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Displaced Ukrainian missionaries share story, urge people to help amid Russia's ongoing invasion

Posted at 5:48 PM, Jun 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-26 22:01:33-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Sunday marks the 123rd day of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The war has resulted in many Ukrainians fleeing to Poland and elsewhere.

Yuriy Perekotiy was born and raised in Ukraine. He has lived in Odesa, near the Black Sea, with his wife Madison and their children since 2018.

As Christian missionaries, Yuriy and Madison were sent to Odesa by their church in Alabama.

They were visiting Madison's family in Alabama when Russia invaded Ukraine back in February.

"February 24, we're watching the news and the explosions happened, and that's when it started," Madison said.

The Perekotiys have been unable to return home ever since.

"It's good here and very nice in the U.S., but our heart [is] in Ukraine," Yuriy said.

During their missionary work over the past few years, they have helped at-risk children, vulnerable families and the deaf community in Ukraine.

"We started a war relief fund with our sending agency, and so people are able to give to that and were able to meet needs of people on the ground in Ukraine and those who have fled as well," Madison said.

Madison said they have also worked to help frontline doctors obtain body gear and tourniquets.

She said they are also helping support five different Ukrainian families every month.

"We have been able to raise almost $200,000, and we've been able to disperse over half of that to people in need," Madison said.

The Perekotiys became friends with a Utah couple online a few years ago. The couple recently invited them to their church, Risen Life Church in Salt Lake City, to share their story.

"This is affecting fathers, this is affecting vulnerable children," Madison said. "There's now over 15,000 kids who will never see their mom or dad again because they gave their life fighting for their country — for what purpose?"

During their lunch and learn session at Risen Life Church, they also took questions from the two dozen people who turned out.

Their hope is that they not only educated people about the ongoing situation in Ukraine, but also showed them how they can pitch in and help.

"People can pray — praying for Ukraine — and we're going to share with them specific ways to pray," Madison said. "Sharing other people's stories from Ukraine so that it remains in the front of people's minds."

Donations to the Perekotiys' war relief fund can be made online here.

They told FOX 13 News on Sunday that they would like to return to Ukraine and continue their work over there. They say their ultimate hope is that the war will end this winter so they can return home at the end of the school year in 2023.

As for now, they will continue to stay in Alabama, where Yuriy plans to return to the job he had before they left for Ukraine.