Love isn’t something we do, like a job. It’s someone we become, like Jesus. 

— Bob Goff: Live in Grace, Walk in Love

It was cold, wet and foggy as we drove away from our hotel in Kryvyi Rih, headed south to the small village of Novovoskresenske in the Kherson region. As we neared the village, the road noise increased exponentially due to the beating it had taken from the heavy war machines, some still scattered along the roadside. The once fertile fields are now crisscrossed with trenches, demolished and burned out war machines randomly scattered, power lines cut and poles intentionally downed. Buildings demolished, houses shattered, livelihoods destroyed, lives changed – forever.

Above the din I heard Irina talking. I looked over and realized she was praying – loudly and fervently. Irina and the other Ukrainian church leaders in our van understood the gravity of the mission and the impact our presence in the village was going to make. But Irina also knows the importance of praying for protection. When the Russians occupied Kherson, Irina regularly donned flak jacket and helmet, avoided sniper fire and narrowly missed being the victim of a missile attack as it hit the vehicle in front of her.

About 500 people remain in Novovoskresenske, mainly women and children, about 60 of them school-aged. There’s no power, no running water, the school has been destroyed. It’s here that CRF, with the help of a partner organization, helped secure and supply a Dhouse where the children can meet. These children have seen and experienced what no one should. Some have been held at gunpoint to watch their loved ones beaten or worse. This house formerly housed Russian troops when they occupied Kherson from March till November 2022, but it has become a haven of healing largely because of Irina, along with her small support team. Irina’s full of enthusiasm, joy and the love of God. At least weekly she makes the jarring journey from her home in Kryvyi Rih to the village and elsewhere along the most active war zone. She brings the house alive when the children arrive, and for a least a brief period, they are able to step out of their reality. They sing, play games, share a meal, hear of a heavenly Father who loves them, and they are prayed over. Irina wouldn’t want you to know, but you need to know – because what she does, with little regard for self, really matters. For her, it’s not a job. You can’t see Irina without seeing the love of Jesus. “…whatever you did for the least of these…you did for me.” Matthew 25:40 

Novovoskresenske roughly translates to “new beginning”. CRF is committed to helping these children create a new beginning with a safe, clean and fully restored place to meet and continue receiving hope and experiencing the love of Jesus.