As the Coronavirus pandemic drags on, my morning hours are spent driving doctors to the Pulmonary Diagnostic Center south of L’viv. Pictured here are five of my regular passengers: Oleg, Natalya, Svitlana, Natalya, and Anna.
Wherever you are in the world right now, you are likely reading this while under some kind of quarantine. Here in L’viv, the Coronavirus pandemic has upended our lives, similar to what you are likely experiencing. Non-essential businesses are closed, we must wear masks if we leave home, lines of people are spaced with six-foot gaps, and suddenly, everyone is homeschooling!
Everywhere we turn, there are restrictions designed to prevent people from physically interacting in groups. While understandable from a contagion standpoint, these new constraints often come with unexpected side effects. Among the most difficult for locals in L’viv have been the limitations on public transportation. Initially, the city council limited the number of passengers to a maximum of ten on any bus, tram, or trolley. Heavy fines were imposed on violators, and soon many privately-owned bus operators refused to service their routes, citing financial losses. All this led to a serious problem: many doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other medical professionals couldn’t get to work. The city recognized the need for transportation assistance, and major taxi companies where enlisted to help. Uber, Bolt, and others began driving doctors to work free of charge, but still it wasn’t enough.
Around this time, I noticed a message on our church Viber group. Drivers were needed for a new initiative begun by a local pastor named Dmytro Kolesnyk. He had reached out to the mayor’s office, offering to organize drivers from local evangelical churches who could help transport doctors to work. The city gratefully accepted his offer, and invitations began to go out to churches around the city.
I was initially hesitant to become involved, knowing the risk of contagion, but the more I considered, the more I felt it was the right thing to do. We still have the old yellow van, and despite some rust around the edges, it actually runs pretty smoothly. I told the pastor of our church that I would join, and he passed along my contact info. Days later, I received an invitation to join a new Viber group. It was called L’viv Angels.
At first, the city assigned us to drive blood donors to and from the local blood bank. Then, during the second week, they began sending us doctors, lab technicians, and paramedics, most of whom need transportation to the Pulmonary Diagnostic Center, located just south of L’viv.
On my first run to the PDC, I think I had 3 passengers. Since I knew they needed to go again the next day, we agreed that I would pick them up at the same time instead of them having to call the dispatcher again and request a driver. A day or two later, a new request came through the L’viv Angels group for a deaf lab technician named Lyuba. I could see that she was more-or-less on my route, so I volunteered to pick her up.
By this time, I was making two or three separate stops each morning on my way to the PDC. I decided to create my own Viber group to coordinate more effectively with my regular passengers. Over time, more people were added, and as of this writing, our group is up to seven — the maximum I can take in the van at once. In addition to my regulars, I often drive paramedics on weekends. Every first-time passenger gets a copy of Good and Evil in Ukrainian, and I’ve donated G&E books to other drivers who in turn give them to their passengers. Some drivers are also handing out Gideon New Testaments.
The L’viv Angels group now has over 50 drivers and is turning out to be a great opportunity both for humanitarian service and as a platform to tell doctors in L’viv about the Great Physician.
More to Tell
With all that’s been going on, both with the pandemic and in our ministry in general, there is no possible way to report everything in a two-page newsletter. So please keep an eye on our blog (OFReport.com), where we hope to post some further ministry stories and updates soon.
How You Can Pray
- Pray for safety and witnessing opportunities for all of us in the L’viv Angels group.
- Pray for direction for our team regarding CMO 2020. Due to the pandemic, the project is in doubt.
- Pray for protection from COVID-19 infection.
- Pray for the preservation of our personal liberties in a post-Coronavirus world.
- Pray for peace and liberty in Ukraine.
Keep scrolling for more photos from our family and ministry!