Ukraine update: What is it like?

A physical therapist at Agape Rehabilitation Center, Ukraine, helps a man walk.

The war has continued for nearly two years now. While I understand why it is not ongoing front and center news all over the world, we in Ukraine are not allowed or able to forget about it. To varying extents, depending on our location and activities, we daily live with the reality of war. So what does that look and feel like? Here are just a few of the ways I could answer that question:

WAR in Ukraine looks like being awakened multiple times in the night to air alert sirens. First they go off to alert you of the threat of attack. Later they go off to cancel the alert. Then another threat is detected and they go off again. The cycle goes all night. You know that if they are going off in Lutsk, they are most likely going off everywhere, so all of Ukraine is under attack.

When you hear them multiple times in one night, you are not surprised (you expect it, in fact) to read the news in the morning of multiple cities hit and civilians targeted and killed. Just recently, 158 cruise missiles and drones were launched at Ukraine in one night!

WAR in Ukraine means simultaneously feeling sorrow and thankfulness when you read the morning news. Along with seeing the high number of missiles and drones launched at Ukraine in the night, you also note that a high percentage of them were shot down by our air defense systems. You are thankful that our men have the weapons, skills, desire, diligence and attentiveness to protect Ukrainians day and night.

WAR in Ukraine means that as you walk to work surrounded by fresh snow all around, you do not fully enjoy the beauty as you once did. Instead, you feel a measure of guilt because in a few minutes you will trade the bitterly cold, single-digit temperatures for a warm building while our soldiers sit, stand and sleep in this weather day after day defending this nation. You express gratitude to God for their sacrifice and pray they have adequate warmth, food and clothing.

snow in ukraine

WAR in Ukraine looks like hearing the air alert sirens during the day followed by the groan of a coworker whose child is at preschool or school. Why? Because they know their child will now spend 30 minutes…an hour…maybe even several hours down in the cold basement bomb shelter instead of in the warm classroom learning or playing.

WAR in Ukraine means cheering when you hear Ukrainian fighter jets fly overhead. As you watch them through the window, your heart cheers and you mutter words like, “Go get ‘em boys! Thank you for defending our skies!” You are really excited when you observe not just one, but two fighter jets regularly flying over Lutsk! Bring on the F16s!

WAR in Ukraine feels like sorrow and anger when a friend of a friend is killed defending Ukraine. You see his picture on the internet. No, you didn’t know him, but your friend did, so it hits closer to home. He was only 24, with a wife and little girl. Your heart breaks for that family—for that little girl who will now grow up without her father. And you pray for God’s peace to fill them. You are reminded again that they are just one of many. This war does not have to be! These men, young and old, don’t have to die this way, leaving behind wives, children, parents, siblings, friends and their country.

WAR in Ukraine is minor inconveniences and sober reminders. You make a trip across town just to go to one particular store. But as you are driving, the air alert sirens go off, meaning the store is closed when you arrive. You get back in your car, trying to decide whether to risk that the cancellation signal will soon be heard and the store will reopen or to just turn right around and leave.

While you ponder what to do, you hear commotion and look up to witness the procession of vehicles heading to the cemetery, escorting the body of yet another soldier killed in the war. You are reminded again that this war is taking the lives of so many in Ukraine.

WAR in Ukraine feels like rejoicing when over 200 Ukrainian prisoners of war return home. The pictures of them standing near the dark, draped in Ukrainian flags, hugging and singing the national anthem capture your attention. When you hear that among them are 48 soldiers who had been missing in action, you feel a glimmer of hope that your coworker’s son, who was declared MIA one year ago, will be among them. Unfortunately, no such news comes.

WAR in Ukraine sounds like the fellowship portion of weekly home groups including conversations about the war. We ask about one ladies’ brother who has long been fighting on the front line. We discuss pending laws regarding mobilization. Someone comments on the large numbers of wounded soldiers recently brought to our hospital. We talk about the recent attacks and ask about the family members and friends still living in the cities from which members of our group fled at the beginning of the war. And on and on…

While war itself is not normal, the topic of war has become normal and natural. It cannot and should not be avoided because it is the reality of everyday life in Ukraine.

WAR in Ukraine means that you now have friends scattered all over the globe—Poland, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, the US. Some of them you haven’t seen for two years and some of them you get rare opportunities to see. They are people you were close to before the war. You saw them nearly every day. You worked together, shared an office with them, and frequently shared life together outside of work.

So when that rare opportunity comes to see them in person, you stay up late talking and laughing, discussing the future and wondering together when they might live in Ukraine and work together with you again. It’s truly sad how much separation of families and friends has been brought by the war. I am certain not one person in Ukraine is exempt from experiencing the pains of separation on some level!

WAR in Ukraine means going to work week after week, month after month at the Agape Rehabilitation Complex and being reminded of the vast numbers of Ukrainian men wounded—often severely wounded—in this war. These men and their families will never be the same. Many will spend the rest of their lives in a wheelchair. Some learn to walk again, but not without great difficulty.

Many need specialized equipment, prosthetics or orthotics. The mechanism of injury for most is an explosion, so their injuries are often extensive. They go through months of rehabilitation at various centers in Ukraine and sometimes abroad. It can be discouraging when you see how many applications Agape alone receives, knowing it is only a small portion of all the wounded soldiers. But we are thankful we get to help some of them on their path to recovery.



Sign-up and Claim Your

When Healthcare Hurts

Contact a Recruiter

Recruiter form

Preliminary Application for Missionary Service

This application is step one in making application to Christian Health Service Corps as a long-term medical or support staff missionary. If you are interested in serving for less than three years, please see the CHSC Reserve Corps Application.

Preliminary Application for Missionary Service

Faith Questions

Christian Health Service Corps is an interdenominational Christian mission that holds the Apostles' Creed as our Christian Statement of Faith. The key qualification for missionary service is being a true disciple of Jesus.  

Upload C/V and Professional Licenses

Reserve Corps Application

Our Reserve Corps program allows healthcare professionals seeking to volunteer short-term to do so in a way that supports long-term Christian medical missions work. CHSC places healthcare professionals in a growing list of Christian hospitals across Africa, Asia, Latin America and other regions. Christian Health Service Corps works to improve access to primary healthcare, surgical services, and community-based disease prevention services. Non-Christian volunteers are accepted on a case by case basis but solely at the discretion of the hospital and CHSC team the volunteer will be supporting.

Reserve Corps Application

Faith Questions

The Christian Healthcare Services Corps (CHSC) is a non-profit organization that provides healthcare services to underserved communities worldwide. Our mission is to bring Christ-centered, compassionate care where needed most, and we deploy Christian healthcare professional staff and volunteers to our Christian-based partners. We appreciate your interest in working with our organization and providing your specialties to the less fortunate.

References and Document Uploads

Please submit your form.

This is the end of the form.