Hey, this is Jim Graham from the Masculine Journey podcast, where we explore relationship instead of religion every week. Your chosen Truth Network podcast is starting in just a few seconds. Enjoy it, share it, but most of all, thank you for listening and for choosing the Truth Podcast Network. This is the Truth Network.
The following program contains sensitive content. Listener discretion is advised. Previously on Lantern Rescue. I remember every night for years for that I would think like if I could send a message out to the victims of human trafficking, what would I want them to know? And it was always the same message.
It was always, hold on, I'm on my way and I'll be there as soon as I can. And then, you know, me and Mark came together in the way that we did and we found a lantern and we started the team and now that has changed from I'm on my way to we're on our way and we'll be there as soon as we can. Welcome to Lantern Rescue, a ministry program dedicated to bringing light into the darkness of human trafficking.
It's time to light the way to freedom. This is Lantern Rescue. We tell the stories. We talk about rescues and we empower you to do something about it.
William Wilberforce once said, let it not be said I was silent when they needed me. This is Lantern Rescue. Welcome to Lantern Rescue. And man, I got to tell you, we were in for a treat listening today. You're going to be so glad that you're hearing this episode as God is doing some amazing things in the Ukraine. And we have like somebody right there, you know, who's been on the ground actually since 2014, as you'll find out, we have Anna and there are seven churches that are in the Ukraine that have played just an instrumental role in what God is doing really to provide for the Ukrainian people. But also with us, but not just Anna, we have Whitney with us with Lantern Rescue as the voice of some of those commercials that you hear these days.
And she's she's done the podcast herself several times with guesting. So welcome. Welcome, Anna. Welcome, Whitney. Thank you. We're glad to be here.
Yes, I can't tell you what an honor it is. We got to hear Anna speak. And so I at a church here recently and her story is more than amazing. But Anna, the story really, it goes back to 2014, doesn't it? Yeah, I'm escape with my parents from 2014 when it was first invasion of Russia. So I have a very long story about that.
Yeah, well, just go ahead and share with our listeners. How did it start? So my story, I guess, is the story of thousands of Ukrainian girls and Ukrainian children.
And I have to say that for centuries, Russian propaganda and influence tried to destroy our country. I remember very well the day when the war started in 2014. I was a second year university student, like I just finished my college exam. I had many dreams and aspirations like a young lady, the whole world was at my feet. And that day I went with my friend after the exam and an enemy plan flew into the territory of the city where we was. I was a couple of blocks away from the first rocket fired at the city.
There are several pictures that are imprisoned in my mind. So when you say it was a truck that was firing at the city, was that like? It was like flight. It was like a helicopter.
Yeah, something like that. So it was like a couple blocks of me. So I saw that in the sky. And after that, we heard the heating on the government place in that city. So those of us who are ignorant, me, who was firing on who? Yeah, there was Russian armies in vision. Yeah, so it was Russian helicopters. We didn't know that.
So because nobody talked that it will be worn, we didn't have any discussions worrying about that. So it was just surprise for everything. We didn't understand what is happening, where they are from, what is the flight in the sky. But it was really scary because it was first time when we was in this situation. And the heating was really very huge.
So you could hear it in the other part of the city. And we was like loud explosions and people screaming and running and obviously just mass confusion. And again, just from your standpoint, back then, can you remember you were told why the Russians would do such a thing? I couldn't say like, we didn't expect nothing. We just was very scared. So I don't remember what I was thinking about. Okay, I understand. But you were just you were you were a student.
Yes. And wow. So then what happened? So this picture is always in my mind.
We had this like crowd just panicking and chaos. And my girlfriend, which we was in that moment, she just go away. And I was looking for her everywhere. I tried to look where she is because I was worrying is everything okay with her and everything. But when I saw she was talking on the phone, and she wasn't looking for me. So it was I know that it's like, it's okay, everybody is reacting on their own way every time.
And the war is something like everybody have their right to react on their behalf like they want. But it was kind of betrayal for me that I was looking for her and she wasn't looking for me. And that moment that was very horrible moments. So that was like, I remember that feeling that was very lonely moment. I don't have my family surrounding I don't have my friends. And only friend only like close person that I I knew at that moment, she was just escaping without me. It was a little bit desperate for me. Right, right.
