By Sharon T. Markey

During the spring of 2022, a group of courageous men from churches in a city in Eastern Ukraine were risking their lives to take aid into Mariupol and bring people out. The humanitarian situation in Mariupol was hellish. For weeks people had been living under constant shelling, without food or water, and with no place to bury their dead. When these men would arrive with food and water to distribute, the desperate people would almost be fighting over the supplies. 

On one trip, after distributing the aid they had brought, they were loading up their vehicles with people to evacuate, and one man approached them with a wild look in his eyes. He had a pocket full of gold items that he was offering in exchange for them to drive about two miles to pick up his family and evacuate them. The drivers assured the desperate man that they would get his family—and told him they didn’t want his gold. 

Once the drivers had gotten everyone safely out of Mariupol, they took these shell-shocked people to their church. The sign above the door read “People are More Valuable than Gold,” which is actually the name of the church. Inside there were tables with food set out on them. Amazed to see bread after weeks without it, the man with the pocket full of gold asked hesitantly if he could have some. “Of course!” they told him warmly, and he finally understood that everything—from his family’s rescue to the food before him—was free, a beautiful picture of the gospel.