Pastor answers God's call to help Ukraine aid workers facing 'spiritual depletion'

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Andrew Moroz, a Ukrainian-born American pastor, is not just providing physical aid to the volunteers in Ukraine; he is also helping them find a place to rest and recover from "spiritual depletion" since Russia's invasion began over two years ago. 

Andrew Moroz (L) meets with two chaplains during a retreat in Ukraine.
Andrew Moroz (L) meets with two chaplains during a retreat in Ukraine. | Photo provided by Andrew Moroz

Moroz, who was born in Ukraine when it was part of the Soviet Union, serves as the lead elder at the Gospel Community Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. He told The Christian Post that his family permanently settled in the United States in 1999. Now, he supports his native country through a program called the Renewal Initiative.

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, millions of Ukrainians fled their homes as several parts of the country were impacted by heavy shelling. 

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After Russia's invasion began, the faith leader said that his "dormant Ukrainian identity came alive." He knew he had to do his part to help the country. 

"It was an intersection of my pastoral calling and my Ukrainian identity," Moroz told CP. "What would God want me to do? How would He want me to serve these people?" 

Moroz initially traveled to Ukraine in March 2022, weeks after Russia's invasion began. During his second trip to Ukraine, Moroz came up with the idea for the Renewal Retreat program to help the people providing aid to the country. He said making short-term visits to Ukraine were but a "drop in a massive ocean" and believed he could make more of a long-term impact by helping those who are serving others.

"In the midst of the chaos, people don't always do a good job of caring for themselves. They don't always pay good attention to themselves. They're so hyper-focused on the emergency and on caring for others," he explained. "And until they hit a wall and their body crashes on them, their mind gives up on them, or they're spiritually depleted."

The retreat is located outside Kyiv, Ukraine's capital, where these aid workers can rest and enjoy catered food. Moroz said the retreat also had massage therapists and sauna experiences.

According to Moroz, Ukraine also does not place much emphasis on mental health care, which he said goes back to when the country was part of the Soviet Union. During this time, the pastor explained that people were essentially taught to see themselves as "machines," a mindset the pastor believes many in the area have maintained.

"We wanted to model a sabbath for them in the midst of the storm. Jesus napped in the midst of the storm," Moroz said. "And that was the idea. Break away for three days. We're going to bring resources to you." 

Moroz said several local Virginia counseling practices, including the Living Word, helped structure the renewal retreat and offered counseling sessions on the ground to the workers.  

According to the pastor, the retreat experience costs about $150 a person, and local businesses and churches in the United States help to support the retreat.

"I have dozens and dozens of stories of trauma and pain and death and beauty in the midst of it," Moroz said. "That's what this is about. Breathe in deeply of the oxygen of God's renewal. Be infected by His hope where there is despair. Allow His hope into that space and allow this team to do that for you in the context of the retreat."

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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