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My Christian life: A Ukrainian mother chooses life

A Ukrainian mother chooses life during dire circumstances.

Recently, with much joy, Elizabeth Huida, the daughter of Oleksandr and Khrystyna Huida, was baptized at St. John and James Lutheran Church in Ternopil, Ukraine. But the story of Elizabeth starts years before the date of her birth and baptism. This is a story of God’s grace and his protection, along with a mother’s love for her child.

A mother’s love

The story began more than 30 years ago with an event that eventually made international headlines. On Saturday, April 26, 1986, a nuclear accident took place at the No. 4 reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Chernobyl is located in what is now north central Ukraine, near the Russian border.

In the weeks and months that followed the world began to learn more of the seriousness of this accident. It is considered the worst nuclear disaster in history. Thousands of power station workers as well as people who lived in towns near the power station were forced to move.

Larysa Huida (Elizabeth’s grandmother) was pregnant at the time of the Chernobyl accident, and she was looking forward to giving birth to her first child.

The Communist Party had a different opinion about pregnant women from the Chernobyl area; they demanded forced abortions since they believed the children to be born would be disabled and an unbearable load to the Communist country.

This communist government decree challenged Christian parents. What should they do? Obey the government and kill babies, or disobey the government and hide to save the unborn children?

Larysa decided to save her baby.

(Left) Larysa and Oleksandr. (Right) The Huida family in the late 1990s: V’yacheslav, Karina, Oleksandr, and Larysa. (Opposite page) Elizabeth’s baptism. Oleksandr (far right) and Khrystyna (second from left) are pictured with Elizabeth’s godparents and Pastor Taras Kokovsky.

 

However, it was not that easy. The evacuations started the day after the accident, April 27, at 2 p.m. As the evacuations began, the Huidas could see the burning reactor from the windows of their home. Everyone was to evacuate. Pregnant women were taken away in ambulances to abort their babies. Several times ambulances with police would come to Larysa’s home to take her away to have the abortion. Whenever she would see an ambulance approaching her home, she would escape as quickly as she could and hide until the ambulance would leave in search of other pregnant women. The ambulance “visits,” however, continued, and the risk that she would be caught and taken to the hospital for the forced abortion grew.

Finally, in order to save her baby, Larysa decided to run away in the havoc of the evacuation and rely upon the Lord. She fled to the Ural Mountains and hid the information that she was from Chernobyl.

When the time came for the birth of her child, she moved back to Kiev. She was approached by Soviet officials who said that if she would still have an abortion she would be given a nice job in Kiev. She refused, and because she was being disobedient, she was told that she would be sent to western Ukraine.

She gave birth to her son. He was baptized as Oleksandr. In his baptism he became a child of God and was put under God’s care.

God’s grace

Later, the Huida family moved to the city of Ternopil in western Ukraine. The Lord blessed this family with their second baby, their daughter Karina. At the maternity hospital, Larysa met Angela Horpynchuk from the local Lutheran church. Angela became her new Christian friend and invited Larysa to visit the worship services at St. John and James. The family soon became members of the Ukrainian Lutheran Church. Their faith in the Savior and the Word of God helped them to overcome difficulties and troubles. It seemed that Chernobyl was in the distant past.

But their health issues reminded them continuously about Chernobyl. Practically all the people who survived the Chernobyl accident had serious health problems because of their exposure to radiation and the terrible stress. They also lost all their earthly belongings during the evacuation. Thousands of people died. Many became disabled.

From the very first days of his birth, Oleksandr was a frequent patient of hospitals and medical institutions, along with his mother, who also had medical issues that needed attention.

I remember visiting Oleksandr, a teenager at that time, when he was in critical condition in a hospital in Ternopil. We read the Word of God and prayed fervently for him, asking the Lord to heal him and bring him to health. The next morning, we learned that the crisis was over and Oleksandr would live. We rejoiced in the Lord!

As time passed Oleksandr became a catechumen and then a communicant member of the church. The Lord has graced him with many gifts and talents. He is a masterful craftsman. He can build and is very good at welding. His specialty is heating systems. He is always ready to help.

Oleksandr got married, and this year the Lord blessed him and his wife, Khrystyna, with their daughter, Elizabeth. Just recently Elizabeth was baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. This baptism was especially festive because it happened in the time of quarantine caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Looking back at the lives of Larysa and Oleksandr, we can see the tremendous and numerous blessings God bestowed on this family. We thank the Savior for his care and ask him to continue to lead the Huida family, to bless them, and to protect them.

Soli Deo gloria!

Author: Taras Kokovsky
Volume 108, Number 1
Issue: January 2021

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