Our guest again today is Oleksandr Marchenko those of us in the US call him Sasha. We introduced Sasha in Episode 3.
He is the founder and president of the International Center of Fatherhood (ICF). I will include his website in the show notes
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.
I want to jump right into our interview as Sasha shares with us the physical and spiritual journey as he deals with what is going on In Ukraine.
A few days ago we talked with Sasha as he and his family were leaving Kyiv, Ukraine to live with friends near the border of Ukraine and Poland.
International Center of Fatherhood: http://icfatherhood.org/
Christ’s Church of the Valley: https://ccv.church/
CCV Missions: www.ccv.church/missions
Pastor Larrie Fraley: linkedin.com/in/larrie-fraley-53445032
Sasha Merchenko: [00:00:02] You say you are your dad and me. We will stay here and help other people. You know, the man in the family, take care of your mom and grandma and grandpa, grandma and be very strong, be obedient and just do everything the best to be a team leader. And he looked at me, and he said, and he just said, OK, OK, papa, OK. So yeah, and after that, he just stopped crying. I realize now how important to put the right words at the right time to the little heart to make this heart brave and strong or fool with hope.
Larrie Fraley: [00:00:54] How old is your grandson?
Sasha Merchenko: [00:00:56] He is a five years old.
Larrie Fraley: [00:01:15] Welcome to the Let's Go 360 podcast. For listeners who want to know more about what God is doing around the world here near and far, God is on the move like no other time in history. And this podcast is sponsored by Christ Church of the Valley, also known as CCV. One church with many locations across the Greater Phoenix area plans to expand wherever God wants CCD to go. Check out our show notes, where you can find links and other helpful information about each podcast episode. My name is Larrie Fraley. I'm your host and lead pastor of local and global missions at CCV. I want to jump right into our interview today as Sasha shares with us the physical and spiritual journey he's been dealing with, with what is going on in Ukraine. A few days ago, we talked with Sasha as he and his family were leaving Kyiv to live with friends near the border of Ukraine and Poland. Today, Sasha will explain what he and his family have gone through to get to their destination and what has happened in the last few days. Sasha, welcome back to the show, as you need to know, CCV has been praying for you and your family, and God has answered those prayers and provided you safe travel as you have arrived in Ternopil. Sasha, welcome to the show.
Sasha Merchenko: [00:02:32] Thank you so much for this opportunity to have me. And yes, thank you for your prayers, and I really feel that these prayers work and my family as well, and not only my family but many other families significantly need it at such time.
Larrie Fraley: [00:02:56] Yeah. Well, when we talked last, you were actually on the road on your journey to turn Opal. How did that trip go?
Sasha Merchenko: [00:03:04] Well, so I think you will. You will understand. I go if I say I spent 16 hours driving for 350 miles. The traffic jam was enormous.
Larrie Fraley: [00:03:19] Did you have any fuel problems? Were you able to get fuel along the way?
Sasha Merchenko: [00:03:23] You know, my tank in the car has enough for this one-way driving. Also, I get 10 gallons in a tank in my trunk as a reserve. Even we spent many hours in the gym to stay in and waiting. So I have I have. I had enough to reach the destination without any problem
Larrie Fraley: [00:03:58] Any time that you were, you were concerned about what was going on around you.
Sasha Merchenko: [00:04:04] Even we had slow driving. We didn't feel ourselves in danger. So military activities weren't on the north side of Kyiv and other western cities. So we went four of them more and more so. But as we had been closer to the Ternopil, I saw cars multiplied in two; then drivers began using opposite road lines three times. That was unusual to see only red lights call the road widening for hundreds of miles. The picture was from surrealistic Norwell at the movie, but it was, and it is our new reality war, fire, fear, anxiety, pain, and running away from danger to save the family. I thought about how all of the people and cars would stay at the border how long we could stay there. What happened, if not enough gasoline at the stations. So most of that traffic was created by building block posts at the towns using during the road. Local men built a defense system for their homes. I was shocked that people had no panic around even in such situations like these. So it works like everybody works and does everything like a clock mechanism and yeah, I just think about what could happen if all of this mass of refugees are stuck in a small. And so that was my concern.
Larrie Fraley: [00:06:17] Well, you need to know that, you know, from what we see in the U.S., we have been so impressed with the courage and bravery that we have seen in the Ukrainian people. You've actually been such an encouragement to us to see what you're going through, but yet you are loyal and you have trust and faith in each other and you work together so well.
Sasha Merchenko: [00:06:41] Yes. Thank you for this word, because it's really, as you say, and everybody now feels they are there as a part of the body and Ukrainians now in unity to defend their homes. And I'm very surprised how quickly local churches organized. We call this the humanitarian committee to help people around because, as I say, a lot of people, and most of them, it's a woman with children to help them find shelter or form to stay and help them go further to the border.
