Slovakia, Ukraine, Austria Apr 2022

"Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us.
  None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare."
  Psalm 40:5 (NIV)

Lindy and I strongly felt that we needed to help Ukrainian refugees in some way during this horrible war.  After praying, we felt led by the Holy Spirit to go to Slovakia to support the effort in any way we could, whether it was to pray directly for refugees, for the many Slovaks that are helping the refugees, to prayer-walk this nation that has so willingly opened its doors to people in need, or to help physically with the many activities ongoing all around this country trying to ease the crisis of more than 400,000 refugees that have crossed the border from Ukraine during this heartbreaking war. We were fully aware that other countries that border Ukraine are also going through a very similar crisis, some with many more refugees than Slovakia – but if God said Slovakia then that's where we went.

As it turned out, God opened the doors as we had prayed, in all of the categories mentioned above.  Local contacts were able to lead us to six different locations in Slovakia, and a very unexpected invitation to deliver a large amount of food into Ukraine. 

Bratislava, capital city of Slovakia

Parliament Building
Presidential Palace
EU and Slovak Flag
Bratislava Castle
Old City
No, we did not go - But Lindy would have loved to

We started our mission to this nation in its most important city, prayer-walking (or by bus) several parts of the city.  We prayed around strategic places including the Parliament Building, the Presidential Palace and areas on the banks of the river Danube. 

One whole building that we prayed around was walking distance from where we were staying. It was fully dedicated to Ukrainian refugees and painted bright yellow and blue like their flag.  They have many refugee support centers that provide supplies such as food or clothing, advice regarding visas or possible onwards travel to other cities or nations, and addressing mental health issues recognizing that many are still in shock or are suffering from PTSD. 

Ukrainian Embassy

Lindy felt strongly that we needed to pray at the Ukrainian embassy to Slovakia even though it was closed on Easter Sunday.  After having a prayer vigil outside next to heart-breaking photographs from the war, we were so surprised when they opened the door for us to enter.  We were able to pray for one of their staff members who was obviously very concerned about her husband fighting back home.  We felt this was an important moment as we realized that we were standing on Ukrainian territory and at that time I did not know that I would actually go into Ukraine.

Prayer House, a watering hole

We enjoyed our time in three different occasions at a prayer house, praising and worshipping the Lord interspersed with powerful prayer, a lot of it addressing the war and the refugee crisis.  It really was a refreshing watering hole during such an intense mission.  It was full of people who are obviously in love with Jesus.  At one point it was sobering while praying for a Russian university student who was having a difficult time dealing with the need to return home to Moscow where her family including her parents are strong supporters of the invasion and are convinced that the news and information they get is accurate. 

Safer in the countryside

There is a Slovak village 1 to 2 hours north by bus where one of the musicians from the prayer house was hosting two Ukrainian refugee families – a mother with a 17-year-old daughter and another mother with twin 15-year-old daughters.  It was very interesting talking to them although only the 17-year-old could speak English.  She is able to continue her education because she has been on Zoom for months, except for one topic where the teacher has disappeared and nobody knows if she is alright.  They all came from Kyiv urban areas but were very happy to be in a small village in the middle of nowhere because they felt safe there.  Some of them were struggling with their faith because they were Russian Orthodox and their bishop in Moscow supports the invasion.  They did not understand how a Christian could possibly support something so evil.  We pray that they fall in love directly with Jesus and not a church or denomination.

Hosts in Slovakia

In Bratislava we were blessed to be hosted by a wonderful Slovak family with two children aged 4 and 18 months who we had met during a previous mission journey to Slovakia. We were even honored to be able to house-sit for them when they had to leave the city twice for a few days.  We also reconnected with others friends from the previous journey and made many new friends, including an American missionary pastor who we were pleasantly surprised was from our Foursquare denomination in USA.  The introductions, advice and connections provided though this group were invaluable and allowed us step by step to fulfill what the Lord had ordained.

We visited a small city in the north, nestled in the mountains, hosted by a young woman who seemed to be involved in or knowledgeable about many Christian ministries around the nation.  We love to hear about unity.  Her mother and brother lived nearby and invited us to enjoy a wonderful Slovak lunch with the family.  After eating, during prayer, her mother was clearly emotionally touched by the Holy Spirit.  I felt honored to be present as she exposed her deepest concerns to our loving Jesus.  I wondered if this was the first time in a long while that she had such an intimate moment.

