Missionaries for Youth with A Mission shared their experiences and the reason why they chose stay in Ukraine amidst the dangers posed by Russia's invasion.
In an interview, Marie and Japhin John told CBN News the choice to stay in Kyiv, Ukraine wasn't an easy decision.
"We had our bags packed because, it's just like you are in rush, and there's a new situation; all of a sudden, you wake up in the morning, you hear the sound of bombs, so you're in a rush, and you're like 'Wow! What is happening here?'" Marie said.
"It was not an easy decision until we prayed. But once we prayed, it was a very easy decision," Japhin added.
According to Japhin, this is not his first time encountering a dangerous situation. He grew up in India and was a part of ministry in his country where he also experienced risky positions.
"Growing up in India, and also doing ministry in India, this was not my first time being in a dangerous situation, in fact, this is the third time," Japhin said.
The decision of the couple to stay rooted in their strong commitment to serving the Ukrainian people despite the risk they are at right now.
"We are also, like the commitment in marriage, saying, 'in good and in bad times,' we are not only here trying to make an impact when times are favorable. And when everyone is leaving, this is the time when we actually need to stay," Marie told CBN News.
According to them, even half of the population of Kyiv evacuated the city, there were still people who remained. Their team was focused on ministering to those people who are still in the city. The YWAM had turned into a humanitarian aid hub led by the missionaries.
Aside from Marie and Japhin, a ministry worker named Natalia worked in the kitchen together with her two sons. They were in charge of making meals for people in the neighborhood.
"It depends on the day, sometimes there are days when we cook for a thousand people, sometimes 500 or 600," Natalia said.
In a report from Christianity Today, while some foreign missionaries left for the neighboring countries, and some even back to the United States, there were still those who remain to stand by along with local Church leaders amidst uncertainty.
Send International was one of the leading missionaries in Ukraine since the 1990s. according to the report, the missionaries were trained to handle crisis situations and have a security team to evaluate risks and make plans for evacuation based on access to food, water, power, transportation, or communication.
"As leaders, some of us are not in those local areas, so it's important to us to listen to our missionaries on the ground and what the Holy Spirit is telling them, then discerning that with the information that we get from government sources and others who are assessing the situation," said CEO Michelle Atwell.