Larrie Fraley: [00:07:42] All right. Now, yesterday, when we talked in the morning, I believe you were in the process of actually getting tickets for the bus for your family. Were you able to to secure those tickets and are they on their way now to Warsaw?
Sasha Merchenko: [00:07:56 Yes, that's very interesting. How to work, how God works and lead us because last three days when we stay here, we just thought how we could accomplish this aim to bring women of the hour from our family abroad and people from different parts. Our friends, who are using other border posts, call us, updating us with what happened there. And most of them just said bus is the best way to person border because it's more comfortable, it's less time spent. They spend there because cars spend probably three days and buses spend five hours at the border. So we went to bed station. No huge line there. So in the 15 minutes, we just got four tickets and tomorrow morning we will send them on the way.
Larrie Fraley: [00:09:17] So you said tomorrow morning, they've already gone though, right? They've left already.
Sasha Merchenko: [00:09:22] They left to so late today,
Larrie Fraley: [00:09:25] Morning, today. So and that's how far of a drive or a ride is it from Nepal to Warsaw?
Sasha Merchenko: [00:09:33] Ok, OK. In a peaceful time, it's about 12 hours with a border. Probably this time it could be like 20 hours right now when we're talking. They are at the border and I hope they already pass a Ukrainian side and now they stay at the Poland side. So I hope in the hour and a half they will go to the Warsaw.
Larrie Fraley: [00:10:07] And you have the ability to stay in touch with your wife, correct?
Sasha Merchenko: [00:10:11] Yes. We use a thank you for Lord for technology. We use it in the right right way. So we have possibility to use our devices for Messenger four to call each other. So that's very, very helpful for us
Larrie Fraley: [00:10:32] Right now yesterday. Well, we talked earlier about your your grandson who was concerned and worried about what he saw going on. Is he better today and.
Sasha Merchenko: [00:10:44] Um, he was better after our conversation when I assured him that God is a father who protects him and all of us. He was very excited to be a part of the journey that we took. Even in this 16 hours, he was very brave and very encouraged. So no problem with his attitude. And also, we do everything to be friendly to each other, even in this troubled time, and also be patient and help each other support each other, joking with the Lord, making him laugh, and create an environment without tension. Tension, tense atmosphere. Just bring more love to him. But this morning, but this morning, when he realized that me and his father, I will stay here and he will go out. So he just looked at us, and he started crying. You know, it's very hard to see, but this little boy, even he cried he was like a little man and God just put in my heart these words, and I say, I tell, I said him, he said, You are your dad and me. We will stay here and help other people. You know, the man in the family. Take care of your mom and grandma and grandpa, grandma and be very strong, be obedient, and just do everything the best to be a team leader. And he looked at me, and he said, and he just says, OK, OK, papa, OK. So yeah, and after that, he just stopped crying. I realize now how important to put the right words at the right time to the little heart to make this heart brave and strong or fool with hope.Larrie Fraley: [00:13:19] Well, we we certainly can see in times like this the Holy Spirit showing up in your life and speaking through you into this small child. How old is your grandson?
Sasha Merchenko: [00:13:32] He is five years old.
Larrie Fraley: [00:13:34] Five years old. Wow, what's his name?
Sasha Merchenko: [00:13:37] His name is is.I. It looks like Isaiah, but it's a Ukrainian pronunciation. Is I?
Larrie Fraley: [00:13:46] How is your wife holding up?
Sasha Merchenko: [00:13:48] Well, she is a powerful woman. But you know, all saints, what goes around is very tough for her. So yesterday, a couple of times, I felt like she wore it. It's nonverbal language. My first reaction was because I was worried too. So I'm not I. Yeah, I keep myself in spirit and prayer. But you know, it's not easy. And my first reaction was just to replace the same way God just stopped me and and told me, Be patient, do what you want others to do with you. And I ask you, are you tired of all of this? And she said, yes. And I said, Larissa, I love you, and I want to spend our last hours in a way when we will remember that for all our life. And she answered me, Yes, me too. So they give us straight, and we pass through that moment in God's love for each other.
Larrie Fraley: [00:15:15] Well, what? What a tremendous strengthening time this is for you and your family. Of course, you don't know what is coming next, but what are your plans?
Sasha Merchenko: [00:15:26] Well, last few days, you know, when I draw, when I drove to Tel Nopal, I look at the faces of men who build their defense system, and I just thought this man decides to stand up and do their best to regard their families. And I always think, OK, God, what is my role? What is my place in this situation in this reality? What do we have now? So the last few days I spent in my devotion with God, and God just called me to be a part of sent family abroad. Be more accessible for help here. So God called me joy and humanitarian calamity in this city and be a part of them. When I tell them what you need, I want to be useful. What? What can I do to be my best to help? And they just say, pray and see what God will lead you. And when I when, they talk with them. So what I find, I find that these churches spent a lot of resources last week, and it looks like it seems like they are not now in an excellent capacity to support enough people who just come in. And more and more so, and God just put in my heart decision to ask help from our friends in us, help these brave people who stand up to and do everything that God called them just to feed Jesus and carry about Jesus.
