Deena C. Bouknight – Contributing Writer
Since learning of the war in Ukraine, Loren Kennedy has spent five months on the frontlines in the country. He returned this month from his third trip and provides updates on the effectiveness of donations by Macon County residents through his ministry, Sanctuary Relief. Kennedy spent Christmas and New Year’s in the war-ravaged country, and he returned home to Franklin just a few weeks shy of the Ukraine/Russia war’s one-year anniversary of Feb. 24.
Since last May, Kennedy has connected with pastors and missionaries in Ukraine to provide numerous items that people there are lacking due to on-the-ground fighting and missile strikes. After returning to Franklin in early February, he provided a list of what he witnessed accomplished during his winter trip:
– provided propane heaters, tanks, and all the equipment needed for some
people to heat bombed homes and apartments;
– provided 100-plus homes with heat;
– converted some wood stoves to double as cooktops;
– distributed hundreds of Christmas gifts to children as well as clothes, boots, and coats;
– distributed hundreds of vials of insulin;
– distributed thousands of adult Bibles and children’s Bibles as well as activity and coloring books for children; and,
– donated money to cover surgeries for injuries caused by missile strikes.
Since Kennedy first began traveling to Ukraine, monies donated through Sanctuary Relief have resulted in the assembly of a least 14,000 non-perishable food boxes for needy families.
“We are also at this moment financing a team of Ukrainian men that go in and out of Bakhmut, Ukraine, which is one of the hottest areas on the front lines,” commented Kennedy. “There are people trapped there and these volunteers are taking them water and food as well as sharing the gospel of Jesus.”
He added, “I thank everyone involved for their giving. One hundred percent of the finances are used to help and reach hurting people in Ukraine.”
Each time Kennedy is among the people of Ukraine, he is saturated with stories of their struggles – but also of their steadfastness.
“Many of the stories are very graphic in nature … stories of great pain and suffering. People young and old from all types of walks of life have seen things that no human being should have to see or be exposed to. But they need someone to listen, provide comfort, and pray.”
He shared one story that is indicative of many individuals’ and families’ stories throughout this past year.
“One apartment building in Kiev was hit last month by a missile. There was a kindergarten school meeting in part of this building and the area sirens went off and they took all the children to the basement of the building. The missile hit the center front of the building and did a lot of damage, killed people, broke windows out of hundreds of apartment buildings for blocks … We brought heaters and food to folks. They were pretty shaken up. But the miracle is that none of the kindergarten kids were hurt.”
During his trips to Ukraine, Kennedy is most encouraged by how the message of hope in Jesus is received.
“It is absolutely the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. The war has opened their hearts to God. And what’s really wonderful is how their faces and countenances change as they hear the gospel of peace, love, mercy, and grace. They go from looking discouraged and depressed to faces with smiles. You can actually see a change come over them as they hear about the love of Christ.”
Kennedy is planning on returning to Ukraine in March and hopes to assist with additional needs per donations provided to Sanctuary Relief.
(For more information, Macon County News has also reported on Loren Kennedy’s efforts in Ukraine, and Sanctuary Relief, in the July 28, 2022 and Nov. 22, 2022 editions.)