by Clem Boyd, Communication Content Manager
A familiar restaurant visited after church every week, the smell of her mother's bortsch simmering in the kitchen, the crowded public transportation that redefined personal space, a bustling and energetic downtown, time with dear friends. Remembering Ukraine, Cedarville freshman Jessica Wiebe reflects on these sights and smells, and the emotions that accompany them. For her, the Russian invasion of her home is more than a headline, it's highly personal and deeply difficult.
Jessica and her family lived in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, since she was 6. She attended an English-speaking international school from third through 12th grade and came to Cedarville last fall semester.
Near the end of 2021, she learned of the Russian troop buildup on the Ukrainian border. She began closely following the latest developments, sharing sorrow and processing disbelief with other Ukrainian missionary kids at Cedarville, like junior international studies major and podcast guest Abigail Rist. She kept tabs with her parents, Chad and Leanna Wiebe, working in Warsaw, Poland, with Send International, and with family living in Odessa.
As the bombs began falling on Kyiv on February 24, the waves of text messages began, and they haven't stopped. She’s been in contact with friends in Kyiv, who initially took shelter in the bottom of a drained-out indoor pool to avoid spraying debris caused by bomb blasts. She and Abigail have been in almost constant communication through phone calls, text messages, coffee meetups, and meals.
For podcast listeners unsure of what to do, Jessica offers the following counsel:
“Just stay aware of the situation and be sensitive to what Ukrainians are going through. Have intentionality about watching the news, as hard as that it can be, and it may be overwhelming. And continue to pray. People here may feel like, ’I’m not sure what we can do; it seems like all that’s left is to pray,’ but prayer is so powerful. Praying individually and praying in groups is so important. And asking what ways you can donate. There are so many organizations and places to donate to provide humanitarian aid.”
To listen to more Cedarville Stories podcasts, click on the link below:
More to the Story
You can support Jessica’s parents and their work with Ukrainian refugees in Poland by contributing to Send International.
Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,715 undergraduate, graduate, and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is one of the largest private universities in Ohio, recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, including the
Bachelor of Science in Social Work, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and high student engagement ranking. For more information about the University, visit