APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – A minister who had been working in Ukraine prior to the war addressed Appleton Alliance Church over the weekend.

“Getting to work with the people see the beautiful country that is Ukraine was an honor,” said the minister whose name is Josh.

Josh asked Local 5 News to not use his last name.

A big part of what Appleton Alliance Church does is try to connect their parishioners to Christians around the country and world and that’s why they had Josh come speak about his experience. This week is global connections week at their church so they’re really trying to emphasize this topic by giving parishioners an opportunity to hear from Christians working around the globe.

The church hopes that these opportunities will inspire their parishioners to make a difference themselves.

“We get to see the world in a whole new way and realize that god is on the move in some pretty cool ways and it inspires us to live out our faith locally,” said Mark Byrom who is the associate pastor of global connections at Appleton Alliance Church.

Josh said he arrived in Kyiv last summer. He said it’s the first time he’s ever been to Ukraine but has been on other ministry trips around the world including to the Middle East.

He said he knew that the Russians were building up troops along the border, but his desire to help out and spread the word of the gospel made him still want to work in Ukraine despite the possible danger.

“So I knew that there was a possible conflict there, but I had confidence that the lord, if he wanted me somewhere to serve people, he was going to protect me,” said Josh.

Josh said he left the country in January after the United States government started to advise Americans to evacuate the country. He said he didn’t have too many problems leaving Ukraine, the airport was just a bit busier than usual.

He says choosing to leave was one of the hardest decisions he’s ever had to make. He said he took solace in the decision knowing that if he came back to the United States, he could be a voice for Ukrainians by encouraging other Americans to pray for them and assist with disaster relief.

He said he’s still in contact with a lot of people that he met in Ukraine and prays for them every day.

“Seeing bombs hitting cities that I have been in in Ukraine, seeing malls that I just had been in two or three months ago destroyed, it’s been very difficult,” said Josh.

Josh said he plans to return to Ukraine as soon as it becomes safe to do so. He said the first thing that he will do once he returns is give the people he knows there a big hug, tell them he loves them and that they’re his heroes.

Appleton Alliance Church officials say that Josh’s presentation on his experience was inspiring, and they hope that learning about experiences in other countries will inspire their parishioners to pray for those in Ukraine and donate to relief efforts if they can.