From The Gospel Coalition (April 12, 2022) by Jamie Dean
For Fedya Minakov, exile within his own country isn’t a new experience. In 2014, Minakov left his hometown of Donetsk with his pregnant wife and 2-year-old child after Russian forces invaded the region in eastern Ukraine. Minakov planned to return home in a couple of months when he thought the conflict might ease: “We never got back there since.”
Minakov recounted his story from an apartment in western Ukraine—close to the Polish border, but far from his family’s most recent home in Kyiv, where Minakov serves as a professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at the Evangelical Reformed Seminary of Ukraine.
In early February, when U.S. intelligence reports warned that Russian forces might invade the country, Minakov considered his experience in 2014 and decided to prepare. He relocated his wife and children to an apartment in western Ukraine, and he returned to Kyiv to continue his work and see what would happen. On the morning of February 24, Minakov awoke in a shaking building and heard the sound of explosions erupting across the capital city.
It was time to flee again.
Though sorrows multiply, Minakov said he’s trying to stay focused on opportunities for ministry. His wife and children have traveled to Holland, so he’s using the apartment in western Ukraine as a temporary shelter for other Ukrainian contacts passing through on their way to the border.
He coordinates relief work with other Christians from his seminary and from his congregation in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ukraine. Such work isn’t new for believers: evangelicals were among those active in helping Ukrainians displaced after Russia’s invasion in the east in 2014. That experience has helped mobilize Christians to assist again, even as the number of displaced Ukrainians swells to over 11 million.
As one of those 11 million, Minakov said he doesn’t try to predict when he might be able to return to Kyiv. He’s preparing for seminary classes to resume online later this month, and students will begin again with a study of the Pentateuch: “Little by little, we work.”
In the meantime, he grieves his separation from his family, mourns his country’s suffering, and hopes in the gospel. “I believe the Lord is using this terrible situation to advance his gospel,” he said. “That’s the only hope for the world.”
Minakov also hopes Christians around the world will continue to pray for Ukraine. “People get tired of bad news, and they forget,” he said. “So my request would be to please continue praying. You know how to pray—we want this war to end soon.”
Compiled by Leanne Portzel