Day 12 – Kiev’s Story

Oleg and Helen 1

August 12, 2017 – Day 12 of a 26 day, 11 flight and 4 country adventure, Capturing Grace in France, Ukraine, Russia and Spain.

Today Anastasia Korniyko was kind enough to take Carissa and I on a tour of Kiev, it was a beautiful day of sightseeing, rich with learning the very fascinating history of Ukraine. Anastasia and her family have become much more than ministry partners to us, they are good friends as well.

Here is a little of what we learned today, story Credit to Carissa who has a much better capacity to listen than I do 🙂

Kiev’s history can be traced back to 1st AD as it is said Apostle Andrew came here to spread the good news of Jesus. He envisioned a city here that would be a city upon a hill, a light that would shine among nations for Christ. In 482 AD, many tribes around Ukraine came together to form Kiev and it became the center of East Slavic civilization. During its golden age (10-12th centuries) it blossomed and in the 11th century, orthodox cathedrals began to built everywhere. There were more churches than markets.

The St Sophia was modeled after The Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. However in 1249 Kiev was destroyed by the mongols, and it was later run by Lithuania, then Poland. Their history is turbulent and their fertile lands were always fought for, their culture, language and way of life always threatened yet remaining.

In 1921 they became once again taken in one of the most tragic ages, the Soviet Union. Russian was forced to be spoken and communist way of life was made standard, especially in the east. In the fall/winter of 1933/34, in an attempt to clear the land that was Ukraine so Russians could move there, the Soviets starved the country, by taking away all the food the farmers harvested, claiming it was to feed the hungry, when in fact it was wasted. This forced famine was a catastrophe and it is counted that somewhere between 4-10 million people died. This disaster, along with the terrors of the war that was to come, still lives in the hearts and minds of the people here. Their burden is heavy and the trauma runs generations deep.

WWII was especially catastrophic for Ukrainians, for the war creeped in from the east and west. A peaceful people themselves, they were caught between the powerful whims of the two major sociopathic fascist leaders, Hitler and Stalin. Ukrainians were forced to fight for the Soviet Army and more died for the Russian cause than Russians themselves. During German occupation of Kiev, many Ukrainians were captured and sent to labor and death camps in addition to mass murders of Jews and captured Soviets within Kiev. Bombings and fighting destroyed most every architectural landmark in Kiev.
Ukraine, along with many other Slavic countries gained independence in 1991 with the dissolution of the USSR, reinstalled Ukranian as its mother tongue, and has been reviving its culture, and restoring cathedrals marred by The Soviet Union’s atheist control. St Michael’s cathedral below was completely rebuilt from the ground up in 2000.

As we heard about all this tragedy and death, we marvel that it is a wonder this country has survived at all, much less be thriving in culture and beauty the way it is today. The strength and perseverance of these people is a testament to the human spirit.

[In August my daughter Carissa and I set off on a 26 day, 11 flight and 4 country adventure, Capturing Grace with our camera’s as we journeyed through France, Ukraine, Russia and Spain. I am now back at home in the US, posting about the experience of those twenty six days from my journal]

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