A CHRISTIAN missionary from the Isle of Wight, who has been living in Ukraine for more than four years, is asking people to pray for his adopted home.

Samuel Hughes, 25, has been living in Odessa and has been moved by the efforts of the Island community to rally goods to send out to the stricken country.

He told the County Press: "I grew up in Newport, I learnt to ride a bike cycling up and down the road at Victoria Recreation Ground.

"In Ukraine, I live in Odessa, I learnt to speak the language pacing up and down my local football field.

"Seven years ago, while in sixth form at Christ the King College, I volunteered with charities like Youth for Christ and Revive Newport (for those who remember Park Life and Band Night).

"In Ukraine, I serve as a Christian missionary trying to make a difference in the lives of at-risk and vulnerable children, including orphans, Roma children and children from the war zone.

"On the Island I love walking along Cowes seafront or delighting in the sunset at Carisbrooke Castle. In Ukraine, I love walking along the Black Sea, admiring the deep blue jellyfish or hiking in the Carpathian mountains, captivated by sun-splashed natural vistas.

"Ukraine, like the Island, is a beautiful and peaceful place. But for Ukraine, that peace has been broken and that beauty is under fire."

What is his view about what is going on in Ukraine right now?

Samuel said he would like people to know the truth, amid a war of lies.

He said: "So much nonsense has been spread about the Ukrainian government committing genocide, about the Ukrainian people oppressing Russian speakers. This is not true.

"The truth is that neither Russians nor Ukrainians want this war. They’re victims of a cruel Russian regime powerless to act, sacrifices on the altar of Putin’s obsession that independent Ukraine shouldn’t be allowed to exist."

He also said the war isn’t new, because for the four years he has lived in Ukraine, Ukrainian war casualties have been a regular occurrence.

He also wants people to know that what the Ukrainian news outlets are showing are more distressing and graphic than what the west is exposed to via channels such as the BBC. He said things are really bad.

However he also said the spirit of the Ukrainian people is "formidable, likely unbreakable" and this has been underestimated by Putin.

What will make a difference to the people in Ukraine?

Samuel thinks three things will make a difference.

  • He wants people to pray, and talk about the truth

He explained: "Prayer helps us to see and feel things from God’s perspective, it also helps me to have peace under circumstances where peace would otherwise be impossible. I appreciate that everyone has their own ideas as to the best solution out of this crisis, from where I’m standing it’s an act of God that’s going to make the difference."

  • He would like to encourage people to donate and send essential items, or send finances directly to larger charities and organisations.

He said: "However you give, supporting in this way will be greatly valued and will meet the needs of real people in crisis."

  • He asks that people use the power of social media, from Facebook to Instagram, to create art, write stories, gather together with others, continue to communicate a stance of support for Ukraine and condemnation for the attacks.

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