Family of Ukrainian refugees share their journey after being welcomed to Springfield

Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 11:07 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 21, 2022 at 9:30 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Two families of Ukrainian refugees, all relatives, made their way to the Ozarks on Wednesday to begin a new life.

Assemblies of God World Prayer Center in Springfield welcomed the group. The families fled from a war zone in Militopol, north of Crimea, traveling for a month. They traveled through Europe, then Mexico before coming to the U.S.

Prayer on the Square organizer Dmitry Maftey met with the family at the United States’ southern borders. On Wednesday, the group arrived in the Ozarks to reunite with a relative in Rogersville. Maftey said the United States government granted the two families a humanitarian parole for one year.

All of the family members gathered together at the World Prayer Center and sang a song in their native language. Maftey said the theme of the song was about “refuge is in the lord and our enemies will never prevail against us.”

The family members spoke to KY3 in an exclusive interview about their journey. Maftey translated the conversation.

“When calamity comes, it’s hard to look, when buildings are destroyed, when families are torn apart, and when people die in the streets,” members of the Mykola and Pavlo families said.

While their story is different from many others, thousands face the same fate.

”We came here for one reason alone, because the war came into our city,” the family said.

Many challenges stood in the way before the family left their hometown.

“Fleeing right away was not possible,” they said. “It was fire everywhere. About three weeks into it, we decided to take a risk.”

Both families have about six or seven children, Maftey said.

”A lot of worry for our little children,” family members said. “This was the motive to decide.”

The families prayed for safety as their journey began.

”God protected us from any open fire,” they said. “And during our time of fleeing, there was peace in our path.”

The group sang the lord’s prayer along with those at the World Prayer Center.

“It’s a blessing to sleep in peace,” the family said. “On Wednesday, the Mykola and Pavlo families were greeted with smiles, hugs, and laughter. After their stop in Springfield, they looked forward to reconnecting with loved ones in the area.

“They’re looking for a home cooked meal tonight, and then a safe place to sleep,” described Carley Touchstone, the project champion for Ukraine at Assemblies of God.

The organizers say there are many other refugees that do not have families in the area, so people in Springfield can do quite a bit to help.

”There are hundreds and thousands of families like them,” Maftey described. “These people arrived in safety, and they are going to need their basic needs.”

Maftey said people in Springfield can help sponsor other families, even by helping pay for plane tickets.

“If you want to help sponsor some families in any way, shape, or form, you can contact any Slavic church,” he said.

Maftey said people in the area can reach out to Bread of Life Slavic Church in Rogersville, which has deep connections with many refugee families.

Maftey said many families are having to pay thousands of dollars for plane tickets to make their way to the United States. He said many families are having to travel through other countries before coming to the U.S.

“If the government can expedite this process where these refugees can fly straight into the United States to save them all this month long travel, this would be a blessing,” he said.

As many other families begin a new life, the Mykola and Pavlo families said one need is greater than any other.

”I would like the people’s hearts to beat in accord with the Ukraine,” they said.

Family members said they have other relatives and friends still in Ukraine. The group said they constantly think of their hometown, and pray for the safety of others.

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