Sasha Merchenko: [00:17:31] Because all these people who moved now through the country, it's not just people, it's a Jesus inside them who ask us for help. And for now, I talk with our community, our board members in the US, also here. So, we decide to organize humanitarian project projects to help refugees in Ukraine. We have three prime goals for this, this support. First of all, it's health moms with the kids who travel alone, then orphans, because we even know on the streets, Pastor said. A lot of kids lost it during the war, during the travel. And also, having ICF members in the towns was now a tough situation with Russian sage. So we have people in Kharkiv. We can people have people in person. We have people in Dnipropetrovsk, Zeposia, Sumie, and Kyiv. Sergei, our director. He can't leave Kyiv at times, so he is now there. So we are also focused on helping and supporting their family and providing funds for them. So this is my role for now, and I believe God will lead, support and help and organize everything to help that person.
Larrie Fraley: [00:19:28] So what as far as your family needs right now, what can we provide for you? How can we pray for you?
Sasha Marchenko: [00:19:36] My family will move to Poland, and they will stay there. My oldest daughter lived to live there so she could help for the first time. But if all of this situation will continue for months. A few months, so I'm sure my daughter will have enough support for three more people. Also, my nephew will send in by their family to Poland and join Alisa at home. Local churches, I believe, will help because they also have a comedy there, but we will need my family there will also need monetary support to provide living expenses. I'm OK here. I don't need anything here because Pastor said, Don't worry about that. We will. We will support you. No problem. So yeah, I have also in good shape, so I can stand a long time.
Larrie Fraley: [00:20:54] So you're right now in a local church? And are there refugees coming to the church?
Sasha Marchenko: [00:21:02] Yes. Last Sunday, after a sermon, we took out all of the chairs from the century and started putting on their mattresses. For example, now we need extra 20 mattresses for this facility to help 20 more people. We now look in once 1000 and 200 dollars to buy 20 mattresses with blankets with everything pillows and organize that. It's very interesting. So because we see how people around the sharing they share in the love and were sharing their resources, for example, the company which provides that mattresses they ask for, you just could imagine 20 beds for price of three mattresses.
Larrie Fraley: [00:22:02] So while is, are their mattresses available or are the supplies running out?
Sasha Marchenko: [00:22:07] Yes.
Larrie Fraley: [00:22:09] Yeah, certainly. CCV can help with those mattresses, and we'll talk more about that offline as we wrap up today. I cut you off earlier, and I didn't mean to do that. I want to know how we can continue to pray for you and your family and what's going on there in Ukraine.
Sasha Marchenko: [00:22:27] First of all, pray for my family because, you know, women in the other country know men support. So pray for my wife, my daughter and grandson, and grandma and nephew. Just pray for them that God gives them his compassion and comfort and support them for me. Also, I want you to ask to pray for my relatives in Kyiv because I have my mom and my brother and his family to cheer two girls, five and nine years old, and a wife like a health disability. So they couldn't move at times. So they stay in there. So please pray for the members of my family there. Also, I want you to pray for isif team's family around Ukraine, who are under siege now in trouble on the bombing. So yesterday, Russians sent those rockets to Kharkiv to destroy their central square. And also pray for victory. We need victory because we can pray for peace, but we can find peace without victory in this situation. So please pray for God's victory in this war. And also saw that Moscow, Putin, trade people threaten the world with nuclear weapons. So please pray that it's never happened because that's we don't need escalation. So please pray that God just disabled Russians to do mad things which will affect all the world.
Larrie Fraley: [00:24:53] Our hearts go out to you, and we will certainly continue to. Ray, as you continue to go through this, we will stay in touch, and I will be in touch with you for a future talk that we will perhaps do again in the near future. So stay safe, my friend. And as you continue your journey through this, may God bless you and keep you as you show the faith that you're already doing and are already making an impact for the Kingdom just by your testimonies.
Sasha Marchenko: [00:25:24] Thank you for having me. We will stand together in Christ. Thank you. God bless.
Larrie Fraley: [00:25:44] Well, as we conclude today's episode, thank you for listening. Check out the CCP website for more information about what CCP is doing in Ukraine. Of course, if you like what you heard today, follow us and give us a five-star review in your favorite podcast app. You can also follow us on our website at Let's Go 350.org and check out our Missions page at KVCR Church. Thanks for joining us. 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. God bless you.