Sometimes 96 is too young to die.

The toll of war gets reported in large numbers. Several hundred victims here, so many thousands of soldiers and other casualties there. Numbers. Alongside the numbers of casualty reports are the numbers of those rescued. Those are the better numbers.

But each number represents a singe life. Real lives of real people who are (or were) really living out their existence on this planet. Whether we are speaking about survivors or victims, the bottom line is that one life counts.

Today’s verse deals with both the lives of the victims and the lives of the survivors:

Last week Boris Romantschenko was one of the civilians killed when the Russians shelled his apartment building in Kharkiv, Ukraine. He was 96 years old. Boris had survived the onslaught of the Nazis. Arrested by invading Germany soldiers at the age of 16, he was sent to Germany, placed in a concentration camp and endured years of forced labor. By the time he was freed from Buchenwald in 1945 by Allied forces he had been in four different camps. He was still serving as Vice President of the Buchenwald-Dora International Committee and campaigned intensively to maintain the memory of the Nazi crimes. He kept himself in the fight.

One life counts. Every life matters. He had made his impact on the world by lifting his voice. May his memory be blessed.

We who mourn will be comforted. The memory of someone so dedicated to making their life count is an ongoing encouragement for men and women not to waste theirs in the pursuit of matters of small consequence.

Like so many others, the CEEC.CHURCH is involved in helping rescue lives from the advancing Russian assault in Ukraine. We are connected and actively supporting rescuers on the ground. We’re helping to connect ambulances carrying the wounded with medical facilities like the field trauma hospital set up by Samaritan’s Purse. We’re supporting and helping fund the extraction of refugees from places of imminent danger into areas that are safer. We’re one of the founding members of UNCN, the Ukrainian NGO Coordination Network; helping to organize the operations of people on the ground.
We are only a small part, but we are a part, and that is the point.

Each of us can learn the lesson Boris did. The lesson that one life counts. The lesson that we, too, need to make our lives count.

It is in making OUR lives count that we will be comforted in the remembrance of theirs.


We who mourn the victims of the battle with darkness must continue to be lights, and most especially we who have Him who is the Light of the World living within us. We must shine brightly. We must be deliberate about stepping up and stepping in. We do not need to travel to Kiev or Kabul to make a difference, we can let our lights shine brightly in Knoxville or Kenosha.

We who mourn cannot sit idly by. We, too, must lift our hands to the tasks and our voices in prayer; for BOTH are desperately needed. Every life matters, and every person can make an impact somewhere. We must. To do less would be to dishonor the memory of those who have given so much so selflessly. Their voices call us to action.

There is a voice calling us to action with two simple words – “Follow Me.”

He invested His life to open a way of freedom and escape. He gave all He had to give, made the ultimate sacrifice to open a door that no man could shut. As such, the path to eternal life is open and available. It is like one of the humanitarian pathways opened for escapees from besieged cities in the Ukraine. Those who enter it are protected, so long as they remain on the approved path their ability to reach the final destination is assured; in fact, it is guaranteed. Unlike the ones in the Ukraine, these are protected and cannot be encroached upon.

Jesus has provided all that we need to escape the onslaught of the enemy who is so intent on our destruction. Jesus has opened the way for us to be with Him throughout eternity.

The Old Testament book of Judges gives us the story so heroic that the rallying cry of its protagonist is still used today as the motto of Israeli paratroopers. Gideon had been pressed into service to lead the rebellion against the Midianite army. On the surface of it they were desperately outnumbered, and in the natural it appeared that they had no chance of victory. But they were not going to win this battle by fighting in the natural. The Lord intended to join them, empower them and to fight on their behalf. He would lead them to victory, and He would use Gideon to do it.

To be certain that the lesson could never be missed, God whittled the original army of thousands who had come to join Gideon in battle down to a mere 300 men.  The army they faced was so large that it is likened to a swarm of locusts; they were innumerable. Against this overwhelming force God raised up 300 men upon whom He could rely; men who knew how to engage and obey.

Gideon’s final order, the phrase that has become the rallying cry I spoke about was this — “Follow me and do exactly what I do.”

Gideon’s army obeyed. They followed Gideon, Gideon followed God, God gave them the victory.


We cannot mourn in idleness. We will not be comforted by mere memories of heroic men and women. We must act.

We can take action with any combination of our time, our talent or our treasure; but action calls us. Honor calls us. The memories of those who have gone before us call us. And, most importantly, Jesus calls us. We will be comforted. Our victory over darkness will comfort us. Our commitment to stand together and advance the Gospel of Grace will comfort us.

Each of us can learn the lesson Boris did. The lesson that one life counts. The lesson that we, too, need to make our lives count.

You have been given one life. But one life is enough, because one life counts.

Listen! Can you hear the voices calling?

“Follow me and do exactly what I do.”


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