Ukraine: One Refugee’s Story

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2022 Blog #12

March 28, 2022

Ukraine: One Refugee’s Story

Several years ago the organist at the Clinton Avenue Reformed Church was a Ukrainian national. She was a rather talented organist who did well for our congregation. She ultimately left this position and returned to Ukraine where she cared for her ill mother. Recently, because of the Putin’s invasion, she returned from Ukraine to the United States and told us of the ordeal that she went through to leave her nation and come here to safety. In this bog I wish to share a bit of her story.

Iryna was first aware that Putin’s war had started when she heard two explosions in her hometown. She is unsure if they were rockets or aerial bombs, but they signaled for her that the war had begun. She was grateful that her mother had not lived long enough to see her nation invaded. Her brother and her son both of whom live in Ukraine, encouraged her to leave for her own safety while they stayed to protect their nation.

She drove toward the boarder of Poland but there was a huge traffic jam. Ultimately she joined a line of walkers to the boarder. It was a six mile walk to get to the boarder of Poland and Ukraine. Next came the wait for refugee processing which also took an extensive amount of time.

Iryna reported that the Polish people were incredibly hospitable. They assisted the fleeing Ukrainians in food, transportation, cell phones and relocation. Iryna was fortunate. Because she lived in the United States, she still had friends and connections here. This enabled a swift and efficient relocation here. Millions of refugees did not have these advantages. They remain in Poland waiting relocation to other safe nations.

I celebrate that Iryna is now here and safe. As safe as she is, she worries about her brother and son who remain in Ukraine defending their nation. She also thinks about the refugees who wait in Poland until they can be relocated. She is safe but these worries haunt her.

The Reformed Church in America, through Church World Service, is funding refugee relief. I encourage everyone reading this to make donations to ease the suffering of these displaced people. The link to contribute is: https://www.rca.org/give/2022-european-crisis-response/

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #PastorMarkAuthor            

#BergenCounty                                                        #BergenfieldNJ

# Ukraine                                                                   #Russia

#Peace                                                                      #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#Refugees                                                                 #IrynaBondarenko

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order copy of his book: https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

I respect President Zelensky

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2022 Blog #11

March 21, 2022

I respect President Zelensky

People who know me know that I rarely have anything good to say about politicians. In fact, I’m told that my face contorts when I speak about them or even think about them. I don’t know that for a fact, but I trust these observations from friends. I may have to stop painting with such a broad brush. I have come to respect President Zelensky of Ukraine when I watched his address to the congress of the United States and I wish we had a few politicians like him.

He has more courage than I do. If I had the choice to leave a war zone or stay in it I don’t know which choice I would make. I would like to think that I would stay and fight but I don’t know. I have never been tested with such a choice. He is a man of courage for staying.

I was impressed by how calm he was while addressing the congress. He was sitting in a city that was under attack by the Russian army and yet he was totally calm. I can’t imagine sitting calmly when bombs were falling around my neighborhood.

President Zelensky asked for nothing for himself. He did not even ask for soldiers to come and help his nation. He asked only for equipment; the means for citizens of his gallant nation to defend themselves. One asked to respect a man who is thinking of others above himself.

Before and after his speech he received a standing ovation from the members. I am happy that they rose to give President Zelensky the respect that he deserved. It wasn’t long however, before our members of congress stood in front of television cameras in expensive suits and started to blame others for the lack of aid to Ukraine. Each party blamed members of the other party for not doing enough.

I will continue to pray for the citizens of Ukraine and President Zelensky and I hope that our politicians learn a few lessons about leadership from this courageous and dignified President.

I thank my childhood friend, Lidia Hawryluk, who posted this photo of President Zelensky on her Facebook page.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #PastorMarkAuthor            

#BergenCounty                                                        #BergenfieldNJ

# Ukraine                                                                   #Russia

#Peace                                                                      # Conflict

#CongressionalAddress                                         # PresidentZelensky

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order copy of his book: https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Respeto al presidente Zelensky

Reflexiones ministeriales del lunes
Por el reverendo Mark William Ennis
2022 Blog # 11
21 de marzo de 2022
Respeto al presidente Zelensky

La gente que me conoce sabe que rara vez tengo algo bueno que decir sobre los políticos. De hecho, me dicen que mi cara se contorts cuando hablo de ellos o incluso pensar en ellos. No lo sé por un hecho, pero confío en estas observaciones de amigos. Puede que tenga que dejar de pintar con un cepillo tan amplio. He llegado a respetar al Presidente Zelensky de Ucrania cuando observé su discurso ante el Congreso de los Estados Unidos y me gustaría que tuviéramos unos cuantos políticos como él.

