Oleksandr Marchenko those of us in the US call him Sasha. He is the founder and president of the International Center of Fatherhood (ICF). I will include his website in the show notes.
I was able to talk with Sasha and his family while he was fleeing Kyiv, Ukraine where he is headquartered.
ICF’s mission is to achieve change at the national level in understanding the role of men as fathers in the family, society, and the church through forming state family policy and public opinion for family values; and to promote the biblical model of a good father, to encourage men to follow it and to develop leadership in the home, the church and in society.
Sasha believes Leading this ministry is his mission from God and has committed his life to God’s leading.
Christ’s Church of the Valley: https://ccv.church/
CCV Missions: www.ccv.church/missions
Pastor Larrie Fraley: linkedin.com/in/larrie-fraley-53445032
Episode 3 Ukraine
Sasha: [00:00:00] Last night, I saw my grandson and it was a pain in my heart. He was really frustrated with war. He told me about who or why it happened. Why? Why, why is there? Why, why do Russians do that? What can we do? And he said I don't want to be in the war. I fear bombs and everything. So, we decided. We need to go and also the government asks people if they have kids. It's a time when we can leave here because it looks like today and tomorrow, Russians will send all their power to hold key capital.
Larrie Fraley: [00:01:03] Well, welcome to the Let's Go 360 podcast, and if you are new to this podcast, check out Episode Zero to give you an idea of what these podcasts are all about. Let's Go 360 is a podcast for listeners who want to know more about what God is doing here, near and far. God is on the move like no other time in history. This podcast, sponsored by Christ Church of the Valley, also known as CCD one church, but many locations across the Greater Phoenix area with plans to expand wherever God wants CCD to go. Check out our show notes where you can find links and helpful information in each podcast episode. My name is Larrie Fraley. I'm your host and lead pastor of the local and global missions here at CCD. Today is a special episode, as we know. Russia has attacked Ukraine, and one of our mission partners is there, and we're going to be with him today as he flees his city of Kyiv, where his ministry has asked to seek safety elsewhere in Ukraine. Our guest today is Olakunle Sandra Makiko. Those of us in the U.S. call him Sasha. He is the founder and president of the International Center of Fatherhood. And I will include this website in our show notes today. I ACF's mission is to achieve and change at the national level, the understanding of the role of men as fathers in the family, in the society and in the church, through forming state family policy and public opinion for family values, and to promote the biblical model of a good father. To encourage men to follow it and to develop leadership in the home, the church, and society. Sasha believes in leading this ministry is his mission from God and has committed his life to this to this leading. Sasha, welcome to the show.
Sasha: [00:03:07] Thank you for having me.
Larrie Fraley: [00:03:10] Yeah. Before we dive in today, let's tell us a little bit about your family.
Sasha: [00:03:17] Well, I'm a father of three daughters and men of one wife. I got give us with very beautiful and good daughters, all of them now married, and I have also a grandson who is five years old and granddaughter of a. The four years old. So, we enjoy our family. We enjoy a relationship, and I am enjoying my grand pop-up activities, so. Well, if you know, I have been two years in state formation for working, for development, of partnership, for to develop ministry in Ukraine, when I come back, my heart was very melted when my grandson told me, Papa, I miss you so much so that real, real blessing to their family to have kids and grandkids.
Larrie Fraley: [00:04:41] Well, I've seen your family and they are a beautiful family and I know you're very close to them. So, I have to tell our listeners right now that our plan for this podcast was for Sasha to be in Ukraine. And now he is on the road with his family, and we'll talk more about that in just a moment. But Sasha, could you explain maybe your ministry there in Ukraine?
