Civilian Evacuations Continue In Irpin The Day After Deadly Shelling

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A member of the Far Reaching Ministries (FRM) staff;  he grew up in Papua New Guinea with his parents as missionaries with the New Tribes. In his youth, he hunted wild boar and crocodiles with spears and even spoke the native tongue. When the family returned from the mission field, He joined the United States Marine Corps and served with Second Force Recon, which is the elite of the Marine Corps Special Forces. He had been in Afghanistan and Iraq and trained soldiers all over the globe. He has extensive combat duty expertise, and he has also served in many special operation tours. He has served with FRM several times in the last 20 years,  leaving  to  go to college and get his master’s degree.  He started a very successful ministry, where he worked with veterans who had lost purpose after leaving the military. They would then repurpose their gifts for the Kingdom. Each time the Lord called him away from FRM, Vicky would say, “he will be back.” And so, he is.  As time moves on, we will reveal the full extent of what the Lord has called us to do in the Ukraine. For now, we can tell you that we will be feeding large groups of people and taking care of widows and orphans. We will also be doing ministry with the military, providing equipment and training. Fortunately, we are uniquely qualified for this type of operation.

This is his report:
On our recent visit to Kiev, we visited the other towns, where stories were just beginning to emerge of war crimes committed.  Intent on taking the city of Kiev and “decapitating” the Ukrainian government, with the goal to install their own puppet government. The invasion came from three directions, with one of the largest forces moving south from Belarus to encircle Kiev. Many Ukrainians did not believe, but it happened so quickly that they could not evacuate in time.
The government of Ukraine was also unprepared, and no evacuation buses were available for those who lived in rural and suburban areas of Kiev.  For many, their only choice was to remain in their home, hoping for the best.  Through divine intervention and fierce resistance of the Ukrainian forces, the advance on Kiev stalled 30 kilometers (over 18 miles) outside of the city in an affluent suburb called Bucha. The Brigade made its headquarters in this idyllic suburban town. Frustrated by poor supply lines, failure, and low morale, the men began to search for food, alcohol, and women to rape throughout the city. They emptied the liquor stores and knocked on doors to forcibly rape girls and women.  They indiscriminately shot civilians, often torturing them first by cutting off their cheeks or ears. Some of their victims were killed by decapitation in the city streets, a hallmark of forces, the modern-day equivalent of the Assyrians from the Bible. As unspeakable evil descended on this idyllic suburban neighborhood, courageous leaders began to emerge.  One such leader was a pillar in the community who owned a gym. He used this gym to train and disciple many of the children in the community. He watched the horror of the indiscriminate killings and acted quickly to save as many people in his town as he could. They also turned off all the power and water in the city, so there was no way to produce heat in below-freezing temperatures, and there was very little food. He organized them according to essential tasks:  firewood and water gatherers, food distributors, cooks, and sentries to watch for patrols. To better protect and hide this group of 200 people, he moved them into his gym.  He made a strict rule that no one could bring alcohol into this small fortress, recognizing that alcohol would compromise the safety and protection of the group. When two men broke the rule, he promptly excommunicated them and dumped out their alcohol. On two separate occasions, patrols tried to gain access to their hiding place. The group was terrified as soldiers banged on the doors and tried to get inside. They convinced them that there was no one hidden inside, and they moved on. Children who hid in the basement for days still wake in terror that they have broken in and taken them away. Stories like these are everywhere in Bucha, they indiscriminately shelled homes, apartments, and nonmilitary-related buildings. Their goal, it seems, was simply to strike fear and terror in the heart of the Ukrainians. One intercepted recording between an officer and his wife is stunning in the admission. The wife told her husband to rape Ukrainian women. Her husband said, “Are you serious?” His wife laughed and responded, “Just make sure you use protection.”