Yeah, right. So how did you did you get in contact with your family? What happened? So we came to our apartment and with that girlfriend. So I called my mom and we decided that I should to buy a closest a ticket to the closest train. So at five at the morning, we left the city and it was just horrible. Like, we saw burning fields and old people was this fear in the train because everybody tried to escape the city. I came back to my home and I'm living in another obelisk.
It's like two two neighborhoods or regions, departments in the country. So I came my home and I'm living in small town. So it wasn't very scary, like for for a couple weeks, we just was hiding and it was possible in my small town. But it was very important moment when I was sitting in front of the window, I was just doing something on my laptop and I lift my eyes and I saw how the troops of the tanks are going through my street.
And in your small town? Yes, and I used to ride the bicycle on that street and now I saw the tanks. So that that was the moment when my dad, he came from the work, he's a miner and he came from the work and he said, I think it will be better if I will move you to like some forced vacation to the sea beach and there you will have two weeks, couple of weeks of waiting while everything will finish because we still think that it's some some misunderstanding and some everything gets drained out and the Russians go back. Yes.
Yeah. But this is another picture that I always have in my mind how we left our house because I never turned. But at that moment, I didn't know that. So I just was in a car with a couple swimsuits and summer shorts and t-shirts and I just waved to my grandmother because we were living in the house with my dad's mother. So I just waved to her like a teenager waves to her head mother going to vacation.
I didn't understand and I didn't recognize that it will be my last moment when I saw my grandmother. So we left for a couple weeks, but we was on that sea beach for 41 days. And I know that it's not 39 or it's not 40 days.
It's not 50 days. It was 41 days because I was writing. I was tunneling every day. It was like my escape from my feelings in my teenagers. So there where I was living. So during that 41 days, your dad was still there?
My dad, he was protecting his company because we didn't understand the whole serious motivation of Russian army. So he would like to do what he wanted. Right. And your grandmother was still there?
Yeah. We asked her to move with us, but she was like 70 and she wants to be with her home because this house, she and her husband, they built by themselves from the bottom to the top. So it was very important to her to be there. And she always didn't want to believe that something very serious will happen. So my father was there and his company was heated a lot. So he was hiding in a bump shelter all these days while we was on that vacation, but it wasn't vacation.
We didn't sleep. My mother was just, she had depression. Like she, my mother is very, very like open person. She's very lovely and she's always will support somebody. But this moment, she was just, just that in her soul. So she just lay down all the time. And I was very, like, I was a teenager, but I cooked for whole family all this moment because I also have two youngest brothers.
And they clean our, our place, our space all the time. So I did everything that my mom should to do, but she was just desperate. She couldn't do nothing. And when, when she was waiting for dad's call all the time, but when he was calling, she was just quite hysterical, cried. So she never had a good moments of. Oh, wow. And so was your father okay?
Or did you, what happened to your grand, were your father and your grandmother? So my father came to us like one moment she just visited us and he already was very shocked and stressed about everything he saw. So he just opened the map of Ukraine in front of us. And we was on that table. So he just watched on that map. And he said, I don't know what we should to do, but I know we couldn't come back there because it's very dangerous.
And he just put his finger somewhere random on, on any target on the map. And he saw this city named Vinyica. And he said, Oh, I always want to visit the city. So that's how my trip, my journey to a new home began. And he moved us. We drive by car two days to that city. When we came, it's also very interesting story, but I will miss that because nobody waiting for us in that city.
We have some very, very far away relatives, but they wasn't open to us. So when we came, my father is a big guy. He just, he has the big shoulders and he's a big guy. He was driving, driving for two days. But when, when we came, that woman, our lady, she said, could I ask you to sleep in your car?
She said to my father, because you are too big, you will destroy my bed. It was awful. But anyway, that you were refugees and they were right. Not very glad to see you.
Yeah. Because they didn't understand that who, who refugees is. Nobody knows how to react on that. What everything happened with us. Nobody knows. Is it true? Is it Russian?
We have a Russian innovation on the territories. Nobody knows. It's true.
Nobody wants to believe that. So even my grandmother, she was there. She saw the troops of tanks. She heard the heating, but she wouldn't believe that it's happening in her life. Right.
