Geoge and Barb Zarris Prayer Letter: God With UsUKRAINE

Baptist Refugees

Anatolii couldn’t sleep. In fact, he hadn’t slept well in weeks. He must make a decision . . . quickly! As a born-again believer and a deacon in a Baptist church south of Kyiv, Anatolii knew how to pray, and pray he did! “God, show me what to do!”

The plan he pondered was ludicrous. Leave Ukraine—reach Chicago. That was all. No details—little funds!

“How, God? How? My family of six and my sister Olha, with two children, must travel 10,000 thousand miles across six countries and one ocean WITH ALMOST NO MONEY—HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?

It wasn’t possible except for God! Anatolii fervently prayed, not knowing what God would do!

In Chicago, Anatolii’s sister Lyuda and her husband Andrey gathered $4,000 from family and friends. Lyuda’s friend Alysia spent hours looking for cheap tickets. She opened a GiveSendGo account, which yielded another $3,000. CRI broadcaster Paul Dudka in Western Ukraine counseled them, “Leave now!”

On April 11, 2022, God opened a small window of opportunity. While the Russians retreated, Anatolii acted. Like the Israelites in Exodus, the two families went out, “not knowing whither they went.” With only one backpack per person, they piled into a van driven by a church friend and started a 360-mile trek west to Paul’s house, 30 miles from the Romanian border. God changed the plan to go to Poland when Missionary Paul Gericke offered housing and food at a rural Baptist camp outside of Cluj, Romania. After two months of war, Anatolii’s family, who had NEVER had a vacation in 23 years, thought Camp Falcon Rock was a holiday in paradise. Later, Anatolii learned that several refugees had been killed on the road to Poland!

After Paul Gericke mentioned that tickets to Mexico City might be cheaper from Hungary, Lyuda’s friend scoured the Internet and saved 50%! The flight cost only $7,000—exactly what they had! In Budapest, after their Hungarian van driver treated the refugees to McDonald’s, 12-year-old Daryna, whose birthday was April 20, declared the luxury to be “the best birthday I ever had!”

The next challenge was Mexico City, where horror stories abounded. Passports were sometimes withheld, visas denied, and refugees kidnapped. Uncertainty plagued the friends and family who worked around the clock to complete visa applications, borrow $2,700 for flights, and decide which border crossing was safer.

Tijuana – volunteer help . . . tent shelter . . . four-day wait.

Matamoros – just opened . . . no housing . . . no contacts.

“God, which one? MATAMOROS! WHY???”

“. . . before they call, I will answer . . . .” (Isaiah 65:24)

Unknown to anyone involved, one week before, God had impressed Christian volunteers from God With Us Ministries (GWUM) in Matamoros, Mexico, to begin helping Ukrainian refugees. The very next day, those volunteers found 10 stranded Ukrainians at the airport. GWUM called First Baptist Church of Brownsville, Texas, for assistance. Pastor Steve Dorman offered the church’s Missions Center for housing. Staff members, Jeremy and Kristen Knight, arranged transportation, food, and housing for the exhausted Ukrainians. As Anatolii’s family stood in line at the border crossing, the Biden administration reversed policy and closed the Mexican border to ALL Ukrainians. Anatolii’s group was the last one to be admitted into the U.S. at Matamoros!

The final hurdle—$3,000 for flights to Chicago—loomed insurmountable. Then a miracle happened! Someone donated 138,000 Southwest points—enough to cover the final flight for all nine passengers!

The Anatolii family exodus is a book-of-Acts story. Only God could have orchestrated the events of their lives. These Ukrainian believers are overwhelmed with gratitude for the hundreds of Christians who have volunteered, prayed, and given to help them reach safety in Chicago. They have watched in amazement as God fit the puzzle pieces together. “We wanted to quit the very first day,” Anatolii testified. “We would have, but God was with us!”

“So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.” (Psalm 78:72)

Please pray for Anatolii and Kateryna’s sons, Simen (23) and Alex (18), and for Olha’s husband Dmitrey, who are required to stay in Ukraine. If you would like to help these families financially, they need everything—housing, transportation, food, and jobs. Please send your gift to CRI, labeled “Ukrainian Refugees.”


Living Water

Christian inventor John Hays from Washington, Iowa, is in Liberia setting up dozens of Hays Pure Water devices at rural churches in villages without clean water. One machine provides pure water for 5,000 people for up to 60 years. Every installation is preceded by a Gospel presentation. Dozens have been saved! (Pictured at Liberty Radio: Dahn Demey, John Hays, and George Menyon)


Government Fees

In May, G___ S___ will travel to Iraq to relocate the Mosul radio tower to Dohuk, Kurdistan. Coverage will increase by four million, including thousands of Syrian refugees. CRI will save $15,000 in government fees. Pray for safety!

We Need Dinars (or Dollars!)

The Iraqi government has assessed our 2022 radio license fee at $25,000. We have received $13,600 in dinars from CRI supporters. If you have dinars (or dollars), CRI could use them now to keep New Testament Baptist Radio (Baghdad) on the air. NTBR is the largest media outlet in Iraq.


Christianity on Fire

Iranian Broadcaster M___ has spent two months discipling converts and starting a house church. New Christians from Iran and Turkey (who were saved through the television program BESHARAT and have never experienced a gathering of believers) brought unsaved friends and family to the Bible meetings. Revival broke out! Nine were saved and 17 new believers were baptized. Others are wanting to begin a second house church seven hours north. Five thousand copies of M___’s book L___ o___ M___ (in Persian) were printed to use for discipling new converts.

George Zarris
Christian Radio International