Restoring hope | WORLD
Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate

Restoring hope


WORLD Radio - Restoring hope

A Ukrainian pastor shares tiny homes, food, and the gospel with people in communities ravished by the war

A Russian tank in Bucha, Ukraine, 2022 Photo by Sergiy Lysak

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Wednesday, April 17th. You’re listening to WORLD Radio and we thank you for listening. Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.

LINDSAY MAST, HOST: And I’m Lindsay Mast. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: rebuilding Ukraine.

More than a million homes have been destroyed in Ukraine since Russia invaded two years ago… and now millions of people are taking shelter with friends or in hotels if they can. And if they can’t, in ruins and subway tunnels. At first, the main concern was food… but as the war drags on, people need a lot more.

REICHARD: WORLD’s Mary Muncy talked to a Ukrainian pastor who’s trying to fill those needs.

MARY MUNCY: About two months after the war started, Ukrainian pastor Sergiy Lysak saw an old woman with her hand on a ruined house. She was crying.

SERGIY LYSAK: I introduced myself and I said, “Do you need a tiny home?” She said, “Sure.”And I said, “we'll bring it tomorrow to you.”

Sasha is almost 100 years old and lives in a village outside of Kyiv. A missile hit her house and a fire destroyed it in the early days. She would have died, but a Ukrainian soldier pulled her out in time.

LYSAK: She was crying and saying “I'm so upset with the soldier—Ukrainian soldier who saved me because I was supposed to be in my house when Russians were attacking.”

She had planned to die in her house, on her land.

When Lysak’s team brought Sasha the tiny home, she still wasn’t sure she wanted it.

LYSAK: She was so upset but I told her, “No, no, no, no, no. God gave you a chance to continue to live because he wants you to see hope.”

Lysak had been repairing a different home in the village when he realized how many people needed homes faster, so he started coordinating tiny homes.

So far, Lysak has helped place 100 tiny homes in Sasha’s village. And more in others. Many of them are for people like Sasha. People who don’t want to leave their land because it’s what sustains them.

LYSAK: We raise our food on our property. So basically staying on your property, it means you will have food to eat. So our grandmas, even when they are 80 years old, they continue to do gardening. They continue to do farming, they continue to just to provide food for themselves.

The Ukrainian flag is blue above yellow. The blue sky over fruitful fields.

LYSAK: Whatever you can imagine grows on our dirt. We have the richest dirt in the world. We have this joke that you can put a stick in our dirt and it will grow.

Now, he’s trying to grow hope.

When the war started, Lysak tried to convince his wife and three kids that they should leave while he stayed.

LYSAK: But she says, “I'm not going to leave you.” And it's very difficult for me to win when I have some conversations with my wife, because her name is Victoria. You know, it's so difficult to win against someone whose name is already victory, okay?

So, they stayed. Lysak says God laid food, medicine, and rebuilding on his heart. So he and his teenage sons started handing out food, medicine, and sleeping bags to the people hiding in metro tunnels while his five-year-old daughter played with the kids.

At first, the war was just outside Kyiv, but Lysak didn’t believe the rumors of atrocities at the front. He thought the reports were blown out of proportion.

That lasted until about a month into the war.

LYSAK: One of my friends called me and he said, “Sergiy, we need to bring food to Bucha.”

Bucha is a suburb of Kyiv—Russia occupied it a few weeks after they invaded. But Lysak’s friend said the Russians had been pushed out. So he agreed to go. But he would go without his team, just in case.

The team loaded food into their van and Lysak and his friend headed out of the city. For an hour and a half, they passed crumbling buildings and craters.

Lysak saw the frozen body of an old man on the side of the road. He had a bicycle beside him. He looked like he had been trying to flee when he was gunned down.

LYSAK: It's just like someone’s grandpa, you know? And he reminded me of my dad who is 80 years old.

As they got further into Bucha he saw Russian tanks abandoned as they retreated.

LYSAK: Russian soldiers' legs and fingers. And you know, it's just like, you'll just see everywhere you can see, you know, Russian boots and and have legs are standing in those boots.

Suddenly, the war was real.

They stopped in the middle of town and opened their van.

LYSAK: Over 300 people, they ran out. They ran to our van, and they started to say, “We want food, just give us food.”

So they started handing out potatoes, bread, and tomatoes—everything they had.

As the war dragged on, other ministries started helping with food and medicine. That’s when Lysak started expanding his focus to rebuilding.

LYSAK: We saw all these old people who are 65-plus. They don't have a place to live, and they don't want to go anywhere. They just stay on their property. And it's crazy. They say, “I’m going to die here. I'm not gonna go anywhere.”

At first, they used what they had on hand to repair existing homes. They brought bricks and tarps in, but it was going too slow. It took days or weeks to help one person. So they started looking for other options. That’s when they found a company that makes tiny homes—all they would have to do was come up with funding to buy and place them.

So they did.

And as they placed more and more, they started getting to know the people in them.

LYSAK: We even didn't tell them that we are Christians. We just at the beginning started to help them. And later on, I said, “But you need to know why we do that. So let's get together.”

So, about a month after they placed the first tiny home, they gathered almost 20 people at a house they had just finished repairing.

LYSAK: I started to tell them that we’re Christians. We love Jesus, and He told us to come here and help. And all of these people, they came to the Lord. They all gave their life to Jesus.

When they placed the 100th tiny home in Sasha’s village, they started a church there and Lysak says it’s growing.

LYSAK: I would say that we have the biggest Christian revival in the world in Ukraine. It's just very bloody, but it's so powerful.

Lysak says giving someone food, medicine, or a tiny home, is extending faith, hope, and love in a very tangible way. It’s all things they need to survive and grow. A small stick planted in fertile soil.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Mary Muncy.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


Please wait while we load the latest comments...