Photos above: Taras Paslavskyi with his fellow Ukrainians (left), and Anastasiia Saniuk & husband Charles Vidler (right) who are currently making t-shirts to sell and all funds are going towards the Canada-Ukraine Foundation.
As many of us have been watching the news and hearing about the Russia-Ukraine conflict, we are saddened to learn about all the loss and destruction. We stand alongside of the Ukrainian people, especially those in our Providence community. Some of our alumni are on the frontlines. Many others have connections to family members who are living in the midst this conflict and having to defend themselves against advancing Russian troops. We continue to pray for the Ukraine for protection and an end to the hostilities. “May God provide sustaining grace, wisdom, and safety to all our alumni, friends and family members in this troubled corner of the world” (President Anderson, February 28, 2022).
Below are some of the conversations we’ve been having with our Ukrainian alumni and colleagues:
ANASTASIIA SANIUK (MA in TESOL 2015)
Anastasiia was in the middle of teaching an online English lesson from her home in British Columbia when a message came from her parents that Russia was attacking her home country of Ukraine. “How do you continue teaching when a figurative bomb falls on your heart?” asked Anastasiia. “I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t sleep. Hearing about the literal bombs that are falling in cities near my grandmother, parents, sister and friends was devastating.”
For days following the news, she felt helpless and prayed continuously, holding her phone in shock, waiting for messages and watching the news.
Anastasiia came to Canada at the urging of her father who wanted her to experience another culture as well as continue her education. She chose to study at Providence Theological Seminary, and while it was an adjustment, she grew to appreciate the opportunity. She has a deep gratitude and love for Providence.
As of this writing, her family is safe. When the conflict started, her sister and brother-in-law left their city to travel west. They encountered delays and traffic jams. Many others were also trying to leave the region, and what normally would have taken them eight hours of travel, took 26 hours. They got in a car accident and stayed in a church for shelter but were strongly encouraged to move on as more and more people were coming through. Thankfully, God provided a house for them to live in. (God is Provider.)
Anastasiia’s parents also tried to flee southwest but were stopped at the border. So, after a couple of days, they decided to return to Odessa where they often hear sirens and run for cover in their basement or at a nearby bomb shelter.
Being so far away from her family is very difficult for Anastasiia. Yet, she has been overwhelmed by the outreach efforts of her community and friends (many of whom she has not spoken to in a long time) offering support and telling her they are praying for Ukraine. She asks our Providence community to pray for safety and for an end to the fighting, but also to pray for her – that she would not be bitter and have hatred for Russia and those she knows who support Putin.
VOLODYMYR SHEVCHENKO (Enrollment Officer at Providence)
Volodymyr has been an Enrollment Officer since 2019, recruiting international students to Providence University College. He came to Canada from the Ukraine. His parents are still there and have been involved in Christian Camp Ministry for more than 20 years. While they hear distance explosions, they do not live near the current bombing zones, but the situation continues to be concerning. Volodymyr tries to stay clear of the news as it is too difficult to deal with the daily onslaught of stories.
“I am incredibly grateful for the prayers and emotional support that my family in Ukraine and I have received over the past several days,” says Volodymyr. “Children should not wake up to the sound of bombs going off, women should not be giving birth as missiles are firing outside, and people should not be leaving their homes just to stay alive.”
War is tragic says Volodymyr, but it cannot break the spirit of those who put their faith in Christ. “Morning comes after a long, dark night, and light overcomes darkness. I believe that Jesus was right when He said, ‘Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul’ (Matt 10:28). So let us not live in fear. I ask you to continue your prayers and your support. It has been a blessing to be part of the Providence community in this difficult time, and I pray that God will bring peace to Ukraine.“
TARAS PASLAVSKYI (MDiv 2002)
Taras wrote to us from the Ukraine. He is engaged on the frontlines of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and located near the Romanian and Hungarian borders. He says their community has had an influx of women and children fleeing the active conflict zones, seeking shelter. He has been tasked by the mayor of his city ‘to organize cooperation and facilitate the reception of aid in Canada.’
Taras lived in Manitoba, and then Toronto, for some time after graduating from Providence Theological Seminary. Currently, he has identified the greatest needs in aid are radio devices, fuel and oil materials, personal protective equipment (helmets, body armour, uniforms) and medical first aid kits. Taras alongside of his fellow Ukrainians are preparing to support their soldiers by setting up roadblocks and patrolling perimeter borders.
If any of our alumni are interested in more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.