Ukraine-based missionaries from NI feeding families in bomb-hit city
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Timothy and Rhoda Sloan, who worshipped at Gospel halls in the north Antrim and Garvagh areas before leaving Northern Ireland in 1992, have been living Lutsk in north-western Ukraine since 2004.
Although the main invasion forces advanced into Ukraine from the north, east and south, a major military airfield on the outskirts of Lutsk was one of the first Russian targets to be destroyed early on Thursday morning.
Lutsk is situated 220 miles west of Kyiv (or Kiev) and is around 60 miles from the Polish border.
In a Facebook message soon after the missiles rained down, Mr Sloan said: “Six large bombs went off this morning in Lutsk just as I was going to the Gospel Hall at 06.50. I rushed back to the apartment and got Rhoda. We are safe and will open the Gospel Hall for all who need us.
“We are safe. Please pray. People have started to panic but God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Earlier this week, he circulated a message warning of the “dreadful consequences” of the Russian actions.
He posted: “This is quite possibly our last means of correspondence for some time. War is imminent and the consequences dreadful.”
He went on to say: “As we close the military jets can be heard overhead and we covet your prayers! We are not any braver than you – but confident we are where God would expect us to be. Daniel 4:17.”
A video posted online yesterday by the couple’s daughter, who lives in the US, showed Mr Sloan, through an interpreter, reassure a group of young people that emergency food and shelter will be available.
“We want you to know you can come here any time of the day, seven days a week – and you can say that to your mum and dad, or to your grandparents,” he said.
“We are going to try to provide free meals, and while we have electric there will be hot meals. If there is no electric then we can provide sandwiches,” Mr Sloan added.
Among a number of supportive messages posted in response, one friend said: “Praying for Rhoda and Timothy our dear neighbours. We are also praying for the children in their care. Our prayers go up for all the people of Ukraine. Our God is in control. All our love.”
Another said: “Timothy and Rhoda we are praying for you from the UK. Someone shared a message you sent on the 24\7 Instagram page and so we know about your call to stay put and serve the people to bring God’s Kingdom. We are inspired. Thank you. Keep going.”
Writing in the Assembly Testimony magazine in 2005, Mr Sloan fondly recalled his childhood in Aghadowey and attending Coleraine Terrace Row Presbyterian Church, and later worshipping at a “tin hut at Ballylintagh Gospel Hall”.
Having married Rhoda in 1982, the couple settled down in Garvagh and “moved to the local assembly at Killykergan” and also had links with the assembly at Moneydig.
Their appeal for prayers has been widely circulated on Facebook and other social media platforms.
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