NI couple ‘staying put’ in Ukraine after being awoken at 05:47 by Russian rockets hitting nearby airfield

A Northern Ireland couple who are missionaries in Ukraine have vowed to remain, only hours after the Russian forces destroyed an airfield near their home and as they try to assist with thousands of refugees now flooding their area.

By Philip Bradfield
Friday, 11th March 2022, 6:20 pm
Updated Friday, 11th March 2022, 7:45 pm

Timothy and Rhoda Sloan worshipped at Gospel halls in north Antrim and Garvagh before moving to the city of Lutsk in 2004 - about 220 miles west of Kyiv and 60 miles from the Belarussian border.

They distribute over 120 hot meals a day to children, the elderly and Ukrainian security force members, and help run a local church.

“We are so thankful to the people of the United Kingdom and Ireland for their prayers and thoughtfulness towards us,” the couple said in a news letter to supporters yesterday. “We are on the ground and could not do what we are doing without you.”

Timothy and Rhoda Sloan from Newtownabbey.

“Our work dramatically changed two weeks ago, Thursday morning 24 February. Destruction and death, injuries and funerals are now daily events. Lutsk has been turned into a fortress as we are only 60 miles from the Belarusian border.

“This morning we were wakened at 05:47 by bombs going off at our local military airfield. Sadly two soldiers lost their lives and six are injured. The town sirens are sounding even as I write and people are taking shelter in underground bunkers.

“Three thousand refugees are arriving in Lutsk daily and we are being inundated with requests for help. We are on the ground and therefore can target humanitarian aid to those most in need. Two families whom we know have brought over family members from the East so we are seeking to rent apartments for them – they have nothing but the clothes they wear! What a privilege to be here.”

He added: “Yesterday three Baptist men asked me to fill their truck with diesel (300 litres) as they were leaving Lutsk for Kharkiv, a journey now of 1200km.

Missionaries Timothy and Rhoda Sloan who have vowed to stay in Ukraine as the Russian invasion continues. Facebook image

“They had a load of flour that they were taking over to Kharkiv and on the return trip they will be transporting people to Lutsk. A three day trip in the back of a truck! When their truck was filled they asked me to pray – just standing in the forecourt of the petrol station.”  

He added: “We would appreciate your thoughts for us as we attempt to house as many refugees as possible, provide free bedding, clothing, medicines and food, make a minimum 120 meals for children, pensioners, refugees and security personnel, buy in 5,000 Russian Bibles and children’s Bible story books.

“The war is far from over and will probably get nastier. Rhoda and I are on the ground and this is where we will stay.”

Timothy and Rhoda Sloan said they would like to “thank God and President Zelensky, who has been an inspiration to all”. The also thanked Silentnight for donations of bedding and Montgomery Transport who are transporting loads to Ukraine. The couple also thanked Danske Bank in Ballyclare branch for their understanding. Readers can support them via www.ukraineaid.com

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