The Bible and Bullet Holes: Reminders of God’s Love

October 4, 2023 • Ukraine
Since the start of the conflict, Samaritan’s Purse has served the people of Ukraine by distributing nearly 300,000 Bibles and more than 204 million pounds of food.

A Ukrainian man helped by Samaritan’s Purse is slowly recovering after the Kherson dam break. He is encouraged by an old, bullet-riddled car and a new Bible.

Responding to the Crisis in Ukraine

Books filled Vasyl’s* home in the Kherson region of Ukraine. His collection included nearly 3,000 titles that he treasured and held dear. Each one told a story and expanded his knowledge of the world.

When the Kakhovka Dam broke in early June, however, his library was lost. Floodwaters rose more than four feet up the walls of his home, destroying his precious volumes and claiming many of his personal belongings. The seemingly endless water also ruined his furniture as well as cherished awards from his days as a professional boxer and soldier.

Vasyl was heartbroken over the mess around him.

A Start Toward Recovery

When Samaritan’s Purse arrived to help him salvage his home, our teams pumped water and hauled mud outside to keep the elements from creating any further damage. Yet even after all their work, everything was still so wet that Vasyl drained an additional 16 buckets of water from his dehumidifier.

Eager to help with the recovery process, Vasyl applied clay to the walls of his home to speed along the repairs. He longed to create order in place of the mess. The way the flood had torn apart his house was indicative of how his heart felt.

“I am firmly convinced that God saved my life for a greater purpose.”

Vasyl, the veteran, bore both physical and emotional scars from serving in the war in Afghanistan. Yet long after he had returned to Ukraine and begun to heal from these wounds, Vasyl, the husband, tragically lost his wife. That was three years ago and his heart still aches.

If that wasn’t enough, Vasyl, the father, soon faced another blow when his daughter had to leave him in search of urgently-needed medical care. He was left alone with his house and books until the flood came and took even that sense of solace from him.

Confirmations of God’s Presence and Protection

Surrounded by remnants of his former life including a soaked sofa, a few items of clothing, and a makeshift bed in the hallway, Vasyl now strives to hold onto hope as he rebuilds his home. A box of food he received from Samaritan’s Purse sits in the corner to remind him that God has not forgotten him.

This box of food from Samaritan’s Purse that sits in the corner of Vasyl’s home reminds him that God has not forgotten him.

He occasionally thumbs through the roughly 100 of his books that were rescued from the flood. With so little of his collection left, Vasyl relies more exclusively on another text—the Bible Samaritan’s Purse gave him. He regularly searches its pages, and especially enjoys reading the Gospels again and again to find answers to the many questions that weigh on his heart.

Outside, in Vasyl’s yard, sits a vintage car that brings a sparkle to his eyes. Nearly 40 years old, this LuAZ—a Ukrainian automobile built in the former Soviet Union—is one of his favorite possessions.

“I repair everything in this car with my own hands,” Vasyl said.

But even more than that sense of accomplishment, the car reminds him of God’s faithfulness to him.

A closer look at the antique reveals a bullet lodged in its side, right next to the driver’s seat. In another spot, there are holes where a bullet went straight through the vehicle. Vasyl was unaware of when these near-misses happened.

Vasyl’s antique car that is riddled with bullet holes reminds him of how God protected him even when he didn’t realize he was in danger.

“I was driving down the road, not realizing that I was being shot at,” he said. “I am firmly convinced that God saved my life for a greater purpose.”

Today, those bullet holes and the Word of God help Vasyl remember the Lord’s power and presence when everything else seems to have fallen apart.

Prayers for the People of Ukraine

Please pray that Vasyl and others in the Kherson region cling to God’s promise: “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD” (Jeremiah 29:13-14).

Since early June, Samaritan’s Purse has restored more than 1,000 homes that were damaged in the flood. In addition, we have provided over 24,000 hot meals and more than 181,000 gallons of water to the area. We are currently working on installing 10 potable water systems to help the people of the Kherson region recover and rebuild.

Across Ukraine, we have distributed close to 300,000 Bibles since the start of the war.

*Name changed for security

Olena and her children huddle in their cellar next to a stove provided by Samaritan's Purse.
Responding to the Crisis in Ukraine Samaritan's Purse is providing food, water, and non-food items, such as wood stoves, solar lights, and construction materials, to suffering families in Ukraine. In partnership with local churches and ministry partners, we are bringing this urgently needed relief to those in areas deeply affected by the conflict. We are also airlifting medical supplies into the country and providing medical training as fighting rages on. Since the start of the war, we have operated two field hospitals and other medical clinics.

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