The faithful gathered on a sunny bright day for Divine Liturgy in the Church of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian in Kharkiv. On this day Bishop Mytrophan of Kharkiv and Bohodukhiv, was present at the Divine Liturgy, to celebrate not only his birthday, but, also his saints day.
It was refreshing to see, that even though their city was heavily damaged by the Russian artillery, their schools bombed, hospitals burned down, homes destroyed, and dreams shattered, the residents of Kharkiv still held onto their faith in the Lord.
On this day their faith was rewarded as humanitarian aid was distributed on the parish grounds after Divine Liturgy. The young and the old, this day would receive some relief from the stress of not knowing if they would eat this day. In this shattered, shadow of the city they call home, it is next to impossible to find the supplies necessary for life.
This day, their worries were alleviated for the immediate future. Thanks to the generous donations of the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, through His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, funds were collected and donated to help those in this time of great need in Ukraine.
The people quietly lined up, too desperate to be shy, as food and hygiene items were distributed by the administration of the Kharkiv Diocese, and the parishioners of the St. John the Theologian church. Families with young children were ministered to first, ensuring the parents had all they needed to ensure their children had enough nourishment to survive the hardships of war. While the parents shed tears of joy at the sight of food, as well as soap, diapers, sanitizers, bandages, toothpaste, etc., the children giggle with joy as Bishop Mytrophan handed out sweets to them. It is in hard times that people truly appreciate all the little things that often go for granted.
Having tended to the needs of the individuals who were able to physically come to the parish grounds, the team then ventured out into the war-torn city. Driving past shells of formerly grand buildings, burned down edifices of education, destroyed hospitals, pillaged homes, the team of volunteers knocked on many doors and windows to see if people were hiding inside and were in need of assistance. Numerous doors were timidly opened a crack as the frightened and war-wary residents peeked to see who was knocking, and then the doors swung open and the team members were warmly invited inside to share the meager supplies they had, and to sit and enjoy a hot cup of chai.
As evening approached, the supplies that had been lovingly purchased, packaged and distributed began to run low, as the final items were left on the doorsteps of individuals who were too afraid to respond to the team’s knocks.
On this day, if only for a moment, the needs of many were alleviated by the generosity, and love of Orthodox Christians in Ukraine and in the United States, who worked together, emulated the love of Christ, and serving the Lord, by serving those in need.
If you are able, consider donating to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA Humanitarian Fund, which makes days like this possible.