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Ukrainian Seminary in Lviv Becomes Refugee Shelter, Helps Hundreds: 'We Need a Miracle from God'

  As Russian forces continue to press into Ukraine, stories of Ukrainian bravery, patriotism and faith continue to come out the country. One...

 As Russian forces continue to press into Ukraine, stories of Ukrainian bravery, patriotism and faith continue to come out the country.

One of those stories is from Yaroslav Pyzh, who graduated in 2012 with a Ph.D. from Southwestern Seminary and has been running the Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary in Lviv as its president since 2013.

While Pyzh initially believed he and his wife would be safe in Lviv, as the conflict continued, they realized that they would not be exempt from the onslaught. 

“We thought that Lviv is a safe place,” Pyzh told the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary during a video interview on Saturday. “But it turned out to be that Lviv was not that safe. We have air raid sirens off and on. We’ve been hit by ballistic missiles, about 20 kilometers away from Lviv and we kind of lost that safety. So that was an awakening kind of feeling.” 

He also said that despite the attacks, they are in a unique location to be able to offer aid to passing travelers, who are mainly women and children.

“All that is happening mostly in western Ukraine, because we are not occupied and we are not having any kind of pressure,” Pyzh said. “Kyiv, Kharkiv, even Odessa, I guess, and other cities, eastern Ukraine, they cannot do that because they are under constant threat of those military actions there. But here, people are definitely open to do whatever needs to be done.” 

Pyzh said they feel a special kinship with Gideon and his story from the Bible, since they are a small army against a great one and “have a disadvantage in everything.”

While they continue to pray for a resolution and ask others to pray for a miracle, the seminary has geared up to be the hands and heart of Christ to their fellow Ukrainians and has pivoted from studying to serving.

During the first three days after the attacks began, as refugees moved toward Poland, many went through Lviv — and about 250 were aided by the seminary, which offered food, sleeping accommodations and counseling to help them find safety outside of the country.

“We continue to serve and help people,” the Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary shared on Facebook on Feb. 25. “Already more than 30 students from different cities have arrived. … Others on the way, keep on coming. This is the time when we can practically love people and accept them in our homes. 

“We address everyone who lives in different cities of Western Ukraine. If you are willing to take people on, please fill out an application at We will contact you promptly. Also for any questions you can call our hotline +380990596213.


“Thank you that at such a time we can be in unity with our people.”

The psychological condition of the refugees deteriorated as the days went by, and the need is great, prompting Pyzh to request more volunteers willing to serve in any useful capacity. 

Some have opened up their homes to refugees — Pyzh has people staying in his own home as well.

The seminary’s online system and forms are being used to help track refugees in hopes of future reunification.

Volunteers are providing the most basic, fundamental needs to their neighbors, including food and diapers.

“I think what our people experienced in the last three days, I’m sure changed them completely,” Pyzh said. “All the pain, all the fear, all that kind of stuff that we experiencing as making us into a different type of people. I really hope that we will become stronger. We will understand that everything we have is not really ours. We are kind of lucky to have what we have and so you better value what we have. And I really hope that as a result of that people will give glory to God.”

As of Sunday, around 480 people have received aid from the seminary-turned-refuge, and Pyzh knows the work is far from done.

While the students, staff and volunteers continue to serve the needy passing through their communities amid the ravages of war, Pyzh continues to ask for financial support for their ministry and prayer, certain that only a miracle will change things.

“We need a miracle from God,” he said. “We just need a miracle and that’s exactly what will save us — God’s miracle.”

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