Pastor Aiding Ukraine Town After Massacre
By Stefan J. Bos, Worthy News Chief International Correspondent
PUTTEN/BUCHA (Worthy News) – A Ukrainian pastor is carrying humanitarian aid from the Netherlands to Bucha, the Ukrainian suburban town where hundreds of people were reportedly massacred by Russian forces.
Sacha Kulbich told the Dutch regional newspaper of record De Stentor (The Stentor) that he often drives to Bucha from the eastern Dutch town of Putten that provided refuge to his family after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
The pastor fled to the Netherlands with his wife Natasja, 52, daughter Dasha, 15, as well as sons Arthur, 18, and 30-year-old Igor from his wife’s previous marriage.
With his family in safety, the 44-year-old pastor wanted to return to Ukraine with a message of Christian hope and humanitarian aid. His stepson Igor joined him in this effort and also works as a volunteer in the country.
Despite the hardships, Kulbich said he noted spectacular church growth in Bucha, near Kyiv, as survivors of brutal violence seek spiritual answers.
“Before the war, my church had 150 members, now 300,” he noticed. “People are looking for a safe place and a way out of the war. So many churches welcome people with open arms and bring them closer together.”
Video footage shared by De Stentor with Worthy News showed the pastor delivering a generator to power his church in Bucha, which was liberated by Ukraine forces.
He said the generator, one of many goods given by Dutch supporters, was “donated by Renger Guliker, who has a natural gas and oil business. Because of his generous gift, the church can function.”
Pastor Kulbich explained that he also regularly drives back to Ukraine “with a bus full of clothes, cans of soup, diapers, and other stuff.”
He suggested that his work helps to heal the wounds of those who witnessed Russian soldiers carrying out a massacre in Bucha.
After Russian troops left, at least 458 dead were discovered in and around Bucha, lying on the streets, buildings and gardens, cellars, and makeshift graves, local authorities said.
Among the massacre victims in March 2022, several had their hands tied behind their backs, according to footage reviewed by Worthy News.
The Bucha of Kulbich’s son Arthur was reportedly bombed just after the family had fled.
The pastor wanted to return to Putten but stressed that he wasn’t sure when. “There is always danger,” he added, referring to relentless Russian missile strikes.
But he is pleased that his son Arthur “continues his education as a musician drummer” in England. “Fortunately, he has been admitted to a university in Coventry. Natasha and Dasha are there now too.”
His family and church aid work has also been supported by donors such as the Netherlands-based Little John Foundation, where the pastor’s two sisters are involved.
The foundation has been helping families and single teenage mothers in Ukraine for over twenty years. “Since the beginning of the war, we have had two contacts. They immediately came to the Netherlands, and we sheltered them,” said foundation chairman Alex Drost about the pastor’s sisters.
He said the Little John Foundation foundation transfers 5,000 euros ($5,340) for aid in
Bucha alone in close cooperation with trusted locals.
Pastor Kulbich stressed that Ukrainians in areas such as Bucha need especially food, drink, and medicine. “There are many sick and injured. There is also a lot to repair,” Kulbich stressed. “Windows have been shot, and that needs to be fixed.”
Since the outbreak of the war, the church where Kublich is pastor has been a safe haven. “The church has become a kind of emergency shelter,” Drost told De Stentor. “Food packages and clothing are distributed in the church every week.”
A state of emergency still applies in Ukraine, and all men over the age of 18 are mobilized. But only some have to fight, said Kulbich.
“We now have almost 1,200,000 soldiers. The government thinks that is enough at the moment. However, not all men have to go to the front. There are many men who ‘just’ work and bring in money so the country can function,” the pastor noted.
Kulbich said he is registered as a volunteer. “Every three months, I must apply for a permit to leave the country.”
The pastor explained that he must return to Ukraine within a month if allowed to travel. “I can travel back and forth as much as I want. But no longer than 28 days in one trip, or I risk the revoking of the permit.”
The pastor said he hadn’t been back in Putten since the Christmas season in December.
He was in the Dutch town to pick up the power generator for his church. And to hug and kiss his wife once more before leaving on another aid mission to troubled Ukraine.
(With additional reporting by Daan van Eendenburg in the Netherlands)
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