By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent
KYIV/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) - A Ukrainian missionary of a U.S.-backed aid group has been abducted by Russian forces near Ukraine’s besieged city of Mariupol, several sources confirmed Thursday.
Valentina was working for Orphan's Promise, a group linked to the U.S.-based Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), Worthy News learned. Sources only used her first name amid security concerns.
Christians with close knowledge about the situation said eyewitnesses saw the kidnappers throw a bag over Valentina’s head when she was kidnapped.
Russia’s forces were believed to be behind the kidnapping. “Russian troops have besieged the area where Valentina lives, and she had been helping with distributing food to people who are hiding in bomb shelters,” CBN said.
Valentina had worked in the area near Mariupol for the Orphan's Promise “Children of War Project.” Her team “evacuates women, children, as well as sick and elderly from hot spots. Missionaries, while under fire, drive to bakeries (that also work under fire) and deliver bread to hungry people [while] providing them with spiritual bread," Orphan's Promise said.
Valentina's friends and colleagues stress in published remarks that they “are very concerned for her safety,” asking Christians to “pray that she will not be tortured and will be released soon.”
CBN's Terry Meeuwsen, who founded Orphan's Promise, said: “No one knows where they took her, where she is. So please pray for Valentina. We're asking that she would be released, asking God to send angels with her that she would be released without harm."
Her kidnapping also came as a setback for Mercy Projects founder Jeff Thompson, who is helping to rescue women and children still trapped inside the war-torn country.
“We are awaiting additional details,” Thompson added. “At this point, we are asking people to do two things. First, pray for Valentina. Second, please contact your government officials to make them aware of this situation. Ask that they intervene.”
Christian aid workers have reported increased shelling and air-raid alarms as the Russian invasion expands across the country.