Voice of the Martyrs Korea has confirmed that a deacon who traveled 1,300 kilometers to Siversk, Eastern Ukraine to prepare his church building for the winter has been killed by shrapnel from a missile attack.
According to Voice of the Martyrs Korea Representative Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, Mikhail Makhnik was a deacon at “Rock of Salvation” Church in Siversk, Eastern Ukraine.
“In February, Deacon Makhnik and his wife, Lily, and three of their five children traveled to Truskavets, a Ukrainian town near the border with Poland, intending on a short stay,” says Representative Foley. “But when the war broke out, they realized they would need to remain there temporarily.”
Representative Foley says that the Makhnik family stayed at a Christian mission in Truskavets but Deacon and Mrs. Makhnik had traveled back to Siversk several times since February, bringing humanitarian aid to distribute there.
“Siversk had a population of around 13,000, but it has been at the front line of conflict for much of the war so many of the residents have been forced to flee,” says Representative Foley. “But for the Makhniks, this was their hometown. They had lived there all their lives, and before the war their home had been a place where townspeople gathered literally every day.”
One of the couple’s children told Voice of the Martyrs Korea, “Dad is a very kind, modest, open person. He loved and always helped everyone. He used to give everyone a lift, was ready to fix everything that was broken. People would often come to him asking for help. His home was always full of guests, relatives, youth. Their home has always been open to everyone. [Mom and Dad] would pay attention, feed, and help everyone. Young people from the church gathered in their house almost every day. My mother ran a Bible study group for teenagers at their house. Young people celebrated the New Year and many other events took place at their home with the involvement of father and mother. It can be said that he was a father of many [people].”
Representative Foley says that Deacon Makhnik had recently traveled back to Siversk with food and other aid, intending to cover the roof of his home church with plastic tarp. “The roof of the church had previously been damaged by shrapnel from several Russian missiles that had struck the churchyard,” says Representative Foley. “Deacon Makhnik was concerned that rain would leak through the holes in the roof and damage the church sanctuary. The pastor of the church, Alexander Ivanovich Kobzar, said that Deacon Makhnik wanted to make sure there was a safe, warm place where residents could go and eat and sleep and find sanctuary during the winter.”
Deacon Mikhail Makhnik.
Deacon Mikhail Makhnik works on a home repair.
Voice of the Martyrs Korea confirmed that on Saturday evening October 8, Deacon Makhnik was with a local doctor and one of the Makhnik’s longtime neighbors in the gazebo of the neighbor’s house when a shell struck the house.
“Deacon Makhnik and the doctor died from shrapnel wounds, and the neighbor was hospitalized,” says Representative Foley.
According to Voice of the Martyrs Korea, Mrs. Makhnik wrote on her husband’s Facebook page, “My dear, you loved this home (prayers), tried to keep it safe. But our heavenly Father has prepared for us a house unmanageable, eternal. That’s where we will meet again.”
Representative Foley says that Voice of the Martyrs Korea recognizes Deacon Makhnik as a martyr.
“Martyrs are Christians who make a conscious decision to lay down their lives in service to the Lord,” says Representative Foley. “They commit to making a faithful witness unto death, testifying of the Lord’s grace to those for whom they lay down their lives.”
Representative Foley says that it is a mistake to think that martyrdom is the result of persecution. “We sometimes think that a person is a martyr because they are persecuted. But biblically, the word martyr means ‘witness’”, says Representative Foley. “Biblically, faithful witness—martyrdom—always comes first, and the result it produces is often persecution. Sometimes that persecution comes from other human beings. Sometimes it comes from the spiritual realm. In the case of Deacon Makhnik, it came from his refusal to abandon the sheep the Lord Jesus had entrusted to his care, even on the front lines of a war. His home had been open to all before the war, and he had shared the gospel then. He endeavored to keep the church house open so the gospel could be heard above the weapons of war. There is always a high price to be paid for faithful witness to Christ. Paying that price willingly and joyfully is what makes a Christian a martyr.”
Deacon Mikhail Makhnik’s funeral service.
Deacon Mikhail Makhnik with his wife, Lily.
Voice of the Martyrs Korea sent a love offering to the family of Deacon Makhnik from the organization’s Families of Martyrs fund. “The most basic and important ministry of Voice of the Martyrs Korea is to care for the families of those who are martyred or imprisoned for their faith,” says Representative Foley.
Representative Foley says that Voice of the Martyrs Korea also sent a love offering to Deacon Makhnik’s church in Siversk from its Ukraine Christian Emergency Relief fund. “We want to make sure that the work for which Deacon Makhnik laid down his life can be carried on,” says Representative Foley.
Representative Foley says that Voice of the Martyrs Korea is continuing to make disbursements from its Families of Martyrs fund to the families of other Ukrainian Christians who are killed in the act of Christian witness, and from its Ukraine Christian Emergency Relief fund to churches which are continuing to make a faithful witness under duress. Those who are interested in making a donation to either fund can do so at www.vomkorea.com/en/donation or via electronic transfer to:
국민은행 (KB Bank) 463501-01-243303
예금주 (Account Holder): (사)순교자의소리
Please include the word “Ukraine” or “Families of Martyrs” with the donation.