Tiene más valor que yo. Si tuviera la opción de salir de una zona de guerra o quedarme en ella no sé qué opción haría. Me gustaría pensar que me quedaría y lucharía, pero no lo sé. Nunca he sido probado con tal opción. Es un hombre de valor para quedarse.

Me impresionó lo tranquilo que estaba mientras se dirigía al congreso. Estaba sentado en una ciudad que estaba siendo atacada por el ejército ruso y, sin embargo, estaba totalmente tranquilo. No puedo imaginar sentarme tranquilamente cuando las bombas estaban cayendo alrededor de mi vecindario.

El presidente Zelensky no pidió nada para sí mismo. Ni siquiera le había pedido a los soldados que vinieran y ayudaran a su nación. Sólo pidió equipo; los medios para que los ciudadanos de su nación galante se defendieran. Uno pidió respetar a un hombre que está pensando en otros por encima de sí mismo.

Antes y después de su discurso recibió una ovación de pie de los miembros. Me alegra que se levanten para dar al Presidente Zelensky el respeto que merecía. Sin embargo, no pasó mucho tiempo antes de que nuestros congresistas se pararan frente a las cámaras de televisión con trajes caros y comenzaran a culpar a otros por la falta de ayuda a Ucrania. Cada partido culpó a los miembros de la otra parte por no hacer lo suficiente.

Seguiré orando por los ciudadanos de Ucrania y por el Presidente Zelensky y espero que nuestros políticos aprendan algunas lecciones sobre el liderazgo de este valiente y digno Presidente.

Agradezco a mi amiga de la infancia, Lidia Hawryluk, que publicó esta foto del presidente Zelensky en su página de Facebook.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #PastorMarkAuthor            

#BergenCounty                                                        #BergenfieldNJ

# Ukraine                                                                   #Russia

#Peace                                                                      # Conflict

#CongressionalAddress                                         # PresidentZelensky

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order copy of his book: https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Assyria, the Rising River of Plunder

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.

Assyria, the Rising River of Plunder

By Gordon Van Wylen on March 15, 2022

Read: Isaiah 8:1-15

But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. (v. 13)

As Isaiah continues to bring God’s message in the tense political situation under Ahaz, he writes a strange message on a large placard: “Quick to the plunder; swift to the spoil.” This is a warning to Judah: Do not put your trust in Assyria during your conflict with Aram and Israel for Assyria will be quick and powerful in its conquest of Aram and Israel and eventually Judah as well. To demonstrate his conviction, Isaiah gives his son the name meaning “quick to the plunder, swift to the spoil” (v. 3, NIV). Isaiah’s appeal is to trust God and focus on spiritual renewal in Judah.

Then Isaiah uses a striking analogy to depict the danger of depending on Assyria. He likens Judah’s rejection of God to rejecting the gently flowing water of the Shiloah spring in Jerusalem. Therefore, God will cause the mighty floodwaters of the Euphrates River, a symbol of Assyria, to overflow its banks and sweep over Judah. As we will read later, this actually happened under King Hezekiah. Again, Isaiah uses the word Immanuel, reflecting that “God with us” is our only hope. As our reading concludes God speaks directly to Isaiah encouraging him to be strong and faithful in his ministry. —Gordon Van Wylen

As you pray, ask God to help you stay faithful to his call, growing as a faithful and discerning witness.

 

Rescue Buses in Ukraine

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2022 Blog #10

March 14, 2022

Rescue Buses in Ukraine

I don’t travel on buses very much but in my younger years I did. I took city buses every day in high school. I remember a bus ride when I was very young. It might have been my first bus ride. I was fascinated by the machine that collected the coins. The coins were separated by going down through different sized holes before going down to be inserted into a change holder. I dreamed of owning a bus and have everyone giving me coins. Later that week I took a glass jar and sat outside my house. I waited for people to walk by and put coins into the jar. Sadly, no coins were ever contributed.

I remember waiting for buses to get to high school. Every moment of waiting seemed like a year. This was especially true when it was raining or snowing, and twice as true when there was a strong wind. We watched up the street hoping for a glimpse of the bus as our bodies shivered and our hands were in our pockets fidgeting with our bus coins in our pockets. Of course, when the bus finally came and we could step out of the cold and into the warmth of a heated bus, it felt like paradise.

