This week my close friend, Dima, was issued conscription to join the war in Ukraine. Throughout Ukraine over the past couple of weeks, the net has been widening toward those who haven’t yet ‘volunteered’ to defend Ukraine from the Russian invaders.

Dima has served with us at Lighthouse for +5yrs with his wife Lena as youth leaders. He’s been such a blessing, and friend. Someone we’ve leaned on for taking care of the property while representing integrity and diligence for the cause of Christ in our community. He knew this day was coming. Just last week we zoomed, and he was already mentally preparing for the inevitable. He was at peace then, and had resolved in his heart that he will trust the Lord, His God, for whatever comes.

It’s one thing to send humanitarian aid to hot-spots, to pray ‘over there’ for peace. It’s been difficult to see some of our youth from Club 180 dressed in army gear and holding weapons on social media. It’s been heart breaking to watch school teachers, mechanics, and retired neighbors called into action, leaving families behind to fend for themselves, some returning home only once or twice in the past year! It’s admittedly quite different, when your close friend, your brother in Christ, is called into something so evil, and blatantly unnecessary.

Dima at the back, Dennis as a young 15 year old at Club 180 Youth
Dima and Lena visit with Dennis a few weeks ago at Lighthouse (middle), on a short break from serving in the army.

My prayers solicit tears for Dima. Tears of aching pain for his wife, for his family, for a man who has given himself to loving others, bringing the hope of Jesus kingdom each day in his community through his smile, laughter, and optimism. I grieve today, not because I think Dima might be thrown into the front, or lose his life imminently. I grieve because this war, this sinister brutality, interrupts what is beautiful. Dima and Lena had just bought their first home, they were planting flowers, fixing bicycles and growing their own hobby business. Lena is now thrown into independence. Lena has been the main leader at Lighthouse throughout the war, and now has lost her best friend to wake up to each day, her capacity to care for others diminished as she’s forced to shore up the home front.

The trickle down effect of war is devastating to neighborhoods, the local economies, the schools, and structure of society. Even if the war stops today, Russia has successfully crushed the economy, expunged the brightest young women and families from it’s borders, and instigated limitless forms of trauma upon the next generation from their relentless terror. Those things are facts to the rest of the world, data in the annuls of history with the other wars. But for me, today, it’s about Dima, my friend, one that is intimately part of my own story, who’s influenced the way I see the world, and act within it.

I take solace in the faith of my brother. I believe Dima will be a bright, ray of light and hope wherever God graciously places him. Dima knows this, and would never ask for pity. He would, however, give thanks for the prayers offered up on his behalf. You have my prayers my friend, and my tears.