Ukraine: Ukraine troops pull back in Kharkiv after Russia offensive


The First Operational Deployment by Chazak Rescue Guardians - Ukraine

Class 1 Guardian


December 27, 2023

An average of 30 shells hit the city per day. Distant booms from artillery were followed moments later by explosions as shells landed nearby. Some of my teammates watched as rockets soared across the sky towards their intended targets.We woke one morning to smoke curling up to meet the sunrise from a building that was hit in the night. Many have given in to fear and anger in these trying times, but a beacon of hope and light shines from a dilapidated building mere kilometers from the front line. This church, hit months earlier by a drone strike, continues to shed the light and love of Jesus in the darkness and pain of war.

While in Ukraine, my team and I conducted medical training for civilians, helped distribute aid to villages near the front lines, and helped a local church restore their partially destroyed building. While we were wishing for more opportunities that fit our mission, I couldn’t help but feel that God had brought us here to learn as an organization and encourage the people we were training and working with. Whether it was the soldier our translator felt led to pray for or the dear babushka (grandmother) who had lost several grandchildren during the war, I am grateful that we had the opportunity to share the hope and peace of Jesus in what little ways we
could with a language barrier.

Guardians conducting TECC training

The medical training we were offering was intended to be a 3-day course that covered everything from controlling major bleeding to basic airway management. During our time in Ukraine, we discovered that many of the people who wanted training preferred a 3–4 hour class so we had to adapt our training accordingly. We were able to conduct one 2-day course, several 3–4 hour classes, and one very basic stop-the-bleed class. Each of these trainings were for around 20 civilians and were offered in the Zaporizhzhia, Odesa, and Kherson regions of Ukraine. Outside of medical training, my team made several deliveries of firewood, water, and other aid along the eastern and southern fronts. We also had the opportunity to visit and share about our faith at some church plants in small villages in the Zaporizhzhia region through a local pastor.

Guardians conducting food and supply deliveries

Perhaps the most rewarding part of our deployment to Ukraine was helping to restore a local church. This church was hit by a drone strike earlier this year and was in need of some repairs so they could continue their ministry to the local people still in the city (approximately 3/5 of the population fled the city since the beginning of the war). Working with this church gave us the opportunity to connect with and encourage local believers while also providing them with physical labor that would allow their ministry to grow. God still gave us the opportunity to serve people even though it was not in the way we were expecting.

Guardians pausing for a photo with Church members while helping to make repairs

Some of the primary learning points from this deployment for us as an organization had to do with communication and gear. Communication is one of those things that will always come up in debriefs as an improvement point but as a new organization we are trying to determine exactly how Guardians and Ops should be coordinating and developing contacts and deployments. We also realized we had too much gear for our mission intent and the amount of infrastructure that is still in place in Ukraine. At the same time, we discovered some important pieces of gear to add to our packing list for those places that lack basic things like electricity and telecommunication systems.

As a team, we learned how to use our free time in beneficial ways. Each week we made sure to complete our weekly skills checklist which includes knot tying, medical skills practice, and some team/personal activities. We also had a prayer time with our translators each day. On a more personal level, each of us started developing ways to keep learning when we had nothing else to do. For some, this meant studying emergency medicine and for others it meant learning more about conflicts and disasters around the world. While we are still developing in this area, I believe using free time well is one of the most important skill to learn in our job of “hurry up and wait” as first responders.

Zack, who is our Class 1 photojournalist, was able to hear and document inspiring stories from some of the individuals with whom we came into contact. Check out the links below for these stories.

Vasya’s Testimony

Oksana’s Story

As a team of Guardians, and as an organization, we are currently working on developing connections overseas as we look to launch the next deployment. Stay tuned to hear about it and thank you for your support!

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