Chernobyl: the continued costs of disaster

By July 11, 2019

Ukraine (MNN) – History is often a tool for filmmakers and storytellers to use in their works. Topics such as the Titanic, World War II, royal families, and more have graced TV screens for decades.

Now, the Chernobyl Nuclear disaster of 1986 is joining the list on HBO. But what some viewers may not realize is many people still suffer from the very real present-day effects of this disaster from over three decades ago. Learn more about the history of Chernobyl here.

Mined area in Eastern Ukraine. (Photo courtesy of Slavic Gospel Association)

“Chernobyl was a terrible event…It was really an unexpected and poorly handled event,” Eric Mock says, Vice President of Ministry Operations for Slavic Gospel Association.

“They were doing a particular test, low yield tests on their graphite rod, and they turned the safeties off. When the tests went bad it was too late to turn the safeties on. And of course, [it] melted down into what we know as the Chernobyl disaster.”

The reactor was covered with pieces of graphite after the explosion, which continued to burn and be radioactive. Ultimately, the reactor was encased in sarcophagus to contain the radiation.

Living With Chernobyl Today

Communities near the nuclear plant are now ghost towns, and the radiation that initially drove locals away still remains. Mock, who was recently in Ukraine, can attest to accounts of various forms of cancer and more brought on by the effects of radiation from the Chernobyl disaster.

Representative photo of nuclear plant. (Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash)

“There’s a military station there as well to protect and guard the area around Chernobyl, so the people will not go into what’s known as the radiation zone. The radiation levels have fallen off, but they’re still there, still in the water shelf,” Mock explains.

In Mlachivka, a small village near the Chernobyl reactor, many single parents are trying to raise children. Dozens of kids in the area are “looking for answers in this destitute village.” At a nearby church, kids knock on the doors desperately begging for crusts of bread. Once, local kids were so hungry that they broke into the church building to split a piece of sausage from the refrigerator.

Self-Sacrificial Faithfulness

Maria, a woman from this church, offers what she can by helping these same kids with their homework. Mock says she’s investing in these kids’ lives where other adults from the village cannot. Sadly, many adults in this village struggle with drinking and drugs. Brokenness penetrates the area, but in the bleak reality, God is raising up faithful believers who offer hope.

Immanuel’s Child (Photo courtesy of Slavic Gospel Association)

“We saw the impact of this church through Immanuel’s child. We see the work that’s going on there supported through our summer camp ministry, and where the world has brought on absolute disaster in the Chernobyl region,” Mock says.

“We see that God has raised up churches. These churches have been ministering to the needs of people even at personal risk to move into the zones to minister the Gospel.”

Some missionary pastors and their families move into areas with higher levels of radiation, knowing the dangers to themselves, to minister to the physical and spiritual needs of their fellow country people. And it is people like these who SGA gets behind to offer support and resources.

While the effects of the Chernobyl disaster are far from over and are likely to continue for decades to come, the hopelessness that pervades is met with Christ’s love and tangible aid.

Responding With Prayer

Pray for those living near Chernobyl and the churches ministering to the physical and spiritual needs of locals. Ask God to make His love and truth evident, even in times when there seems no use for hope. Pray for healing in Mlachivka. You can also pray for the children’s bellies to be filled so they are not left to beg and steal to survive.

Will you support national church workers in Ukraine? Help lift these believers as they minister to locals’ spiritual and physical needs through a financial gift here.



Header photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash.

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