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Meeting the Salvos in wartime Ukraine


Alla meets Major Konstantin Shvab, Divisional Commander of The Salvation Army in Ukraine.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has been raging for more than two years. Ukrainian ALLA OLSHEVSKAYA shares her story, how she encountered The Salvation Army and how her life has changed.

 

This is the story of a couple of pensioners who had to leave everything and flee from the war.


Alla likes to attend Bible studies like these held in Kyiv.

Words fail to express how nice and cozy the city of Kherson used to be before all this started. The thought of leaving it for any other place of residence had never even crossed our minds.


All the problems started after the liberation [by the Ukrainian Army] in November 2022. It’s very difficult to survive not having electricity or gas, heating or water. In addition, there were explosions day and night, both far away and quite close – but around the clock.


After about two weeks we took the first opportunity to leave for Kyiv. Life here is quieter and more comfortable, especially in comparison to living in Kherson. At the same time, though, it’s very costly. We arrived with only one bag and need so many things, even the little things for daily living. That’s why the help from various funds and churches is so much welcomed and highly appreciated by hundreds of people like us. 


Salvation Army services take place in Kyiv and around the country, despite the war.

It happened that our present place of living is located about 100 metres from a building looking quite off-the-beaten-track, with a huge signboard out the front – The Salvation Army. It wasn’t the first time I had heard about this organisation, but my knowledge about it was rather sketchy. When they offered some humanitarian aid and invited us in though, I was there!


What struck me from the first moment was the friendly and homelike atmosphere there. A small child was crawling around, the staff were busy but polite and well organised, and they gave us a heavy plastic bag full of a variety of food items. I felt like I wanted to come here again, so I immediately offered them my assistance in case they might need it. That’s how my acquaintance with The Salvation Army started.


Crafts at the Salvos often have a spiritual emphasis - here the women make candles.

Now, after about six months of my friendship with The Salvation Army, I understand what attracts me most about their activities. The organisation’s history extends over more than 140 years, and they serve around the world following its basic principles.

I realise that my knowledge of the subject is far from complete, but their motto ‘Heart to God, hand to man’ sounds appropriate for all times and peoples. Family values are not just a slogan for them. It’s their way of life.


The Salvation Army is definitely a church with its sermons, members, Bible studies and meetings, but it has a lot of social activities for children, youth and adults too. These include educational programs, sports, crafts and other hobbies, so they function as a kind of club. For myself I have chosen the Bible studies and really enjoy our weekly discussions. And there are several ‘NOs’ which I like most: NO to alcohol, NO to tobacco, NO to pressure, NO to politics. The last NO is especially significant, as our community is overheated with emotions due to the current situation. For the rest of the ‘NOs’ no comments are required, I think.


Distributing humanitarian aid and a range of vouchers and assistance is a major part of Salvation Army work across Ukraine.

The Salvation Army supports people in all possible ways, helping them to cope with hardships of life, cheering them up and bringing them closer to God. It’s staff – intelligent and God-feeling people – are a real blessing for us.


Special thanks to them. May God’s grace be always with you and inspire you for further efforts on the way of good deeds.


Alla is a former resident of Kherson, currently living (“hopefully temporarily”) in Kyiv.

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