Missions Update | Ukraine
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Sandu Deac and Mihai Pungila are Romanian missionaries who have been actively involved in Ukraine—particularly in the Mykolaiv and Kherson districts. These areas are close to the frontline and are frequently shelled by Russian artillery, making it a challenging environment for locals and missionaries alike. Sandu and Mihai have worked with two local churches to distribute water, food, diapers, and other necessities; and, in the absence of a pastor, Sandu has stepped in to minister to the congregations. Thanks to the support of the Highlands community, our church was able to support the ongoing missions work in Ukraine, providing the necessary funds to keep Sandu and Mihai safe, and to help the churches continue their community outreach in the middle of a wartime setting.
Providing physical protection
Sandu and Mihai organized a group of volunteers from the churches to drive cargo vans that would distribute supplies throughout the conflict area. It’s a dangerous ministry. One of the churches that Sandu and Mihani visited has already lost 15 members due to shelling, and a Russian shell exploded 300 yards away from Mihai whiles he was sleeping. Neither Sandu or Mihai have reliable access to personal protection equipment (body armor and helmets), which are a necessity when traveling to and through these areas. Sometimes, they borrowed equipment, and sometimes they went without.
In December 2022, Highlands provided Sandu and Mihai with funds to procure 6 personal protection kits (body armor and helmets). Having this equipment readily available enables Sandu, Mihai and the other volunteers to safely travel to the hardest-hit areas of Ukraine, ministering to people who are eager to hear God’s word.
Keeping the water flowing
A communal water supply system in the Mykolaiv region was damaged during a Russian artillery strike, forcing people to rely on pumped well water. Sandu helped three evangelical churches in the area to organize water distribution efforts. The churches pumped water from their own wells into large plastic cisterns, from which locals could get water for free. But with winter approaching, the churches were concerned that the water tanks might freeze and stop working.
Thanks to the generous support of the Highlands community, we were able to help secure the churches’ water distribution facilities. One of the distribution locations at the church in Shiroka Balka town is now fully insulated, allowing the community to get water from the church year-round. Another church was able to move its water tanks into the basement of its facility. This freed up Highlands to re-allocate funds to the third church, which used the money to install an in-line water filtration system, eliminating the need to maintain its water tank year-round.
Standing in the gap
Some of the churches Samu and Mihai partner with no longer have pastors. In their absence, Sandu stepped into the role. On one Sunday alone, 500 people gathered at one of the churches, eager to hear the Word. Large congregations were discouraged because they could easily become a target for Russian artillery, and meeting in the basement further reduced the risk from shelling.
Most of the people were unbelievers, so Sandu held five back-to-back services in the basement in one day to guarantee that everyone heard the gospel. The basement could accommodate up to 100 people, so individuals registered ahead of time to ensure there was enough capacity.
As winter approached, the basements where Sandu preached were getting cold. In October 2022, Highlands covered the cost to install heaters/air conditioners for the basement outreach centers in the local church in Shiroka Balka.
This allowed the people to listen to God’s word throughout the winter and beyond. And as the security situation improved, a church in another location was able to move into a larger above-ground facility where they are now installing the heating/air conditioning unit.