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To Ukraine, with love

Local missionary returns from Ukraine

1 John 4 guides Flippo’s journey

By DAWN HANKINS - dhankins@t-g.com / STEVEN FLIPPO - Special to the T-G
Posted 9/24/22

The plan was for Steven Flippo’s church to be a part of a mission trip to Ukraine at May end, but after the events that unfolded on Feb. 24, all of those plans were cancelled.  

The …

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To Ukraine, with love

Local missionary returns from Ukraine

1 John 4 guides Flippo’s journey


The plan was for Steven Flippo’s church to be a part of a mission trip to Ukraine at May end, but after the events that unfolded on Feb. 24, all of those plans were cancelled.  

The Bedford County man, along with the rest of the world, watched as Ukraine and its people— those Flippo has grown to love so dearly through mission trips— were slowly torn apart by war. This long-time missionary said to him, that seemed so unjustified.  

Flippo travels through the missionary programs at Calvary Baptist and Rover Baptist, where he’s a member. His wife, Ceal, has been on one trip. He and others typically visit as a part of the “Cumberland Gap Baptist Association.” He’s also been associated with Corryton, Tenn., Bethel Baptist Church and their work in country.  

Steven did recently return to his beloved Ukraine, finding solace to take the journey from I John 4:16 in the Bible which states: “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.”  


I saw the Christians of Ukraine step up in a way that was truly inspiring. Meeting needs, feeding the hungry, taking in refugees and sharing God’s Word all along the way. It’s what we are called to do. The Ukrainians were doing it in the direst of circumstances.  

My church was preparing for a trip to the Dominican Republic and I thought I would go on that trip, since I wouldn’t be able to go to Ukraine due to the war. But I still had the thought in the back of my mind.  

When we had the information meeting about the trip to the Dominican, I was so uncomfortable. It was as if God was telling me I wasn’t to be here, because I was going to Ukraine.  

I didn’t fill out my paperwork for the trip and a few weeks later, the coordinator of that trip asked me if I was going and I said, I don’t think so. I think I’m going to Ukraine.  

It didn’t make sense to me but I really thought I was supposed to go. I didn’t know how but I knew that if God wanted me to, He would work that out too.  

I shared what was on my heart and mind with my pastor and a couple others and asked them to pray about it. Now to jump forward a few weeks, it became undeniable that I was supposed to go to Ukraine. I asked a friend in Ukraine if I were to come, how would I enter the country?  

They recommended that I fly into Budapest, Hungary; they could arrange to pick me up from there. I started looking at flights to Budapest and within a few days, what seemed like the perfect round trip flight, appeared. I bought the ticket immediately and messaged my friends there and told them I had a flight. I told them when I would arrive and depart.  

The next morning when I woke up, they had my itinerary set for every day of my trip. I had several people, pastors and churches I felt that I needed to see/visit while I was there. I am happy to say I was able to see everyone that I felt I was supposed to.  

During my 10-day trip (four of those days consumed by travel), I was able to be a part of a baptism service with the church of Bylochrynchya at the river, as well two other church services at Griziv and Shepativka. I also visited two children’s camps and a youth camp. I was able to visit an orphanage, be a part of some children’s English classes at the Inspiration Centre and make several home visits, among other things, during my brief time there.  

The thing I was not expecting was the statement that I heard from almost everyone I met. It seemed everyone said some form of, “The fact that God would send you to us now, at this time, during war . . . .” It just seemed to mean so much to them. It was as if they felt this was God’s way of showing them that He saw them right where they were and He would always be there with them.  

Before I left to go on the trip, people would ask me my purpose for going. And all I knew to say was that I felt that God wanted me to go to love and encourage. But as I have said many times since returning home, I was the one who was loved and encouraged. I just love how God works in that way.  

When you are in God’s will and fulfilling His purpose, you will not only be a blessing to others through Him but you will be the one being blessed at the same time.  

We packed a lot into those days I was there. God showed me what I felt like my purpose was for being there. I feel like His purpose was fulfilled. And for that, I am very thankful.  

I, of course, wished I could have done or said more but I think you always feel that way. My heart remains with the people of Ukraine. They are continually in my prayers and on my mind.  

Although there were several air raid sirens while I was there, I never encountered any dangers from the war. However, only a couple weeks after I arrived back home, some rockets landed and caused destruction only about a mile from where I had been staying. I was able to return home but my friends and extended family remain, caring for those around them during this difficult time.  

I am very thankful that God chose me to be a vessel for Him during such a time as this. I know He continues to move others to fulfill His purpose every day.  

We must always be aware of His presence and the call He has on our lives. When you do feel that tug at your heart, be willing. You will never regret being a part of His will.