A few days later we moved on to stay with a family on the Youth for Christ campus.  We stayed with the mother and two daughters 11 and 9.  The husband is currently at the border, organizing those who are welcoming and processing the incoming Ukrainians, so we did not meet him.  Up until last year he was in charge of organizing and running CampFest at the YFC campus.  CampFest is an annual event of 24-hour worship to the Lord including a number of well known musicians and attended by possibly 5,000 youth and their families, who bring their tents.  The ministry is now hosting a number of Ukrainian refugee families – I lost count so not sure how many.  One evening outside around a bonfire we were standing next to these beautiful people praising the name of Jesus in songs that we have all heard, but in Ukrainian.  One of them on the guitar seemed to be leading them right into the throne room.  Afterwards, Lindy commented to the one with the guitar that she liked his sweat shirt.  With a big smile on his face he answered that was his favorite one, and the only one that he had time to grab when escaping his country.  I can’t wait to hear how they all do in August during CampFest, if they are still there.  It was there that I heard an interesting comment, they do not especially like the term “refugee”, would much rather be called “guests”.

Kindergarten for Ukrainians

Slovak Easter cake Decorating windows

Lindy and I spent two days working to prepare a building to run a kindergarten for Ukrainian children in the city of Poprad in the eastern half of Slovakia.  They were delighted that a couple that doesn’t even speak Slovak, Ukrainian or Russian would volunteer to clean the building, unwrap children’s furniture, wash toys, scrape gum off the floor, etc.  Although there are many kindergartens in the area, they are all running at full capacity because of the refugee crisis.  The kindergarten is run by a jolly Roman Catholic priest, a member of the Salesian order which is devoted to the Christian education of youth and children and was founded in the 1800’s by Don Bosco, a young priest at the time who focused his concern on the orphaned and homeless child laborers in Turin, Italy.  We were excited to see that the kindergarten actually passed its inspections and opened just 5 days after we helped there.



On our way back to Austria, we had a whistle-stop at the YWAM (Youth with a Mission) base, where we had previously stayed in 2019.  We knew they were hosting Ukrainians but didn’t know if we would be able to pray directly for any of them since this was an unannounced visit.  As soon as we parked we were greeted by a YWAM missionary who recognized us and introduced us to another missionary and a couple of Ukrainians.  We had an opportunity to talk with them, pray for them, and leave some simple gifts that our English daughter-in-law had gathered up from many of her friends.


Food to Ukraine

You are my hiding place; you will save me from trouble.
I sing aloud of your salvation, because you protect me.   
                                                                 Psalm 32:7 (GNT)

I was surprised when asked to help deliver 2 tons of food to Ukraine, just hours before leaving on the journey.  At that point Lindy and I were a couple of hours from the city, so we needed to get back to Bratislava by bus just in time for me to get picked up.  We were a team of 5 plus one Ukrainian woman who was going back to Ukraine to check on the status of her and nearby houses just north of Kyiv.  She was going with us as far as Lviv in the west of Ukraine, and had no idea how she would get to Kyiv that night or how she would return to Bratislava where she had left her daughter.

Wheresoever Team Mozambique Praying for Ukraine

We crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border on a 50 seater bus so full of food that there was hardly enough room for us 6 to sit.  It takes a few hours to cross the border, made a bit more interesting when 3 UN vehicles (which we thought were going to investigate war crimes) were allowed to jump the queue – obviously higher priority than the rest of us.  In the end, we delivered most of the food to 3 churches in Lviv – one of them would send most of the received food to Kyiv where it is not easy for civilians to find food for their families, and the other 2 churches are trying to feed the refugees displaced from the eastern Ukraine.  Lviv has a normal population of around 100,000 but right now is dealing with an additional 200,000 refugees from areas further east.  It was encouraging to see so many Ukrainians in each location joining our team to unload the food.  I was surprised that so few of them could speak English, but it was fairly easy to communicate using hand signals,  Nobody on the team spoke Ukrainian, but 2 team members could speak Russian which was extremely useful since most Ukrainians can communicate in the language. But I find that language barriers are not a big problem when praying for people, which I was doing all the time whether they knew it or not.  Prayer for the pastors is always very important, but sometimes I never saw the pastors.

