‘This is where we should be at the moment – God has given us peace’: NI missionaries in Ukraine determined to help
Allan Preston BELFAST TELEGRAPH
A married couple from Northern Ireland working as missionaries in Ukraine have said they are determined to stay to help during the Russian invasion.
Timothy and Rhoda Sloan have been based in the north western town of Lutsk since 2002.
The area had been among the first parts of the country to be attacked by Russian forces.
Timothy said he had first heard a bomb going off after he left his apartment on Thursday morning.
Within half an hour as he drove to work he said around a further five bombs had exploded.
Rhoda said there was no doubt they would be staying, believing they were meant to be there to help. “We feel this is where we should be at the moment – God has given us peace,” she said.
Their work typically involves feeding and hosting bible classes to around 80-100 children twice a day.
The town is close to the Polish border, and Timothy said many trying to flee had been left stuck in traffic for days.
He added: “We have been here from 2002, we don’t feel we’re doing anything extraordinary. We’re doing what God would want us to do and what would be a help for the people.
“Our doors are open from 9am to 9pm at the hall and we announced yesterday that we will serve free meals for the military.”
He described how territorial police have been on the lookout for Russian saboteurs in the town, with some seen putting markings on buildings to signpost them as a target.
Last Thursday, they couple also spoke of their fears of what was to come in an email to the Church of Scotland congregation, Mossneuk Parish Church.
“This is quite possibly our last means of correspondence for some time. War is imminent and the consequences dreadful,” they said in the email.
“A state of emergency has been declared and this will be followed by martial law. Young Ukrainian men from 16 years of age are being called up to serve in the military and Ukrainians are being given the right to carry arms.
“A major cyberattack is happening just now as we write which has affected Ukrainian banks as well as government websites.
“Ukrainian citizens are being asked to urgently leave Russia and our local currency is in free fall.”
Voicing their determination to help, they said: “Rhoda and I are not leaving – how can we? As an elder in the Church, my responsibility is to shepherd at all times. It would be a terrible testimony to get up and leave the Lutsk believers.
“We have been preparing for this day.
“Rhoda and I have bought in generators, fuel, food etc as we would like to turn the Gospel Hall into a place of shelter to accommodate and feed the assembly believers who will face many a hardship. God is about to give us a great opportunity to show our Christian faith practically and reach out into our community with the Gospel.
“Rhoda and I may have to move out of our apartment as we are close to the Lutsk military airfield and on the 14th floor of our apartment block, we have the central headquarters of the SBO – the Ukrainian secret police.
“As we close, the military jets can be heard overhead and we covet your prayers!”
If you would like to help Timothy & Rhoda in people are providing financial support through a couple of options: through a trust- Truth &Tidings (based in NI) through which Timothy can access funds. Or through the Wise App (information on how to set this up available on request). A third and simpler option is through their daughter Esthers PayPal (firstname.lastname@example.org). Esther sends money on to her parents as soon as it comes in.