“And when the winter’s coming on and all the colors start to fade, remember all that you have known,” sings Green Swamp Collective’s Kevin Jarvis in his “lament and prayer for the people of Ukraine” in the track “Prayer for the Borderland.” (Ask your parents if you may listen here.) “You will feel the sun again,” the song encourages.
But winter looms large, long, and uncertain for those living in the war-torn nation.
When Jesus told of the wars and tribulation that would come in the end days, He said, “Pray that it may not happen in winter.” (Mark 13:18) God Himself has compassion on those who suffer during the added hardship of winter’s bleak trials.
Power outages are rampant across Ukraine, in recently liberated Kherson and also in Kyiv, the capital. No lights. No water. No way to cook food. No electric heat. And even when electricity comes back, it’s never on for long.
“Russian strikes are plunging Ukraine into the Stone Age,” says Anastasia Pyrozhenko. In a recent 24-hour spell, her 26-story high-rise had power for only half an hour. She says she and her husband have left their home.
“Our building is the highest in the area and is a great target for Russian missiles. So we left our apartment for our parents’ place,” the 25-year-old says. She continues that they, like many Ukrainians, “are preparing for the worst winter of our lives.”
The situation in Kyiv and other major cities deteriorated drastically following the largest missile attack on the country’s power grid on November 15. Ukrainian state-owned grid operator Ukrenergo reported that 40% of Ukrainians were experiencing difficulties, with damage to at least 15 major energy hubs across the country.
Warning that electricity outages could last anywhere from several hours to several days, the network said that “resilience and courage are what we need this winter.”
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said after last week’s strikes that more than 10 million Ukrainians were left without electricity. By Sunday, some areas had seen improvements.
A sharp cold snap and the first snow significantly complicated the situation in Kyiv, where temperatures are often below freezing in winter months. The cold forces people to turn on heaters. This drastically increases the load on the grid, making power outages longer. Some areas will institute intentional “rolling blackouts.” Power will be cut in some areas in order to provide for others intermittently.
In light of the dropping temperatures, the Kyiv authorities announced they were setting up communal heating points. In the city of three million people, 528 emergency points have been identified. Here, residents may keep warm, drink tea, recharge phones, and get necessary help. The heating points are equipped with autonomous power sources as well as boiler rooms.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko spoke of preparations for energy outages with the onset of colder temperatures. “We (asked for) electric generators (from) our partners, which they send to us. . . . We have a reserve of diesel. We have a lot of warm stuff. We have medication.”
Looking out for one another in solidarity, many residents in Kyiv have begun to leave boxes of food, flashlights, and power banks in elevators, in case anyone gets stuck in one for a long time.
Russia’s strikes disrupt school for many too.
“Most of the children studied remotely, but now it is no longer possible to do this,” says a woman identified only as Olena for safety reasons. Her eight-year-old son is one of the students affected by the war and power outages. “We are trying to protect children from the horrors of war, but the cold and the lack of power greatly hinder this.”
Pray for the people of Ukraine as winter approaches. Pray for their unity and dependence upon God, and for war to end in His timing.
(Women cook on a fire outside an apartment building in the Donetsk region of Ukraine on November 20, 2022. About 40% of Ukrainians face power outages due to Russian strikes on major energy hubs across the country. AP/Andriy Andriyenko)