Chernobyl’s Jewish Liquidators

The Chernobyl liquidators were civil and military personnel, who were called upon to deal with the consequences of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Countless liquidators were Jewish and during the early 90’s almost 5,000 made Aliyah. Today there are hundreds who remain in Ukraine, suffering from debilitating health issues and the haunting memories of death and destruction.   

Vera’s story:

“We all have defining moments that change the course of our lives forever. For some, it’s their wedding day, for others, maybe the birth of a child. For me, it was the pounding on my front door in the early morning hours of Sunday April 27, 1986 that still haunt and consume my soul. 

The day before started out like most of my work days as I set off early for my job in our regional hospital. It was my week to serve as the attending physician in our busy emergency ward. By midday, I must have seen over 70 patients due to a severe outbreak of influenza in our community. After 14 exhausting hours, I was finally back home in my bed and immediately fell asleep as my head hit the pillow. 

BANG, BANG, BANG… I was jolted awake from the banging on my front door. My first thought was that there was probably an emergency at the hospital. As I cracked open the front door, there was a stranger standing before me in military uniform. He barked out orders to get dressed immediately and come with him. I followed him down the stairs of my building and was taken by the arm and loaded onto a bus with others. We drove for hours without a word being spoken.” 

Anton’s story:

“I was at the height of my military career in the spring of 1986, or at least that’s what I thought at the time. I was an officer in the Soviet Army, in charge of many young men who were eager to serve their country. We were training at our base for combat when I was pulled aside and told to ready my men immediately for a secret mission. 

After all of the preparations were completed, we were all loaded onto an old bus. After two hours of driving, our regional commander stood up and delivered the following announcement. 

You are all here because there was an explosion in a power plant, and it’s very possible that you will not return from this mission. You are defending the state just as your grandmothers and grandfathers had done. Many of them died in the wars protecting our motherland. This is your opportunity to do the same…”

Bringing their story together:

Vera and Anton were assigned to the same unit after both arriving at the Chernobyl accident site on the morning of Monday April 28, two days after the meltdown began. They were assigned to work together as liquidators in an environment that was filled with deadly levels of radiation. Their mission was to save the lives of those caught in the explosion. What they experienced during their three weeks of working there was nothing short of a living nightmare that would change their health and lives forever. 

“It was truly a miracle that we survived our days at Chernobyl”, says Vera. “We formed a bond immediately while working together and depended on each other to survive. Destruction, death and suffering were around us everywhere, but somehow we made it out alive and married a short time after”.

Vera and Anton had been suffering for years when our emergency rescue team found them living in a small village outside of Kiev, Ukraine. Both have debilitating health issues and are in desperate need of medical attention and humanitarian assistance.    

My family, let’s wrap our loving arms around this couple and provide them with life-saving food, medical treatments and rehabilitative services as we work to bring them home to Israel. Together we can show them just how powerful Christian love is during their greatest time of need. 

May God bless you for helping to bless and save our suffering Jewish brothers and sisters. 

In the Love of Jesus

In case you haven’t noticed, things are changing in this world. On every continent, in every city, and within every heart, something is stirring.

For some of us, it is an unwelcome stirring that we’d rather ignore, as we continue doing what we’ve always done. Yet, others of us are sensing a mighty stirring to put feet to our faith like never before.

Welcome to Walking the Walk. It is our sincerest prayer that this weekly encouragement will be far more than another blog that fills your cluttered inbox. We want to stir up a community of like-minded Christians to “leave their nets behind” and follow in Jesus’ footsteps of love, compassion, and outreach.

At Christians Care International, we want to go further than we’ve ever gone before. And, it might surprise you to know that it all starts with the simplest of things…love. If it is not love that propels us to reach our suffering Jewish brothers and sisters in Ukraine and beyond, then why even bother? Will we not be likened to clanging cymbals, as described in 1 Corinthians chapter 13? It must be our love for God and for others that supersedes all restraints and frees us to walk as Jesus walked.

You may be familiar with the classic book, In His Steps, written by Charles Sheldon in 1896. It tells the story of a pastor who was faced with his own go-through-the-motions religiosity. One day, he unexpectedly came face to face with the poor and broken. It was then that he realized there was a much deeper call to the Christian life than he had been living. From that point on, he challenged the members of his congregation to commit every decision to the Lord and do nothing without first asking, “What would Jesus do?”

Although that phrase has been overly commercialized, it still has great merit for our lives. The way Jesus spoke to people, interacted with people, and most of all loved people, is the perfect pattern for our lives!

In 1 John 3:18, we are reminded, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”

In deed and in truth…my friends, this is love.

Things are changing. There is no more time to merely talk about answering God’s calling to bless our suffering Jewish brothers and sisters. We must rise up and cast off the limits of our own religiosity. (I’m typing this just as loudly to my own heart as I am to yours!)

The truth is, our Jewish brothers and sisters need our help right now. As you are reading this, Jewish orphans and underprivileged children are suffering, Jewish mothers and fathers are unable to feed and care for their children, and Holocaust Survivors and the elderly are in desperate need our life-saving care and loving companionship.

What would Jesus do? 

As I study the life of Jesus in the Gospels, I can’t help but notice that once He began His ministry, it continued through His very last breath. He didn’t take vacations from loving people. He didn’t conform to the religious duties imposed by man-made traditions. He simply let love put one foot in front of the other until it led Him to a wooden cross.

So, my friends here is the challenge for us. Are we ready to let Christ’s love propel us into walking the walk? I cannot tell you how grateful I am to be on this journey with you! For I know that many of you are sensing the stir of rapid change in this world. But instead of finding it an unwelcome inconvenience, you are seeing it as an opportunity to put feet to your faith and walk as Jesus walked.

In His love,

Jennifer Waddle

CCI Ministry Development Team