KHERSON, Ukraine — Signs of rejoicing are beginning here in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, which was recently liberated after more than seven months of devastating Russian occupation. But the residents here still suffer from a lack of almost everything, and volunteers are working hard to bring supplies to the town. CBN News joined one of these critical missions.
The road to Kherson is full of destroyed equipment. It tells the story of the heavy fighting that Ukrainian forces had to endure to liberate the city. Landmines remain a major threat and may take years to clear. Nevertheless, people are already returning to their villages in this region.
Yelena Skalskya, a resident of the center, told us: “Today is the happiest day of my life. I returned home to my beloved village.”
Although the Russians destroyed the city’s infrastructure, the local population greeted them with applause when they entered the city. Even without heat, electricity, or running water, people here celebrate because they finally have what matters most: Freedom.
Kherson resident Snezana and her husband, a priest, were in the United States when they received news of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “When the war started, we were disappointed that our church was here and we weren’t here,” he said.
Many people from this area have been away from their relatives for six to seven months. Now that Kherson has been freed, many people stuck inside or outside the city are holding meetings, which is great to see.
Maria, a resident of Kherson, remembers what it was like to live under Russian oppression. “If you say you are a supporter of Ukraine, they will kill you right there,” he said. “They could have come and taken your car without asking, that’s all.”
These church members worked to help each other despite the dangers.
“I was scared when I was driving, they could just stop you and kill you,” explained one Ukrainian. “If they didn’t like something, they’d kill you, and that happened a lot.”
Their only source of hope came from above. One resident told us: “The Lord helped us. He alone. His hand was upon us.”
“He is merciful. He is a good God. He was with us where we were. We saw many miracles,” said another.
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Resident Maria said meeting her old friend brought her great joy. “We are very happy. It is hard to express this much happiness. We have been waiting for this for a long time. Every day for a year,” he said.
One person described the painful moment when the local population welcomed the returning Ukrainian forces. “When our soldiers entered the city, we were among the first to wait. We couldn’t believe what was happening. What joy!”
Even though food is running out and it may take weeks to get electricity and water, these Christians gathered in Kherson’s central square to pray over their city and give thanks to God.
“I can’t even express what I feel. It’s happiness… and for me it’s a mountain that can’t be moved but only moved by God,” Snezana said.