(LEX 18) — As the war rages on in Ukraine, we see everyday people take up arms to fight for the country they love, serving with patriotism and pride.
Because of a Lexington woman's connection to Ukraine, I had the unique opportunity to interview one of those men and hear how desperate the situation is for them.
"It's not about Putin's army killing Ukrainian army; it's about Putin's army killing civilians," said Oleg Magdych, a pastor who became a soldier. "This evil should be stopped."
Oleg used to minister to Christians on the outskirts of Kyiv. When Russia invaded on February 24, he felt a different calling... to protect his country.
"It's a privilege to speak on behalf of my people," said Magdych.
He's speaking to us now because of a spiritual connection to Lexington through his friend, Cathy Stafford. Cathy was introduced to Ukraine by a customer and has traveled there several times.
"My heart was taken; I just fell in love [with Ukraine]," said Stafford. "It's been gut-wrenching to watch. I told my team today at work, I'm not depressed, but I'm burdened. And as a human being, it is very puzzling for me to understand how anyone could see what's happening there and not want to weep for that nation."
Oleg is one of several Ukrainian friends Cathy has kept in touch with, cried, and prayed with.
"I've seen old ladies collecting food and delivering to the army. I've seen my younger son making Molotov cocktails," Magdych says as he wipes the tears from his eyes.
"We are fervently praying, but we are not without hope," said Stafford.
The knowledge that people like Cathy, plus churches and governments all over the world, are siding with Ukraine sustains Oleg as he leads people in a different way now.
80 men serve under him, some as young as 17 and others as old as 70. Some of them have never held a gun before and thought they'd never have to.
"Most of my people want to fight, some of them are really, really ready to die if they need to," said Magdych.