I have thought about what I might write concerning this event in my life often during the last few weeks. In many ways it hard to believe that five years have passed, and then, in other ways it seems like a lifetime.
Life in the sleepy “village” of Donetsk was in turmoil in February and March 2014 after the events in Kyiv. Two media guys from our organization had spent a couple of days with me, trying to capture the heart of the issue from the perspective of those living in Eastern Ukraine.
My apartment in Donetsk was located a few minutes walk from the regional government offices. The then governor was worried that “hooligans” from the west would come and overtake their building like they had in Kyiv. He had covered glass doors on the bottom floor with heavy steel, placed old trucks with razor wire around the building.
Along with the media guys, we walked around the building, then the short walk to the center where Lenin’s statue was. We talked with people on Lenin’s Square. At that moment, there were young people “guarding” the statue. Not one of them spoke of a desire not to be a part of Ukraine, but most of them wanted more autonomy from Kyiv.
We decided to enter the McDonalds on the square. We got something to eat and sat down. One of the young ladies who worked there walked over and spoke to us in English. She shared some of the things she had witnessed over the last month. Quickly, it became apparent that outside forces were influencing what was taking place in the city.
Later we spoke with some Christians who had set up a prayer tent near the river in town. We attended one of the prayer events that evening.
At the time, while I was on edge, I was completely unaware of what would transpire over the next two weeks. Life was normal in some sense, however, that was about to change.