Natasha Reimer, the executive director of Mulberry International, is our guest blogger this week. Mulberry International is heavily involved in war-time relief in Ukraine right now. Natasha gives us a snapshot of what their ministry is currently facing in Ukraine and how they are working to alleviate suffering. If you want to find out more about Mulberry International, or wish to support the ministry and their efforts, here is a link to their website

By Natasha Reimer

November 24th marked nine months of Russia’s war with Ukraine. This full-scale invasion brought unprecedented destruction of the country and Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II. Twenty-one million Ukrainians are displaced, almost a half of Ukraine’s population, and about 8 million refugees are now in Europe or the US. Seventeen million Ukrainians are in a severe humanitarian crisis with no access to shelter, heat, safe water, and food. 

Mulberry International ministry has been based in Mariupol, a city that has made headlines due to the most brutal shelling and bombing. About 80% of the city has been destroyed, and it bears the heaviest casualty toll. We supported the evacuation from Mariupol and were able to help in getting out hundreds of people, including our Christian Children’s Home. Thirty-three children and 16 staff members were safely evacuated to Germany. This dangerous trek under shelling across Ukraine and through several European countries took over two weeks.

However, not everyone got out. A few of our volunteers stayed in Mariupol on their own accord to help those who were trapped or unable to leave the city. When Russian troops encircled the city, and there was no way in or out, a horrible humanitarian disaster broke out. There was no electricity, safe water, heat, or food. It was March of 2022, with temperatures plunging into single digits. Houses and buildings were largely destroyed, and people hunkered down in dark, cold basements. Our volunteers were delivering food to people in basements when an explosion hit a car with five young Christian men in it. Our brothers were killed on the spot. They gave the ultimate sacrifice for the love of others. They all leave behind wives and young children. 

Since children from the Children’s Home were evacuated, the building became vacant. Immediately, it was turned into a shelter for anyone in the area. About 80 people found refuge there for almost two months. The food we supplied and stored for our kids and staff prior to the attack was estimated to last for 30 days and 30 children. Our God performed a miracle and sustained 80 people for almost two months with no opportunity to buy or procure food! This small community became a church, as our ministry leaders shared the Good News with these people every day. Once the fighting stopped in Mariupol, in early September, 17 people were baptized into Christ.  

Another focus of Mulberry’s ministry during war has been humanitarian aid. We help find, deliver, and buy food, medicine, and clothing. Since early October, Russia has destroyed over 40% of the electric grid of Ukraine, we now focus on buying firewood, space heaters, and generators.  Russia has launched over 100 missiles in the last few weeks targeting gas and electric supply structures. Another gruesome war winter is here and people live now in worst conditions than in the beginning of the war. More territory, housing, and infrastructure is destroyed, and the whole country is plunging into darkness and cold. There are rolling and emergency blackouts all over the country every day and most towns receive electricity for only a few hours per day. The task to help Ukrainians fight and survive is even more critical, but we cannot do it without your help. Please continue to pray for the war to stop and for us to share our blessings with Ukrainians who are fighting for their freedom.