I hate, we got to go to a break, but we do. And so, you know, it's amazing. I think you'll see that, you know, God was comforting Anna so that she would learn how to comfort others.
You know, you can see him. Second Corinthians chapter one kind of come to life. And certainly we're hoping as you're listening, that you're, you're wondering what, what is God tugging on your heart with? And so we want to be sure and share those things when we come back. So stay tuned.
Okay. Lantern Rescue is a USA based organization that conducts international rescue operations for people suffering from human trafficking. Lantern specializes in sending former U.S. special operation law enforcement and intelligence personnel to partner with host nations and assist them in creating specialized units to combat ongoing security problems such as genocide, terrorism, and human trafficking.
As a nonprofit charity, they offer services free of charge to their host nations. Human trafficking is grown into the second largest criminal activity in the world, reaching an estimated $150 billion in annual activity. Lantern Rescue has developed rapidly to combat trafficking. Lantern operates through a trained international network in order to rescue women and children from sex and labor slavery and facilitates holistic aftercare services. They're gearing up for operations right now, and you can go to lanternrescue.org to see how you can support them financially.
Welcome back to Lantern Rescue. And today's episode, we're talking with Anna from the Ukraine, who now is with one of these seven churches that is helping all those who really have flown and had a chance or are seeking refuge after a much larger invasion that has happened more recently in Ukraine. But we're hearing what actually happened for Anna in 2014 that led to what she's doing now.
But we have Whitney with us as well. And so Whitney, you know, here's your chance to ask Anna, you know, because you've been with her some and you understand this at a level, you know, you've been traveling with her for a number of days. Yes.
Yeah. You know, we are a group in general, and we've said it from the beginning, but we kind of stand in awe, not just of Anya, but of the whole group there in the Ukraine and what they've been able to accomplish. And I know we'll talk about that in a little bit.
I would say more than anything, I hope that those of you that are listening into this, open your heart to understand the capacity at which we as Christians are called to empathize and structure our hearts and align our hearts with the people that are seeking refuge in Ukraine. You know, it's like we talked about at break really quickly before Anya continues in her story. But, you know, the closest thing we as Americans have to relate back to this is that moment on September 11th, you know, 9-11 when we sat by and saw what happened in New York, right? And for Anya, it was real life, right? It was seeing the missile fly in. She was at ground zero. Yeah. I mean, she, exactly.
She was at ground zero. So for those that are old enough to remember that, right? Thinking through the feelings and the thoughts that we had as individuals and as an entire nation, bring that into the mix of what you're hearing because it makes it relatable.
I know so often we hear these stories and we see things on the news and we don't know how to to fully relate to that. This is that relational piece for her. And so I just really put a face on this story.
Bring it to life. And I can't say Anya like you, do you say it a lot better? It's okay.
You're doing great. But Anya, okay. So you got to this new town and that your dad, thank goodness for dad's, right? He's out there trying to protect his family.
And so then what happened next? My dad, he wants to come back to our native town because his mom was there still. And also, he thinks that he should protect his company still, because we don't have minors at the central of Ukraine. And he had only a couple of years for till his retirement. So he didn't want to lose his retirement payment. So he think I will should be with my company all the time.
And but it's like was the second maturation. The first one, it was just filling the protection of your native town and to be closer to his mom because he was trying to, to ask her to come, to come with him, to move with him. So, but she didn't, she, she was against of moving. She was, her willing was to be buried with his husband on the same cemetery.
Cemetery, yeah. Yeah, so she stayed there for whole, whole occupied times. But we also have this my brother's girlfriend, my brother was like 15 at that moment, the middle one.
And he has a girlfriend, they was just friends, but they was in school together. So they was very close. And she told us a lot of stories. She didn't have a father. So there was only she and her younger sister, mother and grandmother. So there are like four women, they was hiding in bomb shelter for months. And they was eating canned food, and they was washing their clothes in the river because they wasn't in electricity anymore. So we invited whole her family to come with us.
But they didn't want. So only she, she accepted this and she came with us. And my brother is married with her now, eventually.
Yeah, we had this love story. But when she came, she was very desperate, frustrated, frustrated. I don't know how to say it, but she was very, very silent and everything. So like my youngest brother, he was in the second grade of the school. And he was really very brilliant, smart guy.
