Russians and Ukrainians may be at war in Europe, but in Georgia they’re forging strong friendships.
At the Russian-speaking Lighthouse Church in Lawrenceville, people who immigrated years ago from the former USSR were waiting with open arms to welcome Ukrainians who have fled the war zone.
Russians and Ukrainians worship together at the Lighthouse Church and pray together for an end to the war.
Lighthouse Church Pastor Max Lisovskiy, a native of Russia, said his congregation has been helping to provide basic needs for new arrivals and helping them acclimate to a new country and a new culture.
“This church gave me everything I need,” said Ukrainian Andrii Bradarskyi who arrived in metro Atlanta in June. “I have a car. I have a place to live. I even have financial support.”
In the latest show of affection, the congregation arranged for free dental care for Ukrainians through the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s Mobile Health Ministry.
A large RV, retrofitted with dental chairs and equipment, rolled into the parking lot outside the Lighthouse Church on Aug. 26 for a two-day stop. Georgia Baptist dentists and hygienists who serve aboard the dental van are equipped to do a wide array of exams and procedures.
The Baptist Mobile Health Ministry is one of many outreaches funded by Georgia churches, including the Lighthouse Church, that give through the Cooperative Program.
Lisovskiy said his congregation is now about 60 percent Ukrainian with the remainder from other Russian-speaking countries.
Those who have been in the U.S. the longest come alongside newcomers to help them find homes and jobs and to help with a litany of other needs. Things longtime residents take for granted, like getting Georgia driver’s licenses so they can get to work or gathering immunization records so their children can enroll in school, can be difficult for people unaccustomed to the American system.
The Lighthouse Church also is providing English as a second language classes for the Ukrainians.
Haunted by Chernobyl
With the war dragging on and civilian and military casualties mounting, Ukrainians have plenty to pray about.
The Associated Press recently reported that authorities began distributing iodine tablets to residents near Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in case of a radiation leak, amid mounting fears that the fighting around the complex could trigger a catastrophe.
The move came a day after the plant was temporarily knocked offline because of what officials said was fire damage to a transmission line. The incident heightened dread of a nuclear disaster in a country still haunted by the 1986 explosion at Chernobyl.
AP reported that shelling continued in the area overnight, and satellite images showed fires burning around the complex, which is Europe’s biggest nuclear plant.
The United Nations atomic energy agency has been trying to send a team in to inspect and help secure the plant. Officials said preparations for the trip were underway, but it remained unclear when it might take place.
The Zaporizhzhia plant has been occupied by Russian forces and run by Ukrainian workers since the early days of the 6-month-old war. The two sides have repeatedly accused each other of shelling the site.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Roger Alford and originally published by The Christian Index.