Ukrainians Study for Christ in Carolina Mountains

May 31, 2024 • United States

Samaritan’s Purse is sponsoring students from the war-torn nation at North Carolina’s Montreat College.

Responding to the Crisis in Ukraine

While their fellow countrymen are fiercely defending their homeland from foreign invasion, 10 young Ukrainians now enjoy the peace of being able to study and prepare for their futures at Montreat College in Montreat, North Carolina. Samaritan’s Purse is covering the expenses of eight of these students, with plans for two more students to join them in the fall, as part of our ongoing effort to provide relief to the beleaguered country.

‘I’m So Thankful’

Mariia is a freshman cybersecurity major from Kyiv. When she finished up her schooling in Ukraine, she dreamed of continuing her education somewhere like the United States.

“I believe God led me here and allowed me to be here. I’m so thankful to God for all these opportunities.”

She remembers well the first days of the war in February 2022. Her family left their home in the capital to stay in a village where it seemed safer.

“All people were so scared and they just didn’t know what to do. But after a month, after a year, people just adjusted,” Mariia said. Where people once fled to shelter at the sound of air raid sirens, today they don’t pay much attention to them.

Mariia sadly notes how Ukrainians have adjusted to the frequent bombs and air raid sirens that often go off around them.

“I know because I talk with my parents every day. Now, [there’s] still a lot of air raid alarms and a lot of bombs and rockets flying to Ukraine. It’s still so dangerous and it is still so scary, but people just live like this.”

Mariia is looking forward to serving an internship at Samaritan’s Purse this summer.

“I hope to get more mature during the internship, to learn how to take on more responsibilities, to get more experience in sharing the Gospel, and to get more experience communicating with people.”

Her heart’s desire is to return to her country after she finishes her studies in North Carolina.

‘I Have Hope in God’

Nick is from the city of Odessa in southern Ukraine, just 30 minutes from the Black Sea. He is a freshman visual communication and experience design major at Montreat. The war in his country has had an especially sobering effect on him and his family.

“I lost my cousin. He died in the war. Also, I lost a few friends.”

Nick was in the U.S. visiting his brother and sister when war broke out over two years ago and he hasn’t returned since. Instead, he has had to grieve the losses of his friends and relatives from afar.

Nick grieves the loss of friends and a relative who died in the fighting in his home country of Ukraine.

“At first it feels like despair, like I can do nothing about it. It’s hard to realize that I cannot see them again in this life,” Nick said. “But as believers, we believe I could see them again in Heaven. It took me a few weeks to get better. With the support of my new friends here, Christian community, and my family, I got over it. Just trust—trust in God.”

As he enjoys his design studies at Montreat, Nick is acutely aware that life is much harder for his fellow citizens in Ukraine, because there seems to be no end in sight to the war raging at home.

“It’s hard for me to plan for the next year, but for them, it’s even harder,” Nick said.

He is eager to return to his country when the war is over, but until then, requests prayer.

“Pray for my family, so we can stay in touch with people in Ukraine and support them in every way we can. And for me to finish college and do what God called me to do, because I still don’t know what it is.”

Despite all his grief over his losses and his short-term uncertainties, Nick is still confident in his eternal future.

“I find hope in God because whatever happens in our life, it’s still not the end.”

‘God Is in Control—Trust Him’

Evnika is from a village of just 2,000 people in western Ukraine. Her father pastors a small church there that has been reaching out to refugees with food supplies and other humanitarian aid since the beginning of the war. As other churches do the same, she is grateful for how the war has drawn different denominations in Ukraine together.

When her country was turned upside down by the foreign invasion, Evnika was in Belgium on a study exchange program with her Ukrainian university. But rather than feeling helpless from afar, she began talking in churches in Belgium and the Netherlands about the situation in her country. Through her talks, she raised support for her fellow Ukrainians.

“I was still useful for my country,” Evnika said. “It became easier for me to be there.”

After being in Belgium eighteen months, Evnika started applying to universities in the United States in order to continue her studies. Then a physical and occupational therapy major, she began to see that she needed to switch her major to psychology because of her own physical limitations. She survived two strokes in 2018, and still has residual effects from them.

Evnika hopes to be involved in ministry after she graduates from Montreat.

At Montreat College for nine months already, Evnika is quick to invite others to pray for Ukraine. She’s concerned that as the war has faded from public view and the daily news cycles, people will begin to forget about it. She wants to continue to be a voice for her country from North Carolina.

“All our young men and fathers and brothers, they died. It’s really difficult to realize,” Evnika said. “I want people to know that they can still help with prayer and just being emotional with us.”

Evnika’s dream for her future is to be in ministry. “He gave me a second chance to live to be useful for people around me.”

Based on these life experiences, her advice to others is simple:

“Just remember that God is in control. Even when you have struggles and when you have difficulties. … God can change difficult times in our lives into something really great, if you will trust Him.”

Samaritan’s Purse is currently sponsoring eight Ukrainian students at Montreat College in Montreat, North Carolina.

In total, five Ukrainian students from Montreat are serving internships at Samaritan’s Purse International Headquarters this summer. Please pray that this experience will further equip them to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and their country after they graduate.

Olena and her children huddle in their cellar next to a stove provided by Samaritan's Purse.
Responding to the Crisis in Ukraine Samaritan's Purse is providing food, water, and non-food items, such as wood stoves, solar lights, and construction materials, to suffering families in Ukraine. In partnership with local churches and ministry partners, we are bringing this urgently needed relief to those in areas deeply affected by the conflict. We are also airlifting medical supplies into the country and providing medical training as fighting rages on. Since the start of the war, we have operated two field hospitals and other medical clinics.

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