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World News

'We don't know what the next hour will bring us, but God is still the same as 2,000 years ago': Christian family determined to remain in Kyiv

by Donna Birrell

More than three million people have fled the conflict in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began less than a month ago.

So what is life like for families who have decided to stay as people around them pack up and leave?

Alexander Musiyenko, his wife Iryna and their three children, have decided to stay in the capital Kyiv despite the dangers.  

They've been talking to Premier about life under siege and how their faith is helping them through:

"As the war started, there was a lot of panic, fear, anxiety, and people didn't know what to do. So many started to get packed and rush away to the west, to other countries. We felt that anxiety as well. But at the same time, we realised that we knew that we should not act upon fear, but rather on God's guidance, so then we prayed and we felt God was speaking clearly for us to stand still. He said 'I will fight for you, be strong in quietness and trust is your strength.'

"So as a family we prayed together with our children, and we talked about the possible risks and we all decided to stay. We see how many opportunities are being opened right now. People are very vulnerable, stressed, tired, and anxious, in fear… We as Christians are here to help them, to support them. 

"In this last couple of days, we are connecting with our neighbours in ways we haven't connected before. Like when we go shopping, we buy food for our neighbours, for elderly people who can't find some volunteers."

12 year old Eliana shares the home with her siblings, 16 year old Timur and seven year old Makar. She says that sometimes she feels scared, but God helps her through: 

"At the beginning of the war, we didn't really experience actual signs of war, we got it from the news. But then towards the evening, we started hearing bombs. So I was a bit in shock and actually had a kind of meltdown. But then we prayed as a family and I felt God's peace and I felt that I wanted to stay home." 

The children's mother, Iryna says at the moment some shops are open and the main facilities are working in Kyiv, but first thing every morning they check to see if their friends have survived the night: "We are blessed now. In the morning when we wake up, we make sure our friends who are still in Kyiv have survived. That's the scariest, you're always afraid not to hear from somebody. But generally, I think of the Second World War when people at one point continued just normal life and things such as cleaning and cooking help you stay sane."

But she says she feels upset for families who are being separated by the war and for children who are having their childhoods taken away:  

"Millions and millions are praying for Ukraine every day and we believe that that has to be God's victory. There is no other way. You know it's scary, we feel fear every day. We don't know what the next hour will bring us, but God is still the same as 2,000 years ago." 

A Russian convoy of armoured tanks is heading towards Kyiv but Alexander says, people in Ukraine will stand firm: "We see military helicopters. We hear some shelling in the distance, but we believe that we will win.

"People will have to give lives for this freedom but we know our nation is strong. We know that the truth will win and that the darkness and the lie will be exposed. 

"There are God's intentions that we don't see sometimes. He is doing his work. He hasn't stopped doing his work and we just have to trust and believe.

"Our God came to give us life and no doubt, it's a spiritual battle. We are on the frontline in prayers. 

"God's word is alive. He says 'Blessed is the man who God comforts with his word to give him peace in times of trouble, until the pit is dug for the wicked'. So His word is alive, and His word is active and it gives us strength, and his spirit is within us. God is big, he's bigger than any enemy."


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