Sasha: [00:05:06] Yes, sure. Our ministry focused on their fathers because we have a very negative heritage from Soviet times. Three. We have a lot of men in Ukraine, which. Uh, these are desert-oriented and don't know exactly what it means to be a good father. I have been like them. Its why God called me to do this, because in 1997 when I have been on my first seminar for fathers, I just realized that I have a very strong. Um, confrontation with my dad and I just realized I need reconciliation with him. And I shared it with my heart with the guys in the room. It was 200 men from different parts of Ukraine. I was very surprised to see most of them. Have the same situation as me with them there. I wanted to reconcile with my father, but it was very, very difficult to do. And I was surprised the second time because I am Christian, I am a pastor. I am teaching people to be to follow Christ, but I was shamed and fear to do this very important step. Make reconciliation with my dad. Finally, it's happened when I drove home at the conference, God touch my heart very deeply and I cried. I retained before God and I said, God, forgive me for my forgiveness, my dad. And he cleaned my heart. When I got back home, my decision was to take the phone and call my dad. And when I took this phone, my dad was on the opposite sidearms. Son, I love you. Forgive me for all wounds, what I bring in your life, so it was a time of reconciliation when it happened. God just showed me that 200 men in the room lost it. Are disappointed, discouraged, disoriented. And he called me. Follow Michael and do work for this man. They need to say reconciliation, so that's a major major focus in our ministry to help men reconcile with their fathers and build new destinies in their families.
Larrie Fraley: [00:08:25] Wow, that's amazing, Sasha, and I also know that a lot of men also work outside of the home, and sometimes that takes them far away, and so they are not with their families. As much as they should be correct.
Sasha: [00:08:41] Yeah, unfortunately, the culture is more than culture. Took my father away from a relationship because business makes us very busy and also because, man, I'm sure what they can do or need to do. They just work a lot to avoid spending time with their kids because they aren't sure they don't know what to do with this. Yeah. And unfortunately, yeah, it's one part. Yeah. And yeah, we help them understand and how they could manage their time and also, we teach a man how to develop a real relationship. It's not too hard. It's it's easy to do if you open it. And after my conferences and seminar what our team provides the most men when we ask them about what they will bring with them to family, or most of them say, I will spend more time with my kids. Yeah, many, many guys, they are just. Oh, what can I do if somebody gives me extra work for extra dollars? I just say. Think about that, that extra dollars would you raise or may never pay back the time, what your kids need for now?
Larrie Fraley: [00:10:43] Right, right. You know, Sasha, you're such a role model. And I know if we had time, we could hear some amazing stories of the men that your lives have been transformed and the families have been reunited, so to speak, in a healthy manner. And so we just commend you on what you're doing in the kingdom and for fatherhood. Let's transition now, now to your situation. I know, obviously. On February 24th, Russia started this broad offensive in Ukraine, and I'm assuming it did not surprise you. I know that Ukraine is not new to war, but still, this has a great impact on your family. Can you describe the last couple of days of what you have gone through and what you're currently in the process of doing right now?
Sasha: [00:11:41] Yeah. Well, two days ago, three days ago when Putin, except that, was a republic. So, I feel that it's time, so we start talking with our team. So we spent several hours. We had a Zoom meeting just to discuss what plan people have. People have and what we can do to do for others to support the family in this troubled time. I thought we have more, more days than I was not really very sure that Russians will respond. We got back immediately after the decision to support that was the Republic Day of the Republic last two days. They all changed very fast. So, two days ago, I had a call from my brother-in-law, and he said about missile attacks or major towns around Ukraine. It's 18 regional cities, and they were attacked by missiles. It was an attack on infrastructure like utility infrastructure, which in effect retaliation. I mean, like civil preparation. And also, it was an attack on military bases and military structure. Yeah, I don't be afraid about what happened because I believe God is in charge, and even in this terrible situation, we trust in God, and we just follow and what they pray with my family. I pray that God gives us wisdom for the right decision in the right time.