One of the most shocking discoveries for us in Bucha was visiting the site of the headquarters. Here, many innocent civilians were bound with their hands behind their backs and executed for no reason. Walking through the headquarters, their reign of terror, we were shocked by their complete lack of discipline. Empty bottles of alcohol were scattered everywhere. Trash was strewn all over.  In some cases, they did not even use toilets, choosing to defecate on the very floor of adjacent rooms where they slept. The level of profound filth was so shocking it almost caused us to vomit. It became clear to me that (many of whom are just learning how to fight) were equally defeated by complete inept discipline as they were by the formidable Ukrainian defense force. With this shocking realization, we became more concerned that a nuclear weapon might be used simply because forces are not disciplined enough to actually take and hold cities. For this reason, we believe his primary tactic is to flatten cities versus the much more sophisticated task of taking and holding territory. The spirit and resilience of the Ukrainians is something we rarely have, if ever, seen.  It seems to me that one has to revisit the remarkable stories of WWII to find the kind of courage and resiliency on display.  Driving through the devastation is everywhere. A woman with four small plastic bags stood at an intersection on a street where every house was destroyed. We pulled over and asked her if she needed a ride. She climbed into the vehicle, and we asked her where she was going. She responded, “To Kiev,” with a distant stare akin to shell shock. She then told us that her apartment had taken a direct hit from a rocket.  Gasoline caused an inferno to rage so hotly that her two bicycles on the patio melted completely from the heat. Everything she owned in her life was represented in those four tattered bags that she carried. Yet, she did not focus on her loss. Rather, she proudly told us that she was a technical manual translator for the Antonov manufacturing Kiev. This woman was highly educated and had chosen to stay behind to assist in the war effort. When asked what she would do next, she responded, “I don’t know. All we can do is take one day at a time. That is enough.”

The chaplain corps in Ukraine is remarkable. It was recently established during the 2014 annexation of Crimea. These are men of courage who love the Lord, and it is this group that has executed some of the most daring evacuations and resupply of the frontlines. One chaplain we talked to conducted over 30 evacuations. On one such mission, he was en route to pick up a family of eight who had been trapped for days. On his way, he encountered a patrol, who immediately fired on his van. Rounds sliced through the engine block and into the cab of his vehicle. Miraculously, he was uninjured and played dead. He walked 35 kilometers (21 miles) to the closest town, where he was able to make a call back to our partners who are in the country. Without hesitation, he said, “All I need is another van so I can complete my mission today.”  Another van was found for him, and he rescued the family that very night! Not only did this chaplain take fire to rescue this family, but he also fulfilled scripture: no greater love than this that a man would lay down his life for a friend.  On another occasion, this same chaplain was this same chaplain rescuing a family when he encountered a man who pleaded with him to take his mother. He pulled gold pieces from his pocket and said, “Please, I’ll give you gold or anything you need.” The chaplain responded, “I don’t need or want your gold. I will help you and your mother in Jesus’ name.” He drove the family and the man with his mother to a church that was housing refugees. Over the church entrance, the words are inscribed, “People are more precious than gold.”  The man wept when he read those words, and he and his mother understood the Gospel message.   A grocery store owner (who is a believer) recognized that body armor was in short supply. He purchased two industrial sewing machines and 5 mm thick steel from Germany. He copied the design of top protective vests and tested them to ensure that they could stop a 7.62 round. He is now manufacturing vests within Ukraine for $200 each vs. $2,000 each. FRM is assisting him in the funding of these vests to protect the chaplains, who are delivering food and medical equipment, as well as aiding them in their evacuation efforts. Another project that we are currently investing in is that of locally sourced food supplies for displaced and starving families in Ukraine. In order to address this need, the West’s answer has been to ship aid through Poland and then on to various locations. Ukraine is the largest producer of grain globally and can meet the needs of displaced people if they can get their products to warehouses for distribution. The head of the chaplain program came up with the idea that for $75/month (vs. $500 for bringing in food from outside), you can support a family of 8 with all the food they need.  Better yet, the food is sourced from Ukrainian farmers who haven’t been able to get their supply to market due to the war.  Once sourced, it is taken to a warehouse, where it is packaged and distributed to families in need. FRM has committed to funding the food distribution project. We plan on feeding 3,000 families or 15,000 individuals for up to three months.

In addition to feeding up to 15,000 individuals, we will be utilizing our Potatoes for Grandmothers project, where we are working with the chaplains to minister to elderly grandfathers and grandmothers who have lost everything.
We will also be ministering to widows of Ukrainian soldiers who have been killed defending the nation.  As always, we need help feeding those who have lost everything. For $225, we can feed a family for three months.  In addition to this, we are raising sponsorships for the elderly and widows to ensure that they have enough food to eat. If you would like to be part of this vital ministry opportunity, we ask that you prayerfully consider signing up for the automatic debit program. You will then receive a photo and testimony in the next four months as we identify those who need care.  We are hopeful that families will one day be able to provide for themselves again, whereas the elderly and widows are most likely unable to do so. As the country becomes more stable over time, we will be sending in teams to assist in the rebuilding of homes and shattered lives. Over the years, the Lord has had me “adopt” children and families by sponsoring them to escape from the Taliban or other dangerous groups. For many of you, this may be your time to become a father to the fatherless by caring for those that cannot care for themselves.

Wes Bentley

Far Reaching Ministries