But he didn't talk because of the trauma for one year. And my mom, she was bleeding for eight months. So my father was far away. I was 19. So I was the one who could work. So I was on this mission.
So I, I had to pay rent for our apartment to buy food for whole family. So I just go to this work. And it was really hard working because you have to know my parents is very careful. So they care about me for all my childhood.
And it was my first work. And it was hard. But anyway, I just blocked all my feelings and just like hide them in some box very deep in my heart, because they didn't have a time for stress. They didn't have time for pain.
They didn't have time for thoughts about myself. I must work for my family. So I was working like for 12 hours every day during nine days. And when I have the day off, they could ask me to move to another city for working in another city. So it was like very, very exhausting for me.
But I didn't pay attention of that. And it was a moment when they said that I stole from them something and it was, it was lie. So I just decided that it's a good moment to quit and to start something new, but I couldn't start something new because I had this call with my dad and he was in very, very bad mood, like very bad situation. So he said, I couldn't send you money now because we don't have banks here.
We don't have anything. I have money, but you have to wait while I will come to you. So, and I said, okay, I will quit and I will wait when you will come. And he said, no, you should to be patient and you shouldn't quit. Just, just keep calm and everything will be okay.
They will understood that you didn't steal from them. But it was so like, it was my broken heart that my dad is forced me to work except to be here and to work for his family. So it was, somehow it was selfish for me, but always I was very exhausted in this moment. So, so I had this very hysterical crying like for hours. And after that, I just lay down on the bed and I didn't stand up for two weeks because the way I did that, I become very dizzy or I wanted to throw up. So my body say to me, stop, please stop with me. You have, you need a break. So I was, depression come.
Like I opened all, all the boxes. I started to think about everything, what's happened to me. My friends, all my student friends, as they was like by this propaganda, Russian propaganda. So they think that it's okay to be on Russian side. That's why we didn't talk to them. I didn't talk to them. So I lost my friends.
I was like betrayed by my friends because of his political views. My father wasn't with us, my mom, she's like this depressed. So, but my mom, she already started to go to the church and she was healed. And it's really huge, very powerful story how, how we came to the church because my dad came for a couple of days and he just tried to find some church because he said to my mom, you will never survive here without Christian people around you.
So he just put the name in the Google, like where is the church? So had your family attended church back in your hometown? Yeah, my parents, they was in the church in my hometown. But I wasn't like, like when I was a child, I was visiting Sunday school and I love church very much. But when I become a teenager, I was very far away from God. So my, my middle brother, he said that when everything started in this war started, he said, I don't believe in God anymore.
So it was very frustrating time for my parents because they, they are believers and no one from their child believe in God. So my dad came once and he said, he visited us sometime. So he said, I, I just wanted to find some church for you.
So my mom, she already visited the church like for a couple months before, before I quit my job. So when I was in this depression, my young, younger brother, he already was on youth club. He still didn't believe in God, but he feels like he needs some community to talk with.
And the Christian community is the best for that. So he just came there with his girlfriend. And when he saw me in that depression, he asked me to go with him on such youth clubs. And I didn't know why I said that, why I said, yeah, but I agreed.
And he said, when I came to that meeting, it was very special, but because I watched into the eyes of that people, of that team, Christian team. And I understood that it wasn't like my childhood that was stolen. It wasn't about my house. It wasn't about even my grandmother. It wasn't about everything that was very important for me, like my posters, my journals, my clothes, my, family pictures, which just stayed in occupied territory.
It was about my inner light, which was stolen. And I saw that in the eyes of that guys that they alive, they, they continue to live. So I just very become very jealous about that. So I came on another such meeting of the young, young clubs. And I don't know why, but the leader of that clubs. Now he's the second pastor of our church. He asked me to be the leader of these young, young classes. And I asked him, visit. Yeah. So I asked me, you know, me only for a couple of weeks. And he said, I don't know. I just feel that you have to be here and you have to be the leader. Wow. And I, you know, again, you're wondering what happened at the time and we haven't got to what, you know, it's happened recently. We're going to get there though, because we're going to do another episode with Anna. You'll hear that.
And again, you can reach out to us at landerrescue.org. Thank you, Whitney. How powerful. And, and, oh my goodness.
What a story to be continued. Yeah. Thank you very much. Yeah. Thank you very much. This is the truth network.
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