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Houses of Mercy Care for Ukraine's Abandoned Elderly

LYNC's European Programs Director, Sergey Kosiak, shares how volunteers are caring for Ukraine's abandoned elderly

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Posted By
Sergey Kosiak
Posted On
03/29/2024

Watch "Houses of Mercy Care for Ukraine's Abandoned Elderly"

 

I’ve spent nearly my entire life in Donetsk, Ukraine. I was raised in a deeply religious family, and my parents instilled faith in God in me from childhood. I fully devoted my life to serving God and others as an adult. From 2003 to 2014, I served as a pastor at a local church and led various humanitarian organizations.

In 2014, the conflict in Ukraine reached my home in Donetsk. Facing the occupation by Russian forces, I, as a clergyman and social activist, couldn’t just watch. I organized daily prayers for peace, which led to my arrest and torture by Russian special forces. Thankfully, I survived. That tumultuous August, I lost everything familiar—my home and church. But in that loss, I found a new mission with fellow humanitarians, evacuating people from the conflict zones and creating refugee bases. During this time, I met Wade Kusack, who brought humanitarian aid to us.

Once in 2019, I visited a small frontline village and saw the inhumane conditions in which abandoned, elderly people lived. It reminded me of Nehemiah when he saw the plight of war-torn Jerusalem. Nehemiah lost sleep and appetite because the pain of a destroyed Jerusalem became his own. He left a comfortable life and went where there was pain, destruction, and adversaries who constantly hindered his mission. This deep empathy, identifying oneself with another’s pain, is what compelled Christ to leave the glory of heaven, come down to earth, live as an ordinary man, and eventually die a shameful and martyred death – all because the pain of this dying world was Jesus Christ’s pain in the glory of heaven. 

“Nehemiah lost sleep and appetite because the pain of a destroyed Jerusalem became his own. He left a comfortable life and went where there was pain, destruction, and adversaries who constantly hindered his mission.”

After seeing the conditions in which these forgotten elderly people struggled to survive, I stood, cried, and cried out to God, asking why this was happening. Then I heard in my heart: “If children have abandoned their parents, if the state does not care for its citizens, then us – His living church, must become the hands of Jesus Christ on earth.” With these thoughts, I returned home to Germany and thought, what can I do for these abandoned people? My wife and I sold our only car, and with the money, we organized daily hot food deliveries for them. Later, in collaboration with LYNC, we set up the first Home of Mercy for abandoned elderly people. From 2020 to 2024, we have organized or helped to organize and maintain six such Homes of Mercy in different regions of Ukraine, and this project continues to expand.

 

“I heard in my heart: 'If children have abandoned their parents, if the state does not care for its citizens, then us – His living church, must become the hands of Jesus Christ on earth.”

We are approaching the final stage before launching a new Home of Mercy in the village of Geletnytsi, Ukraine, where 25 lonely elderly and disabled people will live. We have already completed the renovation and are now bringing in furniture, household appliances, and everything necessary for the elderly’s daily lives.

This village is already the second Home of Mercy; the first provided shelter and care to 30 elderly people. At this stage, we are caring for 70 elderly people in four organized Homes of Mercy and are buying a fifth home for these needs.

 

 

Read more about Sergey’s work helping Ukrainian refugees since 2014:

Donetsk Pastor speaks out about Ukrainian Donbas’ struggle against Russian aggression, Human Rights in Ukraine

Attacks Don’t Hinder Ukrainian Christians, Baptist Press

Ukrainian Churches Help Donbas Refugees, Radio Liberty – featuring Kosiak and LYNC’s Senior Researcher, Dr. Maksym Vasin

 

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