The catastrophic breach of the Nova Kakhovka dam in Ukraine may be out of the headlines, but the devastation caused by the deluge will be felt for generations. Innovista supported Christian leaders from eight local churches who recently sent out rapid response teams to care for the communities that had lost everything in the flooding.
Pastor Yevhen of the Church of Jesus Christ, Kherson, shows the devastating flood in Kherson, caused by the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam.
Roman, one of those serving in the Kherson region, explained that they set out to support the physical, mental and spiritual needs of those they encountered. The first priority was to use boats to evacuate vulnerable people from inundated houses, and then to provide emergency supplies, such as food, water, medicine and clothing, as well as accommodation.
Levels of damage
The damage to buildings was considerable and some collapsed from the force of the water that reached rooftop levels in certain places. Many locations remained flooded for over two weeks, leaving houses filled with mud, debris and residual water. Roman spoke of the strong smell that greeted volunteers, as they provided the much-needed muscle to pump out properties, scrape ruined plaster off walls, and clear away everything that had been dislodged or damaged.
An unlikely rescue
The sense of loss was deep in a community that had already suffered a great deal from the Russian onslaught and the subsequent occupation. Vitaly spoke of the grief of one family who had not only seen their house destroyed, but had lost their beloved dog, Chestnut. The team went to salvage what they could from the property and were surprised to find Chestnut still alive, having been trapped under the rubble for an entire week.
Some of the teams focused on the rural areas that received less attention from volunteers. In one deserted village they discovered an elderly lady, who stayed not only when the Russians occupied the area, but when the flood waters came. Like many Ukrainians, she had stayed in her home, because that is where her heart was.
Faith for the future
Christian leaders continue to serve the region, as there is still vast need. Although they face dangers from shelling, as Stas explains, the teams are united in drawing inspiration from Jesus commissioning His disciples (John 17). Sustained by God’s power, they remain steadfast in their desire to take God’s light to the most needy and to bring people hope.
Who is Innovista?
Innovista exists to grow life-changing leadership in these least reached and under-resourced places. They identify, equip and develop leaders to change their communities with the hope of Jesus. This is achieved by employing local staff, who know the culture and language of the leaders and communities they are supporting, and by delivering programmes which are molded to speak into that context.
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