As crises unfold on our televisions, computers, and phone screens, we must never forget the parallel reality: Somewhere behind the scenes, believers are living out their faith.
Meet Albina Golik, who chose to return to Ukraine during the height of the war, longing to be in her homeland. She’d been safe in Lithuania, helping Ukrainian refugees there. But soon she began asking God: Is that the most I can do for your kingdom? If I can do more, send me.
And so home to Ukraine she went.
Albina now lives in Kyiv and works with a Ukrainian nonprofit. But her story goes back to her years spent in Lithuania, where she learned to walk with God.
Saying “Yes” to God
Albina moved to Lithuania in 2016 at age 17 to attend LCC International University (formerly Lithuania Christian College), a liberal arts university of about 600 students from more than 50 countries—many not believers. Albina arrived as a believer, though. She participated in various Bible studies, including one meeting with Gretchen Ketner, the only U.S. Navigators staff member in the Baltic region. For the past eight years, Gretchen has coordinated all English language programs at LCC.
The summer after Albina’s freshman year, though, the teenager realized she had been treating Christianity as a hobby. A passage in Revelation 3:15-16 struck hard, where God asked her to be either hot or cold toward Him, but not neutral. “I got so scared,” she says. “I understood that what God wants from me is a clear yes or no.”
And her answer? “Yes, I want this, I want You in my life.”
Immediately after, Albina developed a thirst for someone older in the faith to mentor her. And she remembered Gretchen. Soon, the two were studying the book The Ways of the Alongsider. Albina found her heart growing soft toward being a disciple of Jesus herself and also helping others become disciples. She also grew in leadership skills and, by her last year, was discipling another young woman from Ukraine who attended LCC.
After she graduated, Albina worked for a year at LCC before returning to Ukraine to join an NGO that helps prevent sexual exploitation of children.
Who Do You Want to Invest In?
Albina’s father immediately drove to Kyiv to rescue Albina, her cousin, and a friend, and take them to relative safety in their small village, about two hours away. There, Albina’s job turned into one of call-center operator—trying to connect Ukrainians in the eastern part of the country with escape routes and safe havens.
In April, when things grew quieter, the family traveled to Lithuania to bring home her sister, who was studying at LCC. Hearing rumors of a Russian attack on Victory Day, May 9, their father insisted the girls remain longer in Lithuania.
But by June, Albina was saying to God, “If I can do more in Ukraine, send me.”
Now, she lives in Kyiv, still serving with her NGO and helping a large local church with its food kitchen and evacuation buses for refugees heading west. Her sister returned to their family village, and both regularly share the gospel. “Even in the midst of all this,” Albina says, “and especially in the midst of all this, God can give so many opportunities.
“Because I know that God has a mission here, it’s not scary,” she adds. “Sometimes you just get human fear, but then you read the psalms. . . .
“My life is Christ and death is gain,” she says, referring to Philippians 1:21. “I see how God is using me, and, honestly, I don’t want to leave.”
Her mentor, Gretchen, stays in touch and prays for Albina who was once a distracted college freshman. “She’s this warrior woman,” Gretchen says. “In The Navigators we talk about, ‘Who do you want to invest in?’
“Albina is the kind of person you wait for and you pray for. When you see someone like her, you say, ‘Oh, yes, I want to intentionally spend the time and effort investing in you.’”
When you disciple one person, you pray that he or she becomes a disciplemaker, too, and invests in the next person and the next. Thus, spiritual generations of disciplemakers will transform the world.
In Ukraine, just as behind other scenes of war we see on the news, we know that believers like Albina are offering not only physical help but also spiritual nourishment. All because someone invested in them.
Pray for Albina’s safety and faithful witness, and for an end to the war.
Is there someone in your circle of influence going through a crisis that could use your help? Pray and watch to see how meeting someone’s practical needs could provide an opportunity for you both to grow in your faith, together.