LENEXA, Kansas – A Kansas City-area church is taking under its wing several Ukrainian refugee families during the most difficult times in their lives.
On Thursday they were allowed to celebrate Thanksgiving for the first time. Despite the pain and devastation of what is happening in their home country, they said there is much to be grateful for, and a local church and a couple who are themselves former refugees have much to do with it.
When war broke out in Ukraine, five Ukrainian families fled their homes, lives and country for the United States, where it was safe.
Lenexa Baptist Church has committed to care for her for a year. As of about May, each family lives in an apartment in Johnson County.
Gleb Gluhovsky and his wife Sasha led the charge.
“We are so grateful to all the people who helped bring us here to the States and surrounded us with everything we could need,” said Ukrainian refugee Misha Lystukha.
An army of volunteers took care of everything from grocery shopping to providing clothing for the cold months to furniture in the families’ homes.
Everything was donated and what they couldn’t find Lenexa Baptist bought.
“We are called to be the hands and feet of Christ,” Gluhovsky said. “So it’s extremely rewarding.”
Misha and Yuliia Lystukha celebrate their first Thanksgiving and holidays with little Illena.
She was born here in Americal in August.
They hope to return to their home country but said it was too dangerous at this point.
“One of her friends just stepped on a mine while trying to get water,” Gluhovsky said.
They remain positive, but the family’s current paperwork only allows them to stay from March to April.
“There is no stable water, there is no stable electricity, there are interruptions in water supply and utilities,” Yuliia said. “My friend told me how incredibly difficult it was to raise children.
and I just thought how grateful I was.”
Gluhovsky is a former refugee and has lived in the United States for more than 30 years. He is grateful for this moment when things come full circle.
“This Thanksgiving we thank God for His blessings and thank America for His warm welcome.
The family said they would like to work but still need a work permit. They filed papers with the Department of Homeland Security in May but have yet to receive a response.
Gluhovsky said they have a meeting with US Senator Roger Marshal, R-Kan, next week.
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