Ukrainian-American Pastor Reportedly Abducted By Russian Soldiers From Melitopol Home

Mil.ru, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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A Ukrainian-born pastor with American citizenship has been abducted by Russian troops from his home in Melitopol, Ukraine, according to his wife and daughter.

The wife of Dmitry Bodyu, 50, says that she and her family watched as about eight to 10 Russian soldiers took the pastor with them on March 19.

“They just came in in the morning,” Helen Bodyu said of her husband’s abduction. “They took our phones, gadgets, computers, documents — and took him somewhere. I don’t know where.”

She said that the soldiers seemed to know that he was American — Bodyu was born in the Soviet Union and immigrated to the United States, later to return to Ukraine — and confiscated his passport.

They have not heard from him since, although Mrs. Bodyu says a few soldiers returned later for a sleeping bag and a Bible, NBC News reported.

Daughter Esther Bodyu-Ogawa, who lives in Hawaii, told NBC that her father was lending aid to his community as the pastor of Word of Life Church, and she doesn’t understand why Russian forces would have taken him.

“All he’s doing is just helping such a huge amount of people that were hiding in the church, which was, like, over 50 people,” she said. “And he was feeding all of them, too, throughout this whole situation.”

“They walked in and they just started kind of questioning him right away, like, ‘Are you guys American citizens?’ — that’s kind of, like, one of the first questions they had,” she said she was told by her family who witnessed her father’s abduction.

“It could be because we’re American citizens,” she speculated. Bodyu-Ogawa also said that her family believed her father’s social media accounts had been scrutinized.

“It could be because he’s, you know, a big influencer. A lot of people follow him and really want to know what he’s preaching about and what he’s telling people, making sure he’s not, like, talking about Russia and trying to tell people, ‘Yes, this is a bad thing.’”

“I know they were going through all of his preaching videos, because that’s what they told my mom when they came back on Monday, to bring all their computers and phones back,” she also said.

“We’re just hoping for the best, and we’re praying for him, and we’re praying that he’s strong,” she added.

According to NBC, the State Department acknowledged that they are aware of the reports of Bodyu’s abduction, but were unable to comment further for security reasons.

Pray for Pastor Bodyu’s safe return to his family and for all the members of Christ’s church who are on the ground in Ukraine and neighboring countries, ministering to those in need and sharing and living out the Gospel in the midst of such grim chaos.

May God be with them all.

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