Report from Ukrainian front lines (last part of April 2024)

Meeting for 400 refugees in Odessa. Photo: V-P. Lanne

We were blessed to undertake a journey to Ukraine on behalf of Voice of the Martyrs, along with Ilpo Jokimäki. By God’s grace, two days before our trip, my wife received a revelation from God, in which she saw a great and strong angel blessing me. This greatly encouraged her and all of us.

On Monday morning, April the 15th, Ilpo and I landed by plane in Krakow. Our Polish colleague Maciek met us there with a van. We immediately started to drive towards the Ukrainian border together. Our first stop on the Ukrainian side was the city of Dubno, nearly 200 km from the Polish border. There, we interviewed a pastor and his wife, who had previously worked in the city of Melitopol. The pastor recounted how Russians had interrupted their church service in the fall 2022; many congregants had their fingerprints taken.

Pastor Oleg from Kherson with his family and with our Polish friend Maciek. Photo: Lanne

The Russians banned church activities and turned their prayer house into a cultural hall. Some believers tried to hold home meetings, resulting in the Russians arresting and torturing the organizer. They declared that the only acceptable church was the Moscow Orthodox Church. Despite everything, these believers exhibited gratitude towards God’s grace and goodness.

On Tuesday, we saw war memorials in Dubno square dedicated to those who gave their lives for their homeland in this terrible war. There were many! From Dubno, we drove almost 200 km to Sepetivka, where we participated in an event for refugees and provided aid. In the afternoon, we continued almost 200 km to Berdytsiv, meeting Dima and Nina, who are doing excellent work up to the front lines. Dima joined as the driver for our tour across Ukraine. That evening, we drove another 200 km to Kyiv.

Important meetings in Kyiv

In Kyiv, we first met Pastor Sergey, who visited Finland last year, and then Pastor Mihailov, who had served in Melitopol. He shared interesting insights about the occupation and its effects on the church. The Russians considered him an American spy. Pastor Mihailov mentioned that during the war, the Russians have murdered about ten pastors for their faith. He also shared that about 95% of churches and prayer houses in occupied areas had been closed. Only those churches that registered under Russian law were allowed to continue their activities, yet even they lost their prayer houses. The Russians were attempting to “liberate” believers from Ukrainian ideology.

Meeting with refugees in a village close to Kyiv. Photo: Lanne

On Thursday, we visited two villages for refugee meetings. In one village, we saw dozens of residential homes built by an American for refugees. Both meeting halls were packed with thirsty souls. After the meetings, we distributed aid. In another village, a pastor’s car had multiple bullet holes. The courage and willingness of pastors and believers, given by God, to preach the gospel even at the risk of their lives was immense. After the meetings, we went to a restaurant where the owner wanted to give his life to Jesus. He promised to start holding meetings in his restaurant. Only Jesus can do this!

In the evening, we met Pastor Dima and his wife, who had worked in the Zaporizhzhia area for 15 years. We also provided them with aid.

… pastor’s car had multiple bullet holes. Photo: Lanne


On Friday morning, we departed Uman at 5:30 AM towards the city of Odessa, where we met Pastor Oleg. We immediately participated in two refugee meetings attended by around 400 people. After preaching the gospel, we distributed aid. Despite the conditions, the spiritual thirst was palpable. Afterwards, we learned that a missile had struck Odessa.

We continued to Mykolajev, purchasing food to distribute on the way to a village in the Kherson region, practically destroyed by the occupiers. We met a couple who had lived in their cellar for about seven months, surviving on only cucumbers and tomatoes. We distributed food and water to them and other families.

In another village, an outdoor meeting led to a large gathering, and everyone wanted us to pray for them. The village teacher invited us for tea, telling us about the destruction of her house by the Russians and her efforts to rebuild.


On Saturday, we woke up in Odessa to an air raid alarm and later an explosion. It turned out that a Finnish air defense system had destroyed a Russian missile. Pastor Oleg had chosen our hotel as the safest according to soldiers. In the morning, we attended a meeting in a nursing home, where a few elderly people also wanted to sing for us. Later, we visited a destroyed apartment building. It was interesting to hear that the husband of a faithful sister and her children who died, had met the Speaker of the Unites States House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, potentially influencing the aid package for Ukraine. Pastor Oleg knows the family closely.

Visiting Mike Johnson, Speaker of the House
of Representatives in US. Photo: Private archive

In the afternoon, we met Pastor Oleg’s family from Kherson, who shared amazing and uplifting stories. Pastor Oleg recounted God’s promise to him that their ministry in the city should continue and that God would protect his family. Despite the threats, their ministry in Kherson had been fruitful, with many people attending services. Even though grenades had struck his house’s surroundings, none had hit it or his family members. His family was incredibly happy and joyful in a supernatural way.


On Sunday, we attended a service at Pastor Oleg’s congregation in Odessa, which was full. We also noticed that many had come to faith in recent months. After the service, we visited Pastor Oleg’s home and heard a young man from Mariupol share his experiences of fleeing the city. Pastor Oleg showed us their bomb shelter in the house. His wife shared about God’s promise of His protective hand.

Pastors Olegs family in Odessa together with the Finnish guests on the front row. Photo: Private archive

On Monday morning, we drove hundreds of kilometers to Lityn, visiting Brother Gennady’s family. In the evening, we held a collective devotional session, each taking turns to pray, including their seven young daughters.

On Tuesday, we drove to Tsernivtsi near the Romanian border and then to the Carpathians, visiting a retreat built for Ukrainian pastors and their wives, planned for June. This place was a true sanctuary, providing a short respite in God’s beautiful creation and presence.

After returning to Lviv, we continued our journey to Poland. At the Ukrainian border, an official noted there were four people in our van, but at a later checkpoint, they wondered why there were only three of us. Perhaps the angel that watched over us during our journey stayed in Ukraine. I am deeply thankful to God for participating in this trip. His guidance and protection are marvelous! May we continue to support our brethren and sisters in Ukraine! Blessings and thank you for your prayers!

Blessings to all readers and thank you for your intercessory prayers!

Vesa-Pekka Lanne

Vesa-Pekka Lanne together with a Jewish lady from the Church in Odessa. Photo: Private archive


False Peacemaking … When Neutrality is Complicity …


  1. Marianne Munther

    Thank you for telling us about your visit in Ukraina. God is real, the same today and for ever. We pray for them all in Ukraina..

  2. Roland Nelsson

    “On Friday morning, we departed Uman at 5:30 AM towards the city of Odessa, where we met Pastor Oleg. We immediately participated in two refugee meetings attended by around 400 people. After preaching the gospel, we distributed aid. ”

    I notice the writing!
    First preaching…

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