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Solar-Powered ‘Lifeline’ Brings Ray of Hope to ‘Discouraged’ Ukrainians

October 2, 2023

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Local churches use portable ‘solar survival system’ to power-up phones, share Gospel in streets and bomb shelters

LOVES PARK, Ill. — Churches in Ukraine are using portable solar-powered “survival systems” to bring relief and hope to those without electricity as drones relentlessly target the nation’s power grid.

Illinois-based Slavic Gospel Association (SGA, www.sga.org) — an evangelical mission that has been supporting local churches in the region for decades — has supplied 40 solar-powered sets that churches use to provide phone-charging stations and emergency lighting during blackouts.Solar pannel, Zaporizhzhia 2[1][6].jpeg

“The predictions for the winter are not encouraging,” said Viktor Baglai, pastor of a local evangelical church in the capital, Kyiv. “The whole of Ukraine may be cut off from electricity. Our church will be a place where people will be able to charge their phones and flashlights.”

Smartphones are a lifeline amid the conflict, providing an essential way to contact family and friends as well as a crucial online link to the outside world. But when the power goes out and there’s no way to recharge, that lifeline fizzles out.

Charging Stations Become Points of Hope
At the church-run charging stations — some of them located at bomb shelters — local pastors are holding Bible studies and sharing the Gospel with many who’ve never set foot inside a church before.

Pastor Baglai and others are even taking the portable solar sets to isolated villages, charging people’s phones in the streets, and preaching the Bible’s message of hope through solar-powered sound systems.

“This provides encouragement at a time when many Ukrainians are weary and discouraged,” explained Eric Mock, SGA’s senior vice president of ministry operations, a frequent visitor to the war zone.

‘Terrified of Being Buried Alive’
“When you hear the buzzing of drones overhead and explosions every night, you either get used to it or you become traumatized,” he said. “I’ve met many people who go outside in the middle of the night because they’re terrified of being buried alive in the rubble if there’s a drone strike on their apartment building.”

Drones are targeting electrical power stations, leaving Ukrainians vulnerable to blackouts and bitter cold as winter nears, Mock added.

“The solar-powered systems, and the message of the Gospel that goes out with them, are absolutely critical,” he said. “What the Ukrainian people need the most right now is hope.”

Bringing Practical Aid, Spiritual Hope
Many young moms, including those who’ve lost their husbands in the war, are wondering how they and their children will survive. “They’re saying, ‘How are we going to get through another winter? Is anyone going to help us?’ The emotional and psychological toll is exhausting,” Mock said. “This is not just a humanitarian effort. Local churches are providing physical aid and spiritual hope.”

Since the war began, SGA has partnered with local evangelical churches to supply some 18 million meals, more than 350 power generators, hundreds of portable cooking stoves, and thousands of warm blankets as part of its Operation Winter Warmth campaign.

It’s estimated millions have heard the Gospel as local pastors and church workers continue to deliver aid and food packages, and churches provide shelter for those forced to flee their homes.

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Founded in 1934, Slavic Gospel Association (SGA, www.sga.org) helps “forgotten” orphans, widows and families in Ukraine, Russia, the former Soviet countries of Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Russian-speaking immigrants in Israel – caring for their physical needs and sharing the life-transforming Gospel. SGA supports an extensive grassroots network of local evangelical missionary pastors and churches in cities and rural villages across this vast region.

PHOTO CUTLINE: CHURCHES PROVIDE SOLAR-POWERED ‘LIFELINE’ IN UKRAINE: Illinois-based mission Slavic Gospel Association (SGA, www.sga.org) has supplied 40 solar-powered “survival systems” that local churches in Ukraine use to provide phone-charging stations and emergency lighting as drones relentlessly target the nation’s power grid.

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