Sasha: [00:14:01] So, yeah, we decided if Russians will attack North. It is very close to Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, where we live with our family. So yesterday we had a very hard situation near Kyiv because they they attack Iran alone of all borders from Russia and from Russia, from northeast to east southeast. So, our guys in the military stopped them. So, they want to blitzkrieg. If you know this term, it is very fair. They won't hold Ukraine very fast. But our army stopped them, and a very hard battle was near Kyiv. It was like 10 miles from Kyiv. We have a military airport, so Russian descent, the Russian forces. Uh, air forces and forces like special forces, tried to hold the airport, and it was the same. What they did in Georgia in 2008. So, they hold the airport and then they bring a lot of troops and weapons, and they start occupation from there. So, and during yesterday it was all a battle for this airport, and they didn't hold it. Praise the Lord. Our air defense units shoot it to missiles, which was sent to kill to was to districts where people live. So, it's not even military units. It's so it was in my son-in-law. He told me that one of the missile parts of this missile was dropping rockets down just like probably a mile away or from their call home.
Sasha: [00:16:41] So that's very dangerous. It's a very dangerous situation. And also what's happened? Troops yesterday, our National Guard, the national. The National Guard. Are they fighting for Chernobyl patient nuclear station? Unfortunately, last night, Russians through called the spoils, and that's a very terrible situation because now Russia has nuclear like a nuclear bomb in their hands, and they could now dictate there their will real. They are real to against Ukraine and sometimes them our country. So that's really very, very hard. So, we made last night, we made a decision we need to go to the western part of Ukraine. And because we have, we have a grandson, and last night I saw my grandson. And it was a pain in my heart. He was really frustrated with war. He told me about war or why it happened. Why? Why, why is there? Why, why do Russians do that? What can we do? And he said, "I don't want to be at war. I fear bombs and everything. So, we decided. We need to go. And also the government asked people if they have if they have kids. It's a time when we can leave here because it looks like today and tomorrow, Russians will send all their power to hold capital.
Larrie Fraley: [00:18:35] So, so do you accept the basic needs? Like, were you able to access an ATM machine to get money? Were you able to get gasoline? Those kinds
Sasha: [00:18:46] Of provisions? Yeah, yesterday I felt that at the time. So, I put my food that gasoline, I put 20 liters. It's like seven gallons in the tank, plus two additional 10. So because a lot of people stand on the road, I see how many people say it's long gone right where it's hard to buy. You need to stay like hours, spend hours to buy gasoline now also get access to its very interesting how God leads you in a troubling situation. Even you don't understand you are already there because two days ago, God just called me to withdraw money from my account and I did it. And next morning, it's it was no, it was impossible to do because a lot of people very shortage amount to take off. So God, just gives me the right decision at the right time, exactly how we pray about to put everything and be ready to go.
Larrie Fraley: [00:20:08] Where are you right now? Sasha, you're actually
Sasha: [00:20:11] In the car. Yeah. Yes, right now I'm in the car with my wife, my mother-in-law, my daughter, and my son-in-law and leader. One boy died. We spent two hours, two and a half hours just. Drive around because Western two highways on western Ukraine now is they are focused. So, we found the road. We know roads that go right south down, so we withdraw to our surroundings, Kyiv just to get this road. So exactly this time when I call, when we speak and it's a time when we just pass one of the points in our map, it's bilateral. He was able to tell me in English it would be white George Town. So, we just passed him, and we have friends in the Gianopoulos. That's about just a second. How much is there? It's like 250 miles. Well, for now, to drive, so and we will spend probably six hours driving, so my friend pastor in the novel here ready to take us as a refugee and take care of us. So and they are ready to accept probably a hundred 150 people.
Larrie Fraley: [00:22:03] Where is your final destination, Sasha? Are you?
Sasha: [00:22:07] Well, I'm not sure. I'm not sure now because,
Larrie Fraley: [00:22:11] Well, it appears that we have lost Sasha. He is in route right now with his family. Ok. Unknown caller, hold on just a minute. Ok, we're not yeah, we're now back on the air. So you are in route right now to City to join a pastor that is going to take you in for tonight, right?