Lviv was impressive. Every so often on the road you could see all the sand bags piled up and large metal objects to stop the progress of tanks.  Other than that, I was surprised to see normal traffic on roads and people going about their normal business.  One pastor was explaining that it’s safe to meet because it’s in the city, and it’s on the outskirts that the risk increases.  I was very glad that there were no missile strikes in the city while we were there.  One time we saw smoke in the distance.  We wondered, but didn’t really think it was related to an attack.  We were sorry to hear that not that many days after we left that the Russians blew up a number of power substations.

On the way back, much closer to the Ukraine-Slovakia border, we stopped at a university that had converted one floor of their building and were close to completing the conversion of another floor, to house 50 Ukrainian refugees.  We unloaded the remainder of the food there.  It was much easier for me to communicate there, several spoke English.  We prayed for many, one stood out to me.  He was very concerned because his best friend was trapped in the basement of the steel plant in Mariupol.  He knew his friend was still alive but did not know for how long.  It might look difficult but our Mighty God is a God of miracles, and we prayed strongly into that.  The next day I read in the news that in a Russian state TV interview, Putin had announced that although they had planned to send troops in hand to hand combat to terminate the remaining Ukrainian fighters, he had now decided to back off and keep bombing until they surrendered.  Although still a very difficult situation, I took it as the beginning of the miracle we prayed for – and I still pray for his safety, together with the rest of the fighters.

The intention of taking a large bus was to then return to Slovakia after unlading all the food with as many Ukrainians as would want to come back with us.  It turns out that the flow of refugees fleeing the country is slowing down to a trickle compared to earlier in the war.  Many refugees are wanting to return home, with the Ukrainian government warning that is not safe yet.  There were only 3 persons returning with us to Slovakia, a father and 2 sons 9 and 11.  The father thought he had the right papers to leave the country, knowing that men in a certain age group are not allowed to leave unless they have 3 or more children or are disabled.  They made it through a couple of checkpoints, but were turned back at the border – so in the end we did not bring anyone back.

Crossing the border into Slovakia on the way back took about 7 hours.  So this was the first real sleep we had in the bus during the whole time in Ukraine.  For the 3 of us returning to Bratislava, the whole journey took right around 39 hours.  It became clear to me that one of the most important ways to help the Ukrainian families at this time is to keep the flow of food going into Ukraine.  Of course, donation of clothing, money, etc. is always greatly appreciated.  But food, along with the hands and wheels willing to bring it into the country, are the greatest need that I see, of course together with all the prayer required to make it happen.  Two of our team members make this journey nearly every week.  I was asked if I could help again the following week, but it broke my heart to have to decline because of my return to England.  If this war continues for some time, I pray that the significant donation flow required to fund these activities is maintained for as long as it needs to be.

From the beginning, Lindy had felt that I would probably go into Ukraine, I did not know that.  She fasted and prayed all through our journey for my safe return to Slovakia!  Thank you to all those of you who joined her to intensify that prayer. 

Austria, Mysterium Christi

Ancient synagogue next door

On the way to and from Slovakia, we had very brief stays in Hainburg, Austria.  You may remember our friend Chase who we visited in Slovakia back in 2019 just before his wedding to beautiful Eli.  They have two wonderful children now.  He is presently working with Mysterium Christi, a ministry dedicated to the advancement of renewal in the church by bringing unity among believers across all denominations or religions, and love of Israel and the Jewish people.  He is cataloguing a library of books and papers that include many books on revival through the centuries.

It was a joy to be able to spend some time re-bonding with them, and to develop more understanding of the vision of the ministry and the people involved in it.  After arriving in England, Lindy felt that she needed to accept an invitation to return to Austria four days later to join them in their 4-day annual prayer meeting where they brought together intercessors for the ministry from nine nations.


Castles Everywhere

And just for fun, as we drove across Slovakia and Austria, the Lord allowed us to enjoy seeing snowy mountains and so many castles, even if most of them were ruins.  The last picture is the view of Hainburg Austria from the castle there.


We noted that many of the castles were mostly in ruins, but the rock on which they stood was still strong.

"I love you, Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."
                                                                         Psalm 18:1-2 (NIV)