They fled Ukraine and Ukraine followed

IIt was 2:30 a.m. on February 24 when Maksym Maliuta finally fell asleep. That night, he and his classmates quarreled, who dismissed warnings of a Russian invasion of Ukraine as a “western media panic”. No, insisted Maksym, all the signs were there: Vladimir Putin was planning a massive military operation.

Maksym had been sleeping for two hours when his phone rang. Russian airstrikes were raining down on cities in Ukraine, his cousin called to tell him. Maksym went online and found video of missiles exploding in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city. Then he went to his parents’ bedroom and woke them up with the news: Putin was attacking their country.

When Maksym went to the bathroom to wash up, the shock finally splashed across his face and he started shaking. The possibility of a Russian invasion had loomed in his consciousness since he was 10, when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. And yet it seemed unreal when it actually happened, “like a nightmare that s is finally done”.

It should have been a relief that the Maliutas are, in fact, half a continent away from their home in Kyiv.

Maksym’s father, Ruslan, works with international evangelical ministries, and whenever people outside Ukraine asked his advice, Ruslan had replied, “War is possible, but unlikely. But in mid-January, during a prayer walk, Ruslan began to wonder if, as a father of five, he should prepare an escape plan, just in case. He contacted a friend who owned a chalet in the Swiss mountains. This friend offered the cabin as a temporary safe place for his family, but advised, “If I were you, I would think about coming soon.”

Until …

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