Sasha: [00:22:37] Yeah, yeah, now, yeah, we know just that one of the cities, which goes White Church, it's the very good, very good name of for city. Yeah. And we follow up to now we are going to western part of Ukraine. We are now in the line because a lot of cars are moving there, and we are now in the wrong line. This road, what we use now, it's just a two-lane road like one, one line, one way, and one-line opposite way. So so we're using like 30 twenty. We're only 25 miles per hour right now. I see a machine at the brand machine, which gets some money, probably to the western part of Ukraine. So and the military is also here. And also, we saw several times saw blog posts that military and cell and territorial defense guys built to stop to stop Russians if they will go around from Western parts to Kyiv. So. Yes. Yeah. Our destination is Jeff Nopal, where I have a good friend pastor of George, who was at the beginning of our ministry. He spent probably five years without a ministry to develop fatherhood ministry around Ukraine, preaching and holding seminars for fathers.
Larrie Fraley: [00:24:46] Good, Sasha. Now, are you close to Poland?
Sasha: [00:24:52] No, no, not now. Because now for Poland, probably just as second, 350 miles. The two Poland border, but they're down what I talk about, it's probably like 100 miles before the Poland border.
Larrie Fraley: [00:25:19] Now is your plan to eventually cross over into Poland.
Sasha: [00:25:26] I am not sure, sure for now, because of what I told you. Total mobilization doesn't allow man teenage eight from 18 to 60 across the border. Yeah, because we have to join the like territorial. So, we will see what will happen now. We go to the pole, and we'll see. We have a chance to send women here from our family abroad because I have a son-in-law and daughter in law in Poland and they are ready to come to the Poland border and pick up my wife, my daughter, and my mom-in-law and see my grandson. So, after that, if they could do this, we are open to do this and then we will. They'll say probably in the or that novel or even wicked, we don't make decisions, but I feel I could go back to Kyiv and to be Chaplin. For the territorial, the Territorial Defense Unit, just to serve men there and preach them and support them spiritually. So, I don't have I don't know exactly what I could to do.
Larrie Fraley: [00:27:04] What Matthew tells us in, I think it was six thirty-four where it says do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself because each day is enough trouble of its own. So, you're walking by faith. We are going to pray and continue to pray for you, my friend, and for Ukraine. Cease has spent yesterday praying we were joining a worldwide prayer cast yesterday at four p.m. Arizona time where we were praying for Ukraine, and I was able to be one of those speakers and I certainly mentioned you and your family and your ministry. CCV has supported you for a number of years now, and so we will continue to stand by your side
Sasha: [00:27:54] As you move forward. Thank you. Thank you, brother. Brother and pastor Laurie, thank you so much for your faithful heart and your heart. Open to that goal because Turkey is a big partner for our ministry in Ukraine and our team was exist just because you and your church give us the opportunity to develop this process for leadership seminars for leaders. So thank you so much. Now we have 200 men around Ukraine prepared to serve fathers and help them realize their role or role as their fathers and learn from God. Uh, Father God, the father to be best man for the next generation. Thank you so much. Thank you so much. And yeah, I just remember like six years or seven years. Yeah, six years ago we discussed with you what could be worse, what could happen in the future. So now we live in this reality?
Larrie Fraley: [00:29:24] Well, we also know that God is on the move. You know, I can't help but think of the Christians that left Jerusalem during this time of persecution that they went through after the temple was destroyed. And now here we are today. You're on the move and you're going to places and other Christians are going other places. And so hopefully the gospel will be shared with people around you. And so we look forward to seeing you, my friend, in person someday in the near future and just know that we are behind you. We're going to continue to pray for you and support you. Thank you to our listeners for joining us today as we pray for this dear brother and his family and as we pray for Ukraine and the situation going on there as we try to reach those who do not know Christ. Sasha, we'll look forward to seeing you in the future. Well, as we conclude today's episode, thank you for listening. If you like what you heard today, follow us and give us a five-star review in your favorite podcast app such as Apple, iHeart, Stitcher, Spotify, Google, and others. You can also follow us on our website at Let's Go 360 dot org or check out our mission's page at KVCR Church. Thanks for listening today and as we live out the great commission inspired by the Great Commandments so that we might stand with the great multitudes before the throne when the mission of God is complete. May God bless you as we go and send those here near and far.