Recently I heard of an organization who shares my childhood dreams about buses. This organization is Life2Orphans when I first heard of them, they were hoping to obtain buses to evacuate orphans from various orphanages that are in danger from the rockets of the Russian army. They are dreaming of owning buses and are anxiously waiting for them to arrive.  With the acquisition of buses, orphans can be evacuated from danger. This assumes that evacuation routes continue to be open and safe for those fleeing from danger.

Recently I gave a personal contribution to this cause. This money, which is discretionary for me, and really I would not ever miss, might well have been a matter of life and death to these orphans. I am glad that I contributed toward this worthy cause. Shortly after making the contribution I received word that two buses had been obtained and the buses had been filled and are rolling toward a safe place. I do worry about the safety of any of these evacuation routes. Are they really safe? I pray so, but one never knows where Putin’s missiles will fall.

Perhaps lives will be saved by our efforts. I can only pray that the contributions that I and others have made will truly save children’s lives. I remember the words of the character Itzhak Stern to Oscar Schindler in Schindler’s List, “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.”

To contribute to this orphanage please go to this website: https://www.life2orphans.org/

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #PastorMarkAuthor            

#BergenCounty                                                        #BergenfieldNJ

# Ukraine                                                                   #Russia

#Peace                                                                      # Conflict

#UkrainianOrphans                                                 # Life2Orphans.org

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order copy of his book: https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Autobuses de rescate en Ucrania

Para contribuir a este orfanato, por favor vaya a este sitio web: https://www.life2orphans.org/

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #PastorMarkAuthor            

#BergenCounty                                                        #BergenfieldNJ

# Ukraine                                                                   #Russia

#Peace                                                                      # Conflict

#UkrainianOrphans                                                 # Life2Orphans.org

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order copy of his book: https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

A Ukrainian Saint; Serge Zevlever

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2022 Blog #9

March 7, 2022

A Ukrainian Saint; Serge Zevlever

Just a few miles up the road from us is the town of Harrington Park. It is a beautiful NJ suburb, and a place where the rather prosperous live. A seminary friend pastors the church there. Pastor Steve and his wife, Jeri, have a unique ministry. They have adopted several special needs children from an orphanage in the Ukraine. This special ministry has brought them great joy, but recently the invasion of the Ukraine by Russia has given them a great deal of heartache and now they are mourning a man they knew quite well, Serge Zevlever.

Serge had dual citizenship both in the United States and in Ukraine. He was a gruff man who directed the orphanage from which Pastor Steve and his wife adopted these special needs children. Beneath his gruffness, I have read, he had a big heart and put the whole of his being into protecting and finding homes for the children that he protected as if they were his own.

When Russia invaded he could have easily fled. He was, after all, a United States citizen. He chose to stay. He wanted to protect “his” children and the Ukrainian people that he had fallen in love with. Because of these desires he chose to stay and defend the Ukraine. Tragically, he was killed in the conflict. He was a victim of a bullet fired from a Russian gun. I doubt that the Russian soldier who fired the shot had any idea of who he had killed or the  good work that the man had been doing. Whether he knew it or not, he did the world a great deal of harm by killing Serge.

I wish that I had been able to meet Serge and thank him for all that he did. “His” children and the families that adopted them will always feel gratitude for his work. For his selfless work on earth and his selfless death I believe that he is a true saint. May his life and death be examples for us all.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #PastorMarkAuthor            

#BergenCounty                                                        #BergenfieldNJ

# Ukraine                                                                   #Russia

#Peace                                                                      # Conflict

#UkrainianFaces                                                      #SergeZevlever

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order copy of his book:https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Un santo ucraniano; Serge Zevlever

Reflexiones ministeriales del lunes
por el reverendo Mark William Ennis
2022 Blog # 9
7 de marzo de 2022
Un santo ucraniano; Serge Zevlever

A sólo unos kilómetros por la carretera de nosotros está la ciudad de Harrington Park. Es un hermoso suburbio de NJ, y un lugar donde viven los más prósperos. Un amigo del seminario pastorea la iglesia allí. El Pastor Steve y su esposa, Jeri, tienen un ministerio único. 

Han adoptado a varios niños con necesidades especiales de un orfanato en Ucrania. Este ministerio especial les ha traído gran alegría, pero recientemente la invasión de Ucrania por parte de Rusia les ha dado mucho dolor y ahora están de luto a un hombre que conocían muy bien, Serge Zevlever.

Serge tenía doble ciudadanía tanto en los Estados Unidos como en Ucrania. Él era un hombre brusco que dirigió el orfanato desde el cual el Pastor Steve y su esposa adoptaron estos niños con necesidades especiales. Debajo de su grupacidad, he leído, él tenía un gran corazón y puso todo su ser en proteger y encontrar hogares para los niños que él protegió como si ellos fueran sus el propios.

Cuando Rusia invadió, pudo haber huido fácilmente. Después de todo, era ciudadano de los Estados Unidos. Eligió quedarse. Quería proteger a “sus” hijos y al pueblo ucraniano con el que había enamorado. Debido a estos deseos, eligió quedarse y defender a Ucrania. Trágicamente, fue muerto en el conflicto. Fue víctima de una bala disparada desde un arma rusa.

Dudo que el soldado ruso que disparó el tiro tuviera alguna idea de quién había matado o del buen trabajo que el hombre había estado haciendo. Ya sea que lo supiera o no, hizo al mundo mucho daño matando a Serge.

Me hubiera gustado poder reunirme con Serge y darle las gracias por todo lo que hizo. “Sus” hijos y las familias que los adoptaron siempre sentirán gratitud por su trabajo. Por su obra desinteresada en la tierra y su muerte desinteresada, creo que es un verdadero santo. Que su vida y su muerte sean ejemplos para todos nosotros.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #PastorMarkAuthor            

#BergenCounty                                                        #BergenfieldNJ

# Ukraine                                                                   #Russia

#Peace                                                                      # Conflict

#UkrainianFaces                                                      #SergeZevlever

Para leer más de los escritos del pastor Mark, por favor pida una copia de su libro: https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Faces of worried Ukrainians

I have seen many wars and conflicts but for me, they were headlines and I did not always realize the human pain that is involved.

My father was drafted during the Korean war but he never saw action. The cease fire was signed while he was still in boot camp and I knew no Korean people at that time. War in Vietnam raged all through my childhood and I knew people who had been drafted but I did not know, anyone who was killed during the war lived in Vietnam. For me, the war was mostly a news story. The invasions of Panama and Grenada were also for me, news events without any personal connections.

At the time of the middle eastern wars I knew nobody in the middle east and I knew no soldiers. Of course, I felt badly for all those involved but these conflicts were not personal to me. I didn’t know the military or the civilians.

Now Putin and his Russian armies are swarming into the Ukraine. For me, this is not just another news story. I know a number of people from the Ukraine and they have relatives there. For me, the Ukrainians who are in harm’s way are friends or relatives of friends of mine. I feel this war more than I have the other wars that I have lived through.

Pastor Steve is a Reformed Church minister in a nearby town from me. We were in seminary together. He and his wife have made a ministry of adopting and caring for special needs children. Several have come from an orphanage in Kiev. These special needs children worry about their old friends from the orphanage and were frightened to see their orphanage on the television news. They wondered if the building would continue to stand or would it fall to bombs.

The former organist in my congregation came from the Ukraine for work. Her son lived in the Ukraine during her time with us. She posts nervously about the fate of her family and friends now that Putin has chosen to invade her homeland.

An elder of my congregation is Ukrainian although she never lived in the Ukraine. She and her husband had Ukrainian parents but they were born in a refugee camp in Germany following World War II. As far as I know she never visited the Ukraine but she was raised with Ukrainian customs and feels a kinship with people in the Ukraine. Her parents told her stories of the horrors of being invaded and she has deep empathy for every invasion victim. Other wars and conflicts that I have seen were horrible and cost many civilian lives. They caused me to say a lot of prayers. This one for me is more personal. I know people who are greatly affected by it. My prayers during this invasion will be even more fervent. I encourage all who read this to be in prayer for the welfare of all those in the Ukraine who are suffering from this horrible invasion.

A prayer for Ukraine is posted for you:

Prayers for God’s Mercy in Ukraine

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #PastorMarkAuthor            

#BergenCounty                                                        #BergenfieldNJ

# Ukraine                                                                   #Russia

#Peace                                                                      # Conflict

#UkrainianFaces

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order copy of his book:

The Circle of Seven

Rostros de ucranianos preocupados

A prayer for Ukraine is posted for you:

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #PastorMarkAuthor            

#BergenCounty                                                        #BergenfieldNJ

# Ukraine                                                                   #Russia

#Peace                                                                      # Conflict

#UkrainianFaces

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order copy of his book:

The Circle of Seven