came back to the UK with a dream, a vision to make a difference. And we've been trying to emulate Jesus Christ ever since. We share the practical with the spiritual.
“We’ve sent everything from food and clothing to a full operating theatre and medical supplies. We’ve equipped hospitals and ambulances with generators, it’s just endless. The needs are huge.
“We’ve won a lot of awards but this one is special, because it comes from the top general for saving lives. I’ve accepted the award but it’s for the many, many people around the UK and farther afield who've supported us and for what God's doing through us.
“Two weeks ago, I was praying for the top general – and his second in command and they bowed their heads. That was such a privilege. If we try to copy Jesus Christ, we try to plant the seeds that he planted.
“I’ve received this award on behalf of everyone who has supported our Ukraine appeal, this medal is for all of you. The General and the Colonel have thanked us for the ambulances, for the humanitarian aid and for the mine detectors. God bless you all.”