Army World News – Froderberg Reports on Ukraine

Froderberg Reports on Ukraine

By Major Trish Froderberg –

Life in Ukraine is like a wild and unpredictable roller-coaster ride, both thrilling and frightening at the same moment.

We have seen a depth of commitment and caring on the part of officers in this part of the world. They meet from week to week, even in the coldest part of winter, not knowing if they will have a room to meet on the next Sunday.

Because the work of the Mayak (Lighthouse) Corps is with the homeless, for many months they could not find a place in which their community would allow them to meet. Oddly enough, some of our greatest opposition comes from those who claim to be a part of the Body of Christ. It is in the alley by such a church that Captain Dueck and her congregation met for much of the winter. This little alley is indeed sacred ground, and though in the freezing cold they are warmed by the love of God on the inside.

Pressed in among the crowd at the Mayak Corps was a tiny babushka (grandmother) not more than four and a half feet tall. Life had bent her over, but her face was a beacon light of faith. When we began to remodel our meeting hall, she readily volunteered to sweep up with a bundle of twigs she carried in her bag.

One of the homeless men has a great gift of giving. From his village he would take the tram into the Podil for the Sunday meeting. Seeing there were few chairs, he returned the next week on the tram with six planks he had cleaned for people to stretch across the chairs, making benches. I cannot think of one visit in which I have not been given some gift: a tattered bookmark, a flower or a small hand painted figure. I always feel I am receiving true treasure!

A former Moscow soldier, 75 year old Vladimir Lingovskiy, visited our offices with pictures and testimony of his work in Kievagrad for The Salvation Army. Under the former Soviet system you could not attend Bible school until you were of retirement age. Vladimir has established an extensive program with the prisons and hospitals. He would like to set up regular meetings and wants to see the Army established in his community. When I asked him about being retired, he said, “How can you retire when there are people to win for Jesus?”

People are forced to choose between food or heat many months of the year. In preparation for our “Liberation Day Celebrations” many of the veterans came to our offices to get suit coats. They cannot display their medals and combat ribbons without a proper coat. I found it difficult to see them in such need after giving so much for their country’s freedom. On Liberation Day many veterans walked the streets with pride in their “new coats from America.”

In many ways young people here are like young people everywhere, and it is a treat to see that some things are universal. But there is also a seriousness about them. Most are married by the time they are 20. One of our greatest needs is for someone who can devote full energies to translating for their use our small, but precious library of program aids.

We have been allowed to hold one month of camp for children in a TB sanitarium in Yalta, not far from the nuclear disaster site. What a great opportunity to witness not only to the young people, but to the residents of the sanitarium. If we had had the resources, we could have brought the Gospel literally